Designer: Jack Spoerner
Previous Publisher: Infinity and More
Current Publisher: Sky Kingdom Games
Year Published: 2021 Previous & 2022 Current
An expansion to Dungeons of Infinity. This expansion adds two new Heroes, new Minions, new Sentinels, a New Dungeon Lord, a new 18 dungeon mini-campaign, miniatures, and three new areas to explore. The new areas are a Tower, a Prison, and a Cathedral. Conquer these areas to receive new rewards that will help you beat the dungeon you are exploring.
An exciting expansion for Dungeons of infinity that will add new gameplay and a continuation of the Epic campaign from the base game. The campaign in the base ended with a cliff hanger. Find out what happens next in the Epic continuation of the King Armiger storyline.
Includes solo, cooperative, story, and competitive play just as the original.
They say you can never have too much of a good thing.
Then again, I might be inclined to disagree.
After having seen countless scores of my favorite movies and shows ruined by bad cases of “sequel-itis” since my childhood, I would say that virtually nothing is immune to the concept of the quick cash grab.
And from a certain “financial” standpoint, I understand this. People need bread to eat, after all.
Nevertheless, the more “artistic” side of me often leaves me wishing that good authors, screenwriters, and now board game designers would learn when to end on a good note rather than tainting the legacy of their otherwise “perfect” universe.
It is in such a state of inner conflict between the clash between idealism and reality that I now find myself confronted with reviewing some prototype material for Kingdom Cost, the upcoming expansion to Dungeons of Infinity.
Those of you read my initial review of Dungeons of Infinity (DoI) will know by now that I really gushed over this game—even though some elements of the game needed some polishing up (the errata and rules clarifications, for instance), the fundamental essence of the game was the quintessential board game dungeon crawl.
Now I find myself plagued in wondering if all that remains for DoI (much as with the aforementioned movies, shows and books) is a tumultuous and rapid descent from its rocky peak—indeed, it has been said that once you reach the mountain top, the only way left is down…
Is there any room left for growth in Dungeons of Infinity? Even though there was plenty of room for rules clarifications in the base game, was there any room for growth in the gameplay department, which is where the game truly excelled in my initial assessments?
I am not going to delve too much into the “physical” components for the purposes of this preview, as given limited availability for prototype materials, I was only able to partake in Print and Play materials for my initial impressions, so keep in mind that any photos you may see here are from initial concepts and designs, and are of course subject to change—as are the new rules and additions to the game.
Now, with that being said, let us see what Kingdom Cost has to offer from a bird’s eye view.
—New Dungeon Maps, rather than tiles (a prison, tower, and cathedral, respectively)
—New Player Characters
—New Enemy Types, and consequently new rules that apply exclusively to them
—A continuation of the story mode
—a few new teleporter tiles.
I believe that I have already stated in other reviews that I believe that the main purpose of a good board game expansion should be to “expand” on the game world (duh!) rather than rewrite the rules for it. As blatantly obvious as a statement such as this may seem, it nevertheless does remain to be said that it is sadly the case that I occasionally do encounter expansions that are designed only as a bandaid to patch up gameplay issues arose in a base game.
Well, there were no big red flags in the gameplay for DoI for me, so then what remains to be said?
Well, a good expansion would then need to add to the game experience rather than detract from it. Again, it should seem redundant stating this aloud, but I have seen expansions that clutter and bog down the game experience rather than contribute to what we may have loved about the original game to begin with.
So is Kingdom Cost an asset or detriment to the DoI world?
As of yet, I would have to say it is an asset.
Now whether or not Kingdom Cost improves the game by vast sums or not is more debatable. I myself was initially of the opinion that DoI could only be improved by so much given how highly I rated it, so the question that remains is that does it make any sort of gain at all, or is the experience more of a lateral one rather than one that projects it further into the atmosphere?
My impressions thus far are positive.
Firstly, let us start with the new player characters, Lux and Mirras.
While it could be said that the original cast and crew of DoI already sported a healthy dose of variety, apparently this wasn’t enough for the games’ designer, Jack Spoerner, who has somehow managed to squeeze some different play styles into the mix.
Without spoiling things, Lux is “fighter-ish” sort of character able to summon allies to help him in battle—lending a healthy meat shield that can often mean the difference between life and death for your dungeon ventures.
Mirras is perhaps the most unique character of the game. She sports a variety of abilities and attributes that make her unlike any other character. For example, she can gain “half” levels, and even gain level-up abilities at these half-stages of development! And some of these can include permanent stat boosts! All-in-all, she wields far more ability cards than other players, who are generally limited to just 8 in the course of the game.
She can also choose a path specialization (much as you would at second level in 5E DnD), granting her the ability to focus in a variety of different play styles that can be elected depending on your parties’ needs.
The downside? She doesn’t automatically regenerate up to full health once she levels up as other characters do. Moreover, once you choose a specialization for her, you are stuck with it for the rest of the game, so choose wisely!
Of the other elements that are upcoming, I got to try out the new Prison map (I did not get to see the new Cathedral or Tower maps)
Firstly, it should be noted that while the new prison map can be played in standalone mode (that plays in about an hour long session), we of course opted to make things more difficult by incorporating it into a larger, random dungeon scenario.
The objectives for each Dungeon Map will generally be random, determined by a die roll. You may need to knock out the prison warden and take him to a cell, retrieve his keys, or gain access to the prison storage room to complete your “objective”, so as in the base game, there are a lot of possibilities to ensure that no play through is ever identical. New prison guard enemies are there to make your life miserable with a new set of AI cards to dictate their behavior.
However, the real treat for us was incorporating this new Prison in a regular session.
Now how is this possible when the original game is tile based?
The new expansion material will also include 3 new teleporter tiles. If you reveal these during your regular dungeon delve, you may opt to use them to teleport to the corresponding map it leads to (prison, cathedral, tower), and once there, you need to complete either your objective or retreat and not be able to return to the map again.
If you do teleport to the new area, all other events from the main dungeon (Such as Dungeon Lord events) are ignored until you return back to the main tile-based area.
If you manage to complete your objective, you get not only much-valued experience and items that can make taking on the final Dungeon Lord much easier, but you will also get a stat bonus/boost that can be saved and used for a later confrontation, should you need it.
Then again, you may not even survive the journey into the teleporter to even reap these benefits in the first place.
Now if this weren’t enough, there is also a new Tactician minion type. And he adds a new deadly element to combat that makes you shudder whenever he is drawn…
As soon as you encounter him when drawing from the minion deck, all other previously drawn minions are discarded. The tactician immediately goes into the second (middle) row, and you place three new minions in front of him. As you can see, he already has an advantage, being out of reach from melee combatants!
The problem is that at the end of each round, he will continually summon more guards/minions to surround you. So you really need to work fast at clearing the minions in front of him to have a chance to even strike at him—hopefully—and bring his antics to an end.
Should you clear a minion that was directly in front of him, alas, he does not move forward in the combat array, as is normal for most DoI fights—he will stay in the second row, and out of reach (if you are playing solo, you may strike him if there is a vacant spot in the first row of enemies). Otherwise, if the enemies in front of him are too powerful, your only hope is to perhaps have another player flank the tactician from behind before he summons too many minions…or perhaps have a ranger ally target him from afar!
As for what remains to be explored in expansion content, is the story mode…and well, I can’t really say anything about that, as it delves heavily into spoiler territory. I did accidentally come across some things in this preview material that I wish I hadn’t, if that indicates anything how much we are treasuring the story mode from the base game.
And this about summarizes everything we have experienced thus far with what we have been shown for Kingdom Cost.
So our thoughts?
So much is in flux at this stage of development, so it can be difficult to offer a “final” assessment of gameplay and where this new DoI material is going so far, as much is subject to change.
As an example, we were being updated with new rules and changes rather frequently as we made our way through content. Some characters needed to be buffed a bit under certain circumstances, and we did have to undo our understanding of a few procedures here and there to make way for new ones, but that is to be expected in testing phases.
But so far, we are liking the new elements that are in play, and are finding that they “add” to the DoI experience, rather than detract from it, and it is more than just a “lateral” move—some things are indeed improving, although it may be very subtle in detecting these changes.
Take for example the new tactician. While I described its primary COMBAT attributes, what I didn’t mention right away is how this minion interacts while on the map. In the original DoI most enemy mobs were rather static (with the exception of the Dungeon Lord) and stayed in place if you happened to evade combat with them. While this made things “easier”, it wasn’t always “realistic” for these mobs to simply let you escape…
The tactician and any minions associated with him will in fact pursue you! I find it hard to debate whether I appreciate “easier” or “more realistic” enemy behavior at this stage—because when these mobs hunt you down along with the Dungeon Lord, it can make an already tense game all the more brutal!
As much as the original DoI reminded me of playing Diablo 2 /3 , I am surprised that the new material still finds ways to evoke this feel. Taking a DoI teleporter into a dungeon feels like one of those random side quests in D2/D3 where you may encounter a portal that leads to a horde of cultists or goat-men that you can see just ahead of you—you may have a mini boss to defeat there, a treasure chest to open, etc, but it usually meant you needed to make a decision as to whether to charge in risk defeat or simply run away…
So far Jack Spoerner and the crew at Sky Kingdom games have been pretty receptive of my observations. While I make no claim that my suggestions (such as perhaps limiting the number of teleporter tiles to keep the game from getting too long!) will be included in the final form of the game, they are nevertheless open-minded and listening, which can only lead to improvement!
It should be very telling that my wife always gets mad when we have to interrupt our DoI nights to review other KS games that have deadlines. And I am not saying that we have been reviewing bad games lately, either, but DoI has become rather engrossing for us lately—more than a game, it is an experience. So we were both thrilled to get DoI back to the table out of “work-related necessity”, because we have really been wanting an excuse to get into this game again!
As it is, I have officially requested “time off” from reviewing board games in October-December just so I can spend time exclusively with my own copy of Dungeons of Infinity (along with a few other as-of-yet unplayed games from my personal collection) some more, if that says anything.
And we see a bright horizon for the future of DoI. We look forward to seeing where these new developments for the expansion go, and to the new Dungeons of Infinity Kickstarter on September 7, where all sorts of fun goodies, upgrades and surprises await us in the second printing.
I will not say that the game is perfect, but I will say that the game earns high enough of a score that any other improvements in the future can really only be considered icing on the cake. The
If you want to ask any questions, feel free to contact me in the Dungeons of Infinity thread on the EBG forum, and be sure to check out a video presentation from Harry Jacobs at Everything Board Games for more detailed information and a play through summary!
Missed my Dungeons of Infinity Review? Check it out here!
Jazz Paladin- Reviewer