Sunday, 13 November 2011

Supremely Deflated Expectations

At this point the anticipation was unbearable....

I love life, even though it has an unbelievable track record of kicking me right in my man parts. No, on the whole life is pretty damn good. Yesterday the Cursed, Mr Chaos Space Marine and my good self spent the entire day gaming at a local gaming club. It was all damn good fun, although the Cursed probably now has a fear of Asura's... but I digress. We got back from this day of gaming to mine intent on getting some board gaming in, maybe some more Legend of Drizzt or Claustrophobia so I could get on with formulating some proper opinions of those games for review. When we got back however, there was a lovely parcel of epic goodness from OG Games waiting for us. 'What could it be?' They asked. 'Only one thing' I replied 'Super Dungeon Explore!!!' Cue loud girlish squeals of delight and much high fiving.

You see, I think for at least 12 months now, being the geeks that we are, we've waited patiently for this game to arrive. I've had it on pre-order from since before I was made redundant and that seems like an absolute age ago now. The cute anime chibi styling's of it all had us salivating at the prospects of getting our hands on it. So there we sat, looking in awe at the box paralysed by excitement... for all of about one second before I tore the wrapping off and glared lovingly at, well a really shit quality box. No two ways about it, the first thing that hits you as you pick the game up is just how crap a quality box it comes in. I fully expect the box to disintegrate within a month, especially with the cats around. Hell the little cat Poppy has already buckled the front of the box just by standing on it. Word to the wise Soda Pop, if I was walking into a shop and picking this product off of a shelf, it'd feel bloody cheap because of the shitty box.

But hey, I mean it's what's inside the box that counts right? Well yeah of course it is. So I opened it up, trembling with excitement. What I was greeted with inside was a very shiny well designed rulebook, full of pretty pictures and and neat design features. It's clear whoever was responsible for producing this rulebook wanted it to look perfect. Under the rulebook were 6 large square tiles. Five of which are double-sided floor tiles for playing the game on, the other one is for tracking game progress and storing Loot and treasure cards etc. Speaking of which, the game 'cards' are cheap as chips. The card tiles aren't too bad, although to be brutally honest having only 10 different tiles to potentially play games on seem a little low, especially when it's double-sided tiles, they do at least look like they'll do the job relatively well. The gaming cards though are crap, if Soda Pop think the quality of their 'cards' are in any way acceptable in any shape or form they're so deluded it's unbelievable. 

All the bits and bobs outside of the box

The game cards are without question the worst game cards I have ever had the sad misfortune of coming across. They aren't card at all, at best they are glossy paper and feel cheap, nasty, and quite frankly given the price of the product are wholly unacceptable. They will tear and dog ear after maybe one or two games of play, they are that flimsy, utterly dire components and I'd advised they re-consider rapidly where they have their cards produced and maybe offer for sale some 'serious' proper gaming cards instead of the tatty rubbish they supply the game box with. At this point hand on heart I was utterly demoralised looking at the game. Removing the card tokens from their spru didn't lighten my mood much either, they had not been suitably punched, and as such the printed surfaces sometimes tore, and yeah, I needed to use my craft knife to extract them in one piece to avoid damage, piss poor. The fact that my specialist dice have faded print on them and already look well worn didn't do much to improve my melancholy mood any. But lets be honest here, I brought this game on the back of those super cute chibi miniatures. So do they disappoint?

My WTF dragon. Horridly cut miniature!!!
Sadly yes they do. Not in terms of their design aesthetic, on that score they're veritably full of epic win, they really are nice miniatures once assembled. No, it's the assembly that causes the ball ache here. Yep the miniatures do not come pre-assembled. Not a huge problem normally, even though most board games you'll find come ready to rock 'n' roll right out of the box. Their miniatures get plus points for being made out of a sturdy plastic substance suitable for painting on, but that's where the praise stops. Some of the miniatures come cut into as many as 5 or 6 fiddly pieces (not just the large miniatures, but the heroes and Kobolds too), each of which has a possibility of warping during the moulding process, and then refusing to fit properly. Putting the miniatures together was an utter bitch for the 3 of us, all of us experienced modellers, poly cement doesn't work on whatever plastic these are made out of so super glue is required. But superglue doesn't appear to like the substance these are made out of and takes an age to dry and form a good bond.

Our industrial assembly line in full flow
Fitting the Kobolds together might have been a bloody nightmare of epic proportions, what with trying to wedge badly moulded pieces together with brute force and super glue, while not gluing yourself to the miniature was awful, the pieces are too damn small and fiddly. I don't know how their metal miniatures were cut, but these are painful. They don't 'dry clip' together either. The heroes too proved a veritable pain in the arse to fit together and some just refuse to fit together at all, so badly shrunk and warped are some of the pieces, my witches staff refuses to fit and the less said about the dragon the better. But hey, they've mostly been glued together now, and they are pretty nifty miniatures that I personally feel are probably just about worth the hassle. But only just. The final grumble though is that because some of the pieces are so warped and bent that there are some big gaps on the miniatures themselves, and I have to say that hand on heart I wasn't ever expecting to have to get my sculpting tools and green stuff out to rectify problems with a board game.

In no way is it suitable for ages 3 and up!!!
However, the biggest epic fail on Soda Pops behalf is the fact that no where in the box are there any assembly guides to make your life easier, to confirm you have indeed got the right horribly warped tail or sword arm for that particular Kobold. Seriously guys what the fuck were you thinking? Or perhaps you weren't. On the back of the box they proudly proclaim the product is suitable for children aged 3 and up. My arse would I let any kids near this product assembled or otherwise, the miniatures are way too fiddly and the parts big enough to choke on. I'm not too sure how strict the age coding of products are in the States, but here in Europe we take these things seriously and this is no where near a suitable product for a small child. Another thing they might fall foul of in terms of EU law is that nowhere on the box does it say that it may require some assembly. Guys look, I know this is your first real major product and there are going to be teething problems, I accept that I do, I've been rooting for you for over a year now, but the vibe I get off of this product is that you might be out of your depth and need help with it.

Here's one of the images that got me excited in the first place

So how does it play though? I honestly don't know. The deflation was so complete, and the length of time it took 3 of us to assemble the pieces so long that it totally killed any enthusiasm we had for playing the game. It's odd because the only other product where the excitement levels were this high amongst my friends was Gears of War. With Gears though we were playing the game, admittedly badly, 30 minutes after opening the box. With Super Dugeon Explore 2 hours and 30 minutes later we were still waiting for the bloody glue to dry and work out which tail went where. The game still promises much though and I'll hopefully give it a go sometime soon, however, it's gone way down my list of priorities because of the issues I've had with it thus far. I felt I ought to share my experiences with you because I know some of you have been eagerly awaiting this product just as much as I have, it's just that right now it feels very much to this here blogger that it is a case of style over substance, certainly where quality of components is concerned. Luckily though the evening wasn't a complete wash as we were able to have a mammoth session catching up on season 4 of the Big Bang Theory. Peace out!


  1. agreed. what a shame, the models do look cool and fun, though never have i struggled to know where to start on gluing together a model as much as these.

  2. I think that was the thing, we had a few big bags of bits and fitting them together was a pain, it really was. To not have a simply assembly guide for the pieces was really unforgivable. It also alludes to a further lack of thought that's gone into the product and for me doesn't bode well. I'll leave off playing this for review for a week or so to try and let the anger subside a bit because if I were to review the game right now I fear my negative experiences with assembling this game might actually colour my opinion a little bit more than is fair.

  3. Thanks for this honest review of this game as I was looking at picking it up but if it is poorly constructed it will end up wrecked in a few weeks with me using it as I'm not the most delicate of people with my toys.

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  5. My iPad turned "gah" into "gay" which didn't feel like a politically correct comment! Anyway I regret preordering this now!

  6. dammit....I was really looking to this aswell....sounds like a seriously missed opportunity :(

  7. @O'Shashar, this isn't my final review, more my initial reactions to it as a product. I have yet to play a game of it and to review a game without playing it just wouldn't be fair tbh. I will say though that it does feel like a missed opportunity as Darth tater says.

    @Minijunkie, lol don't worry about it. Years ago when I was just out of university I sent an internal email around the office to senior managers informing them of some interesting financial result one of the senior accountants had found. The internal email spell checked his name to Gay Elephant, when his actual name was Guy Olivant. Sadly the ground didn't open up and swalloe me whole!!! :P

  8. Man I hope your opinion Drastically changes after you play a couple games. I was really hoping this game would be something I could play with my younger children to get them interested in throwing dice with Dad. =/

    What a let down.

  9. I love the reviews 'round here due to the lack of 'fanboy-ish excuses.'

    Whereas a lot of Internet 'Hobby stuff' reviews tend to basically fall into the 'fail or fanboi' category, reviews done here encompass every aspect of the author's experience with the product, for removing the wrapper to finishing the test games.
    It's just great stuff, and quite refreshing to see on a hobby blog.

    Ah, Frontline...clearly you wanted to like this product.
    Despite your enthusiasm, you didn't make lame excuses.
    Despite your disappointment, you didn't rip 'em a new one.

    Praise the Mighty Cthulhu for sending us such a level-headed gentleman to give us the straight dope.

    Please, good sir...continue the fine work, and thanks!

  10. And just for a laff, I'm picturing an advert for this game, with a very cleverly selected quote from this page....

    -Frontline Gamer


  11. So not worth buying an painting up then?

  12. @frontline ....LOL that is epic!

  13. Thanks for the initial impressions, and looking for the review!

    If the finished product plays well (and the models look something like they do on the box) then I will get it, and accept the punishment of putting them together! :)

  14. @Drkmorals, so do I. Money is currently very tight in my house and I can't stand the thought that I have an expensive board game sitting there that quite frankly isn't good enough in any way shape or form to give me some entertainment. I will say though depending on the age of your kids I'd be wary of letting them near some of the miniatures, certainly when not assembled. They have some very small components, that I think represent a significant choke hazard. Now I'm not normally one to go in for all this health and safety rubbish but really Soda Pop you'd let a 3 year old near this box?

    @SinSynn, I try Sir, I try. :)

    This isn't a review just my normal 'look' what I've got heads up to my readers about things I have that I'll be reviewing. Normally it's just a series of pictures doing an unboxing, and showing the content. But with SDE I know that there are a lot of people out there who have been waiting for this product as much as I have, and I felt I should at least give them my initial thoughts on the quality of the components because it's fair to say I find them a tad disappointing. The game might still rock harder than Satan but I felt given times are tight I owed it to my readers to inform them of the issues I've found.

    @VomKrieg, that's a difficult one to be honest with you. If you just want to paint miniatures, I guess you could do that with the metal versions they produce, which I believe are ever so slightly larger than the plastic pieces found in the box. However, the plastic is certainly 'firm' enough for me to consider them suitable for painting projects. On the whole I like the look of them, but the ones in my box have proved a ridiculous amount of work to assemble. I'll let you all know what I think of the game once I've given it a fair hearing.

    @Minijunkie, it was anything but Epic at the time. Being Dyslexic I just trusted that a computer spell checker would do a better job than I did. Wow was I wrong. I believe Guy Olivant is still affectionately known as Gay Elephant in some quarters. He was not happy.

    @Pacific, if the game is good then it'll be worth it. I just think the components feel shoddy and cheap. It just doesn't feel like a professional product. It just doesn't bode well for me when the company can't even get a box right. Sure the artwork on the box looks great, but it has all the structural integrity of tissue paper. I've got some reviews to finish up this week for other games and I'm hoping to start on Descent and SDE in earnest ASAP.

  15. Great review, sad to hear, but great none the less.. due to lackage of funds I haven't picked this up yet, and will wait to hear about the gaming aspect of it. As stated above, if its good to game with, then I am ok with shelling out for it after xmas maybe ( wait for some online retailer to have a discount handy ). Can deal with or update the cards ( laminate them maybe ) to make the game last longer in the future.
    Cheers and will keep an eye out for the continuation of this post.

  16. @Mr. Lee, if you wanted the miniatures just to paint and have then this product isn't too bad. You do get a fair amount of junk in the box so to speak. I don't mind green stuffing miniatures, it's just as a board game product which are normally pick up and play this product is somewhat... well... weird. It doesn't really make sense as a product to me right now. There's more assembly required than there is with say GW's Assault of Black Reach 40k starter set. It just seems a strange route to go down.

  17. Table top gaming news have a guide from soda pop on how the minis go together. I not to worried this game will play ok.

  18. @Pancake, yep I noticed they'd finally listened to criticism from people. Perhaps now they can address the concerns with regards to the quality of those game cards, which honestly Pancake are atrocious. I'd also like to know what their stance is on the 3+ claim on the back of the box, unassembled some of those pieces represent a clear choking hazard.

  19. It does pose a big problem for the younger gamer. I've had a good look this morning at lots of other reviews. And they are in the most, happy with the game play. All unhappy comments, are as you point out the tiny parts. And no instructions on how they fit together. The game play comes across from people has simple but in a way to provide fast monster bashing fun. Any way i look forward to your review.

  20. The trial game was fun, but I've been upset by their business practices. I'm still waiting on my pre-order, that I had to pay shipping for, while local stores have it in stock WITH the pre-order miniature included, and no shipping, no border duties and online stores are offering free shipping and discounts.

    Still looking forward to painting the minis, but haven't been impressed by how they're treating the people who actually pre-ordered the game.. getting something already in stores isn't a pre-order.

  21. @Pancake, the game might be fun, but I'm going to question the longevity of it as a product. Won't say too much here, but I do seriously wander how it will stand up to repeated play.

    @Dave G, I've seen the justifiably angry comments from many gamers who have used Soda Pops own online store. The service, or lack of it has been utterly appalling. I hate to say this I really do, but they're giving off a very amateurish vibes right now. It's a shame, because I think they had a crux of a good idea with the stylings and everything else. But ultimately I feel they've not got the skill to see it realised into a complete and competent game.

  22. Hopefully exspansions will be around the corner with different map tiles and monsters. And soda pop will sort out the problems, that are so mucking up the game.

  23. @Pancake, different monsters and tiles won't stop the game being repetitive. It needs different types of challenge, or missions. Where the resuce the Princess mission? Or solve the rune puzzle mission? Its always the same, and fighting giant at the end of a long slog really isn't that different to a dragon. It is currently looking quite a limited game. I've no doubt it'll sell well because its well marketed and there aren't that many people willing to look past the superficial stylings of the game.

  24. Thats fine by me i'm not looking for an in depth dungeon crawler. If i was i'd buy somthing different. I'm wanting a game that is easy quick to learn and looks good. And will be easy to play with my seven year old. Who's not interesred in lots of stats and other boring jibber jabber. I see the game for what it is simple monster bashing which is fine on a sunday afternoon with the kids. I'll play other games with more depth than S D E , with my club mates. I see people points on soda pop not being upto standards cheers.

  25. @Pancake, something doesn't have to be in-depth to offer variety. I also think given the length of games and actually the difficulty of the game itself, in terms of completing an actual mission that SDE is most certainly not the right game to play with a 7 year old. If you want to play a game with your 7 year old, then take the miniatures from SDE and I can't believe I'm saying this, play a D&D Adventure System Game instead. Plus its not as 'simple' or 'easy' as it's looks would have you believe. Not trying to say don't buy it or that you're wrong, but I'm just letting you know I'm not too sure younger children would enjoy the actual game.

  26. We all like different games for different reasons. The game is for xmas so can't say anything about how much i like untill then . But thanks for the heads up on what you have found playing it. Maybe i to will think its crap. And i have the old d&d board game and its very good. Cheers.

  27. Actually, when we did the trial mission, we used my old warhammer quest tiles.

    Anyone can do this:

    Create a bunch of dungeon tiles.. hallways (straight / corner / "T" and "+") and rooms.. then make a deck of cards, one card for each. Shuffle, and randomly create your dungeon... maybe I'll make a post out of that.

  28. I'm glad you gave this review. Personally, I had the models built and ready within 30 minutes even with some mild plastic warping (bowl of hot water does wonders), but I can see how you didn't. I also find most of the peripherals to be of a lower quality and know for a fact that the game's creative team was pretty appalled by this, too. That said, I cut them a bit of slack considering the enormous difficulty of getting quality craft goods on that scale without an established line.

    As for painting/modeling comments, polystyrene cement (or "plastic glue") does not work because of the materials involved. Cyanoacrylate glue is really what most of you will want in this case as it isn't a bonding type of glue like polystyrene. The models do take to paint quite well assuming you use an actual primer (and no, GW and Army Painter are not actually primers so stick with something like Duplicolor).

  29. @Kremmet, I've seen a two further copies of SDE since my own unboxing (this isn't a review) and one of them the miniatures were as badly warped as mine, in the other they were fine. But this inconsistency should give them grave concerns about the quality of their product.

    I'd assumed that poly cement wouldn't work on these and only did a test dab to make sure, so I could tell people what to use, because Soda Pop didn't include any guides. I also don't use GW or Army Painter Primers so no problems there.

    The biggest disappointment though is the quality of some of the components, especially the game cards. I'm very displeased about those given the price of the box set. As I said, I like the miniatures once they're all put together but as mine were hideously warped, and no warm water wouldn't have helped with most pieces, it took us a very long time indeed.

    My full review and considered thoughts will be due in the next week or two before Christmas as I know some people want me to write the review up for them before then to see if it's worth them getting for Christmas day.

  30. This looks seriously cool, shame the cards are of a low quality or it would be trying to force its way onto my shopping list.

    I wonder, could the flimsy cards be mounted onto something a bit more sturdy and lasting or are they dual sided also? Could they be laminated maybe?

    If I see a copy at my local wargames shop I'll definately have a closer look :)

  31. @Dorn's Arrow, yeah I was wandering about laminating the cards, but the issue then becomes about trying to get a consistent shape cut out for the cards so they can be shuffled. Although I'm not too sure why I'm bothered about doing this myself, being as though Soda Pop could be arsed to make sure all my cards were the same shape in the first place!!! lol. It's just such a shame they fucked up so badly on the components it really is. The game isn't bad, although it will get rather bland and repetitive rather quickly I fear after repeated play.