Dungeon Sagas Live Discussion

I think I’ve put up more posts today than ever before. Apologies for the inundation.

Anyway, one last post from me today. Promise tomorrow will be saner (I often say that) :)

Starting at 6pm UK time (BST), Ronnie and I will be live online discussing the Dungeon Sagas KS with Andy Ransome from Chilling Wargamers:


Posted in Dungeon Sagas | 17 Comments

Living FAQ: Mars Attacks

Last update 6th August 2014

This page deals with all the rules questions that you might have about Mars Attacks. Please read the comments below to see if your query has already been answered. If not, please free to ask in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions on the game rules, or if you see a post on a forum somewhere that does, then please direct them here so that I can deal with them all in a single document. That way questions get answered consistently and everyone gets the benefit :)


To keep things tidy, comments and questions will be deleted from this page once they have been addressed in the FAQ.

Posted in FAQ, Mars Attacks! | 11 Comments

What’s The Difference Between Core And Advanced DS?

Dungeon Sagas is more than a game: it’s at least two games¹.

The boxed set is divided into a Core game and an Advanced game. We’ve mentioned this distinction before, and those of you who came along to the seminars at the last Mantic Open Day will have heard Ronnie and I talking about this. Of course, not all of you were there, so it’s probably helpful to mention it again.

In some ways, the terms Core and Advanced are a bit misleading, though in others they’re quite appropriate². On the one hand it implies that one supersedes the other (which is not really true), on the other it suggests you should start with the Core and build on that (which you should). What you really need to know is that no matter how many times you’ve played the game, both versions remain viable ways to play – it just depends on what you want out of the game.

The key difference is one of choice. In the Core game everything is laid out for you; in Advanced you can choose a lot more for yourself. A lack of choice may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. What it means is that you don’t have to worry about which Heroes to use, what tiles to lay or which monsters defend them. It’s all sorted for you: you can just open the box and play. Being entirely predefined like this also means that the scenarios can be more closely balanced.

So, the Core game:

  • is much quicker to set up and play.
  • is easier to teach new players the rules.
  • plays quicker.
  • has better balanced (“fairer”) scenarios.

There are always going to be times when you have less time to play, want to introduce new folk to the game, or simply feel like a simpler, quicker experience. Also, some people will prefer this version, and that’s fine. Not everyone wants bells and whistles. We included both versions precisely because everyone’s not the same and even those who want all the fancy extras will sometimes just want a quick game to fill in at the end of a gaming session. Personally, I expect to play both versions.

The Advanced game builds on the strong foundation of the Core rules. This adds choice to most areas of the game³. Choice is nice if you want to try waggling all the game’s levers and playing with all the settings. However, this choice does come at an increased investment of time. If you want to create Heroes, build dungeons, allocate monsters and treasure, work out objectives, buy and sell items, gain experience, visit the market, temple or pub between adventures, and all that good stuff, then someone’s got to sit down and do it. Some of you (and I expect this will include many of the Kickstarter crowd) will revel in the options we have planned for this. Others will blanche at the mutability of it all and just want the simpler world of the Core game where things are laid out for you. As I said, including both versions allows more people to join in the fun.

Of course, yet another cool thing about including both versions is that the community who like tinkering with the Advanced rules can design their own dungeons and then post them on line for everyone (including those who don’t feel like making their own) to play :)

So there you have it: 2+ quite different games for the price of 1.



1: Actually, by the time we’re done I think it’s probably about half a dozen different ways of playing and different games, but that’s for another article…

2: Naming things accurately can be such a conundrum.

3: At least, I hope it will. Note that not all of the options mentioned here are currently included. I’m writing on the basis that we will do well enough in the Kickstarter to unlock all this. Fingers crossed :)

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Game Design Theory, Kickstarter | 21 Comments

What Are Alpha Rules?


Where the boundary lies between Alpha and Beta rules is fuzzy. Neither are expected to be compete drafts of the final product as they are part of the development process. Alpha clearly comes before Beta, so will be less complete. But where to draw that line?

Frankly, I’m not sure I’d draw it in the same place in different projects, so I wouldn’t ask me ;)

However, I was thinking last night that exactly what “Alpha” meant might be similarly opaque to everyone else, and as we’re going to get the Alpha rules up for Dungeon Sagas any day I thought it would be worth talking about what they do and do not include and what I mean by it for DS. Just so you know what to expect.


Firstly though, you’ll want to know when you’ll get them. Well they’re working on neat versions of the scenario maps as I type, so very soon. Sorry I can’t be more specific – these things are a touch unpredictable. I would guess by the end of tomorrow at the latest. Maybe even today :)


Anyway, Alpha. The most important thing I mean by this is that it isn’t complete. Deliberately. What you’re seeing is a working document that will be expanded during the design and playtest process.

The Alpha covers the core rules that act as a foundation for all the myriad bells and whistles we would like to add and which will make the final game more exciting and characterful. However, adding chrome is only worthwhile if the basic structure is solid, so it’s important to focus on getting this right first (even if it’s not always as much fun to play this plain vanilla version). It’s certainly not as exciting or glamorous a process as adding the chrome, but it’s probably more important. This step-by-step, layering approach is what I did with DreadBall, where the game was developed without cards, coaching dice, cheerleaders, and so on. All the fancy stuff was added later, once the groundwork was firmly in place.

This means that none of the Advanced rules are in the Alpha, and the bulk of the scenarios are missing too. There is, after all, not much point in working on fine-tuning the balance of scenario 8 when any changes in the rules will probably make all that work redundant. Instead, what I’ve focussed on is the core mechanics that form the framework on which everything else hangs. I think they’re quite robust. What do you guys think?


What will happen next? Well I’m sure you guys will have some comments and questions, so I’ll try to answer them. I’ll continue to add Design Notes and discussions about other aspects of the game as we go along, and I’d really like to post an early Beta version of the rules before we get to the end of the Kickstarter :)

By that stage the game will be both more complete and more locked down. At present, with the Kickstarter only just begun I don’t even know the final list of what will be in the game. We may add more models, monster types, scenarios, and so on and all of that may change the balance of the game and the scenarios. I’m hoping that we will be able to fund extra play modes and lots more fun stuff in the Advanced rules along with the cards, counters, models or whatever needed to go along with them. You never know though. Part of the planning for a Kickstarter is to ensure that you don’t run out of ideas in the middle, which in turn means that you seldom get to the end of the list of things you would like to do if you could do anything…


So what would I like you to do with these Alpha rules? It’s simple: read them and play them if you can. Feedback is always useful and I read all of it I can find. I’ve already put up an FAQ page for the Alpha rules. If you have any comments it would be very helpful for me if you could post them to that page.

Many thanks.


Posted in Dungeon Sagas | 5 Comments

Dungeon Sagas Alpha FAQ

This page is for your questions about the DS Alpha rules posted during the Kickstarter.

I’ll add a link when they are live.

Please read them before you comment.

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, FAQ, Kickstarter | 141 Comments

Added a Dungeon Sagas Menu

I’ve added a DS tab to the black menu bar at the top. All of the DS articles will be linked on that page, so if you want to link to anything, that’s probably the most convenient catch-all.

Just thought I’d say, as it’s not all that easy to spot :)

When the Alpha rules go up (any day now) I’ll add a link from there, plus an FAQ page for your feedback.

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

Getting Along Famously

I’ve spoken before about different styles of co-op play and what I’d like to see in Dungeon Sagas. Well that was a while ago now, and things have moved on. At the moment, the Core game works like this:

  • The game has two sides: the Heroes and the Necromancer. If you’re playing it with 2 players then it’s head-to-head. This is like the original Dwarf King’s Hold with one side replaced by a group of Heroes.
  • Three or more players = pure co-op for the Heroes. As I defined the term before, pure co-op is everyone on the same side winning or losing as one. There is no infighting and everyone gets along famously. One player is the Necromancer and everyone else shares the 4 Heroes between them. How you split them up depends on how many people you’ve got playing. I’m sure you can work that out.
  • The Advanced Game adds wrinkles. Exactly what these end up being depends on where we get to in the Kickstarter. Assuming, for a moment, that I’m left with a relatively free hand, this will include a variety of experience options for Heroes, and one of the ways they will earn that experience is by completing mini-quests. Whilst the Heroes will still need to co-operate to beat the Necromancer, they will also have some incentive to do their own thing. I personally think this introduces an interesting tension and adds depth to the play and the characters. It will, however, be entirely optional.
  • AI may get added to control one or other of the sides. Again, this depends on the KS getting far enough. It would certainly be possible to write rules to play the Necromancer or the Heroes as AI. You’ll never get as interesting a game as you would playing against a real person, but it’s an option. The most amusing (to me) effect of doing both of these would be playing one AI against the other ;)

So far, in playtests, we’ve had the Hero players working well together, ganging up on the Necromancer (and they need to). They have still lost some of the games when the Necromancer has played well, as is appropriate. Once you’re past the initial couple of training scenarios (these are more concerned with illustrating rules rather than being “fair”) then the idea is that the two sides should have equal chances of winning. No free ride for the Heroes :)

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Dwarf King's Hold, Kickstarter | 38 Comments