Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder Kickstarter Review

Dungeon crawling is a well-used trope in the board gaming world; grab a party of likeminded adventurers and head underground to grab some loot and kick the snot out of all manner of monsters. But what if I told you that gold and sparkling gems weren't the real treasure? What if you were a culture that used teeth as a currency? Well, all of a sudden venturing into dark subterranean deaths isn't about collecting shinies and honour, but instead becomes an attempt to recreate a Pantera album cover in as a many imaginative ways as possible.

In many ways Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder is a typical dungeon crawler and in its basic premise I have to say that there isn't a huge amount of original ideas in the game. You'll venture into dark depths, kill monsters, grab loot, level up and hopefully last long enough to take on the story's goal. But Ravage puts a few interesting tweaks into the age old formula and wraps it up in a package of beautiful artwork and striking graphic design.

Ravage dungeons of plunder kickstarter review dungeon crawl

The major twist is that rather than being your typical band of barbarian, wizard, dwarf and elf, you are instead a group of orcs and orcs quite sensibly use teeth for currency. This means that there are no chests to plunder, no trap laden hordes of gold or arcane knowledge, if you want to buy stuff in Ravage you will have to punch things in the mouth.

But hang on Steve, you are no doubt asking, you usually gain experience points from killing monsters, and you've already mentioned levelling up? Again we're playing a group of orcs, they don't improve their skills by reading books or following tutorials on YouTube, no they get better by doing and so another one of Ravage's neat little twists is revealed.

Each player has a set of special actions laid out in front of them and all the stalwarts are here; heavy attacks, mind control, raising the dead and turning into a bear. Now anyone who read our No Honor Among Thieves review will know we like bears and so I immediately picked the shaman character in the hope that I could level up enough so that I could hit that dungeon grizzly style.

Ravage dungeons of plunder strength of the bear.jpg

In order to level up and play a special ability you have to spend energy, and you only gain energy by rolling the energy symbol on the dice, and the only time you can roll them there dice is when attacking and defending. This means that no matter which character you have chosen to play, you have to pull your sleeves up and get stuck in. There's no turtling at the back and hoping you don't attract the attention of a nasty monster, you're an orc, get out there and smash something in the face.

By linking all aspects of the game to fighting it makes a game that drives you forwards into the action. I have played dungeon crawlers in the past were one player takes the role of the plucky halfling and runs amok around the dungeon grabbing as much loot as they can carry but staying as far away from the monsters as possible. But Ravage is a game that rewards for combat and the way the dungeon is constantly expanding keeps the game moving at a hell of a pace.

ravage dungeons of plunder Monsters

Now I should say that we have only played one game of Ravage via Tabletop Simulator but it didn't take long for the board to be full of monsters and we were complaining at Andy for not pulling his weight. There was a definite sense of "dear gods there are too many of them and I have a distinct lack of energy to pull off anything fancy" and so we had to resort to Dave Lister's strategy of 'let's go out there and twat it!'

No doubt someone is going to bring up the issue of standees and how they're rubbish. Now I am a miniature hoarder and will be the first to admit that I often fall in love with a master crafted piece of plastic or resin but I never felt that my gaming experience was diminished at all by the use of cardboard standees. In fact the artwork did more to draw me into the setting than several lumps of grey plastic on the table could. In the end playing a game is a lot like a cake, sure you can pay through the nose for an artisan cupcake that looks absolutely amazing but if the isn't a good quality sponge as the base of that cupcake then you're really just consuming a mouthful of butter and sugar and moving ever closer to diabetes. Although Ravage may not be decorated to look like a 3D recreation of Camelot, it is a well decorated treat that's going to put a smile Paul Hollywood's face.

ravage dungeons of plunder setup

Now I've already said that Ravage isn't the most original of games, if you've played any of the D&D Adventure Game series (Legend of Drizzt, Wrath of Ashardalon, etc.) or the original Warhammer Quest, you'll get the idea. Well I'm coming round to the idea that my original thoughts were clearly a big fib, because by making some simple changes to the way experience works has made a very different and very good dungeon crawler, and let's not forget that Drizzt was a complete snooze fest and Warhammer Quest falls under the old adage of, 'more luck than judgement'. Ravage is a game that forces you to delve further, to push ahead, where going all Leeroy Jenkins is actually a valid strategy.

By simply changing the way in which you are rewarded, Beardy Brothers have managed to make a fast and dynamic dungeon crawler. Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder is fast, fun and keeps hold of the genres classic aspects but adds a fresh new twist to the formula.

It's also a game where you can turn into a bear, which is never a bad thing in my opinion.

Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder is on Kickstarter now

This Kickstarter preview is based on a digital prototype version of the game played with the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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