Review: Two Hour Dungeon Crawl, part 2.

In part 1 I generated my characters, as well as the mission and ‘Big Bad’. The main thing I got from that process was that it was unnecessarily confusing, due to the rules being in an arbitrary order. I should say that I’ve read a couple of other reviews of this game (here and here), and neither of them say the rules are confusing. I’m not sure why, but this game uses the same basic system as several other games by the same company, and these other reviewers seem to have already been familiar with this basic system.

You can generate the dungeon by drawing from your own set of dungeon tiles (although the encounters always take place in the same size and shape of room or corridor, regardless of what the tiles represent), or you can roll on a table they give you. I’m rolling on their table.

You roll for whether a square is a room, corridor or dead end as you enter it. However, unusually, you don’t roll for the contents of corridors as you come to them (you do roll for rooms). Instead, you generate what the game calls ‘PEFs’: Possible Enemy Forces. These are placed in different squares to your characters, and gradually chase after you. When they get to you, they might turn out to be monsters, ‘just nerves’, or something else. This is an interesting idea. However, the odds (1 in 6 chance of a PEF on non-room squares, it could take several turns to get to you, and each PEF initially has only a 1 in 4 chance of being something) mean that you can get through quite a few squares until you encounter anything. There’s also the un-themey possibility that the PEF chasing you turns out to be a trap.

Anyway, eventually I ran into a couple of traps. The procedure for dealing with traps doesn’t involve any decision-making on the part of the player: it’s all rolling dice. To be fair, D&D seems to have the same problem.

After a while, having not run into any monsters, I decided to fudge it for review purposes and just generate a group (this turned out to be a group of 8 Ogres). However, I initially couldn’t find how to decide what the enemy NPCs do. After reading through the rules a couple of times, the answer seems to be that Shooters will shoot at the nearest enemy every round (even if engaged in melee), Casters will cast a random spell, and everyone else will run at the nearest person and engage in melee. However the rules also say that “Non-Shooters can use missile weapons”. Also, the rules say that the NPCs on my side are “controlled by the game mechanics”, which I assume means that they behave the same as enemy NPCs, rather than me choosing what they do. Having a combat between 13 characters and only being able to make decisions for one of them didn’t seem like very much fun to me, so I decided not to.

In conclusion, 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl (like Four Against Darkness) suffers from a lack of meaningful choices for the player. It has the added problem that it’s written in a very confusing order. The version I have is the 2nd edition, so presumably they’ve tested and tweaked it. Perhaps their testers are too familiar with the rules to see the problems with what’s actually written, and they need to show it to people who haven’t played one of their games before.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Two Hour Dungeon Crawl, part 2.

  1. People have been criticizing the writing of THW’s games for years but the head guy just seems to ignore them.
    They’re fun games, if you can let go of having complete control of your forces… not for everyone… but yeah, they’re written in a way that’s unnecessarily difficult to grok.

    • Is there much in the way of strategic choice? It seemed like I (as a magician) would have to basically choose between three spells.

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