Enter The Dungeon
Hey folks, I know you were expecting a full review of D&D Dark Alliance, but due to some technical issues that have caused me problems while trying to play I am not ready to give my full opinions yet. Rest assured I am still having fun, and will be getting the review up, but not today.
Instead lets discuss the new mechanics in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.... well new mechanic. The dungeon! First off, this is a pretty unique type of card, as it doesn't take up a slot in your deck or your sideboard. There are only 3 different Dungeon cards being printed, so basically everyone will have access to any of them throughout the matches they play. Dungeon is a weird mechanic, as it actually encompasses three different mechanics within it. First is "Venturing into the Dungeon", some cards in the set will instruct you to Venture into the Dungeon when certain things happen, whether that is when the card enters the battlefield or when it attacks. Venturing into the Dungeon has two distinct effects depending on whether or not you currently have a Dungeon in play. If you have no Dungeon in play you can choose which Dungeon to venture into, and place that card into your Command Zone, then put a marker on the first room of the dungeon and do the effect it directs you to. You cannot venture into a second dungeon while you are in a dungeon, and as far as we can tell there is no way to remove the dungeon from play without completing it, so you will want to think carefully on which dungeon is right to venture into at this point in the game. If you already have a dungeon in play, Venturing into the Dungeon allows you to move to the next room of the dungeon, which will sometimes involve choices, some of which will only effect things in this moment, other choices will affect the way future choices are presented. After you complete the last room in the Dungeon you remove the card from the game, and when next you venture into the dungeon you will be able to choose another dungeon, either starting the same dungeon from the first room again or a different one. The second mini-mechanic on the Dungeons is that the Dungeon rooms each have different effects. The third and one of the more interesting mini-mechanics that dungeons have is the "if you have completed a dungeon" effect. This is a binaray state that you can't lose, which is interesting, and the effects seem reasonably big whether that is an anthem effect giving all other creatures +1/+1 on a 3 mana creature, or Double Strike on a three mana 2/3.
These abilities provide an interesting tension to the game and your choice of Dungeon to enter, do you want to enter the Dungeon of the Mad Mage which has the most powerful effect at the end of the dungeon and only benefecial things throughout it but does take seven trips into the dungeon to complete it, or is speed running the Tomb of Annihilation in 3 activations of venture going to be worth the fairly hefty cost of discarding a card, sacrificing a land, a creature and an artifact, as well as losing one life. There is a lot to think about depending on the game state, knowing whether or not you are likely to have time for the relevent effects, or maybe even to finish the dungeon entirely. I've heard gripes saying we should have access to more Dungeon cards, and it is true I think the number could be raised slightly, but certainly not by too many. These are cards that we are assumed to basically have at will, so there really can't be a reasonable rarity issue to them (I'm guessing that they will find themselves in a token slot, but maybe I'll be wrong and they will burn a card slot from our packs) and since there is no additional cost to add them to your pool of available resources the more of them there are will add to the complexity of your decisions regarding which one to pull out when you are venturing into a dungeon, enough to cause a game to bog down if one is trying for the perfect plays. I might have printed as many as double the number that Wizards went with, and then printed them front and back so you'd still only need to carry three additional cards, but have the options of 6. As it is there is a definite feel of Speed Vs Power with a mid tier option as well.
It'll be interesting to see how these new additions to Magic end up playing out, right now I think they are reasonably well balanced and won't be too disruptive to games, but I'm dying to actually see them played, and to hear your opinions on them. Feel free to leave a comment below to tell me what you think.