Baldrick's Tomb game in progress

Kickstarter Tabletop Game Preview: Baldrick’s Tomb

Kickstarter Reviews Tabletop Games
Baldrick's Tomb characters
The four intrepid explorers of Baldrick’s Tomb

Baldrick’s Tomb is a family-friendly “roguelike” dungeon crawl board game for 1 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, playing in about 30 minutes. 5th Street Games is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish it, with an expected delivery date of August 2013. The base pledge amount to get a copy of the game is $25, and there are some optional “Kicker Paks” that add more monsters, curses, or traps to the game.

5th Street Games sent me a demo copy to try out, and I’ve had the chance to try it out with both my kids and a couple of adult gamers. (I mentioned it in my Kickstarter Showcase post earlier this week.) It’s a fun, lightweight game with a good deal of luck. It may not satisfy your itch for a heavy strategy game, but it’s great for a quick romp through a dungeon, collecting gold and fighting monsters.

You can download the current version of the rulebook here, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of the game. The most up-to-date information can be found on the Kickstarter page.

Baldrick's Tomb game in progress
Baldrick’s Tomb game in progress. (Demo prototype version shown.) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The object of the game is to acquire the most gold by the end of the game. While the game is billed as “roguelike,” it may be more accurate to say that it’s roguelike-like. The dungeon is randomly generated (to some extent) and there is turn-based movement, but no permanent death. You don’t die; you get “knocked out,” lose half your gold, and then respawn somewhere at random. (Except in the single player game–in that case, when you get knocked out, the game is over.)

The game board has an 8×8 grid marked with red and blue coordinates, which corresponds to the red and blue 8-sided dice. The board has spaces for Scroll Cards, Trap Cards, Monster Cards, and Treasure Cards, plus a pile of treasure, a track showing the current floor, and the Impending Doom track.

At the beginning of each “floor,” 10 rubble tokens are randomly shuffled together, along with one token showing the exit to the next floor, and are arranged around the board. The players’ starting locations are determined by a roll of the dice, and then the game begins. Each player gets to move up to four spaces on their turn, uncovering rubble tokens to reveal scrolls, traps, monsters, and treasures. (And, of course, the exit.)

Baldrick's Tomb traps
Some nasty traps in Baldrick’s Tomb.

Traps are generally bad, costing you hit points or gold; treasures are worth some amount of gold; and scrolls can be played for various effects to help you and hinder your opponents. Monsters are good and bad: they can reduce your hit points or poison you, but they’re also worth gold if you defeat them. They get harder as you progress to deeper floors.

Baldrick's Tomb monsters
A few of the monsters you may encounter in Baldrick’s Tomb.

Fighting monsters is pretty simple: you roll an 8-sided die and consult the little meter on the monster card. At lower numbers, some monsters will escape, and some can damage or poison you. Some numbers will damage you and hit the monster, and the highest numbers will just hit the monster. You can either continue fighting until one of you is knocked out, or run away by paying some gold.

After your turn, you’ll roll dice to place any tokens you landed on back onto the board in random places. Each round, the Impending Doom marker advances–after 5 rounds, the floor collapses and knocks out anyone who hadn’t escaped yet. Once you’ve played through all four floors, the person with the most gold wins!

There’s a lot of customization available, too: you can adjust the number of floors to play for a shorter or longer game, and even adjust the length of the Impending Doom track in order to make the game harder or easier. Each player also starts with three unique skills that may help fight monsters, avoid traps, or pick better scrolls.

Ben Haskett, the game’s designer, won The Game Crafter RPG Game Contest with this game. The artwork by Erin Fusco is great: it’s funny rather than gruesome, and it fits the game wellOverall I think it’s a pretty fun dungeon craw that’s fairly easy to learn and teach; it’s nice to have a game with this theme but has cartoonier art that is kid-friendly, even though the game can still be fun to play with older audiences.

Just $25 to the Kickstarter campaign gets you a copy of the game, so that’s not a bad deal, although you may want to consider the $45 “Kicker Pak” edition that includes all five kicker paks of extra stuff.

Head over to the Kickstarter page to check out Baldrick’s Tomb!

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