Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia is a fast paced dungeon crawl from designers Daniel Alves, Patrick Matheus and Eurico Cunha Neto that reimplements Masmorra de Dados. Like you would expect from any good dungeon crawl, players will spend their time defeating monsters, disarming traps, gaining new skills and most importanly collecting treasure! Masmorra plays 1-5 and offers a variety of game modes, categorised as; Standard, Epic and Alliance.
Published by CMON and existing in the world of Arcadia, Masmorra will have a very familiar look for fans of Arcadia Quest and share some similar mechanics. That said, Masmorra is a stand alone game and while there is some cross over with the Arcadia Quest franchise, it is not part of that game system. Characters from Masmorra can be used with Arcadia Quest providing you have the kickstarter crossover kit. This, however, is as far as the interaction runs. Before we go into more detail about the game modes, check out my timelapse session below for an overall look at how the game flows.
Using the standard game rules, players will be competing against each other to gain the most experience (XP). Players are busy collecting treasure and defeating monsters as they explore the dungeon. Play starts with the first player rolling his action dice and deciding what actions he wishes to perform with his turn. Dice can be rerolled once before the player chooses how to use his available actions. This might include moving to new locations, which involves drawing a new dungeon tile from a prepared tile stack. Other actions include fighting and defending against monsters, healing, or using magic. At the end of a players turn monsters will move and new monsters will spawn. Play will then pass to the next player. The end of game is triggered when one player reaches 16 XP. As with any system that involves dice rolls, there is plenty of luck, but Masmorra gives players various ways of mitigating bad luck through skills and abilities.
It is worth pointing out that while standard mode is a competitve game mode, there is no direct PvP. There are cards that you can play to hinder other players, but you aren’t going to get the chance to lay the smack down on your opponents in Masmorra. Standard mode is essentially a race to 16 XP, with everyone chasing their own route to victory.
Next up we have the ‘Epic’ game mode offering. This is in the same competitive style as ‘Standard’, but instead of just competing against each other, players will also need to defeat the evil wizard ‘Malaphayas’. The primary gameplay difference for Epic mode is that the game doesn’t end at an XP cap but instead ends with an encounter with Malaphayas. There are some additional set- up rules and regulations, but I’ll let you work those out for yourself, when you start playing!
The final game mode is the ‘Alliance’ mode. In this game mode players will work together to progress through the dungeon and ultimately defeat the evil wizard and thwart his ‘Unspeakable Ritual’. Turns play out much the same, only now players are working together and are able to use cards to help keep their companions alive. There is also a new deck added to the game to represent Malaphayas’ growing power and influence. These cards always have negative effects and serve to slow the hero’s progress as they race against time. The game plays out over 21 turns and all hero’s will need to survive in order to succeed. There’s no early player elimination to worry about, but you will need to work together to win!
For me, Alliance mode is where the game is at its best. When I invest my gaming time into a dungeon crawl, I want that traditional dungeon experience. I want a party of adventurers working together to defeat the dungeon in a story driven, thematic style. Masmorra goes some way to offering this. It’s a fun, fast paced dungeon crawl that doesn’t outstay its welcome at the table. It’s not quite as fast as I’d like, at times, but compared to some dungeon crawls on the market, it ticks along at a decent pace. Downtime can feel frustrating with the maximum player count and with new players, so be mindful of this when teaching the game.
There are a few things that detract from the epic nature of Masmorra. The use of dice for monsters instead of miniatures will disappoint some, but the dice are nice and chunky and add their own unique flavour to the game. There is also no campaign mode, which is a disappointment. This would have helped provided a more thematic experience and increased replayability. It feels like having three game modes means none have quite been fleshed out as much as they could have been. While it is nice to have various game modes, it would have been nice to have a little more substance and depth to the game.
Finally I’d like to talk about component quality. CMON have done a typically great job with the miniatures in Masmorra. The Hero miniatures are all beautifully detailed in that familiar Chibis style. The monster dice, as mentioned earlier, are nice and chunky, and with the kickstarter exclusive extras, you’ll have plenty of monsters to keep your dungeon runs feeling fresh. It’s not all perfect though, the cards used for tracking experience and player cards are of a low quality and I would certainly liked to have seen a thicker card stock for these.
Overall Masmorra is a solid entry into the dungeon crawl genre and does have certain advantages over other games of its type. Dungeon crawls are often cursed with impossibly long game lengths and depressing amounts of downtime. Masmorra definately goes some way towards addressing this problem and offers a fairly streamlined experience, which is both easy to learn and easy to teach. The game modes are varied and interesting enough that it’s going to be down to your gaming group to decide which is ‘the best’ mode. It’s not redefining a genre by any means but it does offer a fun, lightweight experience and will find its way onto plenty of collections and be a good fit for many gamers. Masmorra is a niche purchase, but with the right group it will get its fair share of table time and won’t just be stuck on the shelf looking pretty!