Austin Smith, Leigh Wilson, and a random assortment of dorm-room background friends accidentally talk about Bioshock, Resident Evil, and Call of Duty for 40 minutes, interspersed with other video game talk, how technology slowly dies, what the price of a soul is, books, and how Austin is a bad person.
My earbuds broke a month or so ago, and since I keep breaking them I went out and tried to find the least expensive earbuds possible. This led me to pick up several different inexpensive earbuds. The first was the Sentry Talk-Buds from the crummy shelf of my local store.
Now if you’ll allow me to spoil the review only this far in, (and really, you could guess by the price) these are not a good product. But they don’t seem like that at first. A bit off maybe: the buds themselves are made of metal and give a strange cold feeling in the ear, but that’s just because I’m not used to it. The sound is crap. Nothing is really unbalanced (I’m not a bass person myself so the lack of heavy bass doesn’t bother me)– it’s just fuzzy, like one would expect from inexpensive earbuds. The real problem here, though, is the microphone, more specifically the “answer call” button on it. This button also acts as a play/pause button, and it broke within a week of me owning the thing. But if it just broke in an unobtrusive way that would’ve been fine, since I didn’t want that feature really anyway. But it broke in such a way that it randomly paused and unpaused the music I was listening to, and that was unacceptable. If the button, or even the microphone, was removed I might have liked these (I’m not much of an “Audio Snob”– I just want what I listen to to be recognizable and not make my ears bleed). As it is, though, I’m not a fan. It does seem like it might be a quality control issue and thus hit or miss, but with so many other cheap and better options I wouldn’t bother.
(Also these came with a case, which I was semi-excited about, because I like small containers. But this one has a cheap, plastic hinge I could break with no effort, and came with what seemed to be a type of oil inside, so it was dirty. It might have sold me in the store, but once out of the package it was quite disappointing.)
I play a lot of games, some light and some heavy, and for the most part I’m not particularly afraid to jump into something pretty complicated. My group jumped from Risk to Pandemic to Battlestar Galactica in a few sessions, and the Flames of War rulebook is huge (I still haven’t read it all, because I don’t need to learn about artillery and aircraft if I don’t have any).
But still, I don’t mind a simpler game now and then (or 75% of the time) and Dungeon! is quite a simple game. You move, find monsters, roll a die, and either run away or get treasure, then go back to the center. There is almost no skill used in the game, and no strategy beyond the gamble of being at higher levels (which give you better payout but are more likely to kill you), or lower levels (which are easy but don’t give you much. It can be played mindlessly). Turns require almost no thought, just hope.
And in my opinion, that doesn’t make it a bad game. Are there better games? Absolutely! But if you’re just sitting around talking, and want to do a little more than talk, it is absolutely the game to go for. Since it doesn’t require much thought, Dungeon! doesn’t impede the conversation. The most interruption it’ll cause is either when you tell someone it’s their turn, or when there is an “epic” battle going on (which the player will almost always lose). In some cases it even helps the conversation to progress: if you have someone who won’t stop talking, they likely will for at least a moment to take their turn, allowing someone else to get a word in while the other can still listen. It also livens up the evening (or any time) by adding in moment of excitement where the players can cheer for either a monster or another player to win a battle, and since most battles are determined by chance, there is very little the “better” gamers can do to make it more likely for them to win. Everyone’s even, and the stakes are very low, unlike in heavier games, where an aura of tenseness or ill-will can persist near the end of the game. Not that that usually lasts for long, or a grudge is held, but sometimes it’s good to just not have it.
There are plenty of other games that can fill this role: most dice or “filler-type” games will work just as well. The difference here is that Dungeon! takes a bit longer, which, depending on the scenario, can be good or bad. If you just want to play for fifteen or so minutes and then get to something else (usually a larger game) Dungeon! isn’t the one to go for. But if you have 45 minutes to kill before dinner (supper, lunch, brunch, tea, possibly breakfast) and the conversation, while still going, is a bit down, it works great for that. That doesn’t make it a great game, and just because it works for my group doesn’t mean it’ll work for yours. But I know if I want to have a conversation and play a game with multiple people, Dungeon! is the game I reach for, and I like it for that. It fills a niche I never thought needed to be filled before, and might not ever have intended to fill. So, well done, Dungeon! My shelf is a bit more well-rounded now.
1. Do you think the set up in your state for getting driver’s licenses is good?
2. Are you a lucky person?
3. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
4. Do you think teachers should talk to parents with the students present?
5. Do you think window shades are needed in houses?
ANSWERS By: Austin Smith
1. I have no idea, I don’t have and don’t want a license.
2. No, but I’m not unlucky.
3. I own one pair of shoes.
4. That depends on what they’re talking about.
5. Yes, I’m not even sure windows are necessary.
1. Do you like Mexican food?
2. What is your favorite thing to eat at McDonalds?
3. How often do you see your first cousins?
4. When you are talking while standing, do you tend to move around a lot?
5 What is one kind of food that you would rather not have to eat?
1. Yes, I quite like it.
2. A cheeseburger, but I don’t eat there very often.
3. Not very often at all.
4. Yes, I move far too much.
5. Anything spicy ever.