ESCAPE the DARK CASTLE: COLLECTOR'S BOX
This is a huge, gothically black, very deep box: 14½" x 13" x 4½" with a plastic inner insert designed to hold all the cards and pieces from the wonderful series of Dungeon Crawler games form THEMEBORNE that form the Campaign known as ESCAPE the DARK CASTLE. The box is of course more than just a box, for around £20.00 you would expect it to be more than just a box, and it is more than just a box, it's an awesome box!
Inside this amazing box you will find a wealth of goodies to enhance your dungeon adventuring. To begin with there is a Metal "YOU" square coin which is the way the party (unless you are flying solo) knows who is currently leading them and who therefore is likely to reach the trap, treasure, monster first; so when someone says "okay who is in the lead?" everyone looks for this heavy metal coin and points at the owner, gleefully (if it's about meeting a trap or monster) "YOU" and perhaps sheepishly saying "you" if it is a great treasure.
There are six new and nastier end-level Bosses to spice up your games. There are a dozen Character 'Flaw' cards to make your characters more vulnerable, as if they weren't in enough trouble in the first place.
Then so you don't have to keep score of life lost with pen and paper, there are four life paths, 1-18 each, and 4 shiny black metallic skulls that can be used to track your character to its impending doom. These little skulls are a lot heavier than they look but they are small and liable to bounce, if dropped, into hideaway places where they will lay until the next Spring clean if you aren't careful (ie they are very easy to lose).
On the dice front we have 'Ian' - that's what we call the 'Living Stone' die - which also has an associated card. Two apology cards (no Chris, they are 'epilogue' cards) Victory and Defeat, which are placed face down until the end of the campaign/game. The card with the correct result is read out aloud and completes your campaign, hopefully satisfactorily (Victory). If you want a more diverse description of the end (or the end of your characters) Themeborne sell a Death Book separately for £9.99. To be honest it's a shame it wasn't amongst the goodies in the Big Box, but hey, that's death for you!
Items are often useful in aiding characters to succeed and some of these can themselves be enhanced, one way or the other, by the use of Character and Death dice.
I am impressed with the way the game sets are all inter-changeable and the Bosses can be fought under different circumstances. Experience has shown that there are a few cards that need to be included dependent on the end of game Boss, not because you cannot win without them but because they give you a better chance of defeating them, not much of a better chance but any better chance is better than not having a better chance, I'm sure.
Speaking of which, there are four black 'Death Dice' that can be used to make your adventures just that extra bit more difficult - huh? as if fighting Undead Queens, Death Knights and Plague Kings isn't enough, you need more excitement in your life/death?
So you now have more Bosses, Flaws for your heroes and Death dice, bet you're glad you bought this box? However, there is always the good fact that you can put all your other ESCAPE the DARK CASTLE boxes in your attic/cellar and hold the entire game in one box now - convenient for taking it to events and friends house, games clubs etc, plus it looks really cool when you walk into a place carrying a large, mysterious black box. The box is also quite a bit stronger than the separate boxes which makes it ideal and unlikely to be damaged easily - NEVER let anyone convince you to put the box base half into the lid - you shouldn't do this with any game, but seriously not with this, it's far too useful.
If you have kept all your dice in the little plastic bags that they come in with each expansion then do not take them out of those bags (unless to use them in a game, duh!) but instead keep them separated but all together in the drawstring bag, also deep, dark, black, Themeborne have provided in this Big Box of Goodies.
Back to those 'Flaws' for a moment. The idea is to lay out all the characters face up and then shuffle the Flaws and deal one randomly to each character, with players spending a little pre-game time selecting their characters. Of course you can always do what you wish - let each player select a character and then let them pick a Flaw to go with it, or as it's meant as a little fun and a bit of luck, shuffle the character cards and the Flaw cards separately and deal one of each randomly to every player. Lots of possibilities so that every game can be approached differently, especially if you have mixed cards from each set together.
We thoroughly enjoy ESCAPE the DARK CASTLE - well all of us except my wife that is. Fran will play it but she isn't as keen. Not because there is anything wrong with the game, but as we have aged a little her tastes have gone from Dungeon Bash games to Supply & Demand, Tile Laying and Resource/Man management games. I really like those as well, but I am also up for a bit of chancing my arm against horrible monsters and evil Bosses.
Expansion One: Cult of the Death Knight
Expansion Two: Scourge of the Undead Queen
Expansion Three: Blight of the Plague Lord