Playing Games at PAX, Part Three: Dungeon Crawl



Thunderstone: cards a-plenty!

The last game of the day on Friday was Thunderstone with all four GeekDads in atttendance and Cathi. Thunderstone is a “deck-building” game, with (I’m told) some similarities to both Dominion and Ascension, which I haven’t played yet. It’s not a collectible card game, however—the base game comes with over five hundred cards, which you can randomize or select to have a different experience each time you play. In each game there’s a Village area featuring four types of heroes, and twelve other types of cards which can be weapons, spells, helpful villagers, and other items. There’s also a dungeon with a bunch of nasty monsters, and the eponymous Thunderstone which everyone is after.

You get six cards from your deck, and then decide to visit the village to stock up on supplies and hire heroes, or tackle the monsters from the dungeon. Everyone builds their own deck, so the trick is to have a good combination of cards in the deck so that you’re likely to get six in your hand that will be of use together. It was a pretty fun game, and our fearless leader Ken took the victory with a whopper of a last turn. I played again on Saturday, this time with the Wrath of the Elements expansion thrown in, but it was a pretty rough game with some extremely difficult monsters to fight. I like Thunderstone and I’d like to play more, but I can see that the initial selection of cards can make or break the game.

I should also point out here that if you decide, like me, to take Thunderstone on a trip with you, you should put it in your checked luggage and not your carry-on. This trip was the third time I’ve been stopped at security for having card games in my suitcase—apparently they’re dense and show up as just black on the X-ray. On my way home from PAX I had well over a thousand cards among the various games I was taking home, and ended up spending an extra twenty minutes at security while they got it all sorted out. I did have a fun conversation with the TSA supervisor (who was an Avalon Hill gamer of old) and another TSA guy who admired my GeekDad sweatshirt and asked about it. (If you’re reading this, welcome to the site!)

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