The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Rick's Rec Room

October 19, 2012

Only the foolish may apply

Gauntlet of Fools one of year's top quick plays

For a simple to play game, Gauntlet of Fools is the most innovative and strategic games released this entire year.

Plus, there are more high quality bits in this game than any I know in this price range (less than $30 when offered as a kickstarter project).

Gauntlet of Fools is a dungeon crawler with a twist. Though the dungeon itself as an entity in nonexistent, the twist is that all of the heroes die. That’s the way the game ends, with all heroes expiring to the dangers of the dungeon.

Donald X. Vaccarino, designer of Dominion and Kingdom Builder to name but two, designed this game. It isn’t some older design brought out of a closet, but one created this year.

Another twist is the way the players select heroes. The game purposely has characters and weapons that are better than others in the game. The game mechanics and the gamers balance these out. Each character is drawn randomly (1 for each player in the game) and matched with a randomly drawn weapon.

Then the gamers will start and unique bidding of sorts. It involves boasts that will get the gamer the hero he or she wants, but at a cost.

“This game has a flavor premise,” said Vaccarino. “There's this cliché where you say, ‘I could beat you with one arm tied behind my back!’ This came up one day and I thought, I could make a game out of that. That premise suggests that the players will fight each other, but it seemed simpler to fight other stuff. So you fight through a gauntlet. Probably fighting each other also would have worked, but the gauntlet worked and I never tried it another way. Once you were fighting through a gauntlet, there were two natural ways to end it - by dying or by getting through the gauntlet. Playing until we died didn't seem special to me, it was just one of the obvious ways to end it. I preferred keeping going to having an end. We could have said, ‘At four wounds you are too weak to continue, and leave with your treasure,’ but well what fun is that?”

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