Author: unknown

Publisher: ICE

Awards: none



Nigel Buckle (UK) writes about the game:

The game comprises of a paper map (of said mountain), a site card sheet, various counters (for representing guardians and player 'groups' and markers), and a number of cards.

(I mounted the map and sheet on card, and covered them with clear plastic sheet, I don't know if they would stand repeated playings otherwise without getting worn).

There are cards for monsters, Minor (trolls, serpents, spiders) and Major (kraken, fell-beast, wight and Smaug!). Cards for treasure (minor and major) and cards for the characters.


The game is setup by dealing out the monsters to the site card (so no one is sure which treasure site has which monster, but the major ones are in major rooms, and minor ones in minor rooms). Same for the treasures (minor treasures everywhere, major ones only at major sites). (cards are dealt face down!).

Then each player picks a race: Men (increased spell range and move through doors easily), Elves (increased missile range, and move through secret doors easily), Dwarves (can use 'tunnels' for movement - very useful!), Orcs (increased spotting range - useful for activating monsters and getting them to attack other players! :), Freebooters - Men (increased chances to steal items).

Each race has 2 warriors (slow but good in combat), 1 ranger (fast and fairly good in combat), 2 scouts (very fast and good at hiding and stealing), 1 mage (good at spells), 1 anamist (good at spells), 1 bard (reasonable at spells, good at identifying potions). And each player can divide these up into upto 5 groups (but you can only move a maximum of 3), the composition of the group is secret but they can only move at the rate of the slowest.

Basically you enter the mountain, go into a room, activate the monster, fight it and grab the treasure (which might be trapped! or be useful items like armour and weapons or a major item like the ARKENSTONE!). Major rooms usually have 4 'sites' so they are much more dangerous (potentially 4 monsters to fight!), monsters only activate when they are 'spotted' - they then charge at anyone who is not 'hidden' (so a tactic for the Orcs is sneak into a room where the men have killed a wight and are rumaging through its treasure and then spot the men and the other 3 nasties - then leave and wait for the carnage to start! :)

Smaug's site is loaded with goodies, but you have to get him off it first!

Each of the spell casters have a range of spells - some which are combat related (calm, fireball etc) and some which let you look at 'stacks' on the site card setup (to determine WHO is guarding it or what they are guarding), or activate a monster to **** someone else up :)

If Smaug wakes up (either by being 'spotted') or automatically (each turn you roll for it, and the chance goes up each turn ;) then it's "run away", Smaug visits each major room (randomly) and when he's visited them all at least once he exits the mountain and shuts the entrances the players used - now they have to get out of the 'secret' door bilbo used or the main entrance (unless they got out earlier). Then Smaug blocks the secret entrance, and sits on the main entrance, and any characters still in the mountain have to fight Smaug to get out (very hard - you usually can kill him on a 1,1 (on 2D6) if you are using a magic weapon, no chance otherwise, and he gets 4 attacks and kills you (on average) on a 9 or less!).

The mountain has doors that need to be opened (takes up movement allowance), secret passages, and tunnels, the tunnels connect up, and you can use them to move quickly around the mountain - if you know them (dwarves do!, and you do if you find a map).

Combat is resolved using 2D6, and the chance of hitting varies with the target and the character type (so a warrior is better than a bard).

The winner is the player who gets the most 'stuff' out! Each card is worth victory points (and some items are worth more to certain groups), as it getting the characters out alive.

One tactic is to send some of the party out with all the good stuff while the others (brave, trusting fools, search for more as the clock ticks ... :)

There are also scrolls and potions you can find, that might (or might not) be useful.

The game has basic rules (totally playable), advanced rules (which gives extra (more realistic) options - such as spells to control monsters and the spiders/snakes are poisonous) and optional rules which give even more chrome (like tracking 'poison' each turn etc)

With experienced players the game will probably take 2-3 hours (depending on playing style and numbers), and there is always a finite end - as Smaug must wake up at some point, even if the players know which site he is on an avoid it.

It is a bit 'wargame' like as you have movement allowances and costs, and the combat needs a cross reference on a CRT (combat results table), but saying that the game is not that complex, and I often play it (it's a little more complex than Risk, but less than SPI's War of the Ring).

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany