Mini Rogue Board Game Review. Publisher: Nuts! Expert Designer: Paolo Di Stefano and Gabriel Gendron Price $25.00
Passed Inspection: full solo or two player adventure in a small box; fun artwork; high quality components; tons of replay value for the money; great optional rules; campaign included
Failed Basic: when playing the wizard, it’s a little unclear as to how you can get your spells back after you use them; some of the icons need a little more explanation
When I was a 12 year old child I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons at a candy store owned by a dentist (he was probably investing in making sure he had future work as a dentist) in Dayton, Ohio. At one corner of the candy store was a section which included Dungeons and Dragon Basic Sets and the hard cover Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books – Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual. He also had Ral Partha miniatures made out of real lead and tons of dice as well as some war games like Ogre and Star Fleet Battles. That store was my gateway drug to the wonderful world of role playing and war gaming. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent with my friends playing D&D on Friday and Saturday nights. Now that I’m older, I don’t have as much time to keep up with role playing as I used to and it’s currently a little difficult to get groups together anymore.
Now, Nuts! brings us a fix to our role playing game habits with Mini Rogue, a solo or two player game of high fantasy in which the game becomes the Dungeon Master.
Mini Rogue comes in a small box which, when opened, delivers massive fun! It’s an anti-Pandora’s Box of goodness!
The contents include:
1 28 page Rule Book
5 Boss Cards
4 Character Cards
2 Combat Stance Cards
20 Room Cards
1 Rewards/Ghost Card
2 Player Aid Sheets
Various Meeples and Wooden Status Cubes
1 Dungeon/Tower Mat
2 Character Mats
The object of the game is to take your character (either a Wizard/Mage, Rogue/Thief, Crusader/Fighter and a Priestess/Cleric) and fight through the different levels of the either the dungeon or tower and try to find a great artifact called “Og’s Blood”, a mysterious ruby gem stone.
Each character has a card which shows special skills or powers. Also each character is rated for experience points, armor, health points, food rations, gold pieces and potions. Different color wooden cubes are used on the character mats to help track these.
The rule booklet is pretty good but there are so many icons used in the game that it is difficult to keep track of what icon is what. Also the rules aren’t specific about how a mage regains his spells after casting them. I house ruled that either a place that allows the character to rest also allows him to relearn spells or when you go up a floor the spells are replenished.
Some creatures not only do damage to decrease your health points but some drain experience points from you which can have major adverse effects on how successful your are solving problems or avoiding traps or even attacking monsters.
The dungeon and tower mat shows the number of areas and levels for the quest. There is also a series of boxes for keeping track of an individual monster’s health points.
I wish there was a little more variation between the dungeon and the tower. Both are made up of 10 areas and 4 levels. Each area is composed of 8 randomly drawn room cards and 1 boss card as the last card formed in to a 3 x 3 matrix. Each room card is put face down and is revealed either when you move into it or by spying on adjacent room cards. The mage can use a spell to reveal up to 3 room cards.
Room cards contain things like traps, monsters, random people you find on your quest such as merchants or hunters or special rooms such as the alter room. You can trade gold with merchants and hunters to buy food, potions, heals, etc. You may run in to a friendly raven who, for either food or gold, will help you in your quest.
The turn sequence is as follows:
- Shuffle the room cards and place them face down, three room cards for the first and second rows and two room cards and a face down boss card for the third row.
- Put your character meeple on the first room which is the room on the left most position on the 3 x 3 matrix of cards you have put face down. Flip that starting room card over and deal with the results.
- Pick a direction to move your meeple – either to the right or straight down. Turn over the room card you have landed on and deal with the card’s effects. If you are still alive, reveal the two adjacent cards. Either move your meeple right or down and take on the challenge that the room you moved into presents. Rinse, wash and repeat step 3 until you take on the boss card at the bottom right of the 3 x 3 matrix.
- If you defeat the level’s boss, then advance on the dungeon or tower mat. Use up 1 food and reset any character abilities that you have used during the previous level. Note that if you have defeated the last boss on the last level, you have won the game. If you haven’t defeated the last boss, go back to 1 and start the process for the next level.
Combat is fast and elegantly represented. Roll the number of white character dice that your level allows you to roll. If you have to include poison dice or curse dice, roll them too. Set aside any character dice that indicate you missed (those with an X on them) and reroll any critical hits (a 6) and add the new roll to the value of the previous roll. Then add up all the other dice amounts. Use a feat if you want to help defeat the creature. Add everything up and that is the number of points of damage you deduct from the monster’s Health Points. If the threat is still standing after your damage, it attacks you by rolling black Dungeon Dice. If it hits you, it can cost you Health Points, poison you, curse you or even drain your Levels from you. If your Health Points reach zero, you have been defeated. Curses and Poison dice can subtract from your damage done to a monster or drain hit points from you as happened to my poor Rogue who died from poisoning before she could find a person to heal her.
There are optional rules for 2 player co-operative play and changing combat stances (allows you to pick how you want to fight – more defensively/more offensively, etc). There is even a full campaign system included which includes a full series of narrative scenarios and branching adventures.
Nuts! has fit a full role playing game experience into a box which is about the size of a paperback book. This is one of my favorite games of 2021 and I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy role playing games.
Armchair General Rating: 98% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)
Solitaire Rating: 5
(1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer. He designed the games Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG and has designed the solo system for Forsage Games’ Age of Dogfights. Currently Rick is designing T34 Leader for DVG. In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!