co-op shooter Deep Rock Galactic was first released on PC in 2018. It has a dedicated online following and tons of loyal fans. However, this is not a review of the video game. This is a review of the board game that confusingly has the exact same name.
And the name isn’t the only thing the two have in common. While many of the board game adaptations I cover here care more about the spirit of the video game than its literal interpretation, Deep Rock Galactics Tabletop experience, despite the move to a turn-based system very similar to his digital.
You and up to three other players take control of space dwarves who go into a dark cave to drill for gems. So far, so video game. You then find these caves full of alien bugs that you have to mow down. Again just like the video game. Then you need to grab those gems and get out of there. You can see where this is going.
The difference here, of course, is that in the video game this plays out in one left 4 Dead-Like frenzy as players dash around and play a frantic shooter in real-time. The board game is much more relaxing as it transitions to a system where players can take turns and take their time to work their way through the caves.
Deep Rock Galactic looks and plays like so many other modern day dungeon crawling games ancestry to Imperial Assault. Everyone gets action points to use to move around and interact with things (“interaction” includes “shoot bugs in the face”), everyone gets unique weapons and powers to use, and as expected in 2023 for a licensed game , everything from the dwarves to the bugs to the stalagmites are represented through a series of incredibly detailed, hugely satisfying miniatures.
(NOTE: The game comes in two editions. The standard only has plastic minis for the gnomes, while the more expensive deluxe edition I’ve played has minis for everything).
Where this is trying to do its own thing, and match the feel of the video game (if not pacing) At the same time, enemy actions are triggered. Rather than shore up enemy moves away from initiative, or have them move after all players have done so, in Deep Rock Galactic Each time a dwarf completes its movement, it draws an event card, and these almost always trigger an enemy spawn and/or movement.
Having them spawn and move around the board so many times before all players have had a chance to react might sound unfair, but it does a fantastic job of feeling exactly like the video game as stuff crawling out is constantly swarming around you the walls. And unfair it’s rare anyway, because every dwarf comes with very cool (and powerful) weapons that blow huge chunks into hordes of insects and get them close enough to you.
The main consideration of the board game, like the video game, is balancing your need to mine a certain amount of resources against your need to blast enemies to stay alive. If you lean too far on either of these approaches, you’ll fail the mission, either because you didn’t mine the goods in time (each level has a time limit) or because… you’re all dead.
I like the video game and I like dungeon crawlers so for the most part I really loved playing it Deep Rock Galactic. The tension between the game’s two imperatives is constant and perfectly balanced throughout, and the combat – a combination of your powerful weapons and hordes of giant plastic miniatures that you can move around and knock off the board when you’re dead – is some of the most fun for me I’ve been dealing with a game of this type for ages.
Plus, and I know that people (myself included!) are fed up with shipping every game with a bunch of minis, in this case they are a lot Welcome, not only because they are so detailed and solid, but because the game also includes a MULE to toss your little jewels into, such a wonderful tactile experience that for me it was perhaps the highlight of the entire game.
It should be noted, however, that despite its price and genre deep rock isn’t the kind of long-term tabletop experience you might expect. While the idea of a miniature-heavy dungeon crawler may conjure up expectations of a day-long campaign, Deep Rock Galactic is really just a collection of standalone missions that can be tackled in about an hour depending on how many players participate (another cool feature of the baddies leave at the end of each player’s turn system is that it scales perfectly). the number of people at the table).
while there is technically a campaign – just short to complete all missions in order without dying – and it’s not a game built around narrative, it’s still a bit odd to pull out such a huge box and use it for a mid-length Set up session play.
This is not problem, just something to keep in mind ahead of time if you’re thinking of picking this up or playing. You should also know that while this is a very literal adaptation of a video game license, this requires absolutely no familiarity with the digital version of Deep Rock Galactic What ever. As long as you know you’re a gem-drilling, bug-shooting space dwarf, you’re good to go.
My only real criticism of the game is that its documentation is among the most frustrating I’ve encountered in a while, lacking a proper quick start guide and splitting the important info into separate rules and mission books, which made our first mission a very slow chatter. In fact, it cost us forever to find out how the enemy system works in the first place (pretty important info!), so if you’re playing this and have the time, I would 100% recommend checking out an online rules explainer first.
There is nothing revolutionary above Deep Rock Galactic. As I alluded to above, it’s another dungeon crawler, another licensed adaptation, and another game that (depending on the version) has a ton of minis. But fans of the video game will find a tabletop conversion that faithfully converts the co-op experience into beer drinking and being in space at the same time while everyone else is just having a solid night of gaming, blowing up space bugs, and looting for treasure.