Wednesday, 10 December 2014

#27daysofgames Day 10 – Weirdest game I own – Dungeon Twister


Weird is a subjective concept, because you can go from the game that plays the strangest, to the weirdest idea of how a game is played, and then all the different permutations between those.  For me, the game that comes in first for the weirdest concept is the one where both players aren’t actively playing against each other, but neither are they co-operating, and the playing field is something that can be changed by either of them throughout the game.

Welcome to Dungeon Twister...

The idea of the game is very simple, both of the players take the part of a group of adventurers trying to get out of a dungeon created by an Archmage that had a fetish for building massively mechanically complex dungeons.

Why did they create these MMC dungeons when they’re an all powerful mage?

Who knows...?

Who cares...?

In the game, both players take four out of eight adventurers and try and get them from one side to the other, where they will escape from the dungeon. 

Wait a minute, if they can escape from the other side, what’s to stop the group that starts on that side from using the same escape route and saving the whole trip across the board?

Nah, we won’t ask that question...

The truth is, the idea behind two groups trying to escape off the side of a board that their enemies are coming in from is ridiculous, which leads us to the game itself, which, cheerfully enough, is brilliant.  There’s no element of chance in this game, no dice, no change in the options available to both sides and no difference to both sides.  Both players can choose the exact same options for their side and the only way you win is by being better than the other player.

No other variables...

The interesting point of the game is that while the tiles are put in place at the beginning of the game, the tiles can be rotated by putting a character on the gear tile and using an action to rotate the tile around, which can lead to any other pieces on that section being inconvenienced or locked out completely of the place they were trying to get to, leading to them having to go back and turn the room again or try a different route out of the maze following their previous exit having been dried up.  In theory, it’s a neat twist to the game that can be used to complicate matters for the opponent.  In practise, it can make what should be a 45 minute game into a two hour game as you both vie for control of the board.  The individual characters have different abilities, including walking through walls, being able to turn a board section other than the one you’re on, stealing objects from other characters, and avoiding combat entirely, and the choice of the characters you make directly affects the strategy you have to use to get through the maze.

The other thing is the combat matrix used, the cards that are given to the players don’t recycle, so when you’ve used all the high combat cards, it’s down to the characters with the high combat scores to resolve the fights and everyone else needs to stay out of the way, when the jump cards are used up, you don’t get any more, and in fact the only thing that does recycle are the action cards for the number of things the character can do every turn, so that if you use the high action cards in the first few turns, you have to slow down later in the game before you can speed up again, so even that aspect of the game is tactically controlled.

And that might be the problem, there is no aspect of this game that has a random aspect to it, so there’s no way to base a loss on anything other than the other person being better than you at playing the game, and for some reason, a lot of people weren’t happy with that.  Easier to lose when you can blame it on a bad roll, a random break, someone elses cards came up right when you ended up landlocked, but not on being a worse player...

As a game to play, it’s brilliant, frustrating and exhilarating in equal measure, but definitely weird...