Guild of Dungeoneering is a game that reminds me why I love table top role-playing games so much. At the same time as having rekindled my interest in collectible card games. There is something overly satisfying about being able to watch a cute, paper figure step forward towards the final boss only to be destroyed by the luck, or rather lack of, the draw.
It is only in Guild of Dungeoneering, developed by Gambrinous, that your find such an experience as you explore a turn-based dungeon crawler with a twist.
You might be use to building up the best hero you can to enter new dungeons and slowly but surely battling your way to the loot at the end. In Guild of Dungeoneering however you take an overseer position as the dungeon master and lead a hired hero to victory all in the name of the Guild (of Dungeoneering). Once you start Guild of Dungeoneering you will set up your guild. This will act as your main starting point to any session within Guild of Dungeoneering.
It is here you spend your gold and expand your guild to recruit new types of dungeoneers, unlocking new items to find in the dungeons, and building buffs to take with you to help get the upper hand. You can also visit the graveyard if you want or maybe even the hall of frame and view your trophies taken from fallen bosses. Though not much else can be done with the guild and you’ll soon become used to only making passing visits as you tackle the awaiting adventure.
Guild of Dungeoneering features a number of different dungeons each with their own quests within a number of regions to explore. You can tackle any available dungeon in any order you want even switching as you go. Which dungeoneer you take as well is down to you too as you quest forward to ever lasting fame and glory. A standard play session would see me trying a run, failing horribly, trying again and then visiting the guild to expand a bit more before finally landing victory over the dungeon’s quests. That is very much the surface interaction with Guild of Dungeoneering but it is only the bringing of the treat that lays underneath because once you enter a dungeon the fun really starts.
Your dungeoneer will be standing alone and basically naked when you start your turn based adventure deeper into the danger ahead. The movement of the dungeoneer however is not something you directly control but rather influence, this is done by placing up to three cards per turn of either a room, loot, or a monster. Your dungeoneer will always be drawn to something, be it the objective, or some far off loot, but by placing the right cards you can change their path very quickly. It is also important to do so in order to ensure you have a good amount of time to train up your dungeoneer by fighting the lower level monsters first.
As you will start each run with no equipment and at level one your first goal should always be to get stronger. Some key paths of the dungeon will be set up already according to the rules of the quest you are currently doing. Be it to kill the boss in a limited number of turns or just to secure some loot. Your objective is always predefined but the path you take to get there is up to you.
Once you enter combat, Guild of Dungeoneering takes on the form of a collectible card game of sorts in which both your dungeoneer and the monster you’re fighting both draw cards and play by their rules. You draw a starting hand of three cards and an additional card each turn before shuffling them all back into your deck when you run out.
Unless the monster has a buff to hide their cards, you will always see the card they will play before you choose your own action. You could deal out some physical or magical damage, block against those or all damage, Maybe block some incoming damage and deal out a counter hit. Why not play a card that deals two magical damage, is unblockable and lets you draw a card? If it is in your hard, you can.
That is the beauty of Guild of Dungeoneering’s combat system. It honestly feels like a solid card game and I would not be surprised if they had just made that. The tactics and strategy that comes into play during combat is made even more enjoyable by the fact your deck is always going to be random.
Each class of dungeoneer has their own personality and traits which mix up your play style along with your starting cards. Take the bruiser for example, their trait ‘Spikey’ means that when you successful fully block an incoming attack your dungeoneer will deal one damage. The barbarian on the other hand has ‘Deathwish’ which makes them seek out the higher-level monsters in the dungeon but giving the barbarian +2 hp when fighting said monsters.
There is an almost-perfect balance of strategy and luck to be found within Guild of Dungeoneering.
That said however the saying ‘the best defence is a good offence’ is not something I would use to explain Guild of Dungeoneering’s combat system. This is because as each card is played, at the same time both your dungeoneer and the monster you’re fighting can die which sadly results in a failed run. However, take into account that some cards may make the user hurt themselves or you have a buff that deals damage per damage blocked. You will soon find that Guild of Dungeoneering is best played with a strong defence in mind that can quickly adapt to a killer offense.
You can plan ahead as much as you like taking into account all aspects of the character, dungeon and monsters but you should always be ready for some surprises along the way.
One of the touches in Guild of Dungeoneering that really like is the way the game is narrated by a bard-like character. Each small melody he sings to you is bound to put a smile on your face even if the song is about how you’ve failed another dungeon.
The only downside however is that the music can get rather annoying after sometime due to a rather short loop. It is a shame because the music is of a high standard their just is not enough of it to keep things fresh. Likewise and a common complaint of mine is the lack of a windowed mode or any real graphics options at all. Again not a mark down against Guild of Dungeoneering and with promised continued support I’m sure it will turn up in time. Just would have been nice to see.
Speaking of graphics just look at that visual style. It is simply beautiful. I really love it and it continues to keep me smiling even now.
Even though Guild of Dungeoneering might make you ask ‘Why am I even still trying?’ after losing your ninth run of a dungeon it doesn’t make you feel beaten. Frustration or not, Guild of Dungeoneering just keeps me engaged and wanting more. I never once felt the need to stop playing because of broken rules or being cheated out of a victory. An unexpected death can put you down but it only helps to aid in building the best strategy to move forward. Guild of Dungeoneering’s mix of collectible card game, turn based tactics and dungeon crawling creates an odd but solid mix that results in a game that stands up strong even against the weight of a tiny few faults.
Guild of Dungeoneering is a game I think I will be spending a lot of time on for some time and I can not wait to see what the developers have planned for future updates. I highly recommend checking out Guild of Dungeoneering to anyone and seriously recommend to anyone who enjoys dungeon crawlers or collectible card games. It is a solid game and a genuine fun experience.