Wakening Lair is a cooperative dungeon crawling game wherein players take on the roll of a hero and march through a dungeon together, discovering rooms, fighting monsters, and collecting treasure to gear up for the final boss of the dungeon. If I had to call it anything, It’s as if Munchkin and Betrayal at House on the Hill had a child, who was then adopted and raised by Boss Monster.
As said above, players take on the roll of a character. These characters are derived from three different classes; rogue, fighter, and mage. Each class has their own specialties, and it is advised that you bring as much of a variety as possible. Each hero has their own archetype (the shape in the top left of their card) as well as their preferred attack styles (the two icons directly below their archetype) as well as a special ability that they can use. The numbered boxes represent their health.
The game proceeds in turn order, players having three actions available to them. With these actions, they can do up to three different things; move, attack, and activate their hero’s ability. You can do these in any order, and you can do the same type of action multiple times if you so choose.
Moving is pretty simple, you can move your character token as many rooms forward or back as you would like in the dungeon with a single move action. If you have to flip a room card face up, it immediately populates with the amount of monsters designated on the top center of the room card. If you enter a room with a monster in it, your move action ends.
Attacking can get a little weird, but once it’s explained it’s easy to follow along. There are a total of five benefits you can attain whilst attacking. Three of them are dice, one is a bonus to dice rolls, and one is an ability called Pressing the Attack. First off, you need to decide how many dice you can attack with. You always roll at least 1D6 for an attack. You get a second D6 if the weapon archetype (the shape in the top left corner of the weapon) matches your hero archetype. You get the third dice if the weapon attack style (the two icons immediately below the weapon archetype) matches either of your hero’s preferred attack styles.
So Mobius is attacking the Kobold who is in his room with a total of 3D6, however there are more bonuses to be had! If you note the icon in the four corners of the room they are in, that is the room advantage. This means if the icon matches either attack type on your hero card, you add +1 to all of your attack rolls.
There is one final bonus that you can get. Note the icon on the Kobold being attacked. This icon is the monster’s weakness. If you attack a monster with an attack type that matches the monster’s weakness, you can Press the Attack. This means that as long as you deal one point of damage, you can make another attack without using an additional action.
For actually killing the monsters, it’s quite simple. You roll the dice, and each dice that is equal to or greater than the left most damage box on the monster deals one damage. After all of your actions are over, each monster remaining in your room attacks you back! They each roll dice equal to the number of undamaged boxes they have, and deal a point of damage for each dice roll equal to or greater than your highest damage box on your character card.
The final action type you can take is activating your hero’s ability. Some abilities do not require the use of an action and happen automatically, while some do require an action. They all do different things, and they’re all great for the team. Now, the reason we’re all here.
The end goal is to defeat the big boss at the end of the dungeon. There are 25 monster cards, one of which is the ‘Monstrous Terror Awakens’ card. This card is shuffled into the bottom eight cards of the monster deck. When this card is drawn, the boss wakes up and begins his march to escape the dungeon. There are twelve room cards laid out in the dungeon, and each turn the Monstrous Terror moves one room closer to the exit. If a hero dies or if the Monstrous Terror escapes, the players lose.
Players attack the Monstrous Terror’s different damage zones as if they were individual monsters. The Monstrous Terror is defeated once all damage zones have taken all their allotted damage. The Monstrous Terror also attacks though! It always attacks with three dice, and each dice roll determines which part of the Monstrous Terror is attacking. If the zone for the dice roll has been completely damaged, than it deals no damage for that dice roll!
This game is absolutely amazing. There is enough depth and complexity to it to make you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after taking a really well thought out turn, but if you just want to plunder a dungeon and roll some dice you will have an excellent time as well. The game is really played on a time crunch in terms of turns, as you have a limited amount of time to kill enough monsters to get proper gear for the final fight. Monsters left unchecked will also march with the Monstrous Terror at the end, giving him a legion of darkness that is extremely difficult to contend.
This game gets increasingly difficult the more players you add to your game. Because of the turn crunch, the more players there are, the quicker monsters get revealed, thus the quicker the Monstrous Terror awakens, and players have less turns to gather loot. It’s a really cool way to balance games, and it works extremely well.
If you’re looking for a good game to bust out for an hour of coop that you can learn in 15 minutes, Wakening Lair is for you. It’s casual enough to pick up quite quickly and easily, yet difficult enough to warrant the exchange and collaboration of thought process’ in order to solve the problems at hand. Here are a few pictures of a game my friends and I played last night that really came down to the wire. Whiptail got all the way to the entrance room of the dungeon and was about to escape, if not for our great hero’s strength to kill it just in time.