Theme&andn’What is it?
A Victory Stolen
The day has been won and the villain defeated. Sure it didn’t go exactly 100% perfect. Some land was destroyed, some people aggressively moved, and one king prematurely catapulted but overall it was one for the W column. You and your friends deserved a victory lap, some high fives, and the traditional pizza party. Sadly, a couple of people had other plans and now it’s back into the fray. Blast it.
Valor and Villainy: Lludwik’s Labyrinth is a stand-alone expansion/sequel to Valor and Villainy: Minions of Mordak. LL is a cooperative dungeon crawler where you’ll be playing a group of adventures maneuvering your way through a story in an attempt to defeat the evil, save the day, and get that much deserved party.
Before I go further I feel I should let you know the game is currently on Kickstarter and things may change from now to release. If you’d like to try the game out you can do what I did and play the free mod on Tabletop Simulator that Skybound released so folks could try a demo. I’m going to give my impressions of the game as I played it on TTS, which means this isn’t exactly a review. I have opinions but I’m well aware that they might not be accurate to the final release and there are some things I just won’t be able to judge, material quality for example.
All of that said, let’s dive in and see what we’ve got.
What is was vs What it is
I never tried Minions of Mordak because it was 1 vs Many and those games don’t really work with my group. I enjoy Skybound Games and tend to like their projects but this is one I felt wouldn’t work well for my circumstances. That said, I watched some videos and liked what I saw. Lludwik’s Labyrinth is fully Co-op and is a better fit for me. Having enjoyed what I saw from the first game this one is more approachable to me and I was looking forward to taking it for a spin on TTS. Add to that the couple of Dev Live Play’s and creator videos I watched I went with a fairly positive outlook on the game.
Familiar but Different
The mechanics for LL are pretty simple. You get a number of actions based on your characters AP allowance and can use those to explore a randomly generated dungeon. You can use your actions to move, make a melee attack, make a ranged attack, cast spells, or power surge. You can also use free actions to scout nearby tiles or loot undefended treasures.
With the exception of moving each action you spend an AP on can only be taken once and interrupt movement. Attacking allows you to roll your melee or ranged attack stats and deal damage to the various defenders of the maze. To cast spells you roll your magic dice and spend those points casting spells from the various cards in your hand. Using a power surge allows you to draw 2 spell or feat cards into your hand.
Each game will involve following a set scenario or playing through free play mode. To do this you’ll spend your turn moving around the map and filling out the dungeon. This is represented by a 5×5 grid where the middle 5 squares are always the same. In addition the borders warp around meaning that you can exit the map on the left side of the dungeon and will move to the right most tile of the same row.
After the players have all gone you enter a level up stage where you’ll get to divvy up and equip any treasures you’ve gathered during the course of the adventure. Any items you don’t use are stashed for between game upgrades to your party’s camp. You’ll then get points for every monster you’ve defeated and every treasure you stashed. These are spent to improve your character’s dice or to increase their available action points.
Once the players have gone the dungeons boss gets a turn. They’ll cast spell, control minions, summon new defenders, and level up their own dice pools. Villains get points for leveling up based on killing heroes. Every time one of you dies the villain gets enough points to level up. If enough heroes die in a single round they’ll also start getting other upgrades as well, usually health.
Dead heroes aren’t eliminated from the game, they return to the base camp at the center of the map at the start of their next turn with full health and a more dangerous foe.
After the game, players will get to spend stash points to improve their base camp giving them bonuses they can spend at the start of the next game. All the loot they’ve found and all bonuses they’ve gained are lost between matches but quickly come back during play.
Fantasy with a Family Flair
The art in the TTS mod is pretty decent. It has a fun cartoon quality to it that I enjoy. It reminds me of a Dream Works Animated picture similar to Mega Mind. I like that style and am on board for it here since it also matches the tone of the story. Not all of the art is complete and what is done is probably near finalized since it matches the style in Minions of Mordak.
Silly but Hard
This is a difficult co-op game with a lot of randomness. You can mitigate some of it with different spells and upping the quality of your dice. However you can still lose one a couple of bad rolls or rough monster spawns. If you don’t enjoy randomness in your games or the sometimes silly nature of the story you might want to be ready for it here.
That Old Chestnut
I enjoyed what’s available here. The game was fun for me and I liked the different systems. Yes, the game is very random but there are a lot of things you can do to mitigate that. In addition to letting you upgrade to better dice, there are several spells and feats that let you change or reroll your dice. It’s also possible to spend your points on +1 tokens that can be banked for later.
There are interesting decisions to make as well. Treasure cards can be very powerful but they only go to one person. However banking a card could give everyone some much needed experience points and will add to the stash to upgrade your camp giving you starting bonuses at the beginning of future games. The first player token passes around the table but the first player can choose to charge or hold their turn; meaning they’ll go first or last. You almost never want the wizard to be the first one through the door.
The game is challenging, while I won more often than not I did lose a couple of times. That said, in the games I played I never felt like I couldn’t win even after a disastrous turn left all of the heroes downed and the villain ramping up pretty hard for that round.
Despite the challenge the game is very new player friendly. I didn’t read the rules before looking at the tutorial mission. Admittedly I’d watched several game play videos but the game does an excellent job of teaching you the rules as you play. It introduces new concepts at the beginning of each mission. This did a really good job of easing me into the game and giving me the tools I needed to play. I still needed to look at the rules eventually to answer one or two questions that came up, but I never felt like I didn’t understand what was going on.
Once again, all of these opinions are great now, but could easily change between now and the release of the game. I don’t what if anything will change between now and then. I’m following this one closely and cannot wait to see what it will look like in the end. Head over to the Kickstarter and give it a look. If you think it might be up your ally but aren’t sure try out the TTS mod.
Until next time, stay safe and be well.