Dec 23, 2011

Loot and Scoot

A category that has really gained momentum on the iOS platform, but continues to be neglected on Android is the board/strategy category. Loot and Scoot arrived from tiny Victory Point games earlier this month and I'd been considering purchase of the cardboard version of this game. At $2.99 getting a digital one with AI didn't require any further consideration. However, when I went to download the game I was told I needed Adobe AIR first. Arrgh! I'd been trying to avoid that. I don't know why, but generally speaking the need for some separate runtime package usually correlated to a lower quality game and while I stand by that it made perfect sense for a game like this to need AIR as it would help cut development costs on a game that doesn't need a lot of flash (no pun intended). So I relented and have AIR on my Android tablet now and can give a fair review of this game.

Loot and Scoot is different kind of game and a welcome change. The premise is that you're trying to loot your opponent's dungeon. And yes, you'll be both setting up a dungeon (in a basic sense) and then conquering dungeons that your opponents have set up. The game allows for up to four players in a pass and play mode or solo play against up to four AI opponents in easy, medium, and hard difficulty levels. The game includes good instructions, but I tend to learn by doing so after a cursory read I jumped right in and played and then went back to review the rules and gain a more complete understanding of the game.

In a nutshell, you'll pick party members that each sport a symbol. Monsters likewise sport these symbols and if there's a match it means said character can attack said monster. You also have to set up a dungeon. I just let the computer do that for me (and really appreciated the "jump right in" option), but you can choose what goes where in an additional effort to out-strategize your opponent(s). Then, on each turn, you get two action points which typically consists of getting additional help via recruiting some cannon fodder or new party members and then entering the dungeon to try and loot some gold. Once you choose to move to the dungeon you are able to click a room at a time fighting monsters and taking their treasure. Combat is really simple. If your character's symbols match those on the monster being attacked then they get a die roll. Depending on monster placement it takes a roll of a 6 (or >4, but usually not) to defeat the monster so you'll want as many dice as you can muster. If you fail then the monster eliminates some of your party members (either sending them back to the inn for another day or, if you prefer, killing them outright) and you repeat until one side is dead. You can also choose to retreat. The game continues until a boss monster has been killed at which time points are tallied and a victor is declared. Points are scored for gold, killing monsters, and accumulating victory point tiles which are placed in the dungeon. I'm missing some stuff, but that pretty much covers the core of this game.

qrcodeSo, what does this all boil down to? A good amount of luck with the dice rolling and the management of that luck (as if a monster defeats you then you'll know what kinds of characters it'll take to fight it next time and be able to recruit them at the inn). Hopefully it's clear that you don't conquer the whole dungeon in one turn, but over a series of turns (hence the game's title). It's in, grab loot, and then regroup at the end for the next turn with a focus on killing the boss monster at the end. Consequently, it's clear that this isn't going to be a game for everybody, but will certainly be enjoyed by those that like more brain than brawn in their game. I can see some not liking the luck element and, while it can be frustrating to see an opponent squash the boss on one dice roll, I find that dice rolling games actually lend themselves to a statistical nature where you have to decide what's worth the risk. Dice may decide a game or two, but strategy will push the favor one way or another.

All in all, I like this game. I've played it several times and look forward to many more plays with it. The AI seems to be solid and while I can't claim to be a good player of this game I am pleased to say that I lost my first and second games on Easy mode which is always a good sign for the game's longevity. I do wish there was a video of the game as you really have to see/play it to understand it, and, quite frankly, I don't think the Market's refund time limit of 15 minutes is enough to make such a decision if you're on the edge. And while dungeon crawling is the theme there's really no adventure here. It's a dice based strategy game about raiding dungeons and defeating monsters. 4/5 stars.

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