This Adventure Tactics: Domianne’s Tower review was made after playing through the campaign (all two-player and three-player games).
What is Adventure Tactics?
Adventure Tactics: Domianne’s Tower is a cooperative, campaign-driven, tactical combat game in which you are attempting to save your kingdom from an evil queen and her minions. The game was designed by Nicholas Yu and is published by Letiman Games.
Adventure Tactics Gameplay
In Adventure Tactics, you send 3-5 heroes out to save your kingdom. During the campaign, you fight through a variety of enemies as you try to make it to the queen’s tower to face her. As you move through the campaign, you’ll gain new abilities and equipment and you’ll often have to decide as a group which path to take.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward. Each round you shuffle the Initiative tokens and reveal them to find out the turn order. Each hero gets to take two actions on their turn, which is usually some combination of moving, attacking, and healing. During an enemy turn, you’ll draw a card from the Boss Deck and perform those unique actions (all enemy abilities are described in the campaign book). You play through rounds until you either complete the main objective or fail. Each chapter also has a bonus objective that you can optionally complete for extra rewards.
You choose your actions from those found on cards in your hand, on equipment cards on your board, and on your Class Feature card. The actions show the range of the abilities and the dice you get to roll. Any card you use will go into your discard pile, regardless of whether it came from your hand or not. Your passive abilities and dice abilities can enhance your attacks and other actions, or they can give you other types of ongoing abilities.
When you start the campaign, each of your heroes will have one of the five basic classes, but you’ll be able to level them up after each completed chapter. You get to choose how you level up, so you could start out as a Level 1 wizard and level up to a Level 2 wizard, or you might choose to get the Level 1 cleric to give your wizard some healing abilities. Later on you can choose to level up to an elite class if you have the right combination of basic classes; for example, to get the Beast Trainer elite class, you need to be a Level 2 archer and a Level 1 fighter.
Between chapters, you’ll get new cards for your heroes (the enemies drop some nice loot) and you’ll usually have choices to make. You might be able to go to the market to buy new cards or you might have to make a choice about which direction to go on your way to the queen.
- I think most people will agree that the leveling system is one of the highlights of Adventure Tactics. You have so many customization options and most of those options seem great. You want to have a plan so you can eventually get the elite class you want, but you really can go in any direction and end up with a unique (and powerful) character. It reminds me of the excellent leveling system in Diceborn Heroes, but I like this one even more.
- The other thing that makes Adventure Tactics stand out is the enemy variety. Each chapter you face bosses and other enemies that have abilities that force you to come up with different plans of attack. They might move in unique ways or they might just have very powerful attacks that you want to avoid at all costs. It’s genuinely exciting to go into a new chapter just to see what the enemies can do.
- I also like that you’re thrown right into the action each game. The bosses are there waiting for you, so you don’t have to take time to move and fight your way to them. You want to get to see all of your new abilities in action and the game allows you to do that right away.
- Unlike most other dungeon crawlers, there’s very little fiddliness in Adventure Tactics. There aren’t a bunch of rules you have to remember, you don’t have to move a bunch of tokens around, and it doesn’t take much effort to calculate damage.
- Something I didn’t mention in the gameplay overview is that you often get Random Encounter cards added into the campaign based on your past choices. Maybe you didn’t wipe out all of the enemies in one area or you made some other choice that changed the story a bit. Those random encounters do the job of making you feel like you’re in a one-of-a-kind campaign.
- I think the art in this game is very nice, especially the character art. It’s bright and colorful, making the characters pop on the cards and the standees.
- The Initiative tokens/poker chips are really cool. They feel great in your hands and they look great lined up on the table.
- The player boards and map tiles just won’t lay flat. The map tiles aren’t a huge issue because they stay put when moving the characters around on them, but we had constant issues keeping the player boards from spinning and covering cards on one side or the other. That didn’t ruin the experience, but it was something that we had to pay attention to throughout each game.
- Our heroes seemed to level up faster than the enemies, making some of the middle chapters pretty easy to beat. It was still fun to use our new abilities and we definitely did feel powerful, but it was a bit of a letdown to prep for a tough fight and then quickly wipe out all of the enemies. The last four or five chapters were tough, though.
- I’d say Adventure Tactics has pretty low replay value. You can play through the campaign a second time and see some new chapters (and some new hero classes), but you would already know a lot of the enemies’ tricks, so I don’t think it’d be quite as exciting as the first playthrough.
- I do wish that they had come up with a way to let us play through the campaign with just two heroes. I’m never a fan of having to control extra characters, but it wasn’t as big of a deal in this game since we alternated playing through it with two and three players. Still, those two-player games were a smidge less fun.
- The map tiles are pretty bland looking, especially the tower/indoor tiles.
I think Adventure Tactics: Domianne’s Tower is an excellent lightweight dungeon crawler. The hero customization is amazing, the enemies force you to come up with different strategies each game, and it’s a lot easier to get into than most other dungeon crawlers. It stinks that they had those production issues with the boards and I wish the game had a couple of standalone scenarios with random enemies to give it a bit more replayability, but on the overall I think this is a pretty special game.
I’d recommend Adventure Tactics to just about every co-op fan out there. Well, I guess you should avoid it if you don’t like fantasy games and/or campaign games, but everyone else should give this one a try.