Ever wonder what would happen if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were to turn up on an episode of Knightmare or if Bill & Ted were to invent a Dungeon crawling, card game? Well IDW Games has the answer, Awesome Kingdom. A tounge-in-cheek, dungeon crawler that see some of the most bodacious adventurers take on wacky beasts, insane traps and each other, in search of ultimate riches and the right to call themselves the most awesomest of adventurers in the Awesome Kingdom.
Designed by Kevin Wilson, the mind behind Descent and Arkham Horror, Awesome Kingdom is a fast paced card game for 2 to 4 players. Each game takes approximately 30 minutes and is incredibly easy to learn. Cards are laid out in a circular fashion in the middle of the table, with each card representing a different room and encounter you will have while journeying through the dungeon. You then, basically, have 9 turns to collect as many awesome points as you can before the game ends.
Awesome points are gained by collecting cards that have a positive awesome value, pocketing coins from treasures you find and using items and skills to steal awesomosity from other players. But beware, as easy as it is to collect awesome points, loosing them is just as simple. Traps cause you damage, monsters wound you and as the game goes on you’ll slowly collect a stack of wound tokens.The tokens will then be tallied at the end of the game and deducted from you awesome points. If that isn’t bad enough, some items come with a negative awesome value and as you have to collect anything you land on, their are times you’ll end Awesome Kingdom with a massive deficit.
You make your way through the dungeon by playing movement cards, which show how far and in which direction you can travel. You then count the number of cards in that direction and collect the one you land on, simple. Well not entirely, as you move, the abilities of each card you pass over may be activated, causing you to gain wounds or stop suddenly as you are caught in a trap. This is a nice mechanic but with the circular layout of the game, a large portion of play is spent asking other players to read what it says on the card and many times you’ll miss activating abilities and retrospectively have to implement the card’s effects.
This isn’t the only problem with the game, as many cards have the ability to make it impossible for a player to win. There have been times when these “spoiler” cards have appeared in the first round, causing players to have to sit through 8 more turns knowing it is impossible for them to be victorious. Though there are some cards that counter theses effects (however, not every card has a counter) the random nature as to what will appear in the dungeon, and the need for you to land on the card to gain it’s powers, makes it an incredibly frustrating experience and you’ll notice people giving up before the game has really begun.
Awesome Kingdom revels in its brightly coloured, cartoon aesthetics and is perfect for new gamers and those who are usually resistant to any fantasy based table top game. With amusing characters and witty encounters, IDW Games has managed to bring a levity to dungeon crawling that is enjoyable for the whole family. Unfortunately, the jokes wear thin pretty quickly and the design for the character standees are incredibly busy, making it difficult to tell which character is yours. The quality of the cards, tokens, standees are very good. Though, for the size of the box, you’d expect to find more inside and you end up being lumbered with yet another game taking up more room on your shelf than is necessary.
Awesome Kingdom is a good fun, fast paced, starter game, wrapped in the veneer of a tactical dungeon crawler. Great for the casual gamer and an amusing way to start an evening of table top games. Just don’t expect anything past it’s jovial surface.