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Dungeons of Doria

Dungeons of Doria is a big box fully cooperative dungeon crawler for up to six adventurers. There's no need for a Dungeon Master (DM): the 1-6 players choose a quest and work through its scenarios - for example, to find the artifacts belonging to the Grim Reaper...

Tho' there's an overall world map for Doria, you are actually playing on an evolving modular board assembled from tiles. There's a big bag of 10-sided dice and colourful standees for all the heroes and monsters. The game comes with a book of 20 individual scenarios that you can play on their own as standalone games or chained together to create a campaign, but there are also four distinct quests, each of which forms a mini-campaign as it's usually made up of at least eight scenarios. And the way the game functions means that you can happily repeat quests in the knowledge they are never going to play out the same way the second or third time around. There's a plethora of tokens and what might seem at first glance to be a hefty rules overhead but the game comes with a 'Quick Start Guide' and, with that, we found we were up and running quite quickly, just confirming rules details when queries and conditional effects arose from the text on the cards. Mind you, there are a lot of cards...

A core feature of Viktor Ahrens' design for Dungeons of Doria is the central initiative track that accommodates all the heroes and each monster you encounter. It's always the turn of the hero or monster with the most initiative points. That of itself is not unusual but the innovation here is that every action incurs a cost in initiative points, so moves you down the track... Your hero characters develop as they level up through the game, and, as in Dark Souls (Steamforged Games) often you'll need to follow a particular levelling up path to give you the attributes needed to use the more powerful weapons you find among the loot.

It's a big plus having an adventure game where all the players are on the same team rather than having one player acting as the facilitating DM or as an asymmetric opponent. Whereas most dungeon crawlers incorporate some form of levelling to seed the monsters you encounter, Dungeons of Doria eschews this in favour of a delightfully randomised card-based system which could mean your party finds valuable loot virtually unprotected or, just as likely, throws the adventurers immediately at the feet of a very powerful adversary with multiple enhanced modifiers! Some will find this infuriating but, in our plays at Board's Eye View, most players felt it added to the thrill of the game: you really don't know what you'll encounter. Dungeons of Doria then is a dungeon crawler that encourages improvisation as players respond to the often memorable situations that chance generates for them.

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