Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Paolo Cecchetto,
Daniele Tascini &
Simone Luciani


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Have you ever asked yourself who profits most from some adventurers entering a dungeon? It's certainly not the dungeon's denizens, because they will possibly end up getting slain, or - in the best case - they will be denounced as being terrible monsters (see entry Dungeon Lords. The adventurers are not much better off, because they might loose a limb or more in the darkness, and all the earned money will be spent quite quickly for survival celebrations (see entry The Red Dragon Inn). Not even tourists will be rewarded, because the dungeon is either too dangerous to enter or all ancient artifacts have been plundered long ago…

No, the ones who will really profit are the outfitters, the merchants who sell the equipment to the heroes who dare to enter a dungeon. Well, this could be a one-time business if the heroes are too successful, but why not strike a deal with Smog the local dragon, sending some adventurers along with shining but mostly useless equipment. The business would thrive with each new group of adventurers trying to "save" your village, and all equipment can be salvaged and resold when it is no longer needed. So, let's open a Dungeon Bazar!

In our case the dungeon is a set of three times three room tiles, and during setup these tiles are shuffled and randomly arranged to form the dungeon. All tiles are visible (the players' Merchants know the dungeon!), and one tile contains the Dragon, two tiles Spells which can be gained, and the other six tiles contain different decks of equipment cards (Weapons, Armor, Potions, Magic Objects, Familiars and Crap (low ranking cards of all aforementioned categories). During three seasons the players will send their Merchants together with their staff of Goblins into the dungeon to collect some equipment and bring it back to their booths, but in order to know which kind of equipment will be demanded each season begins with the arrival of the season's Heroes (fools?). So, some new Hero cards are revealed, and these cards list how much the Heroes are willing to spend and which kinds of equipment they will be looking for. With the knowledge the Merchants and their Goblins will hasten to get into the dungeon to gather the needed equipment and sell it to the Heroes.

The main phase of the game focuses on these gathering actions. Entering the dungeon through a common entrance, the players can spend action points to move or to leave Goblins at rooms with decks of Equipment cards or spells. If present, a player also can spend an action to collect a Dragon's Favor token or to recruit an Ogre or a Goblin Accountant who got lost in the dungeon. The Accountant is worth some cash, whereas the Ogre can be sent to a room of the player's choice and will count as two Goblins when the action phase ends and the evaluation takes place. Even Cloudy the Baby Dragon can be found, and if he is brought back to grim old Smog money and a Dragon's Favor token wait as a reward. The Favor tokens can be spent for additional actions in the Dungeon, or they can be collected until the end of the game when the player with most tokens will receive a bonus for having the best business relationship with Smog.

The players are free to end their actions in the dungeon at any time during their turn, and this will put additional pressure on the others who are still busy in the dungeon, because it will now cost them money to play additional turns. The more players have left, the more expensive it gets! Finally, when all players have left, it's evaluation time!

Now each dungeon room containing an Equipment deck will be checked for the player ranking, with the players' Goblins, the Ogre and the Merchant figures (who have been left in the last visited room) counting. When the ranking of a room has been determined, the best ranking player will draw a number of cards from that deck corresponding to the number of players present in this particular room plus one. He is allowed to choose and keep one of these cards, handing the rest to the player who ranks next. This is continued until the last ranking player who may keep one of the two cards which he has received. The final card then is discarded. All rooms with Equipment decks are evaluated in this fashion, allowing the players to get a choice of equipment cards which will hopefully match the taste of the waiting adventurers.

The process of leaving Goblins and choosing the right Equipment cards is more tricky than it may seem, because they players do not just have to keep the shopping lists and allowances of the adventurers is mind, but they also have to consider the buying patterns of these wannabe Heroes. Each Hero will be served separately, and his shopping will start with the topmost object on his shopping list. He is going to buy the cheapest card on offer which matches the desired category, and all other players will not be able to sell an object of this category to this Hero. So, chosing a cheap card in the dungeon may be a good choice, but this situation changes if one or more of the other Heroes desire an Equipment card of the same category, since now two or even more of these cards can be sold within the same round. Now it may pay off to take an expensive card after all. However, the adventurer's purchase allowance also poses a restriction which should not be underestimated, because it may well happen that an adventurer has run out of money and so cannot afford an object which ranges low on his list. Now the player owning the cheapest card on offer may opt to sell the object with a discount, but once again the decision depends on the shopping lists of the still waiting adventurers. By the way, selling Crap cards will not yield much money, but Smog will appreciate your efforts to make things easy for him and so a Merchant selling Crap will also gain a Dragon's Favor token.

Unfortunately all unsold equipment must be discarded by the end of the round for a meagre compensation, and so a player has to focus on finding good business opportunities to sell all his collected stuff. When all adventurers have been dealt with, a new round begins with the arrival of new adventurers and a reset of the dungeon, but there is one important difference. All collected Equipment cards are out of the game, and so the decks in the dungeon rooms will get thinner in rounds two and three. This gives the players some additional possibilities to plot and plan, because the removal of some low ranking cards can lead to new opportunities for lucrative sales!

Dungeon Bazar is an unusual game in the best possible sense, and already the thematic setting suggests that the tinkerers of CRANIO CREATIONS once again have come up with a slightly crazy but undeniably affectionately designed product. The game poses an interesting tactical challenge due to the combination of the drafting process and the timing restrictions in the dungeon, and its generally humorous spirit is certainly supplemented by sometimes quite funny artwork found on the Equipment cards. Personally, the only additional thing I would have wished for was a bit more mayhem, implemented as a phase where the adventurers would be using their equipment in the dungeon, but after giving this idea a bit of thought it think it would be one level too much considering the initial scope of Dungeon Bazar. The spells which can also be gathered in the dungeon serve this purpose quite well, and so it can be summarized that the Italian designers Paolo Cecchetto, Daniele Tascini and Simone Luciani have come up with a quite likeable and unique game!

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Copyright & copy; 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany