Dungeon Command: Tyrrany of Goblins – A Written Review
Review #44 –
Dungeon Command: Tyranny of Goblins By Chris Dupuis, Peter Lee, Kevin Tatroe, and Rodney Thompson – Art By Kerem Beyit, Ben Wootten, Dan Scott, and Matt Adelsperger – Published By Wizards of the Coast
* * * * *
Thoriban reeled back, the pain was becoming nearly unbearable. He fought to keep control of his consciousness even the blackness at the far end of the room almost appeared to be shifting around in his field of vision. That last backhanded blow had nearly sent him over the edge into the sweet embrace of darkness. He would not succumb though, not to this filthy goblin wretch, this ”Tarkon Draal” or whatever it called itself .
“Speak! How open door? You give word, we GO!” shouted the goblin, its putrid breath inundating his senses.
Thoriban wasn’t sure what was worse, the relentless beatings, or listening to the vile creature speak. It was amazing to Thoriban this waste of oxygen could utter words in the common tongue, let alone form a full sentence. Maybe, just maybe if he taunted the smelly beast enough it would get angry enough to just end it.
Thorabin braced himself as the next blow landed knocking out teeth and nearly dislocating his lower jawbone. Thorabin steeled his resolve and immediately spat back at the beast his teeth flying out in the process. “Ye putrid filth! Ye be thinking yer pea brain can even remember th’ words if’n I gave ‘em to ye? Jus’ let it know ye are not the enemy ye dolt!” Thorabin tried his best to muster a laugh hoping that final act of defiance would push Tarkon over the edge into rage…
“Dothes nimere somaro sen der fa?” Thorabin’s laughing came to an abrupt stop as he realized this goblin, this enemy of his people since time immortal had just asked him in perfect dwarvish “Simply, I am not the enemy?”
Tarkon turned on his heels heading for the dwarven treasure vault but not before he took a moment to relish the look of horror on the dwarves face as he realized Tarkon was no simple moronic goblin and he had just given up all of his clans greatest treasures. Ahh yes Bane would be proud of his servant this day!
Thorabin’s screams of rage turned to fear as the blackness on the far side of the room unfurled its wings and slowly loped towards him…
* * * * * * *
Dungeon Command is a small scale fantasy based tactical skirmish game for 2-4 players using either a pre-built or custom squads. The game is played on double sided interlocking battlefield tiles representing a “Dungeon” on one side and an “Outdoor scene” on the other. The Battlefield Tiles come in 2 sizes, 4×8 and 8×8 square grids used for determining movement and range. The board is set up before the game starts to form the battlefield and each faction has unique Battlefield tiles allowing for extra customization. Your squad has a “Morale Level” based on the Commander you choose to lead your squad. Morale can be increased by recovering treasures randomly placed on the board before the game starts or by playing certain order cards. Morale is lost when creatures you control are defeated or “Cower” from attacks. When a player loses all their Morale or ends their turn without any units on the battlefield the game is over and the player who has the highest remaining Morale is declared the winner. Highest Morale helps to create a victory condition that deters simply ganging up on another player in 3+ player battles.
In a unique twist, the game does not use dice, instead opting for one time use “Command Cards” that grant your creatures additional abilities, extra attacks, dodges, ripostes, and additional movement. Don’t panic though while it sounds weird at first Dungeon Command has done an amazing job mixing a little bit of Magic: The Gathering with Dungeon Twister to create a memorable game play experience that plays quickly, offers strategy, allows customization, and has plenty replay value.
What’s In The Box
Dungeon Command comes in an 11.5”x9”x3” clamshell box that includes a fantastic molded insert that holds all the miniatures and components in a nice clean manner. The first thing about the game box that will grab your attention (besides the more unique clamshell design) is the decision to use thin cardstock for the box itself. While at first I was more than ready to grouse about this decision, time has shown that the molded insert is more than durable enough to hold the box shape even when stacked on the game shelf. I am actually happy with the more environmentally minded and less wasteful decision.
The molded box insert does an admirable job of holding all the miniatures in place and includes compartments to hold all the tokens and cards. Although sleeving the cards creates a pretty snug fit.
12 prepainted plastic miniatures
1 Full Color Rulebook
1 Molded Storage tray
2 large double-sided battlefield tiles
2 small double-sided battlefield tiles
2 Commander Cards
- 12 Creature cards (one for each miniature)
- 36 Order cards
- 12 D&D Adventure System Board Game Cards
68 Die-Cut Pieces:
- 30 Damage tokens
- 6 Treasure Chest markers
- 12 Treasure tokens
- 4 Morale and Leadership markers
- 8 Creature identification tokens
- 8 Miniature identification tokens
All of this gaming goodness can be yours for $39.99 of course shaking your goblin gri-gri at your monitor really aggressively might help your web browser find a discount.
Battlefield Tiles: Dungeon Command is played on a game board made up of interlocking cardboard tiles. Each tile is double sided with one side representing a dungeon complex and the other representing an outdoor area. The tiles are thick, full color, and actually contain extra graphical flourishes such as cave entrances, magical circles, skeletons, walls of brambles and more. The tiles interlock with each other and are also cut to match the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System Board Game tiles allowing them to be fully interchangeable. If only more companies had this kind of forward thinking. The tiles are designed to be placed in various different layouts creating different game boards each time you play. The tiles from my copy of Tyranny of Goblins are durable and after numerous plays have yet to show any signs of wear. Players who own either Sting of Lolth or Heart of Cormyr will notice a much more interactive battle map in Tyranny of Goblins including doors, rooms, and more obstructions that block line of sight which so far has deterred the reliance on pure ranged attack squads.
Die-Cut Pieces: The cardboard tokens are made out of thick durable cardboard. The art is a nice touch and the numbers on the tokens are very large and easily legible. There are also some nice extra touches for example the 50 points of damage and the 10 points of damage tokens are different sizes easily making them distinguishable at a glance. The chest markers and treasure tokens use a different font again aiding in easy identification. Nice touches all around and good design decisions.
Cards: The cards are very nice. Anyone who complained about the more reserved use of art in the Adventure System games will be more than happy with these cards. Each card has full color original artwork. All of the artwork is very thematic and matches their respective faction very well; from 2 feral trolls facing off in a battle to the finish, to a Hobgoblin about to show a fallen humanoid “Goblin Mercy” all of the artwork fits the theme extremely well. The cards are separated into 2 different decks with each deck having a different back which again assists in easy clean up at the end of a game. The cards themselves use a nice easy to read font on top of a nicely contrasting background and occasionally include some nice thematic text and even quotes from the “Commanders” the players will be playing. One additional very nice touch is a small image of the miniature that goes with the creature card in the lower right hand corner making it very easy to match up the miniature with its respective card. The cardstock on the cards appears to be in the middle range, not the thickest I have ever seen in a game, but definitely not as paper thin as some games I own. I would put them at just ever so slightly thinner than your average current market Collectible Card Game. Since these cards are not shuffled often (generally only once per game) you really don’t need to sleeve these cards unless it is just something you are inclined to do. After a dozen plays the cards are still holding up very well without any signs of wear or tear but the cards did have an obvious “bridge” to them. Repeated shuffling seems to be slowly working the warp out thankfully making me think they were shrink-wrapped by the manufacturing plant before they were completely dried out. As a final note, the cards are numbered and have a set symbol on them should you choose to customize your war bands yet occasionally want to revert back to the original prepackaged squad.
Commander Cards: Each faction pack comes with 2 unique Commander Cards with different statistics and special abilities. These cards are made of the same card stock as the game box, have full color artwork depicting the commander, easily legible game play information, and they each include minor game mechanic reminders on them reducing reliance on repeatedly returning to the rule book when trying to learn the game.
Miniatures: Each Dungeon Command faction pack comes with 12 pre-painted soft plastic miniatures. The sculpts are fairly well made with some embellishments such as detailed armor and each creatures name is on the bottom of the base. As stated the plastic used is the softer malleable plastic which adds to the longevity of the miniatures and there is little fear of a staff or sword breaking. The downside to the softer plastic though is that they do not hold the finer details that the harder plastics and metals can and they can occasionally be “floppy” looking (compare the 2 Hobgoblin swords for a good example).
The paint jobs range from simplistic; the smaller goblins use what can be best described as simplistic muddy colors, to pretty decent, the Troll has some good use of shading, about on par with a “Dip Method” paint job. A hobby painter could, and easily can if so inclined, paint better miniatures. Honestly though the paint jobs are a nice touch and sometimes it is nice to just open up a game, toss the components onto the table, and just start playing without worrying about hours of hard work being ruined by a chip.
I am more than happy with the included paint jobs because I know I can easily pull out my paints and spruce them up quite easily. Once you start building war bands you might want to touch them up with paints to keep units from the same faction controlled by different players more distinct or simply rely on the included cardboard tokens if you are not inclined to whip out a paint brush any time soon. The miniatures are designed to use the same scale used in the Dungeons and Dragons Role playing game and the Adventure System games making them 100% interchangeable with each other.
Rulebook: The rulebook has 15 full color pages including game play examples, a table of contents, and even a turn summary on the back page. The rulebook does a fantastic job of breaking down the components including a full page allotted just to describing the cards themselves (not that they are difficult to understand mind you). The rulebook is made out of standard paper though so expect it to tear easily if you are not careful. Aside from the use of standard paper though the rulebook is very nice and lays out the game rules very well in a logical easy to follow manner. The final page of the rule book includes instructions to play a 3 or 4 player free for all or a team based game and simple rules for building your own squads from scratch. Aside from the new artwork on the cover it is the same version of the rulebook in all 3 faction packs.
Components and Presentation Verdict: 8.75/10 – Dungeon command comes with some good, quality components. The artwork is thematic, the intelligent design choices are apparent, the battlefield tiles are continuing to evolve, and the miniatures are nice. Aside from the warp in the cards that is thankfully working its way out and the difficulties inherent in the use of softer plastics there isn’t anything to complain about here.
How Does It Play?
Dungeon Command is a small scale skirmish game where each player takes control of a fantasy themed squad that will slowly grow in power as the game rounds pass. Players will seek out treasures and fight their opponent while trying to either remove the opponent’s creatures from the board or drop the opponent’s Morale to zero or lower forcing them to retreat from the battlefield. Morale is gained by finding treasures but lost by having your units defeated. On a players turn they may move all their creatures and perform only one action per creature. Order Cards let players break the rules and do other things such as attack multiple times, move units on the board, heal allies, and even prevent damage. After moving, players will have the opportunity to add more allies to the battlefield if their Commander has enough Leadership to control the additional forces. Players must use resources wisely though for each Order Card can only be used once and Creatures removed from the battlefield do not come back unless of course an Order card allows it.
Can you lead your squad to victory over your enemies or will they suffer crushing and humiliating defeat?
Dungeon Command is an exception based rules system, meaning the rules can be modified or changed based on actions and cards used by players. There are a few mechanics that so far have remained consistent though.
The most important thing to remember is that defeated Creatures and spent Order Cards are NOT shuffled back into a draw deck, when all your cards are gone they are gone, unless you play an Order Card that specifically allows you to break this rule. Tyranny of Goblins includes a card that does in fact break this rule.
Tapping: If you have played Magic: The Gathering this mechanic should be very familiar to you. Many games actually use the mechanic but refer to it as “Exhausting”, “Rotating”, or even “Bowing” cards. Tapping is a simple mechanic used to signify when an action has been performed and is represented by turning the activating card sideways 90 degrees. Many actions require a creature to be “Un-Tapped” to perform and in turn “Tap” the creature after the action is performed. All creatures controlled by the active player are Untapped at the beginning and again at the end of the active players turn.
Standard, Minor, and Immediate Actions
Every single Order Card is classified as a Standard, Minor, or Immediate Action.
Standard: Most actions are standard, often an attack of some sort. A creature you control can take a standard action only during your Activate phase and only during that creature’s activation. Taking a standard action taps the acting creature. Each Creatures basic melee and/or ranged attack is also classified as a Standard Action.
Minor: These represent quick actions, such as drawing a hidden blade, drinking a potion, or setting up for an attack. A creature you control can take minor actions at any time during its activation, whether it’s untapped or tapped. There’s no limit to the number of minor actions a creature can take during its activation.
Immediate: Immediate actions are usually responses to other actions. They can be played on any player’s turn. Taking an immediate action taps the acting creature.
Creature Card: The creature cards (and hence the creatures themselves) are the heart of Dungeon Command. Each miniature you control will have a matching Creature Card, you need 1 copy of a card for each copy of the miniature in your squad. Each Creature Card is broken down as follows – The upper left hand corner will list the Creatures Level which denotes what Order Cards that Creature Can use. For instance a Level 4 Creature like this Goblin Wolf Rider can use any Order Card of level 4 or under with the DEX or CHA keyword. Creatures can assist each other to temporarily raise their current level and use higher level Order Cards. Underneath the Creatures level will be one (or more) statistics which will be very familiar to anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons. They are Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Intelligence (INT), Constitution (CON), Wisdom (WIS), and Charisma (CHA). As with level, Order cards have a matching statistic for example the Goblin Wolf Rider has the statistics of DEX and CHA, so a Goblin Wolf Rider may use any Order Card level 4 or under that uses the Dexterity or Charisma Keyword(s). So while the Goblin Wolf Rider could use Death Sentence (level 3 CHA) it could not use Feral Vitality (Level 2 CON). Next under the Creatures Statistics is a Sword in a circle (melee attack) and possibly a Bow and arrow in a circle (ranged attack). Next to each symbol is how much damage that creature causes every time it attacks and is not blocked by an order card (range is in parenthesis next to the listed damage for ranged attacks). Creatures always do the exact same damage and always hit for that listed damage unless modified by Order Cards played by the attacker and/or defender. The upper right hand corner lists how many Hit Points the Creature has, all damage and hence Hit Points in Dungeon Command so far are listed in multiples of 10. The very bottom of the Creature lists the Creatures Speed, which is how many squares the creature can move on its turn. The rest of the card is dedicated to any possible special abilities the creature might have and under its name will be some keywords that interact with Order Cards. There are also colored symbols on the bottom left of the card that are used if you plan to play a 2 player game using only 1 faction box.
Damage Tokens: Damage tokens are placed on Creature Cards to represent damage taken and come in 10 and 50 point values. There are more than enough damage tokens included with the game.
Order Cards: If Creature Cards are the heart of Dungeon Command then the Order Cards are the soul of the game. Order Cards come in 3 varieties each with their type listed under the cards name. Those varieties are Minor, Standard, and Immediate matching the 3 Action Types. The upper left hand corner matches Creature Cards listing the level of the Order Card and the matching Statistic (STR, DEX, INT, etc). Below the artwork is listed what effect the card has when played and any possible requirements for playing the Order Card. Like Creature cards the lower left hand corner has a colored symbol used when playing 2 player games using a single faction pack.
Treasure Chest Markers: Each faction pack comes with 6 Treasure Chest Markers and 12 Treasure Chest Tokens. The Treasure Chest Markers are numbered 1-3 on one side and are randomly placed face down on the Battlefield. When a Miniature lands on a Treasure Chest it is flipped over and replaced with the listed number of Treasure Chest Tokens. As a Standard Action a Creature can claim one of the Tokens if they are on that space, gaining a point of Morale in the process.
Commander Card: The Commanders are the leaders of your squad and are not represented by a miniature on the Battlefield. Each Commander has a unique special ability, a Creature Hand Value (how many Creature Cards they keep in hand, Snig can have 5), Starting Order Hand (how many Order Cards they draw at the beginning of the game, Snig starts with 4), Morale (lose all your Morale and you lose the game, Snig starts with 14), and finally Leadership (how many Total Levels of Creatures they can control on the Battlefield at once, Snig starts with 6). Of all the statistics on the Commander Card Leadership is the one that needs some explanation. Your Leadership determines how many units you can have on the Battlefield at any time. The total Level (found on the upper left hand corner of every Creature Card) of all the Creatures you control on the Battlefield cannot surpass your Leadership Score. For example if you have a Leadership of 6 you could have a level 5 and a level 1 Creature out or 2 level 1 Creatures and a level 4 Creature. Your Leadership Score raises 1 point at the start of each of your Deploy phases though so you will be slowly be adding more or more powerful creatures to the Battlefield. Dead Creatures DO NOT count towards your Leadership, only living Creatures you control do.
Setup is pretty quick and easy:
Set up the Battlefield.
Randomly place Treasure Chest markers in their respective spots on the board.
Choose your Commander.
Shuffle Your Order and Creature Card Decks separately.
Place the markers at the starting point of the Morale and Leadership Tracks on your Commander Card.
Draw your starting Order Hand.
Draw your Creature Hand and deploy Creatures onto the Battlefield. The total levels of deployed creatures must be equal to or less than your Leadership Score.
Draw Creature Cards to refill your Creature Hand.
You are now ready to begin playing!
Rulebook Turn Summary.
A turn is divided into four phases, which must be taken in the following order.
1. Refresh: Resolve start-of-turn effects, un-tap your creatures to ready them for action, and draw 1 Order card.
2. Activate: Activate your creatures, one at a time, in any order you choose.
3. Deploy: Increase Leadership by 1 and place new creatures on the battlefield.
4. Cleanup: Resolve end-of-turn effects, draw back up to your Creature hand size, and un-tap your creatures to allow them to respond to enemy actions.
The most important thing to remember is that your Creatures Un-tap at the beginning AND end of your turn so they can play Immediate Order Cards on other players turns. It is important to remember especially in a 3 or 4 player game that they only Un-tap on their controllers turn NOT every players turn.
Each Miniature can move its speed on its turn even if it is Tapped and moving does not Tap a miniature.
The game also includes timing rules for multiple Order Cards (last in first out), terrain (those pretty graphics on the battlefield can actually occasionally impede and/or hurt creatures), special movement (flying, burrowing, shifting, etc), adjacent enemy miniatures impeding movement, assisting (to use Order Cards on lower level Creatures), line of sight and cover/dodging, and even Cowering, a mechanic where instead of taking damage a Commander can sacrifice Morale to save a creature… the catch is if you lose all your Morale you lose the game making Cowering something to use very sparingly.
The game ends immediately when any player’s Morale reaches 0 or below. Also, if any player ends his or her turn without any creatures on the battlefield, the game ends. The player with the highest Morale is the winner. However, you cannot win if you caused the game to end because you had zero creatures on the battlefield. If several players are tied for Morale, then the winner is the player with the most total Levels of creatures on the battlefield. If there is still a tie, the game ends in a draw.
A sample game might look something like this:
It is Tarkon’s turn his Morale is at 12 and his leadership is at 10 facing off against Snig with 14 Morale and 8 Leadership. Tarkon has a level 3 Hobgoblin Soldier on the board flanked by a level 1 Goblin Cutter, a level 3 Hobgoblin Sorcerer, and a level 3 Goblin Champion. Opposing them are a level 4 Bugbear Berserker and a level 4 Goblin Wolf Rider.
Tarkon untap’s all his creatures, draws a Command card, and since he doesn’t have any ongoing effects he moves on to his Activate Phase. Tarkon immediately goes on the offensive tapping the Hobgoblin Sorcerer and unleashing the fury of the Ray of Frost card he just drew targeting the Goblin Wolf Rider. Snig retaliates by playing Narrow Escape tapping the Goblin Wolf Rider and preventing 20 points of damage. The Goblin Wolf Rider is tapped but only takes 10 damage total. Next the Hobgoblin Soldier charges in and swings at the Goblin Wolf Rider Dealing 20 damage reducing it to 50 hit points and flanking it for… the Goblin Champion! The Goblin Champion rushes to the attack scoring 20 damage + 10 from flanking for a total of 30 bringing the beleaguered Wolf Rider down to 20 remaining hit points. Finally the Goblin Cutter Rushes in for the killing blow dealing 20 points of damage thanks to his special ability, defeating it, and costing Snig 4 Morale. Snig retaliates by activating the Goblin Wolf Riders special ability and replaces the fallen creature with a level 1 Goblin Archer.
The Deploy phase begins, Tarkon increases his Leadership by one, and then his Deploy phase ends.
Finally Tarkon performs his cleanup phase and untap’s all 4 of his creatures. Then play passes to Snig who is down to 10 Morale and ready for some payback starting with his ability to deploy during the refresh phase and an angry Troll begging to unleash its fury.
Simplicity of the Rules: 8.75/10 – To me the rules for Dungeon Command simply ‘click’ for me. I admit I bring years of experience from “Magic: The Gathering” and “Dungeons and Dragons” to the table but even ignoring that the rules flow well. The only challenge that players will have is timing issues and rules exceptions created by the cards themselves. I find if you stick to last in first out rule and walk through the steps of the Order cards step by step they do in fact make sense. There are a few rules and concepts that may take a game or 2 to get down without forgetting some minor details for example stopping movement any time you are adjacent to an enemy unless you have a power (shifting) that states otherwise. Overall though simply remember any rule on a card trumps the rules in the rulebook and before long you will be playing without any problems.
Daddy Why’s This Guy Got A Sword In His Belly?
As a father of 2 future board gamers, a large concern of mine is how secure am I in letting my eldest son play and or rummage through a game box. Granted, BGG and board games themselves very clearly tell you a minimum age, they don’t tell you exactly why that minimum age was chosen. My hope is to arbitrarily tell you why I think this age range was chosen for this game and then hopefully give a few ideas I might have for a game to make it easier on the young ones. Finally I will close with what seems to be the “sweet spot” for number of players and if the game has solo rules I’ll comment on those too.
Dungeon Command is a card based miniatures game for 2-4 players ages 12+. It requires player to use proper hand management, Action Point allowance, and strategic thinking. The game is full of very high fantasy artwork including Trolls, Hobgoblins, and other humanoid races. Some of the images depict violence and blood shed from melee combat but overall beyond some depictions of very high fantasy creatures the images are not extremely graphic. Nothing in the artwork is overly blatantly graphic but definitely close to PG-13 in some cases. The full color artwork is detailed and the image usually covers about 2/5ths of the card so it will be very hard to hide it from younger eyes. The game itself can be on the slightly more complex side requiring proper timing, minor mathematics, and future turn planning and strategizing to get the greatest advantage you can from played cards.
You will probably want to keep this game in the 10 years and older section of the board game closet and away from the eyes of littler geeks, not because of intentional questionable content but because high fantasy by its very nature can be dark.
Family Friendliness Verdict: 7.25/10 – The game can be a great family game for families with kids approaching the teen years thanks to the scalable player count. This isn’t Heroscape though and there really isn’t a way to sanitize it for younger eyes without gutting the core system. If you are looking for a game to play with the 7 year olds, stick with the Adventure System games for now.
For all the potential complexity of the game it actually plays pretty quickly with your average 2 player game (after set up, etc.) clocking in at about 30-45 minutes tops for players familiar with the rules. Even a 4 player game can end in 60 minutes or less making this a game you can play multiple times in one night. The game also does a fantastic job of scaling well with 2, 3, or even 4 players and while 3 player games can occasionally lead to preying on the weak, since if you are leading in Morale your best strategy is to kill whichever player has the lowest Morale to bring the game to an end. A 4 player game mitigates this slightly though making this game best with 2 or 4 players depending on your group’s bloodthirstiness. Honestly though I would not turn down a 3 player game if one was offered.
* For the price you get some great quality components and painted miniatures
* Game is customizable adding to replayability
* Squad based mechanics that offer strategy but is playable in under an hour
* Cower mechanics add an additional level of strategy that causes you to constantly weigh the pros and con’s of using Cowering
* While I am constantly finding powerful card combinations I have yet to find anything I would call “unbeatable”
* Even after Dozens of plays the game is still fun
* Morale mechanics are a great inclusion and make it less of a “Blow up all your opponent’s creatures and to heck with the rest” game
* Card based mechanics are very well done
* Customizable battlefields
* Adds a 3rd faction that plays differently than the prior 2 factions
* Longevity of the system will continue to hinge on continued balance and unique new game mechanics
* The game can be random and you may not get the right card combinations when you need them the most. This can also creep up in a bad draw of starting forces
* Some players will simply not like the card based combat and will prefer dice rolling
But Is It Fun?
Dungeon Command is a fantastic squad level tactical miniatures game. It takes mechanics from a few very successful games and blends them together to create something new and fun. Thanks to the Morale rules the game is also very playable by 3 or 4 players which is something lacking in some tactical games on the market. The Cowering rules also add a level of strategy to the game. You can sacrifice Morale to save a creature you desperately need to keep alive but it is something you need to weigh heavily on. Cower more than a handful of instances and you will lose with a full compliment of creatures still on the game board. The game is also fairly quick playing taking as little as 30 minutes but rarely going over the 60 minute mark once the game is set up.
The components are made from thick cardstock and the Battlefield tiles are designed to add to your tactical options. I like how each faction uses different Battlefield tiles, with Tyranny introducing doors, rooms, and other additions that will force players to change up their tactics if they want to win. I have not tried it yet but I want to use a fast moving Lolth based squad against a strong Cormyrian War Wizard squad on the Tyranny of Goblins battlefield just to see the results.
The miniatures also really add to the game. There is just something tactile and appealing about moving a figure across a game board versus a cardboard token. Wizards of the Coast even went 1 step further by painting these figures really adding to the eye candy. Some may argue that these paint jobs are not great but that misses the point entirely. The point is they are in fact painted and even a mediocre paint job is better than no paint job, the “Dip Method” proves that point. The plastic used for the miniatures is the softer kind of plastic instead of the hard plastic that is used in some games. This is a trade off type of situation, you can have the harder plastics that hold more detail but are prone to snapping and breaking or you can have the softer plastics that while not as detailed can survive a 4 year old. I like both types of plastics for their own advantages and disadvantages. My Super Dungeon Explore set arrived at my door with broken spears and arms which is something that will not be an issue with Dungeon Command.
Tyranny of Goblins adds a 3rd faction to the game and it plays differently than Sting of Lolth and Heart of Cormyr. Out of the box Tyranny brings the concept of the “Swarm” style of play to Dungeon Command. Creatures in Tyranny have the ability to “split” into a slightly weaker creature when defeated. For example when the level 4 Goblin Wolf Rider is defeated, its controller can immediately deploy a level 3 wolf or goblin in its place. Tyranny also contains low level weak creatures that gain strength in numbers and deal more damage based on how many are on a single target. There is definitely a lot of synergy and potential for explosive damage. Tyranny also seems to blend extremely well with the 2 priors factions giving you some very powerful combinations if you blend all 3 faction packs together.
There are a few caveats to the game. The game is playable with 2 players using only a single faction pack but it really doesn’t do the game justice. The game is designed for each player to have their own faction and is even better when you start to customize your squads. The diceless gameplay may also be polarizing for some players and their really isn’t a way around it. Finally a neophyte to the game is going to be at a pretty severe disadvantage even using the stock faction packs playing against an experienced player. An experienced player knows that when they see a Dragon Knight charging towards their Troll, a killing blow is coming. Knowledge like this is the key to winning a battle and only comes with experience. I find games that reward experience to be very enjoyable but do a neophyte a favor and try not to trounce them terribly?
As a side note while this faction pack is well made I would not suggest it as your first faction pack to buy if you are wanting to decide if this is the game for you. The break down between the gold and silver if played by 2 players using only 1 faction pack seems to hamstring some of the great combinations this faction is capable of. I would say so far Sting of Lolth is the best first set for new players who have never played the game before.
That’s all fine and good but I already enjoy Dungeon Command, tell me why I need this Faction Pack?
Ahh yes Tyranny of Goblins, a faction pack that brings some interesting combinations not only among its own faction but creates some great synergy with the other 2 faction packs.
Let’s start with Snig the Axe. His weakness is a low starting leadership of only 6 but it is countered with his ability to deploy units during the refresh phase of the players turn. This grants him the ability to launch some very surprising attacks since he can deploy a unit and then activate it on the same turn, very deadly when paired with units that can deploy across the battlefield.
There are also quite a few tricks up this faction’s sleeve, including the Wolf Riders ability to split into a weaker unit when defeated something that cannot be underestimated. Tyranny also brings the highest hit point creature to the battlefield with a monstrous 140 hit points, reach of 2 and a hit that will leave a mark. Pair him with Tough as Nails which allows him to shrug off 10 points of damage from any source and you have a veritable tank. Sprinkle liberal uses of Reckless Attack to create a behemoth that can pound out 70 damage hits to anything within a 2 square reach.
The Goblin Champion is also a fantastic little needler. On his own not terribly powerful for his level but pair him up with Goblin War Cry and a handful of Goblin Cutters and you have a sea of little Cuisinart’s that will slice and dice the opposition into ribbons.
Tyranny also plays very nicely with the other factions. Ray of Frost might seem like a no brainer to give to a War Wizard, but with its level of 2 it is also great if paired up with a Drow Wizard bringing them closer to a War Wizards power. Arcane Ritual on a Hobgoblin Sorcerer will create a great tactical boost to your team. Blast of force will help you reposition those pesky range attackers and direct them into the waiting hands of your very hungry Troll. For a really fun little surprise use Shattered Weapon on a Goblin archer, they are already at 0 melee damage making the side effect meaningless to the level 1 creature.
Tyranny of Goblins is definitely a great addition to the game and will surely create new ways to modify your squads and bring your enemies to their knees.
Overall Final Game Verdict: 9.0/10 – Dungeon Command is a great, fully customizable, squad level tactical strategy game. The faction packs continue to offer variety and bring something new to the tabletop with each new addition to the series. I do hope they eventually sell packs of Order and Creature cards at a later date but with some of the low prices I have seen on the internet for these faction packs I don’t think I would be saving all that much by going that route anyways. With this faction pack my score for the Dungeon Command game system is actually going up!
As with the other faction packs Tyranny of Goblins does include cards to use all these monsters with your Adventure System board games.
Michael V K
Latest posts by Michael V K (see all)
- Preorders for VOLUSPA and VAMPIRE EMPIRE Start Monday, May 20 - May 19, 2013
- PRESS RELEASE: Stronghold Games Announces its 2013 Origins and Gen Con Convention Releases - May 12, 2013
- Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews – Super Dungeon Explore - May 11, 2013
- Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews – Galaxy Trucker Anniversary Edition - May 10, 2013