Thursday, December 24, 2015

Games For People Who Don't Like Games

Picture it: you're home for the holidays. Everyone is sitting around staring at one another or watching the youngling / pet battle royale in the middle of the living room. Bored out of your gourd, you tentatively propose an alternate activity:

"Hey guys, does anyone want to play a game?"

All of a sudden every bit of conversation and tumult drains out of the room and you find yourself standing in the cross-hairs of a dozen perplexed looks. Momentarily taken aback, you manage to stammer out something semi-intelligible about the Santa-sized sack of games you brought with you but no-one seems to bite. As a result you lapse back into silence, go back to staring at the kid / animal mosh pit in the middle of the room and wish that you'd brought your Splendor-app-laden tablet along with you.

But, hey, you really can't blame people for this chilly reception. After all, when you mention "games" the first thing most people think about is Clue, Payday, Monopoly and Risk. Sure the classics have their place but they also involve huge dollops of luck, player elimination and/or waiting forever for your turn to come around. As such, I really can't slight the average Joe for thinking that games are about as exciting as watching a layer of skin form on the the top of the gravy bowl.

Now, if'n yer a gamer who's plannin' to spend the holidays with a bunch of non-gamers, well, don't you worry yer purdy l'il head. I'm-a gonna recommend a few specific things to bring along that'll help redefine games for neophytes while keeping you amused as well.


Dexterity games are a no-brainer. Literally, you just pick something up and you move it to another place, hoping to Sweet Baby Jesus that things don't go shit-house on your watch.

The grand-daddy, or at least the retired uncle, of this category is Jenga. I just played Jenga with my parents for the first time and it's probably gonna be the highlight of my entire Christmas vacation. Gotta love a game that you can teach to people by singing an ancient commercial jingle. Even though it's a goofy activity at best, my folks treated it like Bomb Defusing: The Board Game. It was a huge hit.

Actually they were a bit too good at it. In fact, when things were becoming super-precarious I said "Hey, this isn't right. I'm supposed to win!" As it turned out, Dad was the inevitable victor.

PROS: Super-simple to jump into. Most people know it already. Very tense. Eight people can play it.
CONS: Blocks go flying everywhere. The person who placed the last block successfully "wins".

Fun fact: Jenga is best played on a cock-themed tablecloth. 

Then there's Bamboleo which shares a lot of traits with Jenga. In this one you have a bunch of geometric shapes placed on a giant wooden platter which you tentatively balance atop a cork ball on a wooden post.

On your turn you try to take a piece off the platter without tipping the whole thing over kit and kaboodle. If your turn comes around and you don't think that you can take a piece off without knocking the whole thing over, you can pass your turn. But if the next person successfully removes a piece then you have to pay them one of your own pieces as a penalty. The ham-fisted oaf who eventually knocks the whole thing over also has to pay a four-piece penalty back to the "bank" and, as you might have guessed, whoever collects the most pieces at the end of the game wins!

PROS: Great curb appeal. It's super-simple. Suspenseful. Plays with up to seven people.
CONS: A bit tricky to set up. Shit goes flying everywhere. Your first few games will probably be over quickly until people get a hang on the whole "balance" concept.

Then there's the high-water mark of Dexterity Games: Riff Raff. I guarantee: if you set this sucker up at a Christmas party or family gathering you're gonna have people cueing up to play it. The great thing about this one is that there's actually a subtle whiff of strategy at work here.

All players start off with seven pieces of flotsam and /or jetsam as well as a small deck of cards numbered one to ten. Every turn players select a card and reveal them simultaneously. The cards determine two things: who plays first and where you have to load a piece of cargo on the ship. Any given number can only be played once per game so budget them wisely.

The ship itself is on a cardanic hinge which causes it to list in one direction if too many pieces are placed on one side. If things tumble off the ship during your watch you can try to catch them. Anything snatched out of mid-air is thrown out of the game but pieces that hit the board or the table are added to your stockpile as a penalty.

The winner is the first person who gets rid of their last piece or the person who gets rid of most of their crap after all ten cards are played out.

The strategy really comes out of the card play. For example: if the ship is badly tilting in one direction you'll want to play cards to sway things back in the opposite direction.

PROS: Looks amazing. The construction is an engineering marvel. There's actually a teensy bit of strategy. It's incredibly absorbing.
CONS: It's a bit harder to explain than the others. Only four people can play at a time.

And then there's the new kid on the block: Rhino Hero.  

Gawd, how I love Haba Games. It's like they built their entire business model on how much adults hate playing Candy Land with kids.

This one's like a combination of Jenga meets Operation. On any given turn, players built the walls of a skyscraper based on the last floor card played and then add their own. Some of these cards have special icons that screw around with the regular rules of the game. For example you could force the next player to take two turns in a row, reverse the order of play or make the next person move the titular ungulate up a level. Sure, Rhino Hero is well-intentioned but every time the fat bastard moves he threatens to send the whole thing tumbling down.

The first player to get rid of all of their roof cards wins! Conversely, if the tower collapses the person who dumped most of their roof cards wins!

PROS: Colorful. Nail-biting. Easy to play. Wins are more satisfying than Jenga. You can really screw over your opponents.

CONS: Some might struggle with the card symbols. When Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill come barging through the front door the tower might blow over.

"Flick You, You Flickin', Flicker."

There are tons of flicking games out there but, IMHO, none do it better than Flick 'em Up.

The charming components, the western theme and the easy, programmable rules make this a real winner. The first scenario is super simple: it's just five lawmen and five desperadoes trying to ventilate one another over the course of six rounds. Each faction alternates back and forth, flicking the movement disc to maneuver their l'il wooden cowpokes around obstructing cacti, fences, hay bales, and buildings to get a clear shot at enemy varmints. If you hit an opponent with the bullet disc and knock 'em over you deal a point of damage and when someone gets hit three times they're off to Boot Hill.

PROS: Massive curb appeal. You can keep up to ten people amused at a time. Easy to play. Rules expand naturally as you keep playing.

CONS: The tsunami of bits may look intimidating to the average schmoe so be prepared to teach it quickly. Also be warned: the components are super-attractive to kids and / or pets so keep a close eye on things to avoid a festive trip to the Emergency Room.

Another solid choice is Tumblin-Dice. Each player alternates flicking, bouncing or pushing one of their four die off the top platform, trying to get their die past the foul line and keep it on the board. Wherever the die ends up the score multiplier kicks in. Naturally knocking your opponent's dice off the board, shuffle-board style, is a major part of the strategy.

Whoever has the highest total over the course of four rounds wins!

PROS: Super simple. People love the shuffle-board style game play. You can expand the number of players just by cannibalizing six-siders from other games.

CONS: This fucker is expensive.

"And By Game I Assume You Meant 'Card Game', Right?" 

Sometimes you can get certain people on board just so long as the game doesn't have a...board

Sushi Go! is a fantastic little game that takes the card drafting mechanic from 7 Wonders and distills it down to its simplest form. 

Players get "x" number of cards based on player count. Everyone picks the card they like the most, conceals it face down in front of them and then everyone reveals their picks simultaneously. The remaining cards are then passed on to the left. You rinse and repeat this action until all of the cards have been passed out, the goal being to have the best scoring tableau siting in front of you by the time the round ends.

For example, the person with the most Maki Roll symbols on all of their cards will net themselves six points with the runner up getting three. Every pair of Tempura will give you five points while a set of three Sashima gets you a whopping ten points. Dumplings stack in value so two is worth three points but four gets you ten. Nigiri are face value but if you dip 'em in a a pre-played Wasabi card you triple their value. Finally, Chopsticks give you a bonus play while Puddings are only tallied up after three rounds of play. 

PROS: Disarming sushi theme will put everyone at ease. Game play is fast and furious with no down time. Lots of scoring options.

CONS: Even though the drafting mechanic is pretty simple some people might have a hard time with it since it has no precedent. I.E. prying the remaining cards from players hands after a draft can sometimes be a real challenge.

Back in the mid-Nineties, Magic: The Gathering publishers Wizards of the Coast actually produced a line of quick and easy card games specifically advertised to help gamers cope with family gatherings. One game in particular was so good that it stood the test of time and is still in print today. And that game is Guillotine

You can sell this one by telling potential players that it's the only game in your collection that comes with a l'il cardboard Guillotine. In this one, twelve "Nobles" are lined up in front of the titular execution device. On your turn you have the ability to play an Action Card to alter the line up, which is great since the last thing you have to do on your turn is lop off the noggin of the poor jobber that's closest to the guillotine. 

Ultimately what you're trying to do is collect the heads of unpopular assholes like "The Judge" while avoiding the pates of nice people like "The Martyr". After the skulls of thirty-six random Nobles have been distributed around the table you add up your tally and the player with the most positive points wins.

PROS: The coal black humor will amuse your cool family members.
CONS: The coal black humor will horrify your prudish family members. Or is that another "PRO"? Hmmmmmmmmmmm...

Cherry Picking is a fabulous new set collection / trick taking game that borrows elements from several of the games I've already mentioned while still managing to be its own animal.

To get started you just lay out six colorful cards representing the fruit-bearing plants in the game and then pair each one up with a random card. Once again, players pick a card from their hand based on what plant they want to harvest from and then all cards are concealed and revealed at once. Then things are played out in the following order:
  • Ladders get to "cherry pick" anything on the table, but if multiple Ladders are played then all of them are chucked into their respective scoring piles and no fruit is "picked".
  • Next up are Wild Cards which also let you pick from any tree. However, if more then one of these things hits the table they're all thrown out for zero points!
  • The player who dropped the highest value fruit card plucks the card from the matching tree. If multiple people played on the same tree, then the law of diminishing returns will likely kick in! 
  • Finally, Baskets can gather up any remaining fruit card that hasn't been picked yet. This could either result in a real bargain or a giant pile of bupkis.  
At the end of the game players add up all of their face value points, matching sets, Ladder and Basket cards and whoever has the most points wins!

PROS: Colorful. Contentious. Easy to "pick" up, seewhutIdithur? The variety of card plays and point sources keeps this one "Farmers Market" fresh.
CONS: Some people might be confused by the card plays and the scoring system. We call those people "idiots". 

The final entry in this category is a game that's sure to put even the most skittish card player at ease: Diamonds.

If your audiences's enjoyment of a game is entirely predicated on seeing face values and suits, then go with this one. At it's heart, Diamonds is a simple trick-taking game like, um, Hearts. But three things make the game interesting for veteran gamers:

(1) You use a cardboard stand up screen and shiny plastic gemstones to keep score. Diamonds in your "Showroom" out front are worth face value but anything squirreled away in the back "Vault" is doubled in value. That way you have no idea who's winning until the very end!  
(2) Whenever you take a trick you activate one of four suit-based special actions involving the screen and / or the gemstones. For example, winning a heart-based trick lets you take a diamond from supply and place it in your Showroom while diamond tricks let you take a gem from the supply and place it directly in your Vault. Boo-ya! 
(3) Whenever you can't follow suit you also get a trick-taking action! *whut, whut?*   

PROS: Traditional card-game trappings makes it appear safe and familiar for scaredy-cats. Trick taking mechanic will have you cursing out opponents. The diamonds and the player screens will keep veteran gamers hooked and the winner in doubt right up to the very end.
CONS: Card snobs might think that the screens and the diamond tokens are too "gamey". As if anything could be.

"He Puzzled And Puzzled 'Till His Puzzler Was Sore."

If you're looking for something colorful, familiar and "thinky" that won't cause civilian's heads to explode like Louis Del Grande in Scanners, look no further than Blokus

This one's great: every player gets an identical set of candy-colored, Tetris-like playing pieces and then picks one of four corners to start in. The placement rules are simple: all pieces of the same color have to be placed corner to corner but pieces of a different color can be played adjacent to one another. The goal of the game is to get rid of as many of your pieces as possible.

This is a wonderful spacial relations-type game where it pays to be kinda aggro and go after your rival's corners. By rights it should be called Invasive Species: The Board Game.

PROS: Colorful, familiar and edible looking pieces. Strategic and vaguely brain-burny without a metric shit-ton of rules. Quick to play.

CONS: Limited to four players. Dumb toddlers might mistake the playing pieces for Jolly Ranchers, so unless you want a festive trip to Emerg, be warned. 

"C'mon, Baby, Daddy Just Needs To Beat Aunt Mildred!"   

If folks just want a simple Vegas-style odds-making dice game then sit 'em down for a spot of Roll For It!

The game begins when you turn up three cards at random that show what combination you're trying to roll with your six dice. For example, if there's a card that requires a "2", a "3" and a "6" for five points and I roll a "2" and a "3",  I can place the matching dice there, hoping to roll a "6" on my next turn. However, if my opponent comes along and rolls this exact combo on one throw they can capture that card, bump my dice back to me and they're on their way to the forty points required to win.  

It's so simple even a lead-poisoned chipmunk could play it.

PROS: Lotsa pretty dice, which are always fun to roll. You can split your dice up among several cards but, of course, this decreases the number of dice you roll next turn. The game plays quick and doesn't overstay it's welcome.
CONS: I'll just leave this right here.   

#rollfor it #cockstorm

Cards Against My Nerves

Cards Against Humanity sucks balls. There, I said it. It's nothing but a prefab sense of humor in a box for people born without a funny bone. Or a conscience. Mercifully there are plenty of other, considerably better games out there that involve novel concepts like wit, creativity and a modicum of intelligence.

In Snake Oil players take turns being customers. Everyone around the table has a bunch of product cards so they pair two of them together and that forms the basis of a sales pitch. For example, if I was a "Caveman" you had "Beard" and "Brush" you could put 'em together and say something like "Hey, look, dude, I didn't wanna say anything but it looks as if you've got about a week's worth of mastodon tangled up in that thing." And in response I might say "Duly noted!" 

The next person could partner up "Stone" and "Paint" together and say "Yo, Korogg, I know you ain't got no Wi-Fi in dat hobbit hole o' yours, so you prolly bored as a mother-f#cker up in dat bitch. But, check this, wif  'Stone Paint' you can exercise them creative muscles, craft yo' masterpiece, rake in tha' Benjamins and move up to a dee-lux crib in the upper east mountainside." To which I would say "Fuck you, you can't get rich with art...'Beard Brush' wins!" and give the point to the other guy. The game ends when everyone gets a chance being a Customer.

PROS: I just told you all of the rules. The selling component is surprisingly fun. The combos and the resulting pitches can be creative and unexpectedly funny.

CONS: Just like in Cards, the winner of the round is a single arbitrary pick.  

Another viable option is Say Anything. In this one players pick one of five different questions to read out loud like "What is my favorite 80's metal band?". Everyone around the table has a mark n' wipe board so they can answer the question any way they like: total creative freedom. The "judge" then picks their favorite answer by locking their choice in with a secret voting thingamajigger. Then everyone around the table has to get into the judge's head and use their two voting chips to guess what answer they picked. You can hedge your bet on two different options or double down depending on how confident they are. Points are then awarded accordingly.       

PROS: The wide choice of questions and the mark n' wipe boards really opens up the creativity. The points system makes an actual game out of it. It's a good way to get to know people around the table.

CONS:  Maybe you don't want to know everything about Aunt Mildred. 

Finally there's Word Whimsy, which allows you to build something of a creative narrative on every turn. Once again, every player takes a turn being Judgy McJudgerson, reading a random question out loud such as: "Name A Movie That I'd Probably Love". Then everyone else around the table picks out a series of subject cards and tucks them into a l'il cardboard sleeve in the order they want them read, such as "Ash", "Versus", "Kim Kardashian". 

Then all the sleeves are thrown into the middle of the table, mixed up and the judge randomly reads them out loud, awarding three points to their favorite, two points to the runner up and one point for their third choice. Naturally, the person with the most points at the end of the game wins.
PROS: You can use some, most or all of the cards at your disposal. Awarding variable points make it surprisingly good. There are tons of cards so the combinations are consistently funny, weird and varied.

CONS:  Things might get a little awkward when Uncle Bill uses "Female", "Extravaganza", "Jell-O", "Wrestling", "Vulcan" and "Nude" to answer the same question above. Ewwwww.

Anyway, that's just a few quick ideas offa the top o' my head. The thing to remember when picking out a game is:
  1. How many people are playing? Make sure that you have games at your disposal that can accommodate four, six, eight or even ten bodies at a time.
  2. Know your audience. If Aunt Mildred gives out prayer beads as Christmas presents every year it's highly unlikely that she'll appreciate the finer points of Epic Spell Wars
  3. Curb appeal is important. Make sure the components are kept to a bare minimum and they're attractive to look at and maul.
  4. Play time should never drag. Anything longer than an hour is really pushing your luck.
  5. Reading rules verbatim out a manual will drive people away quicker than an invite to peel potatoes for Christmas dinner.
Determined to lure folks away from their smartphones, tablets, T.V. screens and monitors for more than ten minutes?  Then click on the images below to learn more about these games and, in turn, wish this blog a Happy and Prosperous New Year!   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hamburger Hole: "DungeonQuest" (Third Edition)

By all accounts, my obsessions are both cyclical and seasonal. In the summer I'm constantly outdoors so the only games I play are quick, lite strategic diversions but as soon as the weather turns cold, I find myself inexorably delving delve back into more time-consuming like Dungeons & Dragons. Faced with such a long, miserable hibernation, why not while away the hours killing orcs and exploring caverns?

Even between RPG sessions I have a hankering to play any board game with the words "dungeon" and / or "dragons" in the title. It's kind of a sickness. One game that can easily be defined as recreational sickness is DungeonQuest.

As I've lamented many times before, I went through a tragic period in my life when I thought that I was "too cool for board games". As such, I missed out on buying such thematic and adventurous fare as Wiz-War, Warhammer Quest, HeroQuest and Talisman. I also managed to telegraph the first edition of DungeonQuest, probably because I lived in a Podunk town where procuring such things was akin to buying enriched uranium on the Black Market. 

So, when Fantasy Flight reprinted DungeonQuest in 2010, I was all over it like orange on Donald Trump.   

So why was I so keen to pick this one up? Well, I'll just let the good folks at Fantasy Flight explain things by proxy:

"DungeonQuest is a re-imagining of the classic board game of dungeon exploration for 1-4 players. Set in the vibrant fantasy realm of Terrinoth (first popularized by Runebound), DungeonQuest retains the peril, tension, and brutality of the beloved original game while updating both mechanical and thematic elements. Players take on the roles of courageous (or foolish) heroes willing to brave the legendary dangers of Dragonfire Dungeon. Fortune awaits those able to venture into the dragon’s lair...

"Legends say that the doors of Dragonfire Dungeon open every sunrise, welcoming brave adventurers into its depths. But once the sun sets, the doors close and seal the fates of those who lingered too long. Only a few have ever returned from Dragonfire Dungeon, and those who have usually come back near death. But they return as heroes nonetheless.

DungeonQuest, players must guide their heroes through the twisting halls of Dragonfire Dungeon in pursuit of unimaginable riches hoarded by the Dragonlord Kalladra. Whoever can amass the most wealth and make it out of the dungeon before the closing of the doors seals their doom will emerge victorious. However, merely surviving the harrowing dungeon is a feat all its own...

"While many similar games rely on a player to control the machinations of the dungeon,
DungeonQuest is unique in that the dungeon essentially runs itself. No one at the table knows what lies around the corner, creating a new play experience every time. Additionally, DungeonQuest also includes rules for solo play, so you can even challenge Kalladra’s keep on your own!

"Great riches and everlasting glory await if you can survive Dragonfire Dungeon. The Dragonlord Kalladra has challenged all heroes of Terrinoth to test themselves against the most dangerous dungeon in all the realms.

"Dare you face the dragon’s challenge?"

Looking for a full map to the Catacombs? Then click on the following link and you'll know where all the secret doors are in Dragonfire dungeon!   

Now, when they say that "DungeonQuest retains the peril, tension, and brutality of the beloved original game", they ain't whistlin' Dixie. The game is notorious for its sadistic challenge level. The other day I decided to take up the gauntlet and lead four Characters into the dungeon to try and pick up a few scraps of treasure and then beat feet back to the exit before they were all squished like gnats.







Tatianna moves east into a Dungeon Chamber which turns out to be a dead end. She finds an equally-Dead Adventurer lying there and opts to loot the body by drawing one Corpse Card but, alas, it doesn't possess anything of value.

Challara decides to move south. She drops a Chasm Chamber down and then draws a Dungeon Card. It's a "Cave-In" which try to navigate across next turn.

Brother Gherinn ventures one space North. He places a Dungeon Chamber and then draws a "Secret Door" Dungeon Card. This allows him to move to any adjacent space so he decides to place another tile to the west as normal which turns out to be a Trap Chamber. The Trap Deck reveals another "Cave-In" which he'll have to contend with on his next turn.

Hugo the Glorious moves one space east into a Portcullis Chamber. He draws a Dungeon Card which reveals that the room is Empty. On his next turn he'll attempt to lift the Portcullis and move back to the Tower Room.

The sun token moves one space.

Tatianna moves back to the Tower Room.

Challara wants to move one space west but has to get past the "Cave-In" in order to do so. She rolls two dice and gets a "10" which exceeds her Agility so she has to stay put. Since she failed the Attribute Test she receives a Determination Token, which improves her chances slightly on her next attempt.

Brother Gherinn finds himself in the exact same situation. He rolls two dice and gets a "4" which ties his Agility so he inches his way one space north. In a classic "out of the frying pan into the brazier" kinda deal, this also turns out to be a Cave-In Chamber! Gherinn draws a Dungeon Card, revealing an "Unstable Potion" which he decides to pocket. 

Hugo the Glorious attempts to lift the Portcullis and get out of the room. He rolls a "10" for his Attribute Test which is three higher than his Strength of 7 so he stays in place, receiving a Determination Token for his troubles.

The sun token moves one space.

Tatianna moves one space south. She draws a Dungeon Chamber and, in turn, a Dungeon Card, which reveals... a Troll! This results in...


Since I'm playing solo, I'm using the solitaire combat rules. As such, the Troll's Life Value is revealed as 4. Tatianna then uses her pre-battle special ability, revealing the top five cards from the Combat Deck to look for any Ranged cards. She gets a "Quick Shot" and adds this to the Troll's Damage Stack. 


Tatianna draws five Combat Cards and decides to play a three-point "Cleaving Blow" while the Troll gets a random two-point "Lightning Bolt". Since Tatianna's card value is higher, the "Cleaving Blow" is added to Troll's Damage Stack while the "Lightning Bolt stays in the Combat Stack.


Tatianna draws five more Combat Cards and decides to play a four-point "Soul Burn" while the Troll pulls a "Bolt of Agony". Since the latter is only worth one point, the "Soul Burn" goes into the Troll's Damage Stack. But this triggers a "Deathblow" since two cards in the Combat Stack share the Magic Icon of "Soul Burn". Those cards are also added into the Troll's Damage Stack and the creature is killed. Even better: Tatianna comes out of the battle completely unscathed!

Still trying to deal with the "Cave-In" Card, Challara tries another Attribute Test. She rolls a "9" which is still higher than her agility of 6 + 1 Determination Token. She banks one more Determination Token for next time.

Brother Gherinn is also dealing with his own Cave-In Chamber. His Attribute Test roll is "6" which is higher than his Agility of 4, so he also gets a good ol' Determination Token.

Once again Hugo the Compound Hernia Victim attempts to lift the Portcullis. He gets a "10" resulting in another failure and another Determination Token.

The sun marker movies one space.

Tatianna moves one space east and finds a Catacomb entrance. She draws from the Dungeon Deck and spots a Crypt which is revealed as Empty after a Search attempt. Next turn she must decide to stay on this level or venture into the subterranean bowels of the dungeon.

Challara attempts to maneuver her way through the "Cave-In" again. She rolls a "9" which is still higher than her Agility of 6 + 2 Determination Tokens so she picks up her third Determination Token.

Brother Gherinn is also mired in the same situation. This time he rolls a "6" which is still one higher than his Agility of 4 + 1 Determination Token. So, he gets a second Determination Token.

Once again, Hugo the (Not-So) Glorious attempts to lift the Portcullis. This time he gets a "9" which is equal to his Strength so he finally lifts the friggin' thing and moves back to the Tower Room.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna decides to enter the Catacombs, moving one space in an easterly direction. She gets a "Shuffle" result which is just placed back into the deck. Her next pull is a "Torch Goes Out" card which she'll have to contend with at the start of her next turn.

By now Challara is really kicking herself for not using her special ability to discard and redraw a different Dungeon Card! She tries to find a way past the "Cave-In" and rolls a "6"...success! She moves one space west into a standard Dungeon Room and draws a Dungeon Card, encountering a "Sorcerer". This time she ops to discard this card and draw again. It's a "Crypt" which she Searches to finds 250 Gold Coins!

Brother Gherinn tries to get to the other side of the Cave-In Chamber. He rolls "9" which is still higher than his current Agility of 4 + 2 Determination Tokens, so he receives a third Determination Token.

Hugo the Glorious moves one space north. He draws a Dungeon Tile and a subsequent Dungeon Card which reveals a Dead Adventurer. He Searches the body and finds 50 Gold Coins!

The sun token most one more space.

Tatianna spends her "Rune of Luck" to relight her torch. The next Catacomb Card she draws reveals an Empty Room. Yes, more progress made!

Challara and Brightblaze move one space south, encountering a Dungeon Room and drawing a matching Dungeon Card. There's a Dead Adventurer stinking up the joint so she decides to Search the body but it doesn't yield anything of value.

Increasingly determined, Brother Gherinn tries to get past this latest Cave-In. This time he rolls a "6" and succeeds, moving onto a Bridge Chamber. Before attempting to cross the Bridge he uses his special ability to voluntarily take one point of damage in order to gain three Determination Tokens. He rolls a "6" on his Agility Attribute Test and succeeds! He immediately moves one space North, encountering a new Dungeon Room which prompts a draw from the Dungeon Deck. Behind the door he bumps into an animated Skeleton!


 The Skeleton only has a Life Value of only 2 so Gherinn decides to stand his ground.


Gherinn draws five Combat Cards and out of this he plays a 4-point "Barrage" while the Skeleton randomly gets a 1-point "Bolt of Agony. This triggers a Counterattack since the Ranged icon on "Barrage" matches the Counterattack symbol on the "Bolt". The Skeleton reveals five new cards but only "Lightning Bolt" contributes to the Skeleton's attack. Gherinn still wins and the "Barrage" goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack.


Gherinn draws another five cards. He selects a 4-point "Soul Burn" while the Skeleton reveals a 1-point "Slash". Once again the iconography matches up for a Counterattack and the Skeleton reveals five more cards. This time a 3-point "Cleaving Blow" is added to the Skeleton's effort which results in a tie, I.E. a Standoff.


Gherinn draws another five cards and this time he decides to play a "Fire Blast" while the Skeleton's random card is a 4-point "Heart Strike", which wins the exchange. Since Plus "Cleaving Blow" and "Slash" are matching Melee cards, this is considered a Deathblow and are added to Gherinn's Damage Stack.


Gherinn draws five more cards and then casts a 4-point "Soul Burn" while the Skeleton draws a 3-point "Cleaving Blow". Once again, this gives the Skelly a chance to Counterattack. He draws five more cards but, miraculously, none of them are Melee cards. Gherinn wins this exchange, and since "Soul Burn", "Fire Blast", "Lightning Bolt" and "Bolt of Agony" are all Magic-related, it's considered to be a Deathblow and all of them are added to the Skeleton's Damage Stack. As a result, the Skeleton is annihilated and Gherinn wins the fight, although he does suffer three points of damage, one for each card in his Damage Stack.

Hugo the Glorious cautiously creeps one space East. He moves into a Dungeon Chamber and draws a Dungeon Card. There's a "Crypt" in the room which he decides to search, finding 120 Gold Coins! Unfortunately, this room has no exits so next turn he must decide to either search for a way out or go back to the entrance yet again.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna continues her trek in the Catacombs. She stumbles upon a "Hidden Trap" which turns out to be poisonous snakes! She rolls one die which inflicts four points of damage on her. Yikes!

Challara and Brightblaze move one space west arriving at a T-intersection Corridor Chamber. She then decides to move one space south, arriving at a four-way-intersection Dungeon Room, prompting a Dungeon Card draw. It's a dreaded "Torch Goes Out" card which she decides to turf thanks to her Special Ability. Her replacement card turns out to be a "Crypt" which she immediately Searches. She comes across some "Old Bones" which immediately spring to life and attack her.

This results in combat against a two point Skeleton which she can't Escape from. 


Challara draws five cards and decides to play a 3-point "Rapid Fire". The Skeleton draws a 2-point "Aimed Shot". Since Challara's card is higher, the "Rapid Fire" goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack.


Challara plays a 3-point "Cleaving Blow" versus the Skeleton's 1-point "Slash". Once again Challara's attack strength is higher so the "Cleaving Blow" goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack, killing it! Challara avoids all damage in the scrap! Yay!

At the beginning of Brother Gherinn's turn he attempts to go through the western Door. He draws a "Door Open" Door Card so he proceeds through to the Dungeon Room and draws from the Dungeon Deck. The room appears to be Empty.

Hugo the Glorious Searches the Chamber that he's in. He draws the top card from the Search deck and finds a passage down into the Catacombs!

The sun marker movies one space.

Tatianna continues her trek in the Catacombs by moving into an Empty room.

Challara and Brightblaze move one space west and stumble into a Spiderweb Chamber. She doggedly tries to cross through the web but rolls a "6" which is exceeds her Strength. She stays in place and receives one Determination Token as a consolation prize.

Brother Gherinn moves one space west, entering a Chasm Chamber. He draws a Dungeon Card, encountering a "Shade" which will relentlessly pursue him until he enters the Catacombs or exits the dungeon. Going forward he must roll two dice at the start of every turn and if he rolls "snake eyes" he's killed outright! Seems legit.
♪♫ "Spiderwebs to the left of me, Chasms to the right, here I am...stuck in the middle with yeeeeew!" ♪♫

Hugo the Glorious ventures down into the Catacombs, drawing a "Hole In The Roof" card which allows himself to exit. He decides to ignore this and press on.

The sun marker movies one space.

Tatianna continues her delve through the Catacombs, encountering a "Horde of Rats". Fun! This forces her to Test her Armor Attribute. She rolls a "9" and deducts this result from her Armor of "4" which inflicts five points of damage. Yikes!

Meanwhile Challara attempts to extricate herself from the Spiderweb Chamber. She rolls of "4" against her Strength so she tears free from the web and moves one space west encountering yet another falkin' Cave-In Chamber! She also has to pull a Dungeon Card but discovers that the room is Empty.

Brother Gherinn rolls for his Shade companion and gets an "8" so he's safe for the time being. He then moves one space south and encounters - guess what? - another Cave-In Chamber. How many of these friggin' things are there in this game? He also has to draw Dungeon Card and, on the surface at least, the room appears to be Empty.

Hugo the Glorious continues to explore the Catacombs. He also runs into a "Horde of Rats" but with an Armor Attribute Test roll of "3" he's unaffected by the rodental deluge.

The side marker movies one space.

Still deep underground, Tatianna draws one card from the Catacomb Deck and encounters a "Vampire" which forces her to test Agility or Armor, whatever's lower. Mercifully she rolls a "4" so she cleanly avoids a very deadly threat!

Challara attempts to cross the Cave-In Chamber. She rolls a "7" which is one point higher than her Agility so she receives a Determination Token. It's deja vu all over again!

Brother Gherinn tries to follow suit, Testing his Agility. He gets a "6" which is two points too high so he also draws a Determination Token. Side note: his Shade roll is also a "6".

Hugo the Glorious moves one more space East in the Catacombs and sees something sparkle in the darkness. It's a Gigantic Diamond worth a whopping 4000 Gold Pieces. His goal now is just to get the fuck out A.S.A.P.!

The sun marker moves one space.

Still underground in the Catacombs, Tatianna comes across a "Hidden Trap", which turns out to be *surprise, surprise* another fucking "Cave-In", which she'll have to contend with on her next turn.

Challara attempts to clear her own Cave-In Chamber. She rolls a "9" which is two points higher than her current Agility of 7 (6 + 1 Determination Token), so she gets a second Determination Token and her turn is done.

Brother Gherinn tries to rectify his own situation but his roll of "9" is considerably higher than his current Agility (4 + 1 Determination Token) so he receives another Determination Token. His Shade roll is "7", so he's okay there.

Hugo the Glorious continues his underground trek, drawing an "Exit" which he immediately decides to take. He re-appears top side four spaces east shifting one space north because of his die roll of "1". It's a Corridor Chamber which he'll encounter next turn.

"Flawless Sense of Direction Powers: ACTIVATE!!! I said...ACTIVATE!!! damn you!!! Aww, shit."

The sun marker moves one space.

Thanks to Tatianna's high Agility, her roll of "7" pays off and she easily scampers past the "Cave-In". She draws a new Catacombs Card which mercifully reveals an Empty room.

Challara tries to duplicate that feat. She rolls an "8" which ties her current Agility (6 + 2 Determination Tokens) so she hustles one space west revealing a Chamber of Darkness. On a roll of "2" she gets turned around and pops out again in the Cave-In Chamber! This forces her to pull a new Dungeon Card which turns out to be a Crypt. She searches the thing and finds an "Unstable Potion" which she "Yoinks!" and then moves on.

Gherinn's "Shade" roll is 5. He attempts to *Yawn* get across the Cave-In Chamber, rolling a "3"... success!  He moves one space east into a Dungeon Room and draws a Dungeon Card. It's a Golem. Wheeee!

Noting the previous triumphs of Tatianna and Challara, Gherinn decides to fight this five-point monstrosity, drawing five cards for a starting hand.


He decides to play a 4-point "Barrage" while the Golem gets a random 2-point "Double Strike". The "Barrage" goes into the Golem's Damage Stack while the "Double Strike" stays in the Combat Stack.


Gherinn tables a 4-point "Heart Strike" versus a random 2-point "Aimed Shot". This results in a Counterattack since the icons match up. The Golem pulls five more cards, adding a 3-point "Rapid Fire" which adds to his effort. Gherinn places these two cards in his Damage Stack. Ruh-roh.


This time it's Gherinn's 4-point "Barrage" versus the Golem's 3-point "Fire Blast". Once again there's a Counterattack and the Golem's resulting card pull includes two "Lightning Bolts" and a "Bolt of Agony"! All four of these cards go into Gherinn's Damage Stack! It's not looking good for our favorite wizard / Phantom of the Opera cosplayer!


Realizing all too late that he's hideously outmatched, Gherinn tries to Escape. He randomly draws a 3-point "Burning Hands" versus the Golem's 4-point "Hammer Smash"! This inflicts 3 more damage on Gherinn so between this, his previously-incurred wounds and everything currently in his Damage Stack, Gherinn is killed. Dragonfire Dungeon has claimed its first victim!

"I have erred."

Hugo The Glorious moves one space east, arriving in a Rotating Chamber that turns 180°. "Jane, stop this crazy thing!!!" 

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna's luck goes from bad to worse. Her next Catacomb Card draw is a "Sneak Attack" from a Demon! She's forced to Test her Luck, rolling "8" which deals two points of damage. Even scarier:  the now finds herself in combat with her abyssal assailant!

Tatianna is now staring down an eight-point Demon. As per the card's instructions she can't Escape so she takes advantage of her Special Ability, drawing five Combat Cards. Among these is a "Quick Shot" which she adds to the Demon's Damage Stack.

After drawing five new Combat Cards she plays a 4-point "Soul Burn" while the Demon gets a 3-point "Cleaving Blow". Unfortunately this opens the door for a Counterattack but by some miracle the Demon doesn't draw any more Melee Cards! So, the "Soul Burn" goes into the Demon's Damage Stack while the "Cleaving Blow" goes into the Combat Stack.

Another five cards are drawn for Tatianna. She decides to play a 3-point "Fire Blast" while the Demon gets a 2-point "Aimed Shot". Again Tatianna wins and the "Aimed Shot" goes into the Combat Stack while the "Fire Blast" goes into the Demon's Damage Stack. So far she's dealt three points of damage!

Tatianna plays a 3-point "Rapid Fire" and the Demon gets a 2-point "Aimed Shot". Once again, Tatiana wins this round outright, adding her "Rapid Fire" (as well as the "Aimed Shot" in the Combat Stack) to the Demon's Damage Stack. Meanwhile, the "Aimed Shot" that the Demon's just played gets added into the Combat Stack.

Tatianna drops a 2-point "Lightning Bolt" while the Demon gets a 1-point "Bolt of Agony". Tatiana handily wins again so the "Lightning Bolt" is added to the Demon's Damage Stack. So far he's taken six points of damage!

Tatianna rips off a 3-point "Rapid Fire" versus the Demon's paltry 1-point "Slash". Once again luck is on her side and she adds the "Rapid Fire" plus the "Aimed Shot" into the Demon's Damage Stack thanks to a Deathblow. Since this represents eight points of damage to the Demon, Tatianaa wins without taking a single wound! YAS!!!

Seeing that there are few palatable options on the other side of the Chamber of Darkness, Challara tries to cross the Cave-In Chamber once again. She rolls "7" which is one higher than her Agility of 6 so she gets one Determination Token.

Hugo the Glorious strikes out east, drawing a T-intersection Corridor Chamber. He decides to keep truckin' one space south, drawing yet another goddamned, motherfucking, cock-a-doodie Cave-In Chamber. Just as he enters the room he draws a Dungeon Card which reveals a "Swinging Blade Trap". He decides to use his one-shot "Rune of Warning", discarding the trap without resolving its effect.

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Tatianna draws yet another Catacombs Card and finally comes across a "Hole in the Roof". She tests Agility and rolls a "4"! With a song in her heart she exits the oppressive Catacombs, popping out ten spaces east, shifted one space south thanks to her die roll of "1". Next turn she'll encounter this space!

"Cool! I'm soooo close to the exit. All I need to do now is pick up a single friggin' dime and I got this by the ass!"

Challara tries to cross the Cave-In Chamber. Again. She rolls a "10" and gets a Determination Token.

Hugo the Glorious travels north to the T-intersection Corridor and keeps on going one space north. It's a Dungeon Room leading west, so Hugo draws one Dungeon Card and finds 40 Gold Coins.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna moves into the T-junction Corridor and then moves again south into the Dungeon Room, drawing one Dungeon Card. At face value, the room appears to be Empty.

Challara tries to move past the Cave-In. She rolls a "6" and finally picks her way through the rubble, moving one space south, locating a Catacomb Chamber. She then draws one Dungeon Card and spies the body of a "Dead Adventurer" which she Searches to find a "Rope".

Hugo the Hopelessly Lost moves one space west and enters a Dungeon Room with no exits. He draws a Dungeon Card and finds a "Bottle Imp" which he quickly scoops up.

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Tatianna Searches the room and finds a "Secret Door". She picks up a Dungeon Room tile and places it off to the east and immediately moves into that space, drawing a card from the Dungeon Deck. There's a Crypt in the room containing "Old Bones" but she finds nothing of value among the detritus.

Challara searches the room she's in and finds an entirely superfluous entrance to the Catacombs. Fate seems to be screaming in her ear!

Hugo the "Glorious" Searches the room he's in and finds a "Secret Door" which he places off to the north. This lets him move into the Treasure Chamber so he randomly draws one card from the Dragon Deck...and pulls "Dragon Rage"! Kalladra wakes up and scorches Hugo for five points of damage! Mercifully he didn't pick up any Treasure Cards so he doesn't have to discard anything. Hugo runs screaming out of the Treasure Room, exiting through the north west Chamber. This turns out to be a Corridor which he'll encounter next turn.

Drakon on loan courtesy of Fantasy Flight.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna moves one space west back to the Dungeon Room. She draws a Dungeon Card and assumes that the room is Empty.

Now desperate to find a way out, Challara enters the Catacombs moving due south. Her very first card draw is a very promising "Treasure Chest"! Noice!

Hugo the Dumbass encounters the Corridor and moves one space west. He attempts to cross the Web Chamber, testing Strength. He rolls a "5", easily clearing the room. He moves again, placing a Catacomb Chamber with an exit leading North. He then draws a Dungeon Card called "Curse of the Wizard". On a random roll of "5" all of the Corridor Chambers rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise! This means that Tatianna is now trapped! Way to go, dipshit!

The Sun Token moves one space.

Desperately looking for a way out, Tatianna Searches the room and finds 70 Gold Coins. Now that she's finally found something of value, she's allowed to exit and go for the win. But is it too little, too late? 

Challara continues to pick her way through the Catacombs. This turn she encounters a dreaded "Bane Spider". At the start of all of her future turns she must roll one die. If she rolls a "1" or "2" she suffers one Wound and her turn immediately ends. If she rolls "3" to "6" she kills the icky thing, discards the card and proceeds on with her turn.

Still running and screaming bloody murder, Hugo charges one space north. Just as he moves into the next Chamber the floor suddenly gives away, forcing him to Test his Luck. He rolls "7" which is considerably higher than his luck of "3" and he tumbles into a Bottomless Pit.

Whelp, it's all up to the ladies now!

 "I regret nothiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!!"

The Sun Token moves one space.

One last time, Tatiana frantically Searches the room for an escape hatch but comes up Empty.

Challara rolls a "1" and suffers a wound from the "Bane Spider". She then moves one more space through the Catacombs into an Empty room. (Error: if you fail to kill the Bane Spider, you can't move)

The Sun Token moves one space.

Tatianna moves into the Spiderweb Chamber and Tests Strength to try and tear her way through it. Unfortunately she rolls of "5" which is one higher than her Strength so she gets one Determination Token. I'm sure that'll help loads.

Challara kills the Bane Spider with a "4" and then draws her next Catacomb card, revealing an Empty room. Ah, man...time's gettin' short! 

The Sun Token moves one space.

Tatianna once again tries to free herself from the Spiderweb Chamber. She gets a "7", I.E. another failure which means that she picks up another highly useful Determination Token.

Challara's next Catacomb Card draw is a "Sneak Attack" from a Skeleton. Her roll is "8", which is higher than her Luck of 7 so she takes one point to damage and must now fight the Skeleton.

It's Challara versus a two-point Skeleton!


Challara plays a 4-point "Heart Strike" and the Skelly draws a random 1-point "Slash". Her card goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack while the "Slash" is left in the Combat Stack.


Our heroine plays a 2-point "Aimed Shot" versus the Skeleton's random 4-point "Barrage", so the undead fiend wins that round. The "Barrage" is placed in Challara's Damage Stack and the "Aimed Shot" goes into the Combat Stack.


She then plays a 4-point "Soul Burn" against the Skeleton's weak-sauce "Bolt of Agony". This is enough to kill the Skeleton!

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Tatianna hacks away at the webbing which holds her fast, but she rolls a "12" and is stuck there for another turn. She gets one more Determination Token but his is about as useless as a pup tent versus Jason Vorhees.

Things continue to go sour for Challara. She runs smack-dab into a feasome "Naga" in the next space of the Catacombs which forces her to turn around!

The card might as well read: "You Soil Your Pantaloons. Move Back Five Spaces."

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Once again Tatianna tries to rip her way through the Spiderweb Chamber. She rolls a "7" which ties her current Strength of 4 + 3 Determination Tokens, so she hustles on to the next room. It's a Dungeon Chamber that mercifully slots in perfectly with the Corridor off to the east! Things are looking good until she draws a Dungeon Card which turns out to be a "Crossfire Trap". She Tests Armor, rolling a "9" versus her armor of "4". The difference between the two results in 5 points of damage. Unfortunately Tatianna had already incurred 11 damage so the plucky adventurer inadvertently ends up doing her dead-on Satipo impersonation from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 "It''s just a flesh wound. I'll be awrite. Imma walk this off..."

On the start of Challara's turn she draws another freakin' "Bane Spider". This x 100.

The Sun Marker movies one space.

Challara fights the Bane Spider and rolls a "2" so it causes a wound and her turn immediately ends.

The Sun Marker removes one space.

Still locked in a death battle with the Bane Spider, Challara rolls a "1" and takes yet another point of damage, ending her turn. 

The Sun Marker moves one space. In addition, Challara must now roll to see if the doors of the dungeon seal up. She rolls a "1" and the maze locks down like a bank vault. Even worse: Kalladra wakes up and stalks through catacombs, hunting down and killing our last remaining hero. 




  • Dying Miserably Never Looked So Good. DungeonQuest clearly showcases Fantasy Flight's typically-gorgeous production values. I.E. the cards, the board, the tokens and the figures are all top-notch. I just love the way the board looks at the end of the game: kinda like the world's most lethal game of Dig Dug
  • Quick Start. At its heart the game is as simple as Carcassonne meets Drakon: just pick a direction, select a face-down tile, place the tile on the board, move your figure in and then deal with the horrible, horrible things that are about to happen.  
  • It's Thematic. The game really does feel like an olde-skool dungeon crawl, complete with bad-and-even-worse choices, fleeting hope cruelly being ripped away, insta-death and perpetual feelings of inevitable doom. In fact, the danger is so palpable, the twists are so terrible and the kills are so so arbitrarily inhumane that I often find myself chuckling out loud.
  • It's Exhilarating. You're constantly rooting for your poor little character to survive. Since the game is so ridiculously challenging you feel like cheering whenever you overcome even the simplest of obstacles.  
  • It's Tense. Re-reading this session report had me biting my nails in suspense. Sorry but it's downright terrifying when your escape route suddenly vanishes half way through the game and you now have to figure out a completely different way to get out before the resident wyrm wakes up.
  • It's Slightly More Strategic Than You Think. Looking back on the game I know I could have leveraged some of the character powers a bit better and not wasted so much time. For example, I know I didn't take full advantage of Challara's ability to turf and re-draw tiles. And she probably shouldn't have given up on the Room of Darkness so quickly.
  • Luck Be A Lady Tonite. A lot of your fortune (or misfortune, more accurately) is predicated on what tile you pull. You can mitigate this somewhat by playing a very conservative game, I.E. beating feet right back to the Tower Room just as soon as you pick up so much as a single coin. But, hey, where's the fun in that?
  • Terrinoth Sucks.  I've said this before but I'm really not a fan of Fantasy Flight's bland, generic, puerile fantasy world. At least things were starting to improve by the time this version of DungeonQuest came out five years ago, but it still had a long way to go. I mean, Challara and Brightblaze. "Brightblaze"? L-a-a-a-a-a-m-e. Just think of how much cooler the game would be with a creepy, Gothic Warhammer-y / Games Workshop vibe than this generic crap. 
  • Combat Is Atrocious. Actually the combat system isn't terrible; in fact, there's a kernel of a decent mini-game buried in there somehwere. But within the confines of a quick n' dirty game like DungeonQuest, it brings the whole thing to a screeching halt. Besides, it's thematically wonky. Why would a brick like Hugo cast spells like "Fire Blast" n' shit? And why are Sorcerers trying to bury a battleaxe in my skull?  
  • The Frustration Factor Is Off The Charts. Just read the report: my game had more "Cave-In's" than a Chinese coal mine. When you're running out of time and you're desperately scrambling for an exit, it feels as if you're trying to run in hip-deep mud. 
  • Surprise! You're Dead! Hey, I really don't mind a challenge, but just look at poor ol' Hugo in the example above. He's doin' well, he's collected a nice l'il nest egg o' loot, he's bookin' it to the closest exit and then, all of a sudden, he's falling like Palpatine down the Death Star reactor shaft

The thing to remember about DungeonQuest is that it's product of a time when dungeons were deathtraps, monsters were legitimately terrifying, traps were deadly, poison killed outright and undead fiends sucked levels outta you like bubble tea through a straw. Back then Dungeon Masters were sadistic cuntnuggets who cooked up the cruelest, most creatively-evil ways to murder their way through reams of Character Sheets. Don't believe me? Then check out the The Tomb of Horrors.

Back then DM's didn't give a shit about your character's extensive background story or your skills synergies or your optimized builds. You didn't live long enough to need any of that shit!

Which is why DungeonQuest is a game slightly out of time. In the first edition the Character survival rate was estimated to be around 15% which has supposedly increased to a downright generous 21% in the version I own. So if you're one of those people who'll pout, bitch and whine whenever your character gets randomly squished like the invasive insect that he or she is, then you really need to give this one a very wide berth. 

But for the rest of us it's a gloriously nostalgic romp through Blackhumor Dungeon.

DungeonQuest scores three pips out of six with a dragon-horde-sized tilt up to the top of Kalladra's horns!

Wanna lead your friends through the fantasy equivalent of Saw: The Board Game? Then click on the following image to learn more about DungeonQuest and help this blog get back to the Tower Room!
Please note, the third edition which I own is currently out of print. The Revised Edition, pictured above, is described thusly by Fantasy Flight:

"This new edition of DungeonQuest features a streamlined combat system (thank fux) that harkens back to the classic editions of the game, and a deadlier (!!!) dungeon than ever before. A brand new Torchlight Variant offers you a new way to explore the dungeon's depths, while building an even more complex and sprawling dungeon throughout the game."