Recap: Strasbourg First Impressions plus Dungeon Fighter
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to play a ton of games with some distinctly different groups. With the large family gathering, there was time to pull out some Werewolf, Resistance, and even a little Cash N’ Guns. Then, with the extra time off, I got in some gaming with the in-laws and a get-together with my regular group. Holiday weekends are the best. In addition to some old favorites, I got a first play of Strasbourg, more Dungeon Fighter madness, and an epically close Sentinels game.
Strasbourg. So far, I’ve enjoyed just about every Feld game that I’ve played. As a designer, Feld is both prolific and interesting. It almost reminds me of Reiner Knizia a decade or more ago. What tends to distinguish Feld’s properties is that he will take a rather typical euro-game and then layer on one interesting and engaging mechanic. The windrose from Macao, the mancala in Trajan, etc.
With Strasbourg, players have a finite action card set that they use to bid on various actions. The actions generally allow control of two elements: the town council and the city proper. The bid order is randomly determined at game setup but is thereafter known to the players. Each round (of five) players can draw action cards. They can draw as many as they want, but have only 24 to last them five rounds. Depending on the strength of the draw, players may want to draw more or less.
Then, using those cards, they bid on the various action spaces. With those bids, the players then try to dominate various areas of the city and hedge in close to scoring elements.
Strasbourg was really interesting. It’s not an especially heavy game – probably on the same order of Notre Dame. There’s an interesting dichotomy between using your bid cards for placing in the city (which will ultimately be worth points) and using them to sell goods so that you have money to place in the city. Despite the simple rows of predetermined action, there are a number of tense moments and decisions to be made.
Plus, players aren’t left to grope about independently. Strasbourg also includes separate secret goals that players must achieve. This really helped to organize my own play and create a directed approach. Without them, I’m sure I would have been much less invested.
Dungeon Fighter. Dungeon Fighter isn’t an especially complicated game (though there are some elements of tactics), but it is the kind of game where you have a smile on your face the whole way through. It nicely parodies a lot of D&D tropes and I was able to introduce it to my group – which formerly played far more than its share of AD&D (Second edition all the way!).
First, we set up and snagged our heroes. We set the dungeon up on easy (after I told them how difficult it would be), and then began marching forward. Our performance was less than stellar. Dice flew across the board, missed the target, and otherwise were impractically tossed. Our demise came at the hands of a Lovecraftian horror that required us to place the die in the palm of another player and then fling that hand to launch the die. Not good.
Luckily, our first game was so quick and full of fail that we were able to set up again. This time, we made better decisions and, when the stupid Lovecraft beast came up again (what are the odds?), I was able to charm him with my bard. Suddenly, he went from nightmare terrible to totally killable.
As we attacked the last boss, we had all nine white dice in store. Ready to go. The boss took hit after hit with some good damage being dished out. Unfortunately, the boss did damage to everyone when any player missed and one of our party was … not good at throwing dice. He missed a third time and killed all but one player. That player had three white dice left to do eight damage. And he needed all three. It came down to that last die for an epically close victory.
Sentinels of the Multiverse. Tempest, Fanatic, Bunker, and Absolute Zero faced off against Bomber Blade in Rook City. And Bomber Blade was not happy with us. On the one hand, we had very few targets get drawn so his bombs did little damage. On the other, that meant there were tons of one-shots that came out (like Slash and Burn three times over the course of the fight) that were just brutal.
When the smoke cleared, the Baron was defeated again. But Tempest and Bunker were incapacitated. Fanatic and Absolute Zero were at six health or less. It was a close game helped along by not one but two different Toxic Sludges. Dang it Overbrook City! Use those tax dollars on some street cleaning. For serious.