Posted on Jan 26 2014
Alright readers, today I’d like to talk about a recent interest of mine: casual tabletop. Because, y’know, sometimes you don’t have time for a full-on session of D&D.
So, at work, we’ve only got an hour for lunch. That’s fine if all you want to do is eat, but my coworkers don’t want to do that. Instead, we’ve taken to casual tabletop. Which I guess is just what you’d call “board games,” but these are a little different. I guess it’s the independent feeling of it all that really makes things shine.
Casual tabletop gaming has been on the rise lately, between hits like Cards Against Humanity and Munchkin, we’ve seen a new era of games like this. Fellow writer Kayarath has written quite a bit about the card games that have come out of Kickstarter lately, so go take a look.
Over the past summer, I picked up two games: Munchkin and a card game called We Didn’t Playtest This At All. Both are fun games for large groups, but aren’t actually the focus of my article. Still, they’re both super fun and are worth your time and money if you’d like to look into them more.
Anyway, through the magic of coworkers, I discovered two new tabletop games that both have origins on Kickstarter. These games are King of Tokyo and Dungeon Roll. Once learned, either of these games can be enjoyed in under an hour easily.
Both games are also heavily themed around dice, which is something I find I really enjoy. Sure there’s some randomness to card games, but dice really up the ante. With cards, you have an idea of what’s not in the deck anymore, as well as having lesser odds of getting what you want. With dice, the odds are totally out of your hands, and yet they feel so close. If you only had one more chance to roll the dice, maybe you’d get exactly what you need to win.
But, without further ado, let’s get started with Dungeon Roll.
Dungeon Roll is basically the dice equivalent of a dungeon crawler, only without all of that crawling nonsense. Players will start their turn by rolling their assortment of warriors from one set of dice. They then have to fight increasing waves of enemies (decided by dice roll, of course) in order to get as much experience as possible. When one of your warriors fights enemies, they die. You can revive them with a potion, but it’s still a difficult trek. You keep going deeper into the dungeon until you stop playing or die, losing all of your gains.
What sounds like a simple idea turns into a surprisingly deeps strategic game. Do you use one of your special scrolls to reroll an enemy in hopes of getting more treasure? Do you sacrifice a character to open a potentially-useless chest or move on to let him survive for a future fight? Such is the strategic depth of Dungeon Roll.
Once I caught on to the rules, I enjoyed my time with the game. It’s not a directly competitive game, basically pitting you against the dungeon. Even though you’re competing for points, you still find yourself working with other people on the table to help them move deeper into the dungeon. I’d even like to imagine that this game would be fun to play on your own, but I can’t tell since I’ve only played it at work. Still, this is definitely one I plan to pick up for my personal collection.
King of Tokyo, though similar to Dungeon Roll, is a much different game. Unlike in Dungeon Roll, you directly compete with your fellow players, trying to knock them out of the game. Your dice rolls decide the actions you take, such as punches and healing. By punching, you can enter and exit the city of Tokyo. Those outside of Tokyo can only punch the monsters in Tokyo, and vice versa. By staying in Tokyo you can deal maximum damage, but also make yourself a target for other players. You can only exit Tokyo when you’re punched, so you have to carefully decide if it’s worth dealing more damage to risk your monster’s life.
Your goal is to either earn 20 victory points (earned by entering and staying in Tokyo and by dice rolls and card draws) or to defeat all of your fellow monsters. The specifics of King of Tokyo’s gameplay isn’t as simple to describe in a short statement as Dungeon Roll’s, but it’s simple to learn once you sit down and play it. It was designed by Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering, which shows in its comparable “simple to learn, hard to master” nature. It’s a fairly complex game, especially when you stack expansions on top of it. I should know; I’ve never won a match. Yet I’m still going to pick this one up for myself.
What these two games share (aside from dice) is an indescribeable fun factor. Even though I lose every match I play of these games, I still enjoy the time I spend playing it. Do you know of any short games like that? I’d love to hear about them! Maybe you’ll point me towards another game to add to my collection!