September 30, 2015 by stvitusdancern
We have had our Kickstarter pledge for a few months now for Soda Pop Miniatures‘ Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King (SDE: FK) and we are loving it! Are you a fan of video game dungeon delving and combat? We are and we love that they have taken that premise and turned it into a tabletop game that the whole family can play.
This is the second set for Super Dungeon Explore (SDE) game and acts as a stand alone set, so if you have not played the original SDE you are in luck, because all you need is in this wonderfully coloured box.
What Is Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King?
Do you remember that classic arcade game where you and three of your friends played different fantasy heroes and you fought your way through dungeons with a boat load of monsters trying to ruin your day? You know how it had the piles of bones where the monsters came from and the game actually talked, well SDE: FK is like that but better!
There is so much more depth and strategy to this game that you just did not get in it’s electronic ancestor. Of course we cannot leave out the Chibi characters, those cute big headed lovable heroes and bad guys that you just want to play because they are so dang cute.
This is a game for 1-6 players who battle on very colourful and beautifully illustrated tiles to rid the dungeon of all kinds of nastiness. As I have stated before this is definitely a kid friendly game and can be taught to them as long as they understand colours and counting. But, fear not adult super gamers, strategy and tactics do play a big part in playing this game.
Did, I mention it is fun? Darn skippy, it is more fun that watching Justin’s beard grow on the Weekender! In all seriousness this is a must have game for everyone’s game collection.
What Do I Get In The Box?
That my friends is a big question. There is so much packed into the box it will amaze you! When our’s arrived I could not believe the weight of it. This was one heavy box of gaming goodness and I could not wait to open it to see what was inside.
It must be said that we got the Kickstarter Always Super Pledge, but I am just going to review what comes in the retail box, so you know what you can expect to receive when you run out to your FLGS or order it online right after you finish reading this literary masterpiece.
In the box you will get…
- 58 Fully Assembled Plastic Models
- 32-page Full Colour Classic Mode Rulebook
- 40-page Full Colour Arcade Mode Rulebook
- 20-page Full Colour Explorer’s Handbook
- 6 Fully Illustrated, Double-Sided Dungeon Tiles
- 150+ Full Colour Game Tokens
- 150+ Full Colour, Double-Sided Game Tokens
Now lets break this down some so we can get a better look. The miniatures are all one piece plastic and have really nice detail to them. They are colour coded, green for the Consul (bad guys) and grey for the heroes. There are also other miniatures of different colours and those represent expansions to the base game.
If you had the time and inclination you could paint up these miniatures and they would make for some even more lovely display pieces. We saw some nice examples of painted miniatures at Gen Con and I am of half a mind to paint them too. Due to the nature of shipping you might have a few bent weapons on some of the miniatures, but some hot water and you are back in business.
The next item or items are the rulebooks and handbook. The first thing you need to know about SDE: FK is that there are two ways to play Classic and Arcade. So with this in mind you get three beautiful books fully illustrated and in bright colours.
That is one thing you will notice about this game is the use of big bold colours in a good way. It is very pleasing to the eye and you can tell the designers put a lot of thought into the aesthetics of the game as well as how the game played. Each version of the rulebook is laid out in clear, easy to understand text, with plenty of diagrams and examples of game play.
Any “special” wording is fully explained within the pages of the book. There is no ambiguity about whether a certain type of play would be allowed or not during game play. On the back of each book is a nice summary of the steps to game play and makes a nice reference for anyone during game play.
The third book in the set is called the Explorer’s Handbook and it is the background story or fluff in gaming lingo, to the Forgotten King campaign. It was a joy to read and while not necessary for game play, it did add to the atmosphere of the game and draw players into the world of Crystalia.
There is the nice looking dice that come in red, green, and blue. These are printed with stars, hearts and potions, with some blank spaces. The dice you would roll would be dependent on your characters abilities as stated on the cards. I will let you in on the secret to the whole game, more stars you roll the better. That is what it comes down to – stars and who had more at the end of a roll.
What kind of game would this be if there was no dungeon or lands to explore? Luckily, Soda Pop Miniatures has included six double sided heavy cardstock tiles in the game to keep the adventures coming. Again, all are beautifully illustrated and can be played in multiple combinations.
Being made of heavy card stock there is no worry of them warping, unless you leave out in the rain. You wouldn’t do that would you? Even when you feel you have explored every possible square inch of these tiles there are other expansions available to continue your adventures.
With any good dungeon exploring game there has to be treasure and traps. SDE: FK does not skimp in this area either. You build treasure decks, explore decks and there is even customization in building these decks so you can tailor them to your play style. As you defeat monsters you gain cards and when you open chests you can gain treasure also, but watch out for the fiendish Boo Booty Traps!
These little toothed monsters can be a real pest and actually become another enemy character that your heroes must fight. Defeat them and treasure awaits! Speaking of Boo Booty Chests, did you see the cool USB drives in the shape of Boo Booty Chest that held a secret surprise on them? We showed one off at Gen Con and did a little article about it also.
On this drive is a demo of an upcoming video game based on SDE, called Super Dungeon Tactics, there were only 450 drives available being equally split between Gen Con, PAX and online.
A really nice mechanic of the game concerning the cards, is that you can only equip one of each item to your hero, the cards are colour coded and match up with your hero card. What makes this even more interesting is that treasure and items gained go into a backpack that is communal property and the items are doled out as the adventure party sees fit.
Lastly, there are counters and plenty of them, again constructed out of the nice card-stock and beautifully printed as the rest of the game. What I found pleasing is that there does not seem to be an overload of tokens, so you are not separating them for what seems like an eternity.
Yes, But How Does It Play?
As I have stated before there are two modes of play in SDE: FK, classic and arcade. Classic mode is just what it states, one player plays the Consul (bad guys) and the rest of the players are the heroes. The basics of the game are very easy to pick up and depending on how many players there are you’ll work out the tiles used with the different monsters and spawn points with treasure chests.
Say you are playing with three tiles then the Consul player lays down the first one and then a hero player lays down the next tile, aligning the doorways of the tiles up and then the Consul players places the last one. Then the Consul player places spawn points and treasure chest in each tile per the chart in the rule book. Once that is completed they place the monsters on the board based on the cards being used by the Consul player and are placed around the spawn points.
Lastly, the heroes are placed in a doorway no further than four squares from the doorway and not within two squares of a spawn point. An interesting note is that the monsters have a level on them in the form of a bit i.e. 8 bit, 16 bit, and Super.
All the computer people and video gamers among us will recognize this as memory allocation for a pixel, Commodore 64 anyone? As I have said previously the game play itself is pretty straight forward; first a hero takes their turn and then the Consul and then another hero and this cycle continues throughout the game.
Some points of importance is on the hero cards you will see movement points (1 point = 1 square) and then actions points that can be used for each hero’s activation. There are also special skills and abilities that are unique to each character that can be used during their turn to gain special attacks against particularly tough opponents or special abilities to help out another hero.
Figuring out what to roll for attacks and what to roll for defence could not be any easier it is all on the cards. It tells you colours of dice and how many of each. Remember that you are rolling for stars and the one with more wins. The nice bonuses of hearts and potions are built into the rolls, so if you win a roll and you get either or both you can gain health back or a potion.
Another nice feature of the potions is a player who wins one can share it with another player to help them out. There is such a nice cooperative aspect to this game in both the classic and arcade mode.
Once a hero is done it is now the Consul’s turn and they can activate up to four skull points in monsters during a turn. Another interesting twist for the Consul player is they can activate any monster each turn no matter if they activated the turn before.Whereas the Heroes cannot activate again until they have all activated once.
As the game progresses and a spawn point is destroyed a mini boss is placed on the board and the game gets to an all new level. Just as in the classic arcade game as it progresses the monsters level up and become even more difficult to deal with. Once the final spawn point has been destroyed the big boss comes into the game.
The big boss is the one with the “super” on his card and he can be activated in the same turn as other monsters as he does not count against the four skull points for monster activation. Obviously, if you defeat the Boss you win the game and if he or his minions kill the heroes than the Consul wins.
In the arcade version, players act cooperative against an “AI”. Basic game play is the same as Classic, but you activate two heroes first and then the Consul activates and this is based on the “disturbed” model which means any tile that has heroes in it or shares a door with that tile. If the heroes have attacked monsters they can be considered “disturbed”. Once that has been determined you proceed in order of activation: creep, Dungeon Boss, Mini-Boss, Elite, and Minion.
The Upkeep step is next where effects are ended. Then comes the Command steps; one player draws a Command Card that tells them what the Consul will be doing this turn and then the Command is completed per the instructions on the card. This cycle continues until the game is completed with either the defeat of the Dungeon Boss or the Heroes.
Obviously, this is a very brief overview of the gameplay and there is so much more that adds to the fun of this game. Pets and wonders add a new dimension to game play and status effects. There is so much to this game and with all of the expansions you can find yourself falling into the world of Super Dungeon Explore, not that there is anything wrong with that!
Would You Recommend This To Others?
If you could not tell from this article if I like or love this game, then I need more metaphors! Seriously, this game is all about fun; it is a terrific game that does not taking itself too serious in the name of fun. The game play is well thought out and easily picked up by all whether a hardcore gamer or not.
The miniatures are really nice and even if you are not into Chibi you will find yourself liking them before you know it, as I did. When the family sits down at our game table and we are looking for a game they can all play, we pull this from the shelf. So, yes I would most definitely would recommend this to anyone.
What Is Next For Super Dungeon Explore?
If you have not heard Soda Pop Miniatures / Ninja Division are launching a new Kickstarter in a few weeks for the next iteration of SDE to be called Super Dungeon Explore Legends. In this Kickstarter you actually will have access to three new products including Super Dungeon Explore 2nd Edition with updated rules to align with SDE: FK with new sculpts.
The Midnight Tower expansion will also be available which introduces The Midnight Queen and her hordes of nastiness to include bad elves and creepy crawlers (spiders!). Lastly, there is Legends which introduces a campaign system to SDE and now you can play and level up your Heroes through many an adventure.
A little RPGing perhaps? All of this is very exciting and while I know that we just received our pledges just a few months ago, but we are ready to level up.
Do you have what it takes to explore the dungeons of Crystalia?
"This was one heavy box of gaming goodness and I could not wait to open it to see what was inside..."
"Another nice feature of the potions is a player who wins one can share it with another player to help them out. There is such a nice cooperative aspect to this game in both the classic and arcade mode..."