Friday, December 28, 2012

Dungeon Lords is the best game ever, or The Emperor Has No Clothes

Dungeon Lords is the most interesting, engaging, rewarding and fun board game that there has ever been.  It has pathos and irony, plays great with two, three, or four players, the art is wonderful, and it makes you a better person with a deeper understanding of life when you play it.  Of course, I just sort of have to take your word for it because I actually can’t figure out how to play it.  But everyone says it’s awesome! It has a really high ranking on BoardGameGeek (currently 69th)! It must be the best!

Doesn't this look fun?

At what point is a game not worth playing due to the rules being so complex that the balance of time put into it is not worth the return of “fun” that I am getting out of it?  I’ll let you in on a secret. I play board games because I like them and I find them to be really enjoyable. Enjoyable in the actual moment of gameplay, not because I want to blog about them or to endorse the most obscure game that I can find.  So here’s the deal with Dungeon Lords. I just can’t make sense of it, the game is apparently over my head. The rule book is 24 pages with all sorts of pictures and snarky commentary from monsters! It comes with special boards that have the sole purpose of helping you learn how to play! (So clearly I’m not the only person who has struggled with this.)  I’ve had Dungeon Lords for about two years and not once have we actually played a game through to completion. It’s just too obtuse and far removed from what I want in a game.  I know that this is a personal thing, I’m not damning the entire thing, it’s just not for me.  Actually, I think I might be damning the whole thing.  Who wants to play this? Is it really fun?

I assume that the counter argument here is that once you learn how to play it’s a really great game.  It’s an acquired taste.  But I have so many other games that I really like, so why would I struggle with something in the hopes that one day it will maybe be as fun Ticket to Ride or King of Tokyo? I suspect that Dungeon Lords is actually a great idea more than a great board game.  The concept is awesome.  You take on the role of a monster that owns a dungeon. It is your responsibility to stock the dungeon with traps and monsters, and then adventurers show up and try to take your shit.  And you try to kill them.  Clever and just the sort of role reversal, meta gaming that I really dig.  Except that that the execution of it actually sucks.  There are so many counters and tokens to keep track of, all sorts of different phases to the game that all have their own rules, and the game just seems to move really slow.  Of course, when you have no idea what is really happening it tends to draw your interest away from the actual game. 

After two years I need to admit that Dungeon Lords is just a sunk cost, I will never get anything even close to the $50 that I spent on it back in enjoyment.  I think I may be writing this blog just so I can get some use out of it.  Currently, there is a stack of games on top of Dungeon Lords, it has literally been buried by just about every other game that I have. 

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