BG4 3

Dark World (1992)

Dark World (1992), from Mattel, is one of several games from the early 90s that attempted to capitalize on the popularity of HeroQuest, both in vibes and looks and basic play.

There isn’t a lot of complexity to the game, which pits up to four players against a GM who controls the monster. Unlike HeroQuest, the heroes have no unique powers and can’t be upgrade, though they can find better weapons in chests and a selection of single use items like potions and grenades (grenades!) on the bodies of opponents. Combat is resolved with a combination of dice and hit cards which measure against a monster’s hidden health value, which injects a good deal of bluffing and risk assessment (the mechanics in general feel way more modern than you’d expect – no dice-based movement!). Oh, and the grim reaper swings through every round, killing everything he touches.

It is fun, once. Subsequent plays are…samey. Everything is smooth and simple, but there is no real tooth to the game.

That said, boy is it pretty. A multi-room dungeon, with hinged doors, treasure chests that open and secret panels that swing, leads to a large plastic temple. The central pillar of the temple, the Mace of Chaos, is a little rattle with four balls in it that determine random play order, which is novel. If that were all, I’d be impressed. But it isn’t all. Dark World has three of the coolest miniatures to come in a board game. The grim reaper is awesome, the serpent priest is wild but man, check out that manticore. No wings, massive, creepy scorpion tail, so good, I love it. The rest of the monsters are fine, if a bit generic, and the heroes are a bit bland for my taste, but the manticore more than makes up for them in my view. YMMV.

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