One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows Board Game Review

Back then, I wrote a review about Hero Realms. It is a game with just cards, very compact, small box, easy to play anywhere.

However, that is officially a competitive game where we will need at least one other players to play against. Then I found One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows. It is a game which offers something similar, has a fantasy theme, like an RPG and basically a multiplayer solitaire game.

But there is a trade off compared to Hero Realms. While the entire game can fit in even smaller size box, it requires using other components aside from cards.

So, what is One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows? How to play the game? Is there any expansions?

Those are probably just a few question that came to mind after hearing about the game. Well, in this article, I’m going to share with you my One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows review, based on my experience playing the game and what I can find from the internet.

Hope this helps. Is One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows going to be the best tabletop games?

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Overview

Game Name: One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows
Game Type: Adventure Card Game
Designer: Chris Cieslik
Publisher: Asmadi Games (asmadigames.com)
Number of Players: 1-2 Players
Playtime: 30 Minutes
Official Website: OneDeckDungeon.com

Components:
Rulebook (v1.61)
Campaign Character Sheet Pad

5+1 Hero Cards (3.5’x5′)
1 Reference Card (3.5’x5′)

Yellow D6 Dices (8)
Magenta D6 Dices (8)
Blue D6 Dices (8)
Black D6 Dices (6)

44 Encounter Cards (63.5 x 88 mm)
4 Character Level Cards (63.5 x 88 mm)
5+1 Dungeon / Boss Cards (63.5 x 88 mm)
Stair Card (1) (63.5 x 88 mm)
Basic Skill Cards (2) (63.5 x 88 mm)
Poison Reference Card (1) (63.5 x 88 mm)
Basic Potion Card (1) (63.5 x 88 mm)
4P Difficulty Enhancement Card (1) (63.5 x 88 mm)

15 Damage Tokens
6 Potion Tokens / Cubes
8 Poison Tokens

Expansion / Integration:
One Deck Dungeon (2016, $25)
Plastic Cards Version for both games ($30)
One Deck Dungeon: Abyssal Depth (2020)
Promo Card: Mist Character (2019)

Release Year: 2017
Initial Price: $25

About One Deck Dungeon Board Game

One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows is the sequel to One Deck Dungeon board game, which was released a year prior. The idea of both games are the same, which is to offer a complete dungeon crawl experience in a box of one deck of cards and several tokens, played by rolling dices.

We choose the heroine or heroines and decent to three levels of dungeon to defeat the final boss while overcome any monster or perils along the way. The deeper we reach the dungeon or in this case the forest, the more obstacles we will have to deal with but the stronger the heroines can become.

Each encounter we successfully overcome will give the character more skill, items and experience point to level up.

With the limited resources of health, items, skill and even time the player can use, they have to plan carefully as how they proceed to explore the dungeon. From choosing the encounter in the right order and to decide which character to have the enhancement.

Playing multiple characters means they also need to work together as how they spend the ability, in the form of dice rolling to defeat the encounter. Dice rolling mechanism may rely heavily on luck because the game will require specific number and color.

However, the game also offers some set of skills that players can get along the way to manipulate the result by increasing the number and trading with different color of the dice

Forest of Shadow is a stand alone game, not an expansion but we can integrate both games to play up to 4 players.

Alternatively we can also play with two copies of the same game to increase the number of players. Both games come with the same mechanism but different heroes, enemies, dungeons and bosses to play.

The sequel introduced two new mechanism, poison and cure potion. While on the original game, they only have healing potion. The new cure potion can have different function in addition to just healing from damage.

We can easily ignore these additional systems to play with the original.

As part of the stretch goals for the KickStarter Campaign for Forest of Shadows, the publisher offer additional quest called Artifact Quest to increase
the difficulty. We can access the quest from the official website OneDeckDungeon.com.

So far, Asmadi Games, the developer has not updated even their website with this sequel, except about the rulebook. For people who wants to give the game a try, they can also play the digital version of the game via STEAM platform for the prequel.

Game Components

One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows game comes with a small portable box that we can easily bring to anywhere. The size of the box is 14 x 10 x 4.3 cm, which is the appropriate footprint for 2 decks of cards.

The depth though, still has a room for more cards and/or other components. It is enough if we just want to mix and match with another copy or the sequel game but probably not to fit two copies in one box.

The game also comes with 2 type of cards. One with the standard size for card game (63.5 x 88 mm) for 60 cards and the big size cards for 7 cards. Even after we use card sleeve to all of them, there is still spare room (based on me using 60 micron sleeve).

The box has room and insert for 2 decks of cards but the cards only need one side of it. The other part is for the components, tokens and dices which come in two separate plastic bags. These components also only take like a third of the space.

We can add like 25 standard cards, depending on the sleeve or we can add two sets of the same components. That is only the lower portion of the box with the insert.

The bigger size card, rulebook and sheet are placed right above the insert. There is still extra space for this upper part as well. In fact, maybe we might want to fill the lower part with more cards. Otherwise, one of these bigger size components can get bent.

Of course if we are willing to use an elastic band, lift the lid a bit, we can probably store more within the box.

Rulebook

The first thing we can see after opening the box is the rulebook which has almost the same size of the box itself. It’s a 31 page book and as stated in this article, my copy comes with the v1.61 version.

So, they use the original game’s rulebook and add the rules for the new element for the sequel as the addendum. The new elements in the book has green background and a leaf sign, indicating the forest theme except for the last couple of pages.

We can use this rulebook to play the original game as well, ignoring the new elements. And if they somehow release another sequel, they might be updating to the same rulebook again.

We can access the official website for the updated version. At this time the latest version is 1.7 (December 18, 2018). The developer says that the only addendum from 1.6 is this line below about the dice.

“At the end of every turn, all dice are returned to the general supply, unless exiled or stored on a hero card.”

Here is the list of index v1.61

Cover (page 1)

Introduction (page 2). The basic idea of the game and the objective, how to win or lose the game

Contents and Index (page 3). Contents of the game, list of components and index of the rulebook.

Setup (page 4-5) From choosing a heroine and the dungeon or boss, and how to assemble the play area with illustrative guide.

Using Dice (page 6-7) about the general supply, dice pool and rules for how to place the dice to cover the challenge boxes.

The Game Turn (page 8-10), step by step guide for how the game works. All of this part are summarized in the Turn Reference Card, top portion of the card.

Encounter (page 11-17). Step by step guide for how to face the encounter. Summarized in the middle portion of turn reference card.

Feats, Skills, and Potions (page 18-19), Introduction to Character unique features, skills and potion. Some further explanation for each terms of ability.

Leveling Up (Page 20). Explanation of how the heroes can loot the experience points and level up.

Descending (Page 21). explanation for how to proceed to the next floor of the dungeon, how the stair card work.

Boss Fight (page 22-23), how to fight the boss of the dungeon.

Campaign Mode (page 24), explanation of how to use the campaign sheet
Challenge tier and Campaign Sheet example (page 25), difficulty level adjustment for campaign.

4 Player Rules (page 26-27) Rule changes for 4 player game using two set of game.

Forest of Shadows Expansion Rules (28-29), Poison, Exile, Cure, Splitting Loot.

Story mode, Artifact Quest (30) additional quest by accessing the official website.

Combat counter example (30). An additional illustrative guide for Encounter part (page 11-17).

Credits and FAQ (31) about people behind One Deck Dungeon.

If I can have a complaint about this rulebook is that they don’t give an illustration for any of the new features. Every illustration is from the original One Deck Dungeon game which still works for the most part. The problem is that those additional rules can get skipped very easily for this game.

Campaign Mode Character Sheet Pad

This sheet is to play the campaign mode. Each game we play will grant us some check marks whether we win or lose the game based on our progress and the difficulty level of the dungeon.

The more difficult the dungeon will grant us more check marks. Even if we lose the game, if we have reached certain check point we still get the check mark.

We then write the check mark with pencil or pen on the sheet and if we have enough check mark, we can unlock additional skill that we can use for the future gameplay.

The game comes with 24 sheets of the same copy which we can use one for each character. We can do multiple different upgrade for the same character, separately.

Some people might want to just scan it and make them a digital version so they don’t have to worry about running out of sheets. Alternatively, they can also laminate the sheet and use dry ink.

This sheet is limited only for the Forest and Shadows version because of the different dungeon and bosses.The original game has different sheet, so we can’t use one for the other.

The further explanation can be found on the rulebook page 24 – 25. It seems the rulebook use the campaign from the base game as the example.

There are 4 group of skills, or talents, as the rulebook calls it that we can unlock by collecting those check marks. Basic, Awareness, Aggression and Savvy Talents. Each group of talents also consist of 3 to 4 talents.

The basic talents can be used any gameplay, after we have unlocked it or learned it. Each game, we can only choose one more group of talents to use.

Alternatively, we can also use these skills to set different difficulty level. We can ignore the progress and just consider them already unlocked, and use the skills to make it easier. The easiest mode will be to enable using all of the skills.

However, like the rulebook above, it is very easy to forget or skip these additional rules or skills.

Big Size Cards

One Deck Dungeon game also comes with big size cards. The size is about 8.7 cm x 12.6 cm or (3.5’x5′) which is not a common size. If we buy the game, these cards comes in a sealed plastic bag, not a resealable.

People who want to sleeve these cards will have a problem finding the right size. The closest one is the sleeve for the Tiny Epic Compatibles sleeve which has the size of 88 x 125 mm.

Even if the width will fit but the length is short by 1 mm. I use the one from Mayday, a premium one. Some people chose to laminate the card. There are others who chose to cut the card instead.

Another suggestion would be to use plastic for greeting cards. Other alternative that I can think of but I haven’t tried them out is to use Swan Panasia sleeve that has the size of 130 x 210 mm. The width of the sleeve will fit the length of the card and we will need to trim the sleeve.

There are also people who say that different publisher, specifically for German, use different size or thickness of the card. I’m not sure if this is right or not.

Maybe the publisher also recognize this issue that they even have a plastic card versions as a separate add-on. This $30 package is for the cards only for the original and the sequel. We need to purchase the base game for the dice and tokens.

The publisher also reminds that the image will be less sharp than the paper version due to the printing process.

Check out AsmadiGames.com for more info about the package (US only).

The quality for the paper card is probably the same as cards from other games but since they are big, I think sleeve is a must to give a bit thickness.

All of these big size cards are two sided. So, we can’t use a one sided sleeve.

Reference Card

The first of the big size card of One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows game is the reference card. The card display the summary of how the gameplay turn order works.

It is also a double side, with one to display the turn order for regular encounter, and the other for the boss fight only. Most part of the card is similar for both the sequel and the original game.

The difference is that Forest of Shadows, introduce a poison element. As the result, the potions can cure damage and poison. The sequel also introduce a basic potion which will be discussed more later.

We will use this card alongside the dungeon or boss card.

One thing that is missing from the card is, again, reminder for additional rule. For me, at least.

I do realize that there is no room left but I think it will be helpful if the card says something like “CHECK THE DUNGEON CARD OR ENCOUNTER CARD FOR ADDITIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES”.

Almost every card in this game can have a situational rule that can happen only for that time.

The card also has a spot to place the potion cube. It is not necessary to place the cube right on that spot because it can only fit one while we can store more than one cube.

Another thing that is also missing from this reference card is on the boss part. There is no reminder on that card that we have to do RESIST POISON before the start of each round.

I think they could add this info considering they use larger font size compared to the other side. Instead, it seems this is just a copy from the original game.

 

Character / Hero Cards

The other 6 cards with big size are the character or hero cards. These are totally different characters from the original One Deck Dungeon.

However, one of them is considered as the free or bonus character. The publisher offers a PnP version for CALIANA Character card that we can download from their website. So, for those who purchased the original One Deck Dungeon, they can also have Caliana as the sixth character.

These character cards are double sided as well. One side is for 1 Player mode and the other side for 2 player mode. Both of sides has the same picture but slightly different ITEM and SKILLS to balance between the two mode.

For 1 player mode, each character has 5 health points, 7 dices to roll. While for the 2 player mode, each character only has 3 health points, and 4 dices. Caliana character is the exception for the health points.

With the same total starting number of dice to roll, each character will have different combination of number between three color of dice. These status are indicated at the left part of each card, labeled as ITEM.

Each character also has 2 starting SKILLS which are indicated at the lower portion of the card. One skill is called as HEROIC FEAT, indicated by the blue or grey color and the other skill as regular skill indicated by the yellow or brown color.

Each skill also has signs for which encounter type we can use it on, whether against BOSS, FOES or PERILS. All of these conditions defines the variable player power.

That means, we can have a totally different experience just by picking a different character. On the other hand, considering we will most likely to face the same set of encounter, one character can be easier to use and more difficult for other.

We might want to consider choosing the character based on the BOSS status. The right color and number of starting dice should be closed to the Boss’ challenge box. Otherwise, we might need to add more along the way which will make the game harder.

I haven’t tried this but I think if we have the original One Deck Dungeon, we can also use characters from that game to play with Boss and Encounter cards from the Forest of Shadows.

Additionally, there is fan of this game on BGG who created their own characters that we can print and play. There are 10 characters that we can use from this fan made version, Wizard, Bard, Assassin, Monk, Cleric, etc.

We can find this via this link. It is under File section from the original One Deck Dungeon page not the one for Forest of Shadows page. We need to create a BGG account for free in order to download the file.

Standard Cards

The rest of the cards from the game has the standard size of 63.5 x 88 mm. The cards are 44 encounter cards, 6 Dungeon / Boss Cards, 1 Basic Potion Card, 2 Basic Skills Cards, 4 Character Level Cards, 1 Stair Card and 2 more reference card for 4 player mode.

These cards come in a single deck, wrapped with sealed plastic bag. Aside from the encounter cards, the rest of them are two sided cards, probably a good info for people who use different type of sleeve.

From these cards only the stair card, 4P mode reference cards and character level cards have vertical orientation.

Encounter Cards

There are 44 encounter cards in One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows. These will be the monster and perils that we have to fight against while doing the dungeon crawling.

These cards are also the only one sided cards. We will be playing this as a deck facing down first.

These cards are meant to be mixed and matched with the original game. Some people did complained about both games using different design for the back of the card.

The designer argued that even if they try to use the same design, with different printing time, it will still be different, even if slightly. They also suggested to use one sided sleeve as alternative.

In general, there are 2 types of encounters, Foes or Perils. Peril has the green color icon right to the left of the name and Foe has double sword icon.

Based on the difficulty level of these encounters, the game comes with 18 easy encounters, 14 medium level encounters, and 12 hard level encounters. The ratio between perils and foes for each level are 10:8 for easy, 6:8 for normal, 4:8 for hard. The more difficult will give us higher experience points, from 2 to 4 each or better skills or items.

Each of these encounter cards has one more copy so that makes like 22 unique different cards. However only a small number of them has a totally exact copy. For the most part, rewards are the one that make them different from each copy whether it is the ITEM or SKILL that we can loot.

Everything else about the enemy, the picture, name, challenge boxes, circumstances, cost and XP are the same between both copies. Another different thing is the LEAF logo right after the name. If one copy of the same encounter has that logo, the other doesn’t have it.

Regardless of the character and the dungeon or boss, we will have to go through all of these encounters. Unless we do mix and match with the original game.

Another thing is that this deck also works as a timer. Once the deck runs out, it means, we have reached the next floor and we will cycle through this deck again to reach the next one. If the cards become a timer, they are immediately discarded and we will not face them until the next floor.

So, since we play them face down and shuffle the card, we probably have a different order of encounters each game session. On the other hand, there is also a chance that we may not find that one specific card at all or constantly get hard or easy cards.

Each foe card has up to 9 challenge boxes. It can be less by having additional circumstances that will take up three boxes of the top row. This circumstance only works for that encounter. One of the possible circumstances is a hero will immediately get 1 Poison token, from Rock Wyrm.

Another way they could have less number of challenge boxes if the box is not a single one but a long one. A single box can be covered by just one dice so it is usually require the exact value. The long box can be covered by more than 1 dice so usually the value is at least 7.

Perils on the other hand only have two long boxes for each card. We need to choose one of them and only roll the corresponding color of that box. The other consideration of choosing the color, aside for having enough amount of dice, that usually one of the choice will require additional cost, usually we need to pay a time or two.

Another possible consideration is that the color we choose will determine the loot we will get. Not every perils have this. The first, or color of the top box will give us more item while the second one will give us skills.

So, these encounter cards are multi use cards. Each time we will have to decide whether to use it as skill, item, potion effect or experience points. If we play two characters, we also need to consider each of their other skill or items.

Stair Card

As mentioned before, that the encounter cards deck also serves as a timer. After we run out of the cards we will find the stair card which is place at the bottom of the deck.

When we reach this, we can proceed to the deeper level of the dungeon and we need to recreate the deck once again. We will keep doing this until we reach the third floor and after that the fourth floor is the boss.

The stair card is also a two sided card. But it is just a reference for either playing 1 – 2 player or up to 4 players, assuming we have another copy of the game.

Sometimes, we will find the stair card not while we are exploring but in the middle of the encounter. We have to finish the encounter first before moving to the next floor. That means, there is a chance that the encounter will require a time as the consequences.

However, the deck is no longer have any card that can be used as timer. So, instead, we need to place a damage token on the stair cards. Everytime the stair card has three damage token, we will take one of them and place on character and remove the other two.

So, the stair card has another timer. The longer we wait to proceed to the next floor will slowly hurt the character. This adding token to stair also applies on the time we have to spend for exploring, or opening the door. So, that is another 2 damage token each.

For 4 player mode, the game works as if there are two teams. In this mode, if the stair has 6 damage tokens, remove the four, and place the other two, evenly to both teams.

Dungeon Cards

One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows game comes with 5 Boss / Dungeon Cards with 1 additional bonus. This bonus boss is the PHOENIX or PHOENIX DEN card which we can download the PnP file from the official website.

So, for people who only have the original game, they can play against this one additional boss.

Each of Boss / Dungeon card is two sided card. One side is for the boss itself that we will fight against at the end of each game session, assuming we manage to reach the boss. The other side is for the dungeon.

For the dungeon part, there are 3 rows of what the game call as CHALLENGE BOXES. We need to place a dice covering these boxes or we will have to suffer the consequences.

In One Deck Dungeon game, we will crawl through the dungeon or in this case forest, starting with the top floor and proceed to the lowest or deepest level before facing against the boss.

So, on the first floor, aside from facing the challenge from encounters, we also need to face the challenge of the dungeon. The challenge are on the top row the dungeon card, labeled as FLOOR 1. The deeper we explore, on the next floor, we will get the additional row of challenge box.

That means, overtime, the deeper we get into the dungeon, the more difficult to play. The challenge boxes have two parts depending on the type of the encounter.

If we face against Perils, we only need to cover the challenge boxes at the left side column, ignoring the right side. The right side is for Foes.

It may seem that the challenge boxes for perils are easier since they only have less number of boxes. However, we need to remember that when facing perils, we can only roll dices from the same color of our choosing.

Unlike the challenge boxes on Foe’s part, they have no specific color and the boxes are always just single dice. The foe’s part can be a long box.

The middle column of the dungeon card are additional circumstances that will make the game harder as well. Some of these circumstances only have a title but the other may force players to, for example, exile a dice or forbid using certain value or color.

All of these set of circumstances and challenge boxes will be another variability for the game and offer different experience for each game.

At the right side of the dungeon’s name there are dot(s) to indicate the difficulty level of the dungeon or boss. One dot is the easiest up to 3 for the hardest. From the 6 cards, we will get 1 easy, 3 normal, and 2 hard dungeons.

We can choose randomly or, we can check out the challenge boxes and the boss first to choose which characters are more suited. To increase the chance to succeed, we can predict the number of dice for each color required and choose the right characters. This will also become a helpful information for how to level up the character, choosing the right way to loot.

Boss Cards

As mentioned before, the Boss cards are the same as the Dungeon cards but on the other side. These boss cards are similar to the encounter cards with the picture, name of the boss and challenges boxes.

The difference is that there will be no skill, item or XP for loot later. Instead, at the bottom of the card, replacing the skill section, will describe additional circumstances for fighting the boss.

On this part, there is a number right beside a heart or damage icon which indicates the damage we have to deal to the boss in order to defeat them. To deal a damage, we have to cover a challenge box that has a skull icon or more. If the box has two skulls, if we can cover it, it will inflict two damage to the boss.

For all of the bosses, we will have to do more than one round because they will have higher health than the number of available skull icons. So, it’s like facing against several encounters of the same enemy.

Usually we will try to cover every box with skull icons. However, the other boxes may inflict more damages to players if we don’t cover them while the one with skulls may not hurt at all.

Like the encounter cards, the challenge boxes can deal damage or inflict poison as consequences. They can also have shield which we need to cover first before the other but there is no consequences for time.

All of the single boxes from these bosses, require at least the value of 4. We might want to get a lot of skills that can manipulate the value of our dices.

One of the bosses will also force player to exile dices at the start of each round. That means, for this boss, the longer it gets, the more difficult to win.

Like the characters, we can also try to mix this sequel with the original. We can try the dungeon from the original game, using characters from the sequel.

One of the fan also created their own bosses variant, also on BGG page of the original game. There are 15 bosses / dungeons that we can try like Hill Giant, Bandit Chief, Sauron from Mordor, etc.

We can find the file via this link.

I also haven’t tried this but I think we can separate the boss and the dungeon even though they come from the same card. We can try using dungeon from one boss mixed with the other boss. Maybe try mix the dungeon from the easy one like Mudlands with the hard boss like Indrax.

Resist Poison Reference Card

This single card is just a reminder of how the RESIST POISON works in Forest of Shadows game. If we already remember it, we don’t need this card.

The card has two sides. One for using the Forest of Shadows copy only, up to 2 copies for 4 player mode.

The other side is if we use hybrid dungeon with the original One Deck Dungeon. The only difference is that if we use the hybrid game, successsfuly resisting poison will not remove the poison tokens from the character.

It will only be removed if we fail and the tokens will be replaced by the damage token instead or use potion. I haven’t tried this but it seems the hybrid mode is more difficult.

Hybrid Dungeon Reference Card

This one card is for 4 player mode only. It has two sides which cover one for the hybrid dungeon and the other for using two copies of Forest of Shadows game.

Unlike the poison card, we will need this as an additional challenge box that one of the team will have to cover or suffer the consequences.

Each side only has one single challenge box that require the value of 6. The challenge box is in grey color so any dice can cover it and they work for any encounter.

The one for hybrid dungeon has one poison and one time as the consequences while the one for the same set only has one damage as the consequences.

As we can see from the poison reference card above, that the hybrid dungeon will eventually add more poison and make the game harder.

I think we can also use house rule by ignoring this feature as well to make the game easier.

The rulebook says that this card is optional. We can use it just to increase the difficulty.

Character Level Cards

There are 4 cards for to indicate the character level status from level 1 up to 4. We will use it one by one and it works for both characters.

Each card has two sides, one for 1 player mode and the other for 2 player mode. The card will tell how many skills and items each character can have for each level.

In general in 2 player mode, each character can have less number of items and skill compared to single player mode.

The lower portion of the card indicates additional bonus. Each level up will give us one additional potion from the starting of one. We will also get an extra Heroic or Black dice after the encounter starting from level 2 up to 2 dice at level 4.

The last part of this level card is the amount of experience point it require to get to the next level. After we have reached the level 4, we will instead get additional potion.

Here are the details for each level.

Level 1
1P: 1 Item + 2 Skills, 0 Heroic Dice, 1 Starting Potion, 6 XP to level Up
2P: 1 Item + 1 Skill (each), 0 Heroic Dice, 1 Starting Potion, 6 XP to level Up

Level 2
1P: 3 Item + 3 Skills, 1 Heroic Dice, 1 extra Potion, 8 XP to level Up
2P: 2 Item + 2 Skill (each), 1 Heroic Dice, 1 extra Potion, 8 XP to level Up

Level 3
1P: 5 Item + 4 Skills, 1 Heroic Dice, 1 extra Potion, 10 XP to level Up
2P: 3 Item + 3 Skill (each), 1 Heroic Dice, 1 extra Potion, 10 XP to level Up

Level 4
1P: 7 Item + 5 Skills, 2 Heroic Dice, 1 extra Potion, 5 XP for one additional potion
2P: 4 Item + 4 Skill (each), 2 Heroic Dice, 1 extra Potion, 5 XP for one additional potion

There is an additional note that the indicated number of skills doesn’t include the starting and basic skills and I think the same goes for the items. Also, I think they need to have an additional note that the item is not just one icon but the set of icons. Some of the encounters can give us 2 items, one for the dice and one for the health or damage points.

Basic Skill Cards

There are two basic skill cards that come from the game. Each of them has the same exact copies which is meant for two characters. They are two sided and two orientation cards. So, we will get 4 options of skills that we can add to the character at the start of the game.

The way we use these cards is by slide them under the character card at the lower portion below their starting skill, revealing only the basic skill we choose. Each character can only use one of the skill and only one basic skill card.

Here are the detail for each basic skill.

INVENTIVENESS
Cost: none
This will reduce the additional cost for overcoming the perils.

DOUBLE STRIKE
Cost: 1 yellow dice
Gain 2 yellow dices both have the value of 3. For foes and Boss.

RECOVERY
Cost: 1 Magenta dice
Reroll up to 3 of the character’s dices. For foes and Boss.

PIERCING BLAST
Cost: blue dice with 3 value at least (accumulated)
Reduce the difficulty of each SHILED box by 1. For foes and Boss.

As we can see that clearly each skills will work better if the character has the right color of dice. So, we need to choose wisely.

I could be wrong about this but the rulebook doesn’t explain much about this basic skills, except that they are only used in campaign mode. They could say something about how to use them in single player or 2 player mode.

My take is that we can use one for each character and we can use the same or different skills on both characters. Not that it will make the game easier. However, if in single player, we can only use one skill as well, then in theory, the game is harder.

Basic Potion Card

I think this one is also the new feature introduced in this Forest of Shadows game. In the original One Deck Dungeon, all potions are for healing only. Here, the potion can have other effect, not just healing damage and poison.

The healing for damage and potion is listed on the reference big size card. The Basic Potion card will add additional function when spending a potion.

The card is similar to the Basic Skill Cards, except that we will only get one. To use it, we will need to slide the card under the reference card and the effect is for both characters.

The Basic Potion Card has 4 different effects that we can only use one for each game session. Here is the detail for those effects.

REWIND
Effect: Ignore all consequences and discard the encounter card. For foes and perils.

LUCK
Effect: Choose a value and reroll all of our dice of that value. For foes, perils and boss.

AID
Effect: Increase two dice by 1 each. For foes, perils and boss.

ANTIDOTE
Effect: Before we roll to Resist Poison, automatically succeed instead. For exploring only not on encounter.

Tokens: Damage, Potion, Poison

That is it for all of the cards. The other half of the box contains the non cards components. First, we will get several types of tokens that come in a resealable plastic bag.

The tokens are Potion, with white wooden cubes, Poison, with the green wooden disc, and damage token, with the heart shape red ones.

The game comes with 6 potion tokens, 15 damage tokens, and 8 poison tokens. The damage tokens are considered as unlimited. So, if the game requires more than what we have from the game, we can use other means to replace them.

The size or shape really doesn’t matter for the gameplay. The heart shape is probably making it heart to replace. The thickness is about 0.8 cm.

Poison tokens are considered as finite. The way the poison works is that if the player fail to resist poison, one poison tokens on the character will be replaced by 2 damage tokens.

So, if somehow we already used all of the poison tokens, the next time we get another poison, it will become a damage immediately. Since this is also a new feature added from the original game, if we use mixed game and play with 4 players, the number of poison tokens available doesn’t increase.

However these poison tokens is very generic components that we can find from other games like Peloponnes the Card Game. The diameter is 1.7 cm with 0.4 cm thickness, not that the size matters.

My local store even sell these components separately. That means, with house rules, we can make the game easier by adding more tokens.

But still, the more poisons on characters, the more difficult to resist the poison. So, this is more for the 4 players.

For the Potion white cube, we will get 6 and I’m not sure if they are considered as unlimited. The way to get the potion token in the game will be the one to limit the amount. Unless, we do some house rules, we might need more cubes.

This is also very generic component. The thickness is about 0.8 cm, like the blue cubes on Fleet game.

Translucent Dices

Dices are the last components for the game. These 30 plastic dices come in a single resealable plastic bag. Each of these d6 dice has 1 cm size.

The yellow, magenta, and blue dices are translucent while the black ones are solid. These dice are considered as limited amount.

If somehow the character can generate more than the amount of dice available, we are not allowed to replace them. At the same time, the game also has EXILE mechanism where we will not use that dice for the rest of the game.

That means, the player has to carefully plan on how to develop their character. Especially, for playing two characters. Maybe we can develop a character to roll all 8 dice of the same color. But then, the other character may also need at least one to activate their skill or, just to roll theirs.

Another thing is, that if the game allow us to get more dice of certain specific color via skills etc, but there is no more dice from the supply, officially, we can’t get the black one as replacement.

We can always use house rule to add more dice and make the game easier. Having both games can help since they use the same dices. But these dice is very generic as well.

Officially, the size does matters to cover the challenge box. However, that only applies for the single one not the long boxes. And if we play multiple characters, officially, that will not be the best way to play as well.

Since we will be rolling dice numerous times for each game session, we can use the box lid. That way the dice will not roll too far or off the table.

How to Play

Now that we have known about the components, the next question is how do we use them to play One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows.

The game supports up to 2 players, each controlling one character. For single player we can choose to control one character or two.

First, we need to CHOOSE one or two of the six available CHARACTERS from the game. Pick the corresponding hero cards and return the rest back to the box.

Depending the number of characters, use the right side of Hero / Character cards. 1P side for one character only and 2P for two characters.

Second, we need to CHOOSE which of the 6 DUNGEON / BOSS to play. Pick the card and return the rest back to the box. Remember that each hero will start with different Strength (Yellow), Agility (Magenta) and Magic (Blue).

Some heroes will be more suitable for certain dungeon or bosses. Now that we have chosen the character(s) and dungeon, we now need to setup the play area.

Below is the official video of playthrough for Forest of Shadows from Asmadi Games.

Setup

First, we pick all of the 4 CHARACTER LEVEL CARDS and stack them on top of each other starting from level 1 at the top. Choose the right side corresponding to the number of characters.

Second, we need to shuffle all of the ENCOUNTER CARDS into a single deck face down. Place the stair card at the bottom of the deck.

Third, we pick the TURN REFERENCE card, the big size one and place them on the dungeon card. We place them so that only the first floor or row is revealed, covering the second and third floor’s challenge boxes.

Fourth, we place one POTION token on the Turn Reference Card.

Fifth, we pick the BASIC POTION CARD and choose one of the four effects that we want to use for this game session. Slide the card below the Turn Reference card so only the chosen effect revealed.

Sixth, prepare all of the dices and the rest of the tokens that come from the game. Place them in one spot to form a general supply.

Seventh, prepare the RESIST POISON REFERENCE CARD as a reminder when we have to deal with poison. This will be used everytime we do EXPLORE and before the next round against the boss.

We can also use the BASIC SKILL CARD for each character if we want. Slide the card like the Basic Potion Card but this time on each character right below their Starting Skill.

The rulebook says that officially, we only use the Basic Skill for the campaign.

The Game Turn

Every turn in One Deck Dungeon game consist of two parts, shared by the entire party.

First part, we always spend 2 TIMES. What it means is that we discard 2 cards from the top of encounter deck. For each time we have to spend, indicated by the sand timer or hourglass icon, we take one card and place them into the discard pile face up.

For the second part, we have three possible choices. The first choice is to EXPLORE.

By explore, it means we take encounter cards into the playing area until there are 4 cards, still face down. As we can see that the card is showing doors that we will need to open.

The start of the game or every floor we will have no doors or cards. Later in the game, we may have several doors from the previous EXPLORE action. In that case, we can still explore only until there are 4 doors in the playing area.

Dungeon Special Effects

Before we do any of the turns, always check out the DUNGEON SPECIAL EFFECTS per floor. There may be some consequences that can occur even while we do EXPLORING.

There are also special effects that can happen during, RESIST POISON, PLACING DICE, SUFFER CONSEQUENCES, or CLAIMING LOOT. That is just what came with the Forest of Shadows game.

Each time we descend to the next floor, a new effect will be added and we have to deal with. We can find this on the DUNGEON CARD from their middle row. Some of them may only have titles which will add no effects.

It is very easy to forget and skip this part. Below is an example of dungeon cards. The middle column is the special effects for that dungeon.

Resisting Poison

This is FOREST of SHADOWS only.

After exploring the player must attempt RESIST POISON if any of the character has poison tokens.  The way it works is, we roll a dice and the value should be higher than the amount of poison tokens on characters.

That will be considered as successfully resisting poison. We can then remove one of the poison tokens from one of the characters.

Otherwise, we failed. If we fail to resist poison, we replace one of the poison tokens from the character into two damage tokens to that character as well.

So, for playing multiple characters, we have a choice which one to suffer the damage.

The exploring can also happen when one or some of the doors are opened. Behind those doors, an encounter might have a LEAF icon right next to their name. This is considered as antidote herb and they can help the player to resist the poison.

The number of leaves are added to the value of the dice. If the result is greater than the poison tokens, we succeed.

This way, fleeing and leaving the door opened might be a good idea when we suffer a lot of poisons. Otherwise we will just waste our time.

That is the end of the turn after exploring. Before we can open those doors, we need to start a new turn, spend the 2 times again.

CHECK OUT THE DUNGEON SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Opening Doors

The second possible choice is to open the door. We can only open one door per turn. Opening a door means flipping the face down card so it will face up, revealing the encounter behind that door.

Now that we have opened the door, we now have the choice whether to face the encounter or flee. Fleeing means we leave the door opened and this can have some consequences.

This is a reasonable choice because we can be facing strong enemies that we are not prepared to fight against yet. If we choose to flee, that is the end of turn again and we can re enter the room next turn after spending the time again.

Otherwise, we can choose to overcome the encounter. If we choose the encounter right after opening the doors, that is still considered as the same turn, no need to spend the time again.

Encounters

Opening those doors can have one of two possible encounter types, COMBAT (foes), or PERILS.

The idea for encounters in One Deck Dungeon is survival. If we can survive, we will win against the encounter.  We may get hit or suffer damage but if we survive, we win. Otherwise, like we get more hits than the character’s health, we lose the game immediately.

Depending on the types we have to deal with the turn order can be slightly different.

Encounter’s Special Ability

First, for both type of encounters. This is not stated on the turn reference card but I think this might be important. ENCOUNTER’S SPECIAL ABILITY.

Usually the encounters can have special skills that could effect that encounter only. For example, the encounter may force player to exile a dice or discard dice with some value. Another example is like suffer more damage, poison or spend more time after certain circumstances.

We need to check out the info above the encounter’s challenge boxes. Might be another good reason to consider even fleeing from that encounter.

Forest of Shadows only. Exiled dice and tokens mean they will not be used for the rest of that game session.

Choose Peril’s Challenge Box

Second (for Perils only), we have to CHOOSE which of the CHALLENGE BOX we want to deal with. The main consideration should be to choose the one we have enough dice to roll. We will only roll the dice that match the color.

Another consideration is that sometimes, the choice will decide the loot, whether to get the encounter as ITEMS or SKILLS. We might one to check again the Boss we are going to face later and our character’s status.

Use Heroic Feat

Third (for both types), we can USE the character’s HEROIC FEAT. This is optional and situational, depending on what the character has. Some of those Heroic feat require to pay resources like time, potion or dice that we may have not yet. Or we want to save them for later.

From all of the characters that we get from Forest of Shadows, all of the Heroic Feat work for both Perils and Combat encounter. Some may not work for Boss. Maybe if the developer is to add more character as expansion, we should check out the status first.

Gather all of the Dices

Fourth, we GATHER ALL OF THE DICES that we can use based on the character’s status. This also includes the bonus HEROIC DICE whether from character level or heroic feat.

Use all the dice for COMBAT type and only the matching color dice for PERILS. Heroic dice from character level can be used for PERIL encounters as well.

We, then roll the dice and for playing more than one character, each character will have their own DICE POOL.

They are kept separated and each character can only use their own to activate their skills or cover the challenge box from the encounter. In general, they are not allowed to trade dice and so far there is no feature that allows to do that.

Considering that the amount of dice available are limited, players can choose which one to go first, and let the other roll less dices. This way, the player will decide which of the characters will roll the bonus heroic dice.

Using Skill, Potions, Trading Dice

Fifth, players can USE any of the SKILLS and POTIONS. The idea is to place the dice on the matching challenge box, covering all of the boxes.

Another thing is that if we can’t cover all of them, to win, we just need to survive from the consequences. Maybe some of the skills or potions allow us to prevent or ignore a number of damages.

With that in mind, we use skills and potions for several purpose. We can manipulate the value of the dices,  or the challenge boxes, gain more dices. Before placing a dice on challenge box, we can instead spend it to activate some of the skills.

Usually we can use those lower value dice for this purpose, hopefully that can generate more dice with higher value.

This is where we will spend most of the time playing this game try to plan tactically, how to solve the puzzle. Can we get more dice? Is there another way to deal with the encounter? Can we suffer less consequences? Those would be the questions that will come out everytime we try to overcome the encounter.

We can always take time, try to simulate first. Skills and other effects can only be used once.

Another thing that we need to keep in mind, for two player or more mode, that we still need to keep the dice pool separated.

Usually from both characters, we use their dices and place on the encounter cards. Then, we forget which characters has the dice when we try to use dice for something else. So, if that happens, it is like we trade the dice directly, which is not allowed officially.

Another thing is that we can always trade 2 dices into a black or Heroic Dice. A Heroic Dice is a wild card, can cover any color from the challenge box. However, there is a rule that restrict the trade. The value of the heroic dice can only be equal to the lower value of the two dice.

This is actually where two characters can work together as well. Each character can contribute from their dice pool to get the right heroic dice. Then, they can decide which character will get that Heroic Dice, which then can be used to activate the skills.

The rulebook says that after we spend a dice to activate any skills, we can immediately return the dice into general supply so it can be used for other purposes in that encounter. Considering that we can be short supply of dice for specific color, this can be handy.

However, it is rather easy to forget whether we have activated those skills or not. This is also true for the skills with no cost.

The rulebook also says that we can also discard a dice immediately if we find it useless right away. Another way to mitigate the short supply.

Placing Dices

Sixth. We will PLACE THOSE DICES trying to cover every single challenge boxes from both the encounter card and the dungeon card.

Here is some rules for placing dice.

The first ones are challenge boxes with a green shield icon on it. Before we can cover other challenge boxes, we need to cover these.

There are two size of challenge boxes, a single one and the long one. A single one can only be covered by a single dice, while the long one can be covered by as many dice as it takes. If we just play one character, we can always stack the dice.

Personally, I don’t really like stacking those dice, especially on the challenge boxes. Sometimes, the stack or even just 1 dice will block the view of the challenge box from the upper row. I would prefer placing those dice on the picture following the placement of those boxes.

CHECK OUT THE DUNGEON SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Suffer Consequences

Seventh. As I said before, the main idea to win any encounters in One Deck Dungeon game is to survive. If we can cover every single challenge box, we will suffer no penalty whether any damage, poison or time.

We can see these icons from each of these challenge boxes. Each icon represent one amount.

For each visible heart or damage icon, we will be placing one damage token on to the character’s card. If we suffer more damages in 2 character mode, in general, we will split the damage evenly. The same also applies for the poison tokens.

For each hourglass icon visible, we need to discard one card from the top of  encounter deck. If this happens when the stair card is visible, we have to put the damage token on the stair card.

If any character has more damage token than their health status, the game is over. Some skills and potion effect allow us to ignore a number of these consequences.

We can still heal by using the potion tokens, assuming we still have some.

CHECK OUT THE DUNGEON SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Claiming the Loot

Eighth . After suffering the consequences and surviving, that encounter card is claimed as loot. We can choose to use them as ITEM, SKILLS, POTION EFFECT or XP. For 2 character mode, we can decide which character to get either the ITEM or SKILLS.

If we use them as XP, both character share the same experience point to level up together. We place the card under the level card, revealing only the experience lantern icons only, officially at the bottom right corner.

The ITEM represent an equipment that allow to increase the character stats to roll more dice. We place the card under the character card revealing only the ITEM icon(s) right next to the character’s starting ITEM.

The SKILL let the character has more ability that they can activate during later encounter and boss, depending on the skill. We place the card under the character card, revealing only the skill right below the character’s starting skill or basic skill.

As mentioned before, in Forest of Shadows, perils may restrict of how we can loot the card. It has already been determined from the moment we choose the challenge box. We can immediately use them straight as XP if we don’t want the reward.

The number of ITEM and SKILL a character or both characters can have are determined by their current level. We can only add more after we level up.

There is another restriction that a character may not have duplicate skills but the two characters can have the same skills, even though that might not always be a good idea.

The encounter may also offer POTION EFFECT instead of SKILL, indicated by the potion bottle logo. If we choose this as the loot, we will place the card under the turn reference card, revealing only the effect, right below the basic potion effect.

The two characters will share this effect, and they may not have duplicate effects. However, there is no limit of how many potion effect we can have.

Alternatively, if the characters already have full items or skills, they can replace the existing one with the new. The previous skill and item can become XP to level up.

Some of the encounters may grant the same items or skills but different amount of XP. That is another thing to consider, instead of just go straight into XP.

If we increase the character level, replace the character level card with the higher one and return the previous one to the box. The rulebook says that we also need to remove the encounter card from the game. Except if we have more than the required XP to level up, it will be carried away.

That is it with the encounter. We will keep repeating this, from EXPLORING, to OPENING DOOR, and OVERCOME ENCOUNTER until the deck runs out of cards and we will find the stair card.

CHECK OUT THE DUNGEON SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Descending

As mentioned before that the idea of this game is dungeon crawl where we will explore the dungeon or the forest into a deeper level before eventually fight against the boss of the dungeon.

When the stair card is revealed, it will allow the characters to descend to the next floor. However, this may happen either after spending cards at the start of the turn or after suffering consequences during an encounter.

Players can’t stay too long. Everytime they have to spend or suffer 1 hourglass icon, a damage token will be placed on the stair card. When it has 3 tokens, we have to remove them and place one on one of the character.

The character will die if they have more tokens than the health icons. However, it is true that there is a chance that the encounter is an easy one and we might not suffer too many damage. Just another consideration.

If the player decide to descend, we discard all of the explored doors and from the discard pile we shuffle them to form a new encounter deck, again with the stair card at the bottom.

Also, we will slide the dungeon card upwards so it will reveal the next row of additional challenge boxes. We have to deal all of the challenge boxes and special effects from the current and previous floor.

So, even if we already level up the characters, the encounter may feel a bit easier but the dungeon will still make the game harder.

We will do this again from the second to third floor. From the third floor, we will descend to face the final boss. There is no need to form another encounter decks when we reach the boss.

Boss Fight

We have gone through the third floor and it’s time to descend to fight the boss of the dungeon. Now, we can flip the dungeon card to reveal the boss.

Also, we need to flip the turn reference card so it will display the reference for boss fight. The boss fight is almost like a combat encounter, except that we might have to go through multiple rounds.

Unlike the encounter, the boss has health. We can deal some damage to the boss but if it doesn’t enough, we will try again, dealing more damage in the next round.

There is no need to spend time every round because there is no encounter card anymore. However some of the skills can be activated after we spend the time. So, instead of discarding a card, we will have to exile a dice instead, not discarding.

That means, the longer the fight goes, the harder it will become because we may have less number of dice. We can choose which dice we want to exile.

Here is how the game turn works for boss fight.

First, BOSS SPECIAL EFFECT. At the bottom of the boss card, we will see their health amount, indicated by the heart icon and there will be a special effect.

The effects are different form one boss to another. Some can occur at the very start of each round. Others may occur like when rolling dices or at the end of each round.

This is also something that we can easily skip over. So, read again, because there can be a special case as how to deal the damage.

Second, RESIST POISON. Like on encounter, we will have to roll a dice and hopefully we can get a value higher than the number of poison tokens on characters.

Third, GATHER AND ROLL THE DICE. Use all of the dice based on the character’s stats. We can also use the bonus Heroic dice from the character level. However, some of the heroic dice from Heroic Feat cannot be used for the boss fight. Such feat are indicated by the skull logo with a cross mark on it.

Check again the BOSS SPECIAL EFFECT.

Fourth, USE SKILLS, POTIONS AND TRADE DICE. Like the Heroic Feat, some skill and potion effect are forbidden to be activated on Boss Fight. We can use the skill and effects once per round. Also indicated by the similar icons.

Like on combat encounter, we can try to simulate before actually placing the dice. Trade dice into heroic, activate skills to gain additional dice.

For 2 player mode, dice pool rules still applies.

Fifth, PLACING THE DICE. Like in any encounter, we will try to cover as many challenge boxes as possible. However, sometimes, it is impossible due to get lower value dice roll or not enough dice.

One different thing is that we will see a skull icon from these challenge boxes. If we can cover those boxes with the skull icon, each icon will deal one damage.

This may be the main goal we will try to achieve. But, sometimes, the other boxes that doesn’t have any skull may inflict more damage to the characters and they could end the game.

So, maybe we should leave that one box with skull but no consequences. We should try again next round. Some of the boss also have SHIELD icon that we also need to cover first.

Sixth, SUFFER CONSEQUENCES. Like in any encounter, every box that we fail to cover will deal some consequences to the characters.

The same rule still applies that we need to distribute the damage evenly. There is a chance that the character suffer more damage than their health which the game will end at this moment.

So, make sure we can still survive because at this point, we haven’t dealt any damage to the boss.

Seventh, STRIKE THE BOSS. This is where w deal the damage to the boss after we survive from the consequences. In general, one damage for each covered skull icon.

Some boxes may have more than one skulls. There is no official rule for this but we can place some damage tokens on the boss card to remind us how much damage we still have to deal to the boss. Damage tokens are considered as unlimited, so we can use poison or potion tokens to replace them.

Eighth, WIN OR NEW ROUND. If the boss has suffered enough damages we win. Otherwise, we have to start new round, returning all of the dice back to general supply. Unless they got exiled.

Check again the BOSS SPECIAL EFFECT.

That is it of how to play One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows. A one full game session, start from the top floor, proceed to the third and face the boss. This is for up to 2 characters mode. For higher characters mode, check out the next section.

Hybrid Dungeon

We can mix both the original One Deck Dungeon and the Forest of Shadows not only for higher player counts but for up to 2 players as well. The way it works is that we will use half of the encounter cards from each set and we use the card that has either the green leaf icon (Forest of Shadows) or the blue one (original) right next to the encounter’s name.

We can use any of the dungeon and pair any of the two characters from both games. The hybrid dungeon for up to 2 players has additional rules for poison feature.

We will still roll a dice to RESIST POISON with the required higher value and leaf icons added like the regular mode. The difference is that if we succeed, we don’t remove the poison tokens.

The only way to remove is either to use skills or potion to heal or fail to resist and it will become damage tokens. Otherwise the number of tokens can go up to 8, the available number of tokens, and we have to roll and get higher than that value.

Campaign Mode

Campaign mode in One Deck Dungeon game, allows players to develop their characters to gain additional TALENTS that can be used for later game session. Each time we reach certain point of the game, like descending level up, we will earn a check mark.

If we have enough check marks, we can unlock one of those talents. These talents are like skills or special effect on the character that will work passively throughout the game session.

The game comes with a sheet that we can write on with pen or pencil to track the progress. One sheet for each characters.

These sheets only works for the Forest of Shadows game. The original One Deck Dungeon has its own.

I think they are based on the dungeon or boss of the game not the character themselves. So, we can still use the characters from one version and develop them based on the other version and vice versa. But these talents will work if we play the dungeon from the same game.

Talents

There are four categories or focus of talents. Each categories has  from 3 up to 4 talents that can be unlocked. Any of the talents has green, yellow or red spots that we can put check mark into. After we have fill all of those spots, the talent gets unlocked.

Easy level dungeon can only fill the green spots. Medium level dungeon can give check marks to both yellow and green spots while the hard can give check marks on any spot.

That means, we can just play the hard mode so we can always fill any spot. However, we might get less number of check marks if we can’t progress to the same point as the easy dungeon.

Some of these talents will work only in encounter or just specific type of encounters. But there are also those that can work from the start of the game, or after each floor.

The four categories of talents are BASIC, AWARENESS, AGGRESSION, and SAVVY. Each game session, a character can only use the BASIC talents and talents from only one more categories.

With 2 characters mode, we can have two different pair of focus. Here are the details of those talents that a character can have from Forest of Shadows version.

BASIC TALENTS
1st talent: 6 Easy check marks, start each game with any one Basic Skill.
2nd: 6E 4M, one extra health from the start.
3rd:, 6E 4M 4H, one extra skill or item.

AWARENESS TALENTS
1st: 6E, once per floor, discard an open door.
2nd: 6E 2M, heal 1 Damage everytime we replace an item.
3rd: 6E 4M, prevent first damage from stairs each floor.
4th: 6E 4M 4H, increase Resist Poison Rolls by 1.

AGGRESSION TALENTS
1st: 6E, reroll two dice (Combat).
2nd: 6E 2M, gain a yellow or blue or magenta dice with a value of 2. Combat and Perils
3rd: 6E 4M, roll a Heroic Dice (Combat).
4th: 6E 4M 4H, reduce each large box by 1 (Combat).

SAVVY TALENTS
1st: 6E, spend 2 dice to roll a Heroic dice (Combat).
2nd: 6E 2M, increase a Heroic Dice by 1. Both types.
3rd: 6E 4M, use two dice to fill ONE small challenge box (Combat).
4th: 6E 4M 4H, reduce each armor or shield box by 1 (Combat).

To earn Check Marks, here is the requirement.

Complete a floor: 1 Check Mark
Level Up: 1 Check Mark
Defeat a Boss: 3 Check Marks

The rulebook also suggest some difficulty setting that we can do to make the game easier or harder. Depending on the settings we can get additional check marks.

NOVICE: Immediately advance to experience level 2. This includes gaining a potion.
STANDARD: Draw one card and use it as experience points. Gain 1 extra check mark if we can reach the boss.
VETERAN: No rule change. Gain 2 extra check marks if we reach the boss.
FEARLESS: Start without a potion. Gain 3 extra check marks if we reach the boss.

Comment and Suggestion

There are a couple things that still need further explanation from the rulebook regarding this campaign mode. One of them is how we can unlock the talents.

The rulebook doesn’t state clearly that we need to unlock the first talent of each focus first before unlocking the next one. Based on the example, that is how it works.

I’m not even sure if we can choose the focus though or we should unlock from the top and move to the bottom. Also, the check marks we get doesn’t accumulate every talents. That means, we need 6 check marks to unlock the first talent and another 6 + 2 or 4 for the second talents.

If that is the case, it will take a while before we can reach the last talents. Assuming we win every game session, play with hard level dungeon, to cover all of the 144 spots, we need to play like 14 times.

Another problem that I have with this campaign is that they add more separate rules that we can easily forget or skip. Unless we really play slowly and check every added rules for each turn.

The talents are mostly for the character who has it. But some of them can be useful for the group. It probably doesn’t matter if we just play with single character. But some are still very vague.

For example, the third talents of SAVVY, the character can place two dices to cover a small challenge box. I will think that this works for both or the group but considering we keep the dice pool separated, that might not be the case.

Some also have a determined effect, like gain definite value of dice. For others, like skills, we get to roll a dice but we have to deal with luck.

I think from the other 3 focuses, Savvy is probably better to have if we play two characters. For the other character, the Awareness is probably better than the Aggression. All of the Awareness talents give definite effect while the Aggression only allow us to roll more dice mostly.

For single character mode, I think Awareness is better to have than the Savvy. I could be wrong though.

Even if the rulebook says that these setups are for campaign mode only, I think we can use house rule and just applies them for every game session.

If we want to make the game even easier, we can try activating all of the talents and start in novice mode. In my opinion that these talents can help but not much if we use the official rule where we can only use a paid of focus.

The standard game is already hard because we have to rely on luck from rolling those dices. I think the designer aware of this and campaign mode where we can still develop the character even if we lose it, is the answer.

Four Player Mode

We can play One Deck Dungeon games whether the original or the Forest of Shadows, with higher player counts. I think it can also be considered as 2 players each controlling two characters.

We need either another copy of the same game or the other version. In general the idea is like everything is doubled. We use all of the encounter cards from both games into a single deck.

Each door or encounter card from the exploring phase contains two encounter card which will be dealt separately into two teams at a time.

However, there are some changes to the rules.

Changes to the Rules

First, the SETUP. As mentioned before,  it is like 2 players each playing 2 characters into a separate team but they crawl through the dungeon together. We will use the 2P version of the character.

At the start of the game, we use 2 potion tokens or 4 in NOVICE mode. There will be 88 encounter cards from both games combined into a single encounter deck which is also works as the timer.

At the start of the turn, we will have to spend 4 times instead of 2. While EXPLORING, we will draw 4 sets of face down encounter cards each with 2 cards.

Each team of 2 characters will face this pair of encounters. They can always change their team’s pairing from one set of encounters to another. Towards reaching the stair card, if there is only single card, we will discard the card because each team will need one encounter. It is not going to be 4 characters against a single encounter.

Then, each team will do ENCOUNTER phase like in regular mode. They can choose which team to face which encounter and they can choose which team to go first. The thing is that both teams are required to cover the dungeon’s challenge box as well.

The GENERAL SUPPLY for dice consist of all of the dice from both games. Each teams will use each set, which is identical.

The rulebook says that even if each team will use their own set of dice, some consequences can be shared. Exiled dice will be the example and they can share to both teams.

Then, after defeating both encounters, the players can decide how to CLAIM THE LOOT to develop the characters. They can even use all of the loot for just one character and the other 3 will get nothing from that set of encounters.

To LEVEL UP, all of the characters level up together like regular mode. The difference is that the XP required are doubled. And we will get 2 potions each time.

The stair card for DESCENDING has its own 4P rules. The difference is that the limit is 6 damage tokens. When that happens remove the damage tokens and place one damage token to any two characters each.

For the BOSS FIGHT, the players will do like 2 player mode again each round. Each team will have their own encounter, right after the other and the team can change pairings from one round to another.

The boss has double health and their own special effects that will occur twice, once to each team. If the first team to go first manage to defeat, they immediately win the game.

The DUNGEON SPECIAL EFFECT also has double their impact. The rulebook only talks about the INVISIBILITY POTION EFFECT which only works for one pair and it seems that one come from the original game.

For the Forest of Shadows, there is an optional card for 4 player mode either hybrid or from the same copy of game. Use this as additional challenge box that for each set of encounters, any of the team must cover it.

Also for the Forest of Shadows specifically for RESISTING POISON. Each team will do RESIST POISON separately. If they have visible LEAF icons, they must split evenly.

As mentioned before, this is more about 4 characters mode instead of players because even a single player can control all of the 4 characters. Not that it is going to make the game fun.

Just like any other cooperative game, there might be some alpha player that will try to control everything even if they play with someone else. Considering that every player has access to almost everything, this could be an issue as well.

I still think that they can do like separate adventure but end up to the same boss. Maybe something like, they allow to switch teams but only when they find the stair card.

The reason that I think it is still possible because the general idea is just to double everything and do always like 2P separately.

Comment and Suggestion

I haven’t tried this variant yet but I guess it will take longer to play the game. Officially we have to wait for the first team to go first and then the second one.

This is mostly due to waiting for the dungeon card or the challenge boxes to be cleared out for the next team to use. I guess this will not be a problem if we use the same game, not the hybrid dungeon because we will have two cards.

The general idea of this mode is to play in teams and they can always change their teams. So, officially it is impossible to play with just 3 characters.

I thought at first that we can use the 2P side of the character for the team and 1P for the loner. But since they allow us to switch teams, the problem would be to switch between 2P and 1P version.

So, if we are willing to stick the team and the loner, ignoring switching teams, I don’t see why we can’t play 3 characters variant.

I guess in terms of being thematic, the setup idea is great. It is kind of weird if we do dungeon crawl together and can’t switch at all.

By allowing us to switch teams, it will be a great strategic play where we need to decide not only the team, but the encounter as well. It is a possible scenario to always switch teams between one encounter to another. Considering the random factor of the game of what we can find as the encounter and what they can give as loot for us to develop the characters.

We can always take time how to deal with each encounter. But again, the basic regular mode itself is already take too long. Here, it will take over an hour at least.

I don’t know if it is a good idea or not but I kind of imagining that we can also use 4 characters to deal with just one encounter instead of a set of two. Just like the boss fight for this variant, we can just double the impact. Obviously they will need to think and add more changes to the rule to make this works.

Another crazy idea would be to use the same character if we use the same copy of the game. Not that it is going to make the game easier. Who knows? Maybe if the designer is still working on this game, they can release a new character that can exploit this variant.

Unfortunately I’m not sure I will have the chance to try them out. So, if anybody is interested to try my crazy idea, please do share your experience via the comment section below.

Artifact Quest

For those who still consider One Deck Dungeon game as an easy one, and wishing for higher difficulty, they can try the ARTIFACT QUEST. It is actually a story based campaign where it will have additional circumstances to each game session.

By doing so, we can also read the story about the artifact. The quest can be found on OneDeckDungeon.com/story.

The publisher has plans to add up to 6 artifacts each has its own story and additional challenge. So far, there are only two artifacts quests available Jewel of Truth and Key of Dreams.

The story involves the characters from the game. They even give a name to each characters. Each chapter takes place around different character or pair of character.

How to Play

Actually there is no fundamental addition element to play these quest. Each artifact has several webpages with stories. Sometimes, before we can read the next chapter, they will tell us to choose a dungeon, and add some restriction to the game session. If we succeed, we can proceed to the next chapter.

The restriction is also very simple like exile several dice or spend times at the start of the game. The later chapter, the more we need to spend and make the game  harder. We also need to choose the hard difficulty dungeon for later chapters.

Here are some details about each quest.

Jewel of Truth (One Deck Dungeon)

1st Chapter: Exile 2 Heroic Dice, choose any dungeon, Mage.
2nd Chapter: Exile 3 Heroic Dice, choose medium level dungeon, Rogue and Archer.
3rd Chapter: Exile 4 Heroic Dice, choose hard level dungeon, Paladin and Warrior.

Key of Dreams (Forest of Shadows)

1st Chapter: Lose 2 extra time each floor, choose any dungeon, Druid.
2nd Chapter: Lose 4 extra time each floor, medium level dungeon, Warden and Slayer.
3rd Chapter: Lose 6 extra time each floor, hard level dungeon, Alchemist and Hunter.

I don’t see any rules that says we have to use the same character as in the specific chapter. But, it could be fun to try them out. That means we can also mix the quest with from different game version.

I guess it is like the designer admits that certain characters are more suitable for higher difficulty dungeon.

Characters Details

The 5 characters in the Forest of Shadows game are WARDEN, ALCHEMIST, DRUID, SLAYER, and HUNTER.

Like in the original game, all of these are illustrated as female characters, which is nice compared to most other games with similar theme. It’s a shame though that the developer didn’t use the word heroine instead of hero.

Here are the details for each character.

Warden

Strength (yellow): 4 (1P) / 3 (2P)
Agility (Magenta): 1 / 0
Magic (blue): 2 / 1
Health: 5 / 3
Heroic Feat: KNOWLEDGE
Roll any of all Heroic Dice stored on the character. Store a Heroic Dice for each Loot as XP up to 2 dice (1P) or one dice (2P). Foes and Perils only, disabled on Boss.
Skills: METHODICAL / PROTECTOR
Spend 1 time to prevent 1 Damage (1P). For 2P, spend 1 time to prevent 1 damage or poison and ignore the rule to split damage equally. Both for Foes and Perils.

Warden is the strongest one in term of strength or yellow but rather not balance for the other 2 colors. We might want to pair her with Slayer for the Magenta or Caliana for the blue.

For the Basic Skill, Double Strike can be helpful to get additional yellow dice. Piercing Blast can be helpful as well assuming we do roll at least 3 for blue dice.

Her Heroic Feat let us get more Black dice. However, that will only happen if we try to level up by using the loot as XP. That means, the start of the game, we won’t be using this feature because we will try to loot for skills or items.

Once we have full Items and Skills, we will get black dice constantly. Even though that is less likely to happen.

To play this character, we need a bit of planning. If we know that the next encounter is going to generate XP, we might as well spend the black dice.

Her starting skill is also not good for the boss. We will have to lose a dice from the game to replace the cost of time. This maybe good for encounters along the way, to save potions for later. That means both of her skill are useless for boss.

Slayer

Strength (yellow): 2 (1P) / 1 (2P)
Agility (magenta): 4 / 3
Magic (blue): 1 / 0
Health: 5 / 3
Heroic Feat: MOMENTUM
Roll any of all Heroic Dice stored on the character. Store a Heroic Dice after completing a FOE encounter, up to 2 dices (1P) or 1 dice (2P). Foes and Perils only, disabled on Boss.
Skills: WHIRLWIND (1P), Foes and Boss
Spend a magenta dice to increase a yellow and a blue dice by 2 each.
Skills: RHYTHM (2P), Perils and Boss
If the character has a 6 in the pool, the partner may reroll any of all of their dice.

Slayer is similar to Warden with just different color status. Her Heroic feat is similar as well but we don’t have to wait for the skills and items to get full. The problem is if we only find perils, the skills become useless.

Her starting skill is different for the two modes. I think the 1P version is better since we are manipulating the dices. While the 2P version, we first need to get a 6 to activate the skill. And even that, it only allow us to reroll, pushing our luck with a chance on getting bad value again.

Moreover that is just for perils which she will roll less number of dice. Unless we get a lot of items for the same color for her, the skill is rather useless as well.

She is strong in magenta but the basic skill available with magenta only let us reroll the dice. We need more items for her. Maybe Double Strike and Inventiveness are the preferable ones.

Druid

Strength (yellow): 1 (1P) / 0 (2P)
Agility (magenta): 2 / 1
Magic (blue): 4 / 3
Health: 5 / 3
Heroic Feat: TRANSFORMATION (Foe, Perils)
1P mode: Spend 1 Time to roll a yellow or magenta or spend 3 time to roll 2 yellow dice or 2 magenta dice.
2P mode: Spend 1 time to roll a yellow or magenta dice.
Skill (1P): Lilia, Bird Companion (Foe, Boss)
Swap the value of 2 of character’s non Heroic (Black) dice.
Skill (2P): Synergy Aura (Foe, Boss)
Choose a color. Both character can reroll one of their dice of that color.

Druid’s Heroic feat let us get another dices. However we need to roll with a risk of getting a lower value. We probably need more skills where we can spend those additional dices.

Her starting skill let us swap only or reroll. If we do get really bad or lower value for all dices, the skills is pretty much useless. Not to mention, it only works on Foes.

Druid gives us more chance by rolling more dices. The problem is that towards the end of the game, there is a chance that we don’t have any of those dice available anymore. The number of dice we can use is limited just to what the game provides.

We can set her to roll first but then risking the second character not getting enough dice.

Alchemist

Strength (yellow): 2 (1P) / 1 (2P)
Agility (magenta): 2 / 1
Magic (blue): 3 / 2
Health: 5 / 3
Heroic Feat: MIX (Foe, Perils, Boss)
Store used Potion tokens from the turn reference card. We can spend them again for purposes other than healing effect.
Skill (1P): ENCHANTED KRIS (Foe, Boss)
Spend blue dice(s), for every (accumulated) value of 2, up to 8, we can roll a magenta or a yellow.
Skill (2P): DEADLY KRIS (Foe, Boss)
Spend blue dice(s), for every (accumulated) value of 2, up to 6, any of the players can roll a magenta or a yellow.

The good thing about the Alchemist is the balance status for ITEM. This may not be good at first, but it will be easier against any boss later.

However, it is hard to justify her skills. Alchemist’s heroic feat requires to use a potion token. The only way to generate the potion is by keep leveling up and it is really very limited per game.

I think Alchemist is the character to utilize the concept of potion, which is not just for healing, introduced in this sequel of One Deck Dungeon. We can get more option with the basic potion but in order to do that, we can’t loot the encounter card into experience points.

Somehow, the trade off is not worth it. This is an interesting character, but probably the hardest one to play.

Hunter

Strength (yellow): 3 (1P) / 2 (2P)
Agility (magenta): 3 / 2
Magic (blue): 1 / 0
Health: 5 / 3
Heroic Feat: OPENING SHOT (Foes, Perils)
1P: Spend 1 time to place a Black dice with a value of 4 on any challenge box, ignoring SHIELD icon. (Spend 3 time for a black dice of 6).
2P: Spend 1 time to place a Black dice with a value of 4 on any challenge box, ignoring SHIELD icon.
Skill (1P): AERA, WOLF COMPANION (Foe, Boss)
Increase a non Black dice by 2
Skill (2P): FLANK (Foe, Boss)
Spend a magenta and the other character can increase a dice value by 2

Hunter is probably what people say that offense is the best defense. Unlike Warden where she can prevent the damage by spending time, Hunter’s Feat let us manipulate the dice into a 4 or 6. The best part is that it will ignore the SHIELD icons.

The difference is that Warden can still use the skill for Boss fight. Hunter is probably stronger for encounters along the way. Even if she doesn’t have much blue, the Heroic feat can help a bit.

Hunter’s starting skill is a better one since it let us manipulate a dice as well, increasing by two. At least little way to mitigate bad luck from dice rolling.

The overall status is more balance, almost like the Alchemist. Considering we can only use the same number of dice as what the game provides, somehow having a balance status is better.

Hunter’s Heroic Feat is also better than Druid’s with the same cost. With Hunter’s we can get an exact value, no need to bet on luck like Druid. Moreover, it is a black dice, which we can use on other color.

This is probably, if not the strongest, one of the strongest character.

Caliana

Strength (yellow): 1 (1P) / 0 (2P)
Agility (magenta): 1 / 0
Magic (blue): 5 / 4
Health: 5 / 3
Heroic Feat: WHIMSICALITY (Foe, Perils, Boss)
Discard first 3 Damage tokens that would be placed on Caliana each turn or boss round. (2 Damage Tokens for 2P). Spend 1 time for each 1 damage token discarded. The game ends if any damage token is placed on Caliana.
Skill: FAERIE FIRE (Foe, Boss)
Spend blue dice(s) to get a yellow and a magenta each with the same total of value. For 2P, the other character may also increase on of their dice by 1.

As I said before, Caliana is a bonus, special character. The way her health or damage token works is different than the other characters. Unlike Warden where we can choose to spend a time to prevent any damage, Caliana will force player to spend the time.

Caliana starting skill is very handy because it let us manipulate the dice to other colors without losing the value, unlike the other via Black dice. We might want to give her more Blue or magic Item to give more opportunity. However, the number of dice that we can use is limited, so we still need to give her other colors to balance.

The problem is that this skill doesn’t work on PERILS. So, unless we get PERILS that let us use Magic or blue dice, Caliana will have to rely on the second character.

My Experience and Thoughts

This is more about the official rule and variant of One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows.

The one fundamental problem with this game is the roll to resolve mechanism. We roll a dice to determine the result which means the game is mostly luck dependent. Get a bad roll, and we will most likely to lose the game, even if we have developed our characters to maximum they can get.

The game does offer a lot of ways that let us manipulate the dice value but very limited. Some also let us bypass the process and get the fixed value right away.

However, the only way to get those specific skills, we need to find the right encounters. That is another random and luck dependent factor because the encounter cards work as timer as well. There is a chance for some game session, we might not find that card at all.

So, that is like a double layer problem to the game. At least for me, everytime I play the game, I always feel like it really doesn’t matter if we get those skills. If we roll bad value, it is still not going to be enough.

It will feel like a let down after going through three decks of encounters, and losing at the end just because of bad luck. Not only, we do have to get some skills, but we also need to have the right amount of items or number of dice to roll.

That is also assuming that every roll is a good value, or has some good use. Usually I will try to get the same items for one character and a different one for the other.

It seems this only works mostly for skill activated by the Blue or Magic as it let us accumulate to activate. So, we need one character that has higher blue items and the other that require balancing the other two items.

Otherwise, the game will not support enough dice. We use all of the available dice for one character and it turns out we need some for the other character as well. That is if we want to play two characters.

I do think that using two characters makes the game easier than a single one. One of the reason is because of the PERILS. Most of the characters only has one speciality for the item. So, if we find a perils that doesn’t allow us to roll dice with the corresponding speciality, we have to suffer a lot of consequences for single character.

We start with 7 dice for single character but we can get 8 for two characters. Not to mention that some characters allow us to roll more dice from the heroic feat.

I also think that the game can be very exhausting, physically. This is probably because I play the game at the end of the day. However, the way the game works also has a role for this. Especially, if we play two characters alone.

So, we start with 7 or 8 dice. We roll almost all of those dice every encounter, pick the dice, to sort and trying not to bump them so they don’t change the value. Then, we will move around those dice, for activating skills, trading dice, and until placing the dice.

That is just the start. At the end of the game, we usually can have like additional 3 items per character and several more dice from the skills. So, like 20 dice when we reach the boss, that we have to roll, pick, move and place.

The number of encounters, we might have to deal throughout one game session can be like 24 encounters, for skills, items and XP for 2 characters. That is very exhausting for a small size game.

We can have less number of encounters, but even if we try to do everything, it still may not be enough to beat the boss.

If we play two characters, we also need to keep the dice separated because each of them has their own dice pool. This is another problem when we try to place the dice. The official suggestion is to place the dice on the challenge boxes.

However, for 2 characters, it is very easy to forget which character has the dice when we try to figure out alternative way, like generate dice using skills. I always ended up mixing the dice pool.

This is also true for activating the skills. Usually I place a dice on the skill to remind myself that I have activated it this encounter or boss round. The officialy rule state that we can immediately return them to general supply so the dice can be use, maybe for the other character. So, I ended up often don’t have enough dice.

The number of potion doesn’t really help. Most of the time, I have to avoid using them for the boss. I really can’t imagine for using Alchemist which require using that limited amount of potions for activating the Heroic Feat.

It is also really hard to justify getting potion effect from the loot than for the item or XP. If we get XP, at least we can get another potion tokens. Some of the effect can really help while facing the boss.

But like skills, there is no guarantee that we will even find the encounter that has it as loot. Even if we do, we probably don’t have any potion tokens anymore the time we need to activate it.

The main component of the game is the card. Each card will give us additional rule or effects that can either help us or make it harder. However, it is also very easy to forget those recently additional rules.

I, myself, still finding out some rules that I ignored before after a number of plays. We have to always check if there is any special effect from the dungeon cards, encounters, the characters, etc. Which is why I have to add more steps in the tutorial above from what we can find from the game, the rulebook, or turn reference card.

The more I find, the more I realize that those additional rules makes the game even harder. From my previous game session, I thought the game has the right difficulty level while in fact, I’ve been ignoring those official rules that make it harder.

So, the game makes me feel like I always ended up cheating. Maybe it is just me playing the game poorly but it feels kind of hard to go back playing the game again.

I think the designer knows this and they give us the campaign mode which is let us progress or develop the character even if we lose. Not that it helps anyway.

House Rules

With all of those problems, I did try some house rules, hoping to make playing One Deck Dungeon more fun. Well, it didn’t work very well.

First, I thought we can use the 1P version of the characters for 2 characters mode. Eventually, the dice from the game is not enough to support it. Maybe it can if we use two copies of the game and use 60 dice. Or, use just any dice from other games.

I also did try to reduce the amount of time for each turn, hoping that this can increase the chance to get the right set of skills and items. Also, probably more potion tokens.

It ended up making the game even longer to play and physically exhausting. Like a bigger and heavier game but not that interesting experience. I really don’t think that I’m willing to give more time playing this game.

I also tried using talents from the campaign mode even like allowing myself to activate all of the focus, not just two of them. For this, I ended up forgetting that it is even there.

If the talents allow us to get more dice, the game will not support it. For the other talents, they still can’t solve or reduce the luck factor of the game.

I feel like this game is a great attempt to make it a compact game, but they took it to far. To the point there is almost nothing we can do. Maybe it is just me.

Another thing that we can try is to form separate encounter decks based on difficulty level. This way we can guarantee that when we use them as time, we can choose from the lower difficulty.

Or, alternatively we can do something like this set up.

1st Floor: Easy and Medium encounters as doors, Hard for times.
2nd Floor: Easy encounters for time, Medium and Hard for doors.
3rd floor: Easy and Medium encounters for time, Hard for doors.

With this, if we only try to face against the lower difficulty encounter, we might not have enough skills or items to face the boss. We might not even reach the higher difficulty decks.

With this setup as well, we can have escalating experience. If we use the official rules, we might experience very hard encounters at first, and it becomes very easy later. This is because we are essentially facing the same encounters from floor to floor.

We can also try to ignore the poison feature to make the game easier. It is an interesting idea but not very well implemented. Like the leaf icon to help us resist the poison, it is rather hard to justify opening all of the doors, wasting a lot of time hoping to open some doors with those icons.

My Express Variant

I haven’t tried this and this is just an idea to make the game at least shorter. Sure, it can be considered as cheating.

The way the game works is that we only need to repeat the process from floor to floor and get any loot from the encounter to develop the character. Like even the NOVICE mode from the campaign, we can go straight to level 2 for the character.

With that in mind, maybe we can also try playing against the boss, no need to go through every encounters and every floors. Obviously, there is no chance to win with the basic character stats.

For the character level, to make the game easier, we can set it to level 4 immediately, gaining all of the extra potion and heroic dice to use. As for the skills and items, maybe we can just draw random cards from the encounter deck.

At level 4, we can get like 7 items and 5 skills for single character or 8 items and 8 skills for both characters in 2P mode. To achieve that, we can like draw 20 random cards from the encounter deck, and we choose some of them, discarding the rest.

We can then assign those loots for items and skills, and probably potion as well for the characters. If that is too short, we can also include the third floor. Maybe set the level to 3 and we choose random cards as well and assign the loot to the characters following the limit. Try to choose from 15 cards.

Then we play like regular mode but from the third floor, opening every dungeon’s challenge boxes. For this one, we can still reach level 4 and probably earn additional potion. Of course, we can also set to level 4 but third floor.

That is the basic idea. We can also try like start from 2nd floor but level 4 or 3 and so on. If the game is still harder, we can also use the talents from campaign. Make everything available to use and not just a pair of focus.

If the game is still too hard, then we should choose the card. Try to develop the character in the best way possible. Find the best combinations of skills.

If we can win against the boss this way, then we can try the setup as the goal while playing the regular mode. This way, maybe we can play like 15 or 20 minutes per session from setting up until defeating the boss.

If we want longer game, then go back to start from previous floor idea.

As I said before, this is just my idea to make the game more fun and fast. If anybody is willing to give it a try, please do share the experience via the comment section below.

Expansions and Accessories

At this time, it has been four years since the developer first introduced the original game of One Deck Dungeon. They are still currently working for more contents for the game, while doing other game as well.

So, here are some info regarding anything we can purchase related to One Deck Dungeon that may enhance the experience for playing the game.

One Deck Dungeon (2016)

As mentioned before, that Forest of Shadows is the sequel to One Deck Dungeon. Both of them can be mixed and match or played as stand alone game.

We can use the character from the original but with the dungeon from Forest of Shadows. Or, we can use characters from Forest of Shadows but with the dungeon from the original.

We can also mix the characters from the two games. As described above, having both games allow us to play up to 4 players or 4 characters at a time.

From the original One Deck Dungeon, we will get 5 characters, Paladin, Archer, Mage, Rogue, and Warrior. Based on the starting items, they are similar but different amount. Only Mage character has the same starting items as Druid’s from the Forest of Shadows.

The original also come with 5 different Bosses or Dungeons. Even all of the 44 encounter cards are different and we can mix them with the Forest of Shadows, forming a single deck.

If you really like the game, instead of having two copies of the same version, we should get the other version. This will give a lot of replay value and setup variants.

Promo Card: Mist (2019)

Mist is another character introduced to the One Deck Dungeon universe. The character card was given out at Gen Con 2019 to promote the digital version of Aeon’s End, another board game.

Handelabra as the video game developer for Aeon’s End, also developed the digital version of One Deck Dungeon.

The starting items for Mist is the same as Druid’s with 1 Strength, 2 Agility and 4 Magic for the single player version. This is another very powerful character because we are allowed to store any number of Heroic dice and increase the value by one each turn.

The starting skill for the single player doesn’t work against the boss, only combat encounters. The skill allow us to store a yellow or magenta dice that the value can be increased via the Heroic Feat.

For the multiplayer starting skill, Mist allow us to reactivate any used skill in the same turn or encounter.

Unfortunately there is no info regarding how to get this characters. Maybe we can do our own print and play version using the same stats.

One Deck Dungeon: Abyssal Depths (2020)

This is the latest expansion of One Deck Dungeon game that was planned to be released in 2020. At this time, the developer is still working on it and probably will offer this via Kickstarter. This is not a stand alone game but compatible for either the original or Forest of Shadows.

There is not much we can find except that it contains 3 new characters, Dragoon, Aquamancer, and Witch. They also introduce a new feature, FIEND, as additional threat for the players.

What it does is, these new 6 FIEND, come with large size cards, can be added to any dungeon with each own special effect. The players will have to spend some of their dice every encounter to push them back.

So, this will increase the difficulty level but on the other hand, each time player successfully push the FIEND back, they can get healing and Heroic dice.

On the forum, the designer says that there will be no encounter cards in this expansions. I think they should add more heroic dice to support the new feature but that is just my assumption.

There is no further info about the new characters. As far as I know, that one of them, the WITCH, is already been introduced in the digital version of the game. Maybe we can find out more by checking the video game version on STEAM or mobile apps.

We can check out Chris Cieslik, the designer, account for the Kickstarter to find out the latest update via this link.

Soundtrack

The developer of One Deck Dungeon also offers some soundtrack, probably from the video game version so we can play the board game not in silence. We can download these from their Kickstarter campaign for the original game and Forest of Shadows.

Specifically for the Forest of Shadows, there is only one song that we can play. However, we can use the other three songs from the original One Deck Dungeon.

Here is the link for the Original One Deck Dungeon and this one for the Forest of Shadows. Both of them are pages for the KickStarter campaign.

Playmat

To enhance the gameplay, the developer also has a playmat that suitable to play the One Deck Dungeon game. It was offered only as an add-on if we purchase the game via KickStarter campaign. Maybe we can expect the same offer in the future expansion or campaign.

Naomi Robinson designed the playmat for the Forest of Shadows. We can also use this to play the original game. This $20 neophrene playmat has the size of 24″x 14″ will come rolled up in its own box.

Plastic Cards

The developer of One Deck Dungeon also offer a plastic card version. The plastic cards are considered as more durable, water proof and easy to shuffle compared to standard paper cards.

This way, we don’t need to sleeve the card but the developer suggests avoiding spilling acidic food and drinks on them as it can damage the coating. The platic cards will form a slightly thicker deck than then normal cards but both will fit in the box.

If I understand correctly, this was offered as another add on from the kickstarter. But currently, we can purchase the plastic card version for $30, free shipping but only for people in US.

This plastic card version doesn’t include all of the components. They only contain the encounter cards, dungeon or boss cards, the big character cards, one set of level cards and stair cards for both version of the game.

So, we still need to purchase the normal version of the game for the dice, rules, tokens, etc.

Conclusion

One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows is the sequel stand alone game of One Deck Dungeon. It is a dungeon crawl experience with just a deck of cards, some tokens and dice. Very compact and in just a small box that we can take and play anywhere

We start with one or two characters, each at level 1. Then, we choose the dungeon / boss that we want to fight. We have to face against monsters and overcome perils along the way to level up and get more items and skills, before we eventually face against the boss of the dungeon.

The deeper we go the stronger our characters get but at the same time, the more difficult the dungeon can become. The way we defeat the obstacles is by rolling up to 4 colors or types of dice, starting with 7 dice for single character.

Each encounters will have what the game call as challenge boxes that we need to cover with our dice if the value and the color match. So, it is mostly based on luck but the game does offer multiple ways to manipulate the value of the dice or to gain additional dice.

Some of the skills and potion effects that allow us to do so are essential to win the game. That is assuming we can find the right encounter with the right skills or loot that can be used to develop the character.

These encounter cards, shuffled to form a single deck that will give a different experience from one game to another, one dungeon to another. Sometimes we can face against hard level encounters, very rewarding but also with high consequences. Other times we can get a series of easy level ones which will not be enough to defeat the boss.

With 6 characters and 6 bosses or dungeons, we can have multiple set up variation from a single copy. We can also mix and match with the original game and possibly the future sequel making the game has very high replay value. That also includes mixing the standard encounter cards.

It even allow us to play up to 4 players or more like 4 characters that will be split into two teams throughout the game, switchable from one encounter to the next one. But it will make the gameplay even longer than it already is.

Moreover, the amount of rolling dice, picking, moving and placing almost 20 dice per encounter can be considered as too much. It is physically exhausting.

There are several new things that the Forest of Shadows introduced that are not available from the original. Poison, potion effect are the interesting addition to the game that I think are not implemented very well.

The game is already hard enough because of the luck factor to win and the poison feature makes it even worse. The potion effect feature is almost useless due to very limited ways to earn the tokens in the first place.

The game also come with a campaign sheet that allow us to develop our character from one game session to the next. Everytime we reach certain point of the game, we will get check marks for that character, even if we lose the game.

These check marks can be used to unlock some talents, like skills that if we unlock the talents, that character can use the talents from the start of the next game.

This is probably the solution that the designer offered, after they realize how hard One Deck Dungeon game can be. While the talents are nice, but I really doubt that can significantly help the overall gameplay.

On the other hand, the designer also add free story mode that we can find from their website that makes the game even harder. Luckily, One Deck Dungeon series has enough fan base that some of them even created an unofficial expansions.

On the forum, we can find these fan made 10 new characters and 10 dungeons. The developer themselves has not done working on the game to add more contents for One Deck Dungeon.

For me, One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows is an interesting game. I really love the theme and the fact that all of the characters are female. But considering how hard it is with the luck and random factor, it is really hard to get back to play the game again.

Maybe it’s just me who don’t really know how to play the game correctly. But if you don’t mind with every issue that I have described with this game then maybe you should give it a try.

Final Words

So, that is all I can share with you with my One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows review. It is actually the second game that I bought after learning about the world of modern board and card game.

When I ended up buying this game, I still didn’t know much. I only looked for small, compact game, mostly card that can be played solo. Maybe with a dungeon crawl theme and a bit RPG experience where we can level up the character and fight the boss at the end.

This game does deliver those. It is just I didn’t expect or consider the difficulty level and the random or luck factor of the game that can be very important to play the game multiple times.

At least, now, I know better about myself, about what kind of game that may work for me or not. From what I know, a lot of other people will experience something similar. This way, we can finally make a better decision the next time we purchase another game.

Some games are not necessarily bad but it is just doesn’t work for anybody. Maybe this game can work for other people. I just thought it could work like the previous game that I have played, Hero Realms.

I have played several other games now and even written a review for some. Maybe games like Imperial Settlers, Tybor the Builder, and Villages of Valeria will work better for me.

In those games, I only build something, not getting killed but instead score probably low points. I may not win the game but I can still finish the game instead of just losing midways.

If you are looking for more great board or card games, you can check out this article.

Nevertheless, it is still a fun experience to learn about the game. Even if I may not like it, it still serve the purpose of playing board games. It still can become an activity that doesn’t require me to stare on the screen of my gadget.

If you do have better suggestion, please do share via the comment section below. I would love to try out those games, assuming I can get a copy of that game.

So, what are your experience with playing One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows? Please let me know if there are things that I missed regarding the game. I would appreciate that.

This article is just my notes of what I can find from the internet. Hopefully this can help anybody who are planning to purchase a copy of this game. Thanks for reading.

 

Mark M.

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