Until recently I have been almost a purely video game guy. I have played some tabletop, but I don’t have a huge selection to choose from, or a group to play with regularly. But at the end of February, while at PAX East I was introduced to EPIC and Star Realm and was really intrigued. And once I learned that there were deck building games online that you could play against the CPU, I was thrilled. So when I got the chance to play and review Spellword Cards : DungeonTop, I jumped at the chance.
DungeonTop is a combination of deck building, dungeon crawling and tabletop battles. You must choose your hero, pick your faction, then battle your way through the floors of the dungeon. Along the way you will pick up new troops, weapons, magic spells and more. There are even opportunities to level up your cards and curate your deck to make sure you have a better chance of pulling the cards you need.
Gameplay is easy to learn, but may take a bit to master. You will guide your hero through a dungeon, encountering enemies along the way. Don’t worry, the enemies are visible and you can decide if you want to fight them or try and sneak past. If you decide to fight you will be taken to a tabletop board that has your opponent and your hero already. You draw 5 cards from your deck and then place them on the board. The main thing you must remember is that cards must be placed adjacent to the cards you already have on the board. You must also be mindful that most characters can’t attack or move in a diagonal direction.
The game also relies on Mana. At the start of each turn you have 3 mana that you can spend. This is used to place your troops out on the field. In the beginning, most troops require just a single mana to be placed. If you don’t use all your mana in one turn, it is lost – unless you have a talent that allows you to carry some over. As you beat enemies and level your character you will get to pick Talents for your character. These will increase mana, attack, experience gained and more. You can also pick up more powerful weapons that should make it easier to deal with higher level enemies and bosses. Just remember that when you die, you lose everything except the gold you are carrying, and must start over from scratch.
This is where I have a bit of an issue with the game. Even if you make it through a bunch of enemies, and clear a floor by beating the boss, once you die that is it. You will have some gold that can be used to unlock new characters and cards, but those cards won’t make it into your initial deck, meaning you will have to slog through all the initial encounters to fortify your deck to beat the floor ending bosses. You will also have to grab new talents along the way. The main issue that I have is that there seems to be little reward for all the work that you put in.
The graphics remind me a lot of comic book style art. Since you are diving dungeons, the muted color tones fit well. There is a wide variety of enemies and allies that you will encounter. Each has a distinct look and is easily recognized. The board in which you battle is very plain. It will vary in size depending on the enemy that you encounter. The music and sound are good but fades into the background fairly quickly. This is a good thing because listening to your hero grunt as he / she attacks for over an hour can get really repetitive.
Spellsword Cards : DungeonTop from One Up Plus Entertainment and Surefire Games is out now on Steam. With a price tag of about $16 it won’t break the bank. Games will last at least an hour, and there is a lot of room for replay. The one thing that would be nice is if there was a way to play against others. If you are looking for a new deck building game, that has a bit of a twist, this is one to check out.