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  • Writer's pictureJW

Medium Rogue

Bummer. After a waiting period of over two years, Mini Rogue is not coming to Kickstarter. Of course it has been announced for 9 June - but that's not the same game.

Mini Rogue was the second best solo (and overall) game in the 2016 9-Card Nanogame Print and Play Design Contest on BoardGameGeek, and has been popular ever since. It is a very smart design, where just a few cards provide random dungeon areas and encounters every game, and many ways for you to die before you finally can steal the fabled Og's Blood.

For some though, it became samey after some plays and for the bigger, badder Kickstarter version they've made sure to add some interesting stuff.

First of all: there's more variety. There will be more dungeon room cards, and you won't see them all in every area you go through. And those new dungeon cards are fun. Not just some more monsters, but an Armory where you may find a weapon that will give you re-rolls later in the game. A Tomb, where you can search for hidden treasures, though you may wake up a ghost. A Shrine, where you can make an offering and pray - the Gods may heal you, they may curse you. And more surprises.

Then there's a new mechanic: cursed and poisoned dice have been added. Once you've become cursed, your dice rolls may be lowered. Once you've become poisoned you may lose extra health during combat or skill checks. This is a fun addition.

My fancy custom dice

And finally, there are character cards now. You start out with some special skills, depending on the role you've chosen. Cool.

There are huge changes in game play. The dungeon layout is different. The way the skill checks works has changed. The dungeon rooms will now often bring punishments or bonuses depending on your roll. The end boss is harder. There are no difficulty settings anymore - you always play on hard mode. There is no scoring system anymore, you win or lose. Mostly lose.

And then there's this one thing that kills the game for me. From an adventurer looking for fights and treasures, you've changed into a farmer from Agricola, that accidentally fell into a dungeon. You are constantly looking for food.

Every time you go to a new area, you have to use up one food. If you don't have it, you will lose three health points. Of course you're already losing health in fights and to poison, so this is bad. You start out with maybe half the food you'll need for your descent. Now in the original version of Mini Rogue, you could always buy food at a Merchant. You'd bump into him in every area. In the new version, the Merchant doesn't sell food anymore. You'll have to find it. There's food to be found on two cards. You may or may not come across one in every area. These cards have other options as well, but you need the food. In one of them, you're dependant on a dice roll - and if you're unlucky you may also lose food. There's a trap that causes you to lose food.

All in all, you'll be obsessed with food.

While moving through an area, most of the times you can choose between two rooms. To have a chance of winning though, a lot of these choices become no-brainers.

So, alright, you'll lose a lot. It is a roguelike, what's the problem? The problem is all changes added to the average time to play. The original Mini Rogue is fast. No set-up time, and when you play the dungeon key variant on one of the harder difficulty settings, you can die in six minutes. Now that will take over twenty minutes. So it doesn't compete with the other quick games I've got anymore. It will be this or Nusfjord or Marvel Champions.

I know all changes in gameplay will make this Kickstarter edition of Mini Rogue more interesting for most people. I can see how it has become more tactical and involved. I like most changes and I still love the artwork. I certainly recommend downloading the print and play files from the publisher's website of the new version, so you can try for yourself.

But for me, the food thing is no fun. I know that if I played it more, I could probably find other ways to survive. But I don't feel like it. This is not a game I need right now. If they were to include the original version in the Kickstarter edition, I'd back it. It would be nice to have better quality cards and I could play the new version once in a while. Right now, I'll happily return to the original print and play, as I am simple.


Update: As you can read in the comments below, the first demo version of Mini Rogue turned out to be a bit unbalanced. After this article was published, the PnP has been updated with another Merchant card. And the full version will have other ways to get food. So once again, I'm looking forward to see how the final game will be.

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