It’s official. I love Dungeon Command. I got the first two boxes for free as Gencon judge’s swag (thanks Baldman Games!) and had the chance to play with my daughter on Monday. Gameplay is fairly simple, and faster than actual D&D due to somewhat simplified rules and the elimination of dice rolling. That’s right kids, monsters do a set amount of damage, and automatically hit. Players will sometimes have cards to negate all or part of a hit. Of course, there are also cards that allow players to do other cool things as well.
But I digress. This is not meant to be a review of the game (I like it! Get it! Review done.), but rather a few things you may want to supplement your warbands with to enhance gameplay a bit.
Don’t get me wrong – the game pieces included in the box are absolutely high quality. The cardboard is thick and I didn’t have any trouble popping out any of the die cut pieces. The map tiles are also thick and have a pleasant satin feeling finish on them. However, when it comes to a tactile game experience, there are things better than cardboard. (As an aside, I think that this is something Ascension got absolutely right. The little plastic jewels used for victory point counters really add a je ne sais quoi to the game.) Here are a few things that you can add to your Dungeon Command game to boost it to 11.
Card Slipcovers & Card Boxes
So this one is a no brainer. Protect your cards and keep them together. Different colors for Creature and Order cards would be great, but just simple clear card protectors would work fine too since the card backs are already distinct. I’m also on the lookout for a plastic box that will hold my card boxes and minis together with all the other stuff listed below, though I haven’t found one yet. I feel like the box the game comes in in unnecessarily large, and is filled with a lot of air. Ideally, I’d like something smaller and sturdier.
Hit Point Beads
Instead of using the cardboard tokens to track hit points, why not use those little flattened marbles? I believe they have become ubiquitous as counters among Magic: The Gathering players. For a couple of dollars I picked up two sacks of them – some larger green ones, and some smaller black ones. I used two different sizes in case an opponent is color blind. For the same reason, the black ones are opaque, and the green ones translucent. You can find them in the floral arranging section of WalMart or your local craft store. (Leather bag extra)
If there’s one easy way to make your map pop, it’s by using little treasure chests instead of the cardboard ones. The only place I know to get them is through Showcase Terrain, and if you’re willing to pay a few extra dollars, you can get them pre-painted. A pack of 6 unpainted chests runs about $4. Also, if you own Hirst Arts mold 85, you can make your own treasure chests. You can use a sharpie to write a 1-3 on the bottom of the chests, or you can simply draw off the stack of cardboard ones, kept off to the side. I haven’t thought of a better way to represent the actual treasure tokens yet, I think the cardboard markers for those are just fine.
The creature arrows that come in the box are fine, but I believe that they are meant to sit off to the side of the mini. This means you have two things to move on your turn, and it also means if someone wants to put a mini next to yours, you have to juggle arrows. Better to attach something to the base of the mini. This way, everything moves as one, and nothing is lying on the map. There are a few solutions here. First, you can get some Stuffer Shack Monster Trackers. I haven’t tried these, so I cannot personally vouch for them, but they look like they work great, and I will be buying some in the near future. For something slightly more permanent, you could print numbers on address labels, punch them out with a hole punch, and stick them on the base. (They’ll still come off with a little Goo Gone, or by simply soaking the mini in water.) If you do this, you may want to dress the numbers up a bit in case someone else has the same idea and the same warband.
Turn Sequence Card
One thing that I felt was missing from the box was a “turn sequence” card. Many games include these to remind players what happens on their turn. There is such a reminder on the back of the rulebook, but since the rulebook is so large, keeping it out all the time encroaches on valuable table real estate. I’d rather take the actual rulebook out only occasionally when something needs to be referenced. So, I took the “Setup” sequence and the “Sequence of Play” off the back of the rule book, and made cards that slip nicely into a card protector. This way, you’re only taking up a minimal amount of table space to remind yourself of turn order. You can get the Sequence Cards here. Print it on cardstock front and back, and keep a card by you at the table. There’s 3, in case your friends need one too! Sorry that it’s a little plain. I may have plenty of arts and crafts skills, but graphic design is not a strong suit. (If anyone would like to make something fancier, I’d be happy to host it here…)
Edit: There was a turn sequence card that game stores got for the Dungeon Command game day in July. You may want to check with your FLGS to see if they still have any copies.
And that’s it. With a few little tweaks, you can make your Dungeon Command game great! Well, not that it’s not already great, but you know what I mean. (Oh, and if you think I don’t have plans to make the dungeon tiles with Hirst Arts, you are sadly mistaken my friend. Stay tuned…..)