My buddy Chris turned me on to Fire of Eidolon, a simple dungeon crawler game that’s easy to explain and great fun to play. It supports 1-6 players and is budget priced, even with a ton of expansion options and alternative challenges, tokens, squares, and more. At its most basic you’re wandering through a dungeon, exploring as you go, trying to collect Tokens of Power so you can destroy the three Relics of Power. Once you’ve done that, you then want to grab the Fire of Eidolon and rush back to the entrance; make it (even just one player) and you win. Fail to attain the goal and you’ve lost. Straightforward, right?
Where the challenge comes in is that every time someone takes a turn – generally with three action points per turn – cultists also show up in the dungeon and if two end up in the same space, that space vanishes forever, even if it leaves portions of the dungeon isolated or unreachable!
Let’s start by looking at some components:
The left are the Ritual Deck, a stack of cards each of which matches a dungeon tile. Sphynx’s Riddle is displayed and the glyph on the bottom of the card shows what to do: Move a cultist onto the tile. The right side is much more front and center for the game, however, that’s my Hero Card and it describes which character I am for this particular game and my capabilities and powers. Let’s zoom in a bit:
I’m playing Aelfric, a warrior, and I have two special skills: Polearm Lunge and Hero’s Charge. The former (on the top right) lets me attack a cultist in an adjoining chamber – which can be useful – and the latter, which I can only use once per game, lets me take up to three move actions, each followed by an attack or polearm lunge, to clean up a corner of the dungeon when things get dire and too darn may cultists have shown up.
Just as important is the central portion of the card which describes how easy or hard it is for Aelfric to pick up blue, red and green Tokens of Power. Red, Tokens of Strength, are the easiest; those cost but a single action point to acquire, while blue, Tokens of Intellect, are the most difficult, taking up all three of my action points each time. With multiple heroes, it’s great if they align so that one finds Tokens of Strength easy to pick up, while the other has Tokens of Dexterity (green) or Tokens of Intellect as their easiest pickup. Since I’m playing solo, I can already tell that blue’s going to be the greatest challenge because I’ll have to use an entire turn just to pick up a single token.
Why is that relevant? Because you need to collect six tokens of a particular color before you can destroy the corresponding Dark Relic, and you have to destroy all three before you can grab the Fire of Eidolon and try to scamper outta there! You always start in the Vestibule, then for my first move I’m going to explore rightward, which immediately reveals the Paradox Puzzle room and the blue Token of Intellect in that room:
Notice that each dungeon tile has one or more passages: Paradox Puzzle has three (the right side has no hallway). As you explore, you have to do so by creating a connected dungeon, though as tiles begin to vanish when two cultists show up, things get a bit more hairy and complicated, as you’ll see.
The challenge here is that I really want to pick up the blue token of power, but I have to wait for my next turn because it takes all three action points to do so for the Warrior. Frustrating!
Once I’ve used all of my action points, I check the Difficulty Card and ascertain how many Ritual Cards I need to draw:
The current threat level is one, so I pick one Ritual Card per turn. The first time through it’s usually pretty benign because the odds of you picking the cards that match dungeon tiles that are already out early in the game are low. Lots of “nothing happens”. Later, that switches and notice even on Normal difficulty, the second level will have two cards revealed per turn. Remember how you have to use an entire turn to pick up an blue Token of Intellect? Yeah, so that’s going to prove quite painful!
Just a little bit further along in the game, here’s where I am:
The blue Dark Relic, Vorax’s Knowledge, has already shown up (notice it is a one-entrance chamber) and while the Relic is now present, I can’t touch it until I have collected six of the blue tokens. The square I’m on – Secret Passage – has a green key [which as I’m writing this was a mistake on my part; as a secret passage it shouldn’t have had any token of power. Ooops] which I can collect with 2 AP (action points).
Much further down the road in the game, here’s how my neat and well connected dungeon has come out:
Looks like I’m doing well; all three Relics of Power are out and I’ve collected six green tokens, five red tokens and three blue tokens. Getting there. There are a couple of cultists in the dungeon too (tiny triangular tokens, one’s on the Ogre chamber central on the top row, though it’s hard to see.
In fact, the game was going along well, but moving up to the second level of difficulty was overwhelming: first off, while most matching chambers went from zero to one cultist, some ended up with two, which pulled the tile and corresponding card out of the game completely. It created holes in the dungeon that meant some areas were unreachable, not a crisis until it meant that the Dark Relic Vorax’s Heart [the red tile on the top right] was isolated and exploring to replace the chamber produced one that sealed off that area of the dungeon. Basically, I lost. Unable to get to and destroy all three Dark Relics, there was no way to attain the Fire of Eidolon and win. Ergo, my losing configuration:
I did well, however, destroying both the blue and green tokens and having collected five of the six red tokens. So close. I never finished exploring the dungeon, however, which is why the Fire square itself never showed up, which posed another obstacle. Ah well, really fun and a fast play too, maybe 30min total for this game?
More players lets you divide and conquer, of course, so one player can be assigned to killing cultists while another is collecting the Token of Power that’s easiest and least expensive to grab. Players can exchange and give tokens to each other if they’re in the same chamber, so more players definitely makes things a bit easier. Solo play does allow you to play more than one hero at a time, however, but I haven’t tried that yet so don’t know if it’d be more fun or more complicated.
I’ve won, I’ve lost, in both solo and multiplayer, and every time Fire of Eidolon is great fun. I love the 16-bit classic videogame graphics, theme and chamber names, it’s easy to understand and there’s enough randomness to make it interesting and different each time, but enough strategy that you need to think through what you’re doing and the goal you’re questing to attain on the road to winning. Highly recommended.