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Score: 72%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Cyanide Studio
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 2 (Online)
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Have you played Blood Bowl? If you have, you're probably going to want to take a look at Dungeonbowl. If you haven't, however, do not touch this game before you know how to play. If you're thrown headfirst into this strategy experience with no preparation like I was, you're going to have a really rough time of it for a while. It's not that this game is bad; far from it, in fact. It's deep, challenging, and fun -- when you know what you're doing.

I like the look of Dungeonbowl; it's identifiably a product of the Warhammer universe, and the game carries the look of the tabletop game it's inspired by. However, being a product of a medium that allows more creative license, it's able to show you more fantastical things than a board game normally does.

Sound design isn't bad. The almost patriotic-sounding main theme gets annoying after a while, but you'll learn to tune it out long before it gets to that point. The grunts of the competitors are funny and cartoonish, and I love the sound that is made when one team gets a turnover. Ultimately, everything sound-wise is rather minimalist, but that's no problem.


Dungeonbowl is fantasy football. No, not that kind of fantasy football. We're talking about dwarves, orks, ents, and treasure chests. This game is another virtual version of Games Workshop's classic table top game Blood Bowl. Two teams of Warhammer-style characters face off on a gridded dungeon. Statistics play a part in the game, but chance does, as well. Every action with the exception of most movement requires a dice roll. Your job is to find the ball and get it to your opponent's end zone. You can use whatever skills and abilities that are at your players' disposal. And most of the time, there are quite a few. That being said, you'll have to contend with a number of challenges as your team works its way across the maps -- not the least of which is members of the other team. You'll need to learn the minutiae of each map; where each teleporter goes, where is the right place to throw a pass, what squares you shouldn't block off, and so on.

Dungeonbowl has no single player component; it's exclusively a multiplayer game. I suppose the developers of this franchise know their audience and aren't seeking to expand it, because I think a single player mode of some sort might help new players learn the ropes without having to resort to being thrashed repeatedly online while feeling like they're getting nowhere really fast.

Luckily, there's a mode called Hot Seat, which allows players to (sort of) get used to the game without subjecting themselves to the merciless and well-versed online competitors. It's not ideal, however, as this mode also assumes you know how to play; it's merely a local two-player game that has you and your opponent taking turns. I simply started Hot Seat games and tried to get the hang of the game in relative safety.


I don't mean to harp on this issue, but it's a big problem for a game like this: Dungeonbowl makes the grave error of assuming all of its players are Blood Bowl veterans. If you're a newcomer, be prepared to do what most gamers these days never do: study. The PDF instruction manual is all you'll have to work with if you're new blood.

There is no tutorial whatsoever in this game, and frankly, I've never played a game that so direly needed one. This ends up hurting Dungeonbowl a lot; I can't count the number of times I wanted to stop playing this game, only to remember that I had to review it. Trial and error works fine in some game types, but in a multiplayer-only turn-based strategy game? This isn't even remotely acceptable in this day and age.

Since Dungeonbowl is multiplayer only, it is difficult to judge the game's challenge level without taking into account the skill levels of your competition. However, if you're new like me, most of them will simply crush you into the dirt.

Game Mechanics:

I worked for a game retailer for a good while, and I remember having to educate ignorant young minds about Blood Bowl. I'd never played the game, but I had a vague sense of what kind of game it was. Little kids would often think it was Madden with blood and gore, and I'd have to explain time and again that they couldn't be more wrong. Of course, if the child expressed his love of games like Advance Wars, I'd encourage him/her to give it a shot. So just make sure you're going in with the right expectations.

Dungeonbowl is turn-based strategy with heavy role-playing elements. Team member strengths are important, as are rolls of the dice and careful positioning. If you try to force a turnover with the wrong team member, you'll pay for it. Each type of player plays a specific role, and after you've played a while, you'll get a sense of what roles they are and how best to play them. Until then, however, you'll have to experiment wildly while your opponent undoubtedly wonders what the hell you're doing.

Dungeonbowl features a Dungeon Editor, with which you can create your own maps for play and share them with the Dungeonbowl community. Playing the game for a while will help you understand how to create interesting maps, perhaps even more than learning how to play the game itself. The resources at your disposal are about what you'd expect from playing the game, and it's a good way to play around with some of the game's key elements. It doesn't go all out with the promise of a creative outlet; it only allows you to edit currently established Cyanide maps.

Dungeonbowl automatically saves replays of the games you play. This is a neat feature that lets you revisit past triumphs, or in my case, humiliations. Paying close attention to these replays can give you a sense of where you went right or where you went wrong.

I'm not hating on Dungeonbowl for its complexity; I'm simply arguing that its inaccessibility is a huge problem. Of course, if Cyanide is happy with the size of its fan base, then more power to them. However, its lack of accommodating elements constitute a serious turn-off for newcomers.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows Vista/7/XP, Processor: Pentium 4 2.4Ghz /Athlon 2400+, RAM: 2Gb, Video Card: 256 MB, DirectX 9 and Shaders Models 2 Compatible, HDD Space: 3 Gb

Test System:

ASUS G74S Series, Intel Core I7 - 2670QM, 2.2 GHz, Windows 7 Premium, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, 12 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD space Windows 7

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