“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”Yogi Berra
Actually, it’s not déjà vu… it’s just the same game system with some nifty new wrinkles. If you’d like to, you can read my review of the original game (Heroes of Undermountain) here on the Opinionated Gamers website – there’s a lot more detail on how the game system works (plus Dale chimes in with his thoughts on the design.)
For those of you unwilling to click the link & hit the wayback machine, let me do a quick refresher on the basics of Dungeon Scrawlers:
- It’s a real-time game of drawing your way across a dungeon map, interacting with monsters, treasures, spells, etc. with various feats of scribbling.
- Players “interact” (aka black out, draw a line through, trace a pathway, etc.) various elements of the dungeon to score points.
- Some elements involve racing to finish them first (killing a boss monster, finding and completing orbs, etc.).
- Each player has a “special power” which allows them to interact with a single dungeon element in an easier way.
- Some dungeons are timed (players have X number of minutes to score as many points as possible) while others are finished when one player takes out the boss monster.
Two years ago, I described the original game as “not a serious game… but it is enjoyable fun and a friendly introduction to the D&D universe.” I also gave two keys to fully enjoying Dungeon Scrawlers:
- Manage your expectations – this is a frenetic exercise in scribbling and drawing under real-time pressure… it’s not Descent or Gloomhaven or even one of the D&D Adventure games. Enjoy the light game in front of you, not some idealized version of it stacked with all kinds of chrome and other bells & whistles.
- Play with the right folks – you know who in your group is likely to balk at real-time and/or scribbling… so don’t make them play it.
Nifty New Wrinkles
Heroes of Waterdeep adds an extra interactive element (Dragon Coins) and a new way to vary up gameplay (Mini-Dungeons) in addition to 7 new dungeons – one of which is actually a single dungeon spread out over two regular sized maps.
- Dragon Coins – 4 coins per player are placed in the center of the table… when you cross off a coin, you grab one from the middle. Each coin is worth a point at the end of the game plus a three point bonus for having the most coins. (Note: coins can, because of the ways some dungeons are designed, be a distraction… but with tight scores, every point counts!)
- Mini-Dungeons – the game comes with 14 larger dry-erasable mini-dungeon cards that are accessed by reaching a Mini-Dungeon symbol in some of the dungeons or by playing the Mini-Dungeon variant in the rulebook. (The addition of these cards means each player has slightly different challenges to deal with – a really nice bit of variety that makes the game have higher replayability. In addition, there are 4 Boss Mini-Dungeon cards for use with the Mini-Dungeon variant.)
- New Dungeons – Having played both versions of the game, I’m partial to the new maps in Heroes of Waterdeep… I think they’re a bit trickier to navigate, have more interesting puzzles in figuring out what to prioritize, and utilize the Mini-Dungeon addition really well. I also love the big two-map dungeon… it feels like a classic D&D ending to a campaign!
Some Final Thoughts
Given the choice between the two boxes, I’d definitely go with Heroes of Waterdeep – it has all of the same silly/fun gameplay as the original with some added twists that increased the enjoyment for my sons and I.
I have realized that there may be elements in the game that would be much more evocative for those familiar with the Undermountain or Waterdeep settings… but since the last game of D&D I DM’d was in the early 80s, there’s pretty much no chance of me seeing it.
It’s still a very light real-time game… so your mileage may vary – but I’m glad to have it in my collection.
A review copy was provided to the Opinionated Gamers.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. Mark Jackson
Not for me…