Review – Dwarf King’s Hold: Dead Rising from Mantic Games
Designer – Jake Thornton
Artist – Tears of Envy
note – Many thanks to Mantic Games for providing a copy of this game for review
It’s clobberin’ time yet again as we enter yet another arena of catacombs, dungeons, vaults, etc. in our never ending quest to do battle with evil minions. This time around we have a group of hearty, but vertically challenged and beardy Dwarves, Shieldbreakers and their trusty Mastiff as they take on the Skeletons, Skeleton Hounds and Revenants of the Necromancer, all in a game called Dwarf King’s Hold: Dead Rising from Mantic Games. This is a 2 – player game for ages 10+ and comes with 6 scenarios of progressing difficulty.
The components are relatively typical of the “Dungeon bash” type of games – Dungeon floor tiles, information counters, dice, rules and miniatures. Note – the figures come on plastic sprues and need to be detached and put together, which is very reminiscent of earlier games like Advanced Heroquest by Games Workshop. Also, they are nice looking models but unpainted. The colorful artwork is very nice and evocative of the fantasy theme and gives you a good dungeon as your playground. As with similar games, having a selection of different tiles provides you with opportunity to create your own home-brew scenarios. I would have lives the card-stock of the floor tiles to have been thicker and more robust but otherwise the quality is good.
The game process is nice and simple and should be ideal for introducing newbies to the genre.
1) Activate your models to move and fight by spending activation tokens. So there is an important planning element as you may not have enough tokens to activate all your models. The token mechanic is the simple yet subtle heart of the game. Its all about using your actions effectively and managing them for best effect.
2) Follow-on tokens can give a dwarf model and extra move or attack action – can be a bit of a tricky decision as you may risk a dwarf becoming isolated but it may be worth it
3) Discard unwanted tokens – Dwarf player only
4) Produce new Skeletons from the Pits of Souls – Necromancer player only and no action costs – those pesky skeletons keep popping up
5) Utilize the Baleful Gaze ability – Necromancer player only and mightily glad they will be for it to keep the Dwarves under pressure
6) Replenish action token pool
Things are very straightforward. You move and/or fight. That’s it. No magic, no special moves. Very little in the way of surprises other than Skeletons that pop up. Nothing complicated, nothing overly challenging. Easy to learn, easy to play. Kinda like a Dungeon Bash 101 game.In fact I would say that this is game does exactly does what it says on the tin.
The scenario time ranges from 15-60 minutes so you can replay a couple during a gaming session without much of a problem.This is a light, very playable game.
Did it work for me?
This is a good game. Jake Thornton, who btw has been an editor of White Dwarf, a miniature game magazine published by Games Workshop and has also been the head of their Blood Bowl (First Edition) game system, has done a good job with his design although it has its limitations as any game would. The scenarios are my main issue as such. I think that there should have been more – at least double. It also would have been nice if there were some connected in-depth storyline between the scenarios too. Mantic Games have indicated that there will be more coming which I think is a must. Some optional advanced rules would be useful too. It is also tough to come up with something fresh and new in this genre with so many other similar games out there. The action mechanic is very nice but I’m not sure it is enough to help it stand out.
So perhaps its real strength is in its simplicity and the audience who will most benefit. If you are looking for the next Descent or Wrath of Ashardalon, this isn’t it, nor is it trying to be. This is the kind of game that’s good for the board game hobby as it provides a point of entry for those who may shy away from the fantasy genre or who are new to board gaming. Why? because it doesn’t bury you with all kind of detail and complexity and unfamiliar terminology but gives you enough of a taste to whet the appetite to explore more which may lead to more sales of more complex dungeon bash games, etc. Ultimately, this is a reboot of something like Hero Quest or even a simplified Space Hulk set in a dungeon. As I recommended Loot & Scoot, I would unreservedly recommend Dwarf King’s Hold: Dead Rising. If Mantic Games supplied ready-to-go miniatures (pre-painted if possible), its the kind of game that could, with the right marketing, possibly gain a broad audience of new, probably young teens. Maybe Games Workshop fans whose parents have put a halt on the never ending spend that Warhammer products require?
Overall, a nice job. I look forward to new scenarios.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7 out of 10
Accessible and for 10+ could work as a family game.
For more information about Mantic Games go to – http://www.manticgames.com/