DUNGEONYTE is inspired by video and board games about dungeon management; this game pits Dark Lords against each other, in the underworld. It is not a dungeon crawl romp done in 3 hours top. This is a RPG-turned board game. Short skirmishes of 3 hours are possible but the real meat is a campaign, year long type.
DUNGEONYTE is a game of heroic-fantasy. Heroes go adventuring into the Dungeons. Meanwhile, Villains surge out in the Sun Land. The Villagers and king's men encounter monsters, loot treasures, while the Dark Lords defend their dungeons, harvest the natural and magical resources, build Traps, recruit creatures of the dark. Indeed, other Dark Lords and many heroes are plotting your invasion. With a high immersion factor and a suspension of disbelief, this game is designed to have the player escape the reality of the day-to-day routine. The mind boggling combinations of the middle to late game are prone to dream from one day to another. Running several strategies, exploratory wandering in the unknown can invade the dreams of the player. Before you know it, you really feel like you are in charge of a subterranean territory. You become territorial.
Leading a team of heroic humans as well as a menagerie of monsters, the player will compete, ally, cooperate, and battle the game and the other players, in a soft, distant and strategic contest. The game creates a new adventure with a new map every time. Due to the incomplete information, the Fog of War and the unknown intentions of the other players, the game is unpredictable. Unavoidable surprises will rock vulnerable systems but only delay strong dungeons.
The game starts small, a Throne Room and some Imps. Imps dig Tunnels and build Rooms. G currency and Food resources get accumulated by mining Imps. Creatures get recruited. The Dungeon of each player ultimately connects to the same Tile, the central Black Well, which also connect to the Surface world, the one where Heroes live. One recruits creatures, for a price, in the Dungeons and attracts free heroes who arrive on the Surface, in the Village buildings. The heroes you control cannot interact at all with your Dungeon or your creatures but can invade your neighbor Dark Lords.
Traps, Doors, Bridges, Panels get built, Spells researched. There is no Tech Tree, until the module “Civilization commodity cards” is added. There is a module “Hollow Earth” and “Rare Earth”.
DUNGEONYTE is complex, monstrous. There is a heavy touch of management and logistics. Its ecological system is designed to auto-balance itself, without any obvious victory path. The best designed dungeon layout is not a guarantee of victory but a badly designed one will contribute to the demise of its Dark Lord. Accumulating resources does not guarantee victory but constantly being low on resources will shrink a Dark Lord's chance to win. The ecosystem is big enough to reach the critical mass necessary for self-sustaining running. It enlivens a cohesive, stable world which makes sense. Its sheer size is what makes it puzzling, stimulating, epic. Each game bears its own unique development. One is never sure to win. Careful cautious planning ready for the unexpected to happen is a strategy equally worthwhile, compared to the aggressive ruthless “army making” approach or resource-hoarding turtling strategy. Strategies have to adapt and evolve depending on factors you only control partially. Unpredictability is high due to the sheer number of different elements, moving parts and the way they interact with one another. There are so many parameters that they balance each other since you cannot do everything everywhere. Recruit too many Evil Creatures and more Adventurers will invade you. Spend too much gold on Rooms and you won’t have enough to win auctions or buy lanterns for your Adventurers. Skimp on food gathering and famine is looming. Extend too far to get Mana and you’ll be easily invaded. You can never have enough of everything, but the other Dark Lords as well, thus trading is promoted because no single resource is enough to win. You need to balance several aspects of your Dungeon management. For example, one of the mechanisms ensuring fluidity is the way Artefact Gear are spread on the map. Good “Aura” Treasures are hidden in the depths of the Dungeons, attracting adventurers into the darker areas. On the opposite, Evil Artefacts are hidden around the Black Well, central permanent access point between the Land Above and the Dungeons, attracting dungeon creatures nearby the dreaded Sun Land.
DUNGEONYTE is fun because you can gather a bunch of minion creatures, dig tunnels and duke it out with other Dark Lords and the Village. You can have goblins, slimes, anacondas, spiders, trolls, vampires, skeletons, just to mention the most common minions. Each species is very different from the other. Each player controls a Dark Lord, who is represented by a Throne Room. Dark Lords manage their creatures, where they go, what they try to do, what Talent they use, their happiness, their needs and their combat tactics. There is not much of constraining gamey contraption to limit your actions, no activation protocol or doom track. No pressure but free form, full power over your creatures and dungeon layout architecture.
The Sunland, ripe with heroes, provides an extra layer of adventuring and stories. There are around 50 quests, both good and evil. Every 40 turns, Quests can be satisfied or failed. There are around 12 victory conditions. The game is heroic-fantasy but surfs over science-fiction, metaphysics, alchemy, esoteric, astrology, geology, religion, periodic element table, tunnel life, astrophysics, civilisations, optics, mathematics, mechanics, 3-D geometry, Hollow Earth, tech tree, vampirism, dragons, auction, rare earth, radioactivity, traps, A.I....
A Dark Lord is a mystic entity having no real body. It has many spells, most involving the other players. He not only can recruit creatures but also directly take possession of their body, like a Ghost.
Terraforming is done initially when slowly placing Land Tiles, then later via a Minotaur who can rotate tiles or a few other ways.
Some creatures specialize in unhealthy substance, disease, poison. The undead are slow.
There is an extensive system of resources which can be freely exchanged anytime. The G, in denomination of 1G (Copper coin/ingot), 2G (Silver coin), 3G (Gold coin/ingot). The dungeon Food has the Earth, Water and Magic types. The Mana is used to cast Dark Lords’ spells. The Sparks are spent to power electrical contraptions and lightning bolts. The Runeland cards, 5 types, similar to MagicTheGathering Lands. The Merchandise cards, 18 types, similar to Advanced Civilization trade cards. Resources are tokens of various size, or coloured cards. It is a lot more fun to exchange heavy G coins and ingots, tiny Food tokens, shiny Mana tokens. Can even buy/sell creatures, tokens, tiles, rent what you have... Free form.
Creatures have their own board, to account for Talent Points, Mood points (from -6 to +6), wounds, XP, bonus/malus in Defence, Life Point, Speed of a creature.
Many events can occur, including Eating, Sleeping, Wage collection, Infighting...
Each player has a Spell track, necessitating magic research by some gifted creatures.
Dark Lords can rearrange their G (the game currency) in their Throne Room in a geometric three dimensional way, in order to make shapes. There are several structures granting powers. One of them is the ability for the Imp to capture gas and liquid, when they mine a rare element. No need for a card. You know very well whether you built that or that structure with your money.
There are a several formats of cards, the classic deck building size for recruiting, and the jumbo size (with picture), for 700+ Gear cards and around 70 dungeon technologies.
The Dark Lords’ spells, creatures’ Talents and so many things are so complex that the text cannot fit on a card. The creature reference, of sometimes up to 6 page long, is easily accessible on a tablet or a smartphone.
The heroes are not on equal footing with the dungeon denizens. The dungeon creatures are the centre of the game. Heroes are only a nuisance, and a mystery, from a Dark Lord perspective. There is no ceiling! How weird is that! So, they occupy only around 20% of the game. Players control two factions, their heroes, and their dungeon creatures. Heroes all have the same global "white flag", officially all good and nice, but secretly anonymously sponsored by Dark lords, the players. They suffer "dungeon-anxiety", need to eat grandma pies, need torches and are crippled in the dark. There is a multi-player party team feel "we are good people, we are all together in this, let's do it" but, depending on which dark Lord controls which member of the hero party, it can turn ugly in the depths of the dungeon. There are even some traitors (1 in 20) ready to back stab if left alone with a target. So they must also stay together, in a big group if possible. They can help each other, share their resources (light, food), but their nice cooperation feel vanishes when they get close to a dungeon. This is because the heroes of player #B can neither ever set foot in the territory of their controller's dark lord player #B, nor interact in any way with the dungeon creatures of the same controller Dark lord.
Why do they go in the dungeons? Well, drunkards yelling embarrassing promises uttered in the tavern have to assume the consequences of their words, sometimes they have to bring along all the boozers in the tavern room. Heroes open the way to a few extra victory paths. They can find treasure, wish granting oil lamps, rings, swords and all kind of marvelous items. The ones you control can invade your neighbour and disrupt their logistics. They also have good quests, usually go into the dungeons and write a benevolent mark somewhere or rescue the princess. Win 3 quests, good or evil, to win the game.
Creature cards are not easy because some of the creatures are 6 page long. So there is just a "creature board", 4cm by 4, to host the happiness/ unhappiness markers, the left-over Talent Points, the wounds and other bonus/malus markers. It shows the base level, the max. Talent Points, max. Life Point, max. Defence, current XP.