Dark Tomb: The Crypts of Aurelian

Dark Tomb: The Crypts of Aurelian

RRP: £19.99
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RRP £19.99
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Category Tag SKU ZINDIE-DT001 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • · A surprising amount of game in a small package
  • · Easy to learn
  • · Great for solo players and groups
  • · Great quality components overall

Might Not Like

  • · Small components can be fiddly
  • · Limited Hero abilities hurt replayability
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Description

The sun hasn’t risen over the city of Gorriah in over a decade. Pestilence runs rampant and rations have dwindled to mere scraps. Deep below the city surface lies the dark and cursed Tomb of Aurelian, where the most evil and destructive of creatures have been laid to rest. The only hope for Gorriah is to search out Orom, one of the most insidious and vicious executioners of his era, and reclaim the powerful Amulet of Fire to bring light back to the land.
COMPONENTS
• Pocket-size tin
• Tray insert
• Gameplay rulebook
• Custom d20 die
• 24 Game cubes
• 4 Character cards
• 8 Action cards
• 8 Monster cards
• 15 Item cards
• 15 Map tile cards
• 2 Reference cards
• 3 Chamber intro cards
• 3 Chamber completion cards

A big adventure in a tiny tin…

Dark Tomb: Crypts of Aurelian is a tiny dungeon crawler designed by Andy Bergmann of Kozz Games and packs a 1-5 player, combat driven game, into a metal tin small enough to go into your pocket.

The game unfolds as you traverse through three chambers with your adventuring party, exploring the dark reaches of the dungeon in hopes of restoring light to Gorriah. However, each chamber increases in difficulty, bringing with it new monsters to defeat and hazards that could spell doom to your run. Fortunately, due to the minute proportions you are only mere moments away from being set up and ready for another delve into the crypt.

Setup’s a breeze with pieces as small as these!

The portability achieved by Dark Tomb: Crypts of Aurelian and the amount of components it manages to squeeze into the box is certainly impressive. Alongside a D20 for making those crucial attack roles, the 11cm x 8cm box (smaller than one banana for those who still use such a measuring system) fits a staggering 83 components between cards and various enemy, loot, and hero tokens.

This makes the game incredibly easy to get to the table despite some initial fiddling with gathering the various cubes for their required purpose. Each Chamber is colour coded on the back for easy readability with icons to help determine if the card is a piece of loot, an enemy monster, or a dungeon tile which creates the layout for your adventure. There’s also an element of randomness each time you play, as the dungeon cards are shuffled and their grid pattern means they can be placed in 4 different directions, so your layout shifts each time, as does the location of loot and monsters which are also shuffled to keep each delve into the dungeon feeling slightly different.

Decisions, decisions…

Despite it’s small stature you’ll need to make some big decisions due to the way combat works in Dark Tomb: Crypts of Aurelian. Each character has a small selection of actions they can take during their turn by placing a token over the skill they wish to use. However, once the skill has been chosen, you can’t use it again until the token has been moved off onto another, which meant I regularly had exciting moments where I was debating the best way to tactically use a skill, knowing it would essentially be on a cooldown the following turn.

Then it’s dice rolling time and you chuck that singular D20 to determine if your attack hits, or cleaves thin air based on comparing your dice roll against the defence stats on whatever evil denizen has emerged on your adventure.

A game full of character but with limitations…

The characters in Dark Tomb: Crypts of Aurelian all fit within your traditional fantasy archetypes from Helias the stealthy Rogue to Draven the fire spouting Wizard, and each come with 3 cards providing their core stats with a suitably beautifully drawn illustration, alongside their core skills. Although, it’s in the skills where you can start to feel the limitations making everything fit into a tiny box has on the overall experience, as a few turns into the game and you’ve pretty much seen everything your character can do. There is no further character progression beyond your initial cards, outside of picking up loot which may provide a new way to attack but even then, loot only persists for the chamber you are in.

Luck also plays a much larger part in this game as all attacks are down to a single dice roll with some skills adding a +1 or +2 to the outcome but there were often instances where I was only a few bad dice rolls away from certain doom for me and my party. However, that didn’t stop me from quickly setting up the game again for “one more go” as it’s all too easy to get sucked in for another attempt at conquering the Crypt once and for all.

Final Thoughts…

Dark Tomb: Crypts of Aurelian achieves an incredible feat in managing to distil the dungeon crawling experience into a form factor which can be tabled pretty much anywhere. The sheer fact that a 4-player coop dungeon crawler with so many components can fit into a small tin and be so inexpensive is commendable.

That is not to say the game is without limitations, some double-sided hero cards would go a long way to increase versatility and re-playability alongside the clever interchangeable tiles already present in the game. The tokens used for characters and monsters can be fiddly to setup initially and whilst they are different in colour (with icons depicted Hero and Monster types), it would have been nice to see more unique looking tokens for the Heroes. However, it’s understandable that sacrifices had to be made to keep the form factor as appealing as it is.

The bottom line is this game is not designed to be 100-hour campaign driven epic consisting of over 1000 cards and 87 miniatures. It’s a tiny game designed to be brought with you when travelling or visiting friends where you can quickly play 15-40 minutes beating up dungeon monsters and have a blast doing it and Dark Tomb: Crypts of Aurelian more than achieves this goal with some re-playability to boot. If you want an easy and compact way to scratch that

adventuring itch, then you would be hard pressed to find other adventures this grand in such a small package.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A surprising amount of game in a small package
  • Easy to learn
  • Great for solo players and groups
  • Great quality components overall

Might not like

  • Small components can be fiddly
  • Limited Hero abilities hurt replayability