6 Inch Move Review: Super Dungeon Explore

As you can probably tell from the dearth of things on the blog recently, the good folks at 6 Inch Move have been rather busy doing lots of things other than gaming. Yes there have things that could be blogged about, however, in the interest of keeping things civil I’ve refrained a lot from posting about how I’ve had to sell my wife and daughter to African organ farmers to afford the latest stuff from “Plastic-crack Peddlers of Nottingham” (TM).

Despite the excitement building up to the release of Dropzone Commander and then 6th edition 40k landing as well things have been very quiet in the gaming halls of the floating citadel. This is a situation that we all would like to correct as gaming is what we do and it’s nice to get together and throw down with some dice from time to time. With that in mind and the rather obvious title of the post here, one can no doubt work out what happened. Due to some rather fantastic aligning of planetary bodies, not to mention sacrificing many delicious virgins, we managed to put together two evenings of gaming over this past weekend.

Super Dungeon Explore has been on my radar for a while now, it’s certainly not the cheapest of boxes which is the primary reason why I’ve not tossed some cash at Soda Pop and grabbed a copy myself. Luckily for me though, nBreaker grabbed the box and its first expansion a while ago and I’ve been itching to try it out and see it it’s as good as it looks.

For those unaware of this particular dungeon-delving delight it’s offered by Soda Pop Miniatures authors of the recent Relic Knights Kickstarter (which due to shortage of funds I couldn’t support myself) and manufacturer of some really nice anime inspired models. Super Dungeon Explore (hereafter shortened to SDE) is a game inspired by Japanese RPGs of old. You can play with up to 5 players and a 6th plays the various dungeon denizens. There are various game boards that you use to construct the dungeon according to how many heroes there are in your party. Between the first expansion and the core game there is a hero for everyone. I’ve managed to play through the game three times over the weekend, trying a different hero each time and I have to say that I love the Rogue. Each hero has their own abilities and stat card and you really benefit off creating a varied party. We tried an all melee party once and it didn’t go so well, but I mainly put that down to Servitob playing as the dungeon and his dice never run cold so we were up against it from the start.

The purpose of the game is to kill the spawn points that allow the dungeon denizens to enter the dungeon and then try to kill you. There is one spawn point per board with the number of boards in play equal to the number of heroes you’re using. As the heroes make kills and get wounded by the bad guys there is a power track that allows the dungeon controller to bring in more stuff per turn or, at certain pre-determined points, spawn a mini-boss and then the main dungeon boss. In the core set, this would be Starfire the Dragon. There are treasure chests to plunder and loot that can be claimed by defeating the nasties assaulting you. Whether playing as a hero or the dungeon there’s stuff for you to get and chances for you to win the game. The dungeon player isn’t just a drone scripted into what he’s doing but a fully functioning player hellbent on the heroes destruction.

Each hero and dungeon nasty has a card that gives it a movement and action value. Movement determines how many squares you can move and action points are there for you to activate abilities or lay the smack down depending on your preference and situation. At the start of each turn one hero rolls off against the dungeon to see who gets to go first, if the hero wins then that hero has to go first, if he loses the dungeon inevitably brings the pain. The dungeon can only activate so much stuff at once before the next hero in line gets to go so you’ve got plenty of opportunity try to clear some trash out before you get swamped. What we did notice is that with a couple of heroes having area-of-effect abilities, these are very nice to have. There are natural choke points that happen in the game and while this quickly accelerates the power metre to spawn the boss it also provides a good way to quickly remove threats, we found them well worth taking if you like those heroes that have it.

In our first game we messed up some of the rules and this left everyone feeling a bit “meh” about it. However, after another read through and some forum trawling our second and third games went much better and everyone enjoyed it with our concerns banished. It takes a couple of hours to get through a 3 player game and it doesn’t take long before your heroes are going back and forth with Kobolds and Dragonlings, kitting themselves out in extra armour and weapons that boost their abilities before daring to try and get rid of the nasty Dragon.

The dice mechanics are nice and simple, providing the chance to heal yourself and others as well as crumping the enemies you face. Each hero has a potion (or two) that they can use either on themselves or others to increase their prowess. It really is worth noting that you want to communicate and act as a team. If people get greedy or selfish, going after treasure chests or over-extending, then the dungeon can really hurt you. In our last game I looted a Resurrection Charm on my Ember Mage. I kept it myself (loot can be handed out around the party) to resurrect another character should they die (we had all died in the previous game). However, what this meant was that the dungeon player *shakes fist at Servitob* sent everything my way as I was, rather stupidly, at the front of things as well. If the heroes play together then they can be really powerful and tough to take down, they are not invincible however.

There are three colours of dice that are used for making attacks or defending from them, as well as being used for various skills. Loot and treasure can boost the number of them you roll as well as giving you extra action points or straight up bonuses to rolls. The mechanics of this are wonderfully simple and very easily picked up. Because you don’t use the same tiles from game to game (you can if you want) and the heroes you use are likely to change (there are no must-take heroes) there is a lot of replayability, especially with someone taking the role of the bad guys, you can rotate that around as you want. The Dragon boss is suitably nasty but can be taken down with co-ordination and planning. It might take a few rounds too. While things seem really simple on the surface when you actually play it and start to think about the game there is a lot of veiled strategy involved with how you do things. Do you wade in and AOE all the bad guys, getting loot quickly but also accelerating the power gauge to bring in bigger and nastier monsters, or clear a path for others of your party to come in and do their thing?

The models for the monsters and heroes themselves are fantastic. Everything is done is a super-deformed chibi style which I really like. nBreaker is doing a good job of getting them painted too so we’ll end up with something that looks as good as it plays by the time they’re finished. If you’re looking for a fun game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and be played in an evening then you could do a lot worse than take a look at SDE, it certainly got a big thumbs up from all of us!


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