Continuing Wizards of the Coast’s trend of repurposing their blind, random miniatures sets for the tabletop version of Dungeons & Dragons to the board gamer set, Dungeon Command: Heart of Cormyr hopes to be a triple threat of interest to D&D players, adventure system board gamers, and miniature gamers.
Instead of being released in random packs, you know exactly what you get with Dungeon Command. For traditional tabletop players there’s a war wizard, a human ranger, a half-orc thug, a Halfling sneak, two elf archers, a dwarf cleric, two dwarven defenders, a dragon knight, an earth guardian, and a copper dragon. This collection is pretty much the “player racers of D&D” set, with the exception of the oft-forgotten gnome. I’m not too familiar with Cormyr but as a set it doesn’t seem to hang together as well as Sting of Lolth – I would have preferred some sort of golem to an earth guardian, and there seems to be an overabundance of dwarves. But the copper dragon is a nice addition.
For adventure system players there are 12 monster cards (aligning with each of the miniatures) and four interlocking terrain cards.
Like the other sets, the skirmish game is adjudicated through movement and cards, not dice. This will likely be quite a shock to those who are accustomed to the D&D adventure system or tabletop role-playing game…in fact I think they’re probably still screaming from the revelation in my other review.
Dungeon Command features a variety of fun components and rules: treasure chests, dangerous terrain, etc. that make each skirmish different and interesting. Because it interlocks with other terrain from other sets, the battlefield can be manipulated in a variety of ways – including flipping the tiles over.
I’ve compared Dungeon Command to an unholy union between Magic: The Gathering (you can tap cards) and Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures (you figure it out), but that’s oversimplifying the game. Damage is inflicted simply by moving to a character and attacking, which means that you’re basically just running around the board most of the time. The real strategy comes into play by using the Command cards, which add or reduce damage at the moment you attack. It’s at this point traditional gamers will probably miss their dice.
What this means is that, of the three uses for Dungeon Command, miniature gaming is actually the weakest. It’s not bad, but it’s not nearly as compelling as the adventure system. The challenge then is that the warband makeup matters more, and a vanilla tour of the races of D&D doesn’t really cut it for the other two game formats.
It’s unlikely DMs will plunk down the thirty bucks for this set because they need the miniatures in it. Drow warband? Heck yes. Random PCs with a suspicious race bias towards dwarves? Not so much.
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