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Marc Kelsey, one of the designers of Catacombs, introduces the components and gameplay.

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Catacombs is an award winning action/dexterity based adventure board game. One player controls the Overseer, controlling the monsters of the catacombs. The other player(s) control the four heroes who cooperatively try to defeat the monsters and eventually the Catacomb Lord. Each of the heroes have special abilities that must also be used effectively if they are to prevail.

The main mechanic of Catacombs is for the players to flick wooden discs representing the monsters and the heroes. Contact with an opposing piece inflicts damage but missiles, spells, and other special abilities can cause other effects. When all of the monsters of a room have been cleared, the heroes can move further into the catacomb. Items and equipment upgrades can be purchased from the Merchant with gold taken from fallen monsters. The Catacomb Lord is the final danger that the heroes must defeat to win the game. Conversely, the Overseer wins if all of the heroes are defeated. The game is designed for quick setup and fast play.

User Reviews (2)

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I'm Completely Obsessed
42 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“A flicking dungeon crawler... Brilliant! ”

I recently got the chance to play this at the 1st Annual Dice Tower Convention in Orlando last month. I didn’t even know the game existed before that so I had no idea what to expect. When I saw it, I was skeptical at first – you mean you actually flick your adventurers to attack monsters?

Here’s how it works:
One or more players take the side of the adventurers (heroes). The basic game comes with an Elf, Thief, Warrior, and Wizard, but there is an expansion that adds more heroes. Each hero is represented by a wooden disc that you flick and try to hit the monsters. The really neat thing is that each hero has different special abilities. The Elf has ranged attacks (shoot with smaller separate discs), the Thief can move twice, the Warrior can rage (attack several times in a row, but tires himself out), and the Wizard has a slew of special powers represented by cards.

A sole player takes the role of the overseer and gets to command an army of various monsters that all have different powers and start off from easy to kill to very difficult. He in turn gets to flick his discs and try to hit your heroes.

Each hero comes with a reference card that shows their powers and has a track for life points. Once a hero’s life reaches zero that hero is out of the game. If all 4 heroes are eliminated the overseer wins. For the heroes to win, they have to traverse through 4 increasingly difficult boards and then fight a boss monster at the end. Each board also has slots for obstacles (larger wooden discs), which really add to the strategy of the game and make it more of a strike/counter strike than an all-out assault.

Help comes in the form of a healer and a merchant room in between dungeon rooms. This is where players can spend the money they earned for killing monsters to buy equipment and earn some life back. Even still, the game is tilted in favor of the overseer and the heroes will have to use excellent strategy and have great flicking skills to even stand a chance.

In the game I played, we actually made it to the final boss (a dragon – but there are various ones to choose from) and had him down to 2 life before succumbing to defeat!

I really enjoyed this game and would jump at the chance to play it again. There is a definite skill level with flicking the discs, but not too much that it becomes frustrating. It can be really satisfying to make a really nice flick to knock out a monster from one side of the board to the other. I also really liked the teamwork needed to work together as a team of heroes, but I can imagine that playing the overseer is equal amounts of fun.

– You “feel” like you are playing a dungeon crawler
– Game is balanced (not too easy)
– Setup is quick
– Rules are straightforward and easy to learn
– Components are of nice quality

– Artwork on the discs is a bit difficult to decipher and match with the cards.

Overall, I highly recommend this game. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea… flicking games require some skill and patience. But for those who are in to these types of games, you are in for a treat.

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Gamer - Level 3
Rated 25 Games
23 of 25 gamers found this helpful
“Venture into the catacombs... if your fingers dare!”

Upon original viewing of the game, I thought to myself, “WHAAATT? This CAN’T be that fun…”. I wrote it off for quite some time, thinking it just some kids “Flick and find the piece on the floor” game.

Flash forward a year or so, and I’m looking for a new game for the family to play, but one that won’t bore me to tears or feel “cheap” or have lack of strategy. I see Catacombs and all it’s expansions on sale at a favorite Online Game Store, and I decide to take the plunge.

Even while putting the stickers on the discs, I still wasn’t sure what to think about the game. Would it really be much of a dungeon crawl experience? Would it make me feel like I had choice, or is it going to just be some random, chaotic dexterity fest?

My daughter was immediately smitten with the game though, and wanted to try it. I left the expansions out, and set the base game up for us to try. THIS TURNED INTO THE BEST GAMING NIGHT MY DAUGHTER AND I HAVE HAD IN QUITE A LONG TIME.

One person plays the overlord, who controls all of the enemies and plays the role of “Merchant” and “Healer” when those rooms are entered. Enjoying role playing, I got into the roles of all and my daughter really had a blast with that.

Up to 4 other people play the “Heroes”. My daughter, being the only other player, played all 4 (Barbarian, Elf, Wizard, Thief). I thought this would be overwhelming for her at first, but she took to it with no problems whatsoever.

Although the main point of the game is essentially flicking discs (either your hero disc for a melee attack, or flicking a “Ranged attack” or spell disc for those appropriate attacks), you have some choices and strategy to consider. The Wizard, for instance, has one-time use spells, that they pull from their deck. Once the spell is used, it is discarded for the rest of the game. this gives some light decision making to the Wizard.

The heroes go first, flicking their discs as per turn order, then the Overlord flicks his minions around to counter-attack. There are 3 boards, each with 2 sides, so there is a small amount of variety in rooms (which all have circles cut out for disc to fit into for “bumpers”, usable for rebounding or hiding behind). Once all of the overlords minions are defeated, the heroes move onto another room (another board), and the overlord spawns new minions on the board as-per the room card description.

This makes for a very engrossing, active experience. Trying to flick the discs to rebound, hit 2 targets, or flick it lightly enough to land behind a bumper so as to avoid being targeted easily by your opponent, is great fun. But also, each unit in the game usually has an ability – stun the target on hit, spit a fireball, execute a melee attack followed by 2 ranged attacks, etc. Keeping track of all of that at first isn’t too bad, but I did miss a few of them here and there. Those add a LOT of variety to the game, and keep it interesting even when the room boards repeat themselves.

The object is for the heroes to move through all of the rooms, to the Overlord’s chamber and defeat the overlord. There are 4 Bosses/Overlords in the base game, and each varies in difficulty and abilities (and minions summoned). In between that, the heroes have an opportunity to visit a merchant room (where they can purchase new abilities for their characters), and a healer (to heal and/or resurrect wounded warriors). It really does feel like a typical dungeon crawl.

I bought all of the expansions out to date. Cavern of Soloth adds the most extra heroes and monsters, but the Hordes of Vermin one also adds some really small Vermin discs for the overlord to use. Both of those come with a slew of new room cards (0-2) and Cavern comes with new heroes and bosses. The other expansion is just room cards, but adds some flavor text/events that occur when players enter a room, which was a welcome addition for those who like to get into the experience.

The only thing missing, imo, is more game boards. the included ones get a bit repetitive while playing, although the amount of room variations and minion/monster types that can be deployed keep things interesting. I did email Sands of Time (the publisher) and asked about new game boards, and they kind of hinted that there might be an announcement about SOMETHING coming soon. One can only hope that there is more Catacombs goodness coming!

Don’t overlook this game because it seems like flicking and dungeon crawling can’t mix. They do, and they mix surprisingly well. This was one of the best gaming nights I’ve had with my daughter, and we look forward to playing again. My wife also expressed interest after hearing my daughter gush over the game, so it will be interesting to see how she likes it as well (I have a feeling she will enjoy it).

Highly recommended for that one “Pure Fun” game in your collection, but can also appeal to role playing/dungeon crawling fans that don’t mind a healthy heap of fun in their rpg.


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