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 🙂

This entry was posted in Dungeon Sagas, Game Design Theory, Kickstarter. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to What’s The Difference Between Core And Advanced DS?

  1. the1darklord says:

    “visit the market, temple or pub between adventures” This is what I want. 😀

  2. Brian Sherry says:

    Hi Jake-

    Since we are talking about what kind of game DS is, can you tell an owner of Heroquest and Warhammer Quest why they would want to buy DS?



    • Quirkworthy says:

      A good question Brian.

      There are a number of reasons I can list off the top of my head (in no particular order). Some may apply to you.

      1) Dungeon Sagas will be supported while the others have long since been abandoned.
      2) DS allows a player to play the bad guy (and have an equal chance of winning).
      3) The Advanced rules allow you to build planned (rather than random) dungeons.
      4) You like dungeon games and may want to collect them all 😉
      5) DS can be played in a wider variety of different styles/modes than either of those others.
      6) DS has nicer models.
      7) DS is less expensive.
      8) DS is a slicker design.
      9) (Kickstarter permitting) DS includes character development and experience.
      10) That Thornton fellow is a design god and Dungeon Sagas will clearly be a joy to play 😉

      I may have made some of those up. I also may have missed a few.

      Seriously though, it’s a different game in a similar genre. A lot of the difference is in the whole atmosphere of the game, which is hard to quantify precisely. The Alpha rules should be up today or tomorrow. They’re the stripped back basics, but should give you a general idea of the approach.

      Hope that helps.

      • Brian Sherry says:

        Thanks for the quick answer, Jake. As I lover of the genre I am on the fence considering my large collection of these types if games, hence my question. I will keep an eye in it as the KS progresses.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          A question or two for you then.

          What would make you definitely jump in and pledge?

          What would absolutely put you off?

        • Matt Price says:

          I don’t own either of those older games, so I’m definitely in, but what I’m seeing from the community at boardgamegeek.com (though they do tend to be a bit nitpicky there) is value. The initial pledge level was seen as a bit lean, and even though we’re nearly a $250K in, it’s only just now feeling like a game you’d pick up at a retail shop and say “hey, this sounds neat!”.

          What I think might really convince folks to jump in would be the next Evil “faction” as a big reveal. Rumor has it, rules for many of the critters in Mantica are planned for Dungeon Sagas, but if the $300K stretch goal (for example) was a big one: with say an Orc boss, and several Orc minions (any new models planned?!) and rules for orcs and goblins built into the previously called “Book of Depravity”, I think that would really draw folks in. As we enter the KS doldrums between the first two and last two days, we may only hit 5 or 6 stretch goals until the rollercoaster of the end. Make those stretch goals count.

          If “add on Wednesday” is any indication, it looks like Add-ons will no longer usurp stretch goals. That’s a very good idea – it’s super frustrating to see one of the $25K goals be replaced by something we have to buy. Since all the stretch goal minions so far appear to be mono-pose, $25K should be ample room for making a new mold without risking the bottom line.

          I’d like to see a fairly even mix of new model monsters and new heroes, with perhaps a few more monsters than heroes…

        • Brian Sherry says:

          Not that anyone can change what’s being offered now but skeletons and orcs are extremely well-represented in dungeon crawls. I would be interested in sonething altogether new and innovative, by contrast.

        • Matt Price says:

          Keep in mind though, the game will be drawing on Mantic’s back catalogue (i.e., it’s set in Mantica). Orcs are a pretty logical next step, but there’s also evil elves, evil dwarfs… We’ll see.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Some good points. I’ve passed this on to the guys at Mantic who are setting the goals. We shall see 😉

  3. Mi7 says:

    Really interested in the ‘advanced’ game

    My gaming mates and I have recently be collecting the classics…

    I’ve just got DungeonQuest with all expansions
    A mate has got HeroQuest played this on Monday (its been 19 years! amazing game)
    And we are all doing a DiY WarhammerQuest

    I think that DS takes the best elements of all these game and hopefully pays hommage but also pushes this fabulous sub-genre of board games too the next level

    Jake, can you give us an insight to how a sceneario is played, do you explore the dungeon room by room or is the dungeon layed out from the beginning with monsters, furniture etc, basically is it more Dungeon or Hero Quest in its quest style?

    Cheers again

  4. Hi Jake,

    Couple of things, I don’t own HQ, or AHQ but have played bother of them a lot, along with some similar style games.. Also I backed a game called shadows of brimstone https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1034852783/shadows-of-brimstone?ref=nav_search that is a multiverse version of those games, so there are other games coming in this space..

    That being said a suggestion and a key point I feel I gotta bring up..

    Key point: an AI version of this game is a must.. I know that Mantic hinted at it as a stretch goal, but I have to be honest games like rune quest get left in the box is someone has to be the bad guy. Especially in a game system that has persistent leveling of characters as an option.. No one wants to get screwed out of that fun.. Finding someone who wants to be the bad guy is like finding a good organized RPG GM that shows up all the time and is ready when he gets there, in my experience that’s like finding a four leaf clover, they exist but good luck finding them.. So for viability this game must have a decent bad guy AI

    2nd point, an idea, as a Stretch goal have Mantic release an app, applet, web gui something that makes building the dungeon easy, I am thinking like grid paper with drag and drop tiles that are in the game, and I assume there is a bad guy point allocation system or something, so you could drop in the bad guys and have it build the points for you.. This would help a lot, then being able to export and of course share them at Mantic would be great..

    So please don’t tease about the AI, confirm that it is comming and how far do we have to go to get it.. at this point it’s more important then random models.. no AI, means I don’t play this game long term.. I know you like the bad guy idea.. but I suspect many others do not, I can’t stress that enough..

    Hope this is a smash!
    Mike (We spoke over mars attacks, and dread ball apperently I like your work)

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hey Mike.

      I’m not teasing about the AI. I really don’t know when it will go in. The Mantic guys handle the details of what stretch goals go in at what prices and have a flexible and responsive approach that means anything they send me as a guideline is outdated pretty quickly.

      I do understand what you’re saying, and it is a common enough sentiment. However, I feel very strongly that this viewpoint stems from other games having dull “bad guy” roles, and that’s their failing not mine. In Dungeon Sagas the Necromancer gains experience and levels up like the Heroes, adding not only to his own personal abilities but also to the skills, spells, and stats of the Monstrous Heroes he has in his ranks. As they gain power, so does he. The Necromancer has to be as much ruin to play as the Heroes in my view. Anything less is just daft.

      Regardless of whether AI gets in or not (and I would be surprised if it didn’t) the bad guy in DS is not going to be the short straw. Not if I can help it.

  5. BrianS says:

    Not sure what Jake has in mind for the bad guy, but Siege of the Citadel had an interesting option where the role of the bad guy would rotate and the success achieved while playing the bad guy could be applied to leveling up one’s heroes. It was very clever.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It’s an interesting game structure. In DS the bad guy has a more integral role and I’m not sure that rotating him would work. Something I might explore later. I can see a lot of really obvious problems so I might go and see how they coped with them.

      • mastertugunegb says:

        Ah Siege of the Citadel… Good times.

        On the topic of game modes, maybe we could see a later set/expansion/game mode where we flip the idea on it’s head… The Necromancer role replaced by a Dwarf Lord leading a Hold full of Dwarfs and other allies in defense against four allied evil players sent to sabotage, loot and kill for Mortibris or some other big bad guy. Even if you just mirror-match them… Necromancer replaced with a Nature Summoner type, the heroes replaced with an Abyssal Dwarf Immortal, a Twilight Kin Sorceress, an Orc Greatax and maybe a Red Goblin Spitter.

        Might end up doing that anyway using current rules (once they’re released)

  6. PikaRapH says:

    I thought about one thing concerning evil AI :
    2 card decks, 1 ‘Necromancer’ deck where are possible actions (maybe Deadzone style with 2 options with dice roll to make the choice) and 1 ‘Monsters’ deck where are each type of monsters divided in x cards, each card concerning only 1 monster of its kind or all monsters of its kind.
    Actions may ask to roll a dice to check the distance of the effect, its strength and so on.
    The player draws 1 card from each deck to make the AI play : he applies the Necromancer card to the Monster card he drew.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That’s one approach. Given the variability of numbers and ratios of monsters it would make them more or less active depending on the proportions of cards to models. Certainly worth considering though.

  7. Marshall says:

    just saying….as I have a young gamer in the family I love playing WITH him against the “bad guys” . Zombicide fit the bill perfectly for this role….so “AI” to controll the bad guys (or the good guys for that matter) is a deal maker or breaker for me personally

  8. Tom says:

    Before the Kickstarter ends are you going to be releasing any more details on the between dungeon things characters can do? Like is it going to be a few quick shopping choices and done, or the crazy WHQ D66 event tables, or something entirely different? Very much waiting on this before I can pledge as I see this as a major identifying feature for the game.

  9. Pingback: Dungeon Saga – Last Few Hours! | DeathWatch Studios

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s