Game Buzz: Gauntlet of Fools

I’ve been avoiding talking about Kickstarter games here for a while, but there are a fewup right now that hold some interest for me.  First up:

image by BGG user T Worthington

Gauntlet of Fools is a game currently up on Kickstarter from Indie Boards and Cards.  It’s a new design coming to us from Donald X. Vaccarino.  It’s a thirty-minute game for 2-6 players aged 13 and up, and is an adventure game where you’re running around a dungeon collecting treasure.  However, it differs from your traditional dungeon game in that you are guaranteed to die.  But you’re trying to die with the most treasure.

In the game, you get 20 class cards, 20 weapon cards, 50 encounter cards, 30 dice, 30 boast tokens, 20 wound tokens, 50 gold tokens, 41 ability tokens, 28 penalty tokens, 30 bonus tokens, and a playmat.  At the start of the game, you’ll deal out as many class cards as there are players to the center of the table, plus one weapon per class card.  These are the Heroes for the game.

The game starts with a Boasting phase, which is a kind of auction where you’ll claim your Heroes for the game.  You’re trying to claim the best Hero.  What you’ll do is either take a Hero from the center of the table, or take one from another player.  If you take one from the center, you can add Boast tokens or not, it’s up to you.  However, if you take a Hero from another player, you must add at least one Boast.  The Boasts are things that will make it a little more difficult for you, and make others think twice before taking it from you.  There are six types of Boasts, and you can only have one of each:

  • Blindfolded: Reduces a monster’s treasure unless you get hit.
  • Hopping on one leg: Reduces your defense by 2.
  • One arm tied behind your back: Ignores rolls of 1 or 2 when attacking.
  • While juggling: Reduces the number of weapon ability tokens you have, and reduces your attack strength by one.
  • With a hangover: Roll one less attack die and reduce your defense by 4 until you kill your first monster.
  • Without breakfast: Doubles your first wound.

The boasting continues until everyone has a hero.  You’ll then move on to the Gauntlet phase.  In the Gauntlet phase, you will first determine the encounter by drawing an encounter card.  This encounter card is for everyone, though each person is dealing with it individually.  It could be a special encounter, which you resolve before drawing another.  It could be a modifier, which could help the next monster to come out or give you a choice of two encounters.  It could also be a monster, in which case you’ll have to attack.  You roll the number of attack dice indicated on your class card, add the total and apply any effects of weapons, class abilities, boasts, penalties, and/or bonuses.  If you defeat the monster, you get its treasure.

After attacking, whether you killed it or not, you must defend.  The monster has a certain attack strength, which you must counter with your total defense.  If you are hit, you take damage.  If you get to 4 wounds, you are dead and out.  If you’re not dead, you draw the next encounter.

The game is over when all Heroes are dead.  The one with the most treasure at the time of their death wins.

This is an odd concept for a game.  Rather than trying to enjoy your cash, you are recklessly forging ahead under the assumption that you can in fact take it with you.  It is possible to win if you die first, but it’s also possible to be racking up the gold while everyone else is dead.  I don’t really see a reason to keep playing if you know you’ve won.  Maybe it’s not that obvious.  It may be quick enough that you’d want to play several rounds, with different Heroes each time.  That’s probably how I’d want to do it.

I can imagine that the Boasting phase would get kind of silly, and that’s probably the appeal of the game.  I think I’d like to see more possible Boasts, but there it is.  Maybe that’s an expansion.  At any rate, it seems more fun than a standard auction.

Donald X. Vaccarino games always seem to feature vairable set-ups that determine the flow of the game from the outset.  This seems to be no different.  I don’t know how well it will be received, but it has raised twice its goal as of now, with 45 hours to go in the Kickstarter campaign.  Check it out if your interested, and thanks for reading!

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