Take the sprawling fantasy adventures of Dungeons & Dragons, combine them with the kaleidoscopic visuals of an acid trip and squeeze the whole lot into a board game box. The result? Dungeon Degenerates: Hand of Doom, which has just returned to Kickstarter for another printing of the cult tabletop game.
Created by designer-illustrator duo Eric Radey and Sean Äaberg, Dungeon Degenerates offers a lengthy co-op campaign similar to other RPG-in-a-box board games such as Gloomhaven, with individual sessions lasting for multiple hours depending on the chosen scenario. Up to four players can venture into the game’s missions as standalone scenarios or a connected campaign, with a single-player solo mode also included.
Where Dungeon Degenerates differs from the usual fantasy fare, though, is in the open-ended nature and strange, surreal tone of its dark-fantasy world. Players aren’t heroic adventurers but escaped criminals, who can choose to stick together as a party or venture off and explore the world alone. The land of Würstreich is a dark, dangerous place, filled with more than 100 potential creatures for players to encounter in each of the board’s four unique regions.
The open world is matched by a similarly flexible approach to encounters. Players can choose to resolve events and interact with other inhabitants of the world in a number of ways, from utilising various abilities in tough battles - determined by single dice rolls - to foregoing combat altogether.
Dungeon Degenerates’ brutal-yet-open gameplay, grim fantasy and surreal sense of dark humour and storytelling are wrapped up in its eye-catching presentation: a vivid, psychedelic take on the classic illustration of ‘70s fantasy such as early Dungeons & Dragons and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.
The board game’s distinct spin on classic fantasy has earned it a cult following since its original release in 2017, leading to multiple reprintings and a spin-off party game, Dungeon Breakout.
Dungeon Degenerates: Hand of Doom’s latest Kickstarter looks to fund a fourth print run of the game, said to be “almost identical” to the previous release.
As well as the core game, the crowdfunding campaign offers various expansions for Hand of Doom, as well as three new booster packs, each containing an additional 13 monsters, and a dungeon crawl module for use with the game. The new content can be picked up by itself or alongside the main game, which costs $70 (£51), with delivery expected next February.