|Two boxes of awesome.|
Dungeon Command comes in two separate boxes. Each box corresponds to one of two pre-assembled war bands: the Heart of Cormyr and the Sting of Lolth. The sets are marketed as being enough for one player to play the game; although a limited two player game can be run out of the same box, the expectation is that each person that wants to play will bring their own box to the table. This makes sense in consideration of all of the other tabletop miniature games out there, which often expect you to invest well into the triple digits before you have everything you need to really play a game.
|The Sting of Lolth box interior.|
|The Heart of Cormyr box interior.|
The Rules and Set Up
The rules did not seem too difficult to read through the first time, although I found that I instinctively skipped sections of the rules. This was foolishly based on my estimated understanding of Dungeons & Dragons and this game's use of similar terms. However, basic game concepts are relatively simple: players go back and forth taking turns, with each turn being composed of the same steps. The bulk of a player's turn involved activating creatures on the map to do stuff. This was the basic game. Other than setting up and understanding the game end condition, there was not a lot more to it. Satisfied with my understanding, I set up the play area.
|Look, Ma! I built a dungeon!|
After building the dungeon setup, players establish their initial starting forces. This is a simple process. From their starting hand of creature cards, each player (starting with a player randomly chosen to start) plays Creature cards and places them in the starting area. As it is throughout the game, a player can never deploy creatures such that the levels of creatures on the board would exceed the leader's current Leadership skill. Although relatively low at first, the Leadership skill will increase every turn, allowing more creatures on the map at once. Once both players have their figures on the map, the game begins.
Gameplay and Killing Things
|First game, after the second turn.|
|Cormyr war band HQ. Beer not included.|
There are some slightly fussy rules regarding attacking, movement, and otherwise doing things while adjacent to an enemy. Moving to a space adjacent an enemy normally ends your creature's movement. Starting adjacent to an enemy makes your speed 1, meaning you do not move a whole lot. Ranged attacks cannot be made while adjacent to an enemy, so a player has to think about all of these interactions when positioning their creatures. One feature that was well received, though, was that all attacks do fixed damage (measured in 10s of hit points). There was no rolling or random determination of damage and all attacks not interrupted by Order cards automatically hit (except in a few circumstances).
|Leave it to Lolth to bring a Drider to a Dragon fight.|
But When Does It End?
Dungeon Command has two end game states. One happens at the end of a player's turn. If a player ends her turn with no creatures on the battlefield, she loses. This means that every single creature in the player's war band has been defeated on the field, as otherwise a creature could be played from that player's hand of creatures. In the two games that we played, this never happened, although I will not suggest that it could never happen. It seems more a measure to prevent a game from going on with no end, since a side is bound to run out of creatures some day or another.
|It also has wilderness maps on the back!|
|Wait, Umber Hulk? Did somebody say Umber Hulk?|
So, it is worth it? Is Dungeon Command something you should invest in? After two games, I feel like it is a good game. Order cards make the game fun in a way that I would not expect in a miniature skirmish game and I suspect that WotC will use this to their best advantage (randomly distributed collectible Orders? SURE THING!).
|But do I want what's inside?|
Most importantly, if you are interested, I recommend finding a local game store running the D&D Game Day event and give the game a try. If nothing else, you may get yourself a novelty promotional item...