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Dungeon Bowl is a sister game to Blood Bowl, only with a very different setting and some new and interesting rules. You start out by picking from one of three possible magic schools and then building a team from among their players. You’ll need some players that can run with the ball, but also some bruisers that can hit enemy players and defend the goal line. One touchdown wins the game, which makes it difficult to develop a strategy for winning. The placement of the ball on the field is random. It’s in one of a few chests scattered around the dungeon.
I was excited to try Dungeon Bowl, but had a fairly rough start. For one, there’s no tutorial to guide you through building a team, so you can actually end up spending all your gold and then not have enough players to put on the field. Annoying. All it would’ve taken was a warning that you need eleven players. And if you eliminate players from your team, you don’t get a refund for them. Just a bit of hand-holding here would’ve solved a lot of headache for me. Or even a pregenerated team that I could’ve used until I got the feel for the game. There’s no tutorial for play either, which makes it a good bet that you’ll end up with a string of losses as you’ll have to learn how to play the game against live players. Maybe Cyanide Studio thought that only Blood Bowl players would pick up this title. I just found, at http://www.dungeonbowl-game.com/en/the-game/ the game manual, so if you read through that, you’ll be able to bypass much of the confusion I had with the game.
The gamefield map is, of course, a dungeon-like environment, and it looks great. Fans wave at you, cheerleaders dance, (sometimes so do the players if you’ve got the elf team), there’s goblin cameramen making sure you’re every move gets transmitted back to fans at home. You wait for your team’s turn and then try and avoid traps and the other team in order to get to the ball, which is hidden in a chest on the field. Players can run over the map, or use teleporters that randomly drop you on the field somewhere. You can attack other players, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll win, so you need to pick your battles carefully. Some players are built for beating up the other team, so either use them to attack and avoid your opponent’s ones like the plague.
Dungeon Bowl has no single player mode where you square off against the computer in order to make sure your team is good enough to go up against other players and their teams. This is a mistake, though there is Hot Seat mode, which enable you to control both teams, though it’s built for two players using the same computer technically.
The actual experience of playing Dungeon Bowl is fun. Finding a match can be tough sometimes, but that will level off as more people pick up the game. Opening chests to find the ball can be a frustrating experience, and constantly getting blown up by the chests gets old after a while. Without the right mix of players on your team, you can easily find yourself losing each match as your opponent either beats you to a pulp or just runs past your entire team to score. This is where the one touchdown and win thing becomes kind of a hassle. Your opponent doesn’t have to be skilled if they end up getting lucky and finding the ball near your endzone.
Once you get past the losing streak that comes along with learning the game in live matches (argh) then the game is a pretty good time, but this is another place that the shortness of each match works against it. A player can get a lucky score once, but if you need at least two to win, then you’ve got a chance to revenge yourself against that player in the same game. Otherwise, you’ve got to hold a grudge, and hope you come up against them again. Spending cash is always fun, so once you’ve won a few matches then you can buy a few new and better team members to help you win more often.