Super Dungeon Explore: Meet the Heroes, Part 1

Last time I talked about Super Dungeon Explore, I went over some brief tactics about how to better crush the heroes. This time I want to actually talk about the heroes. Well, some of them: right now there are 15 to choose from (16 if you can get your hands on Candy & Cola), with four more appearing in The Forgotten King, like ten more that will be available in the Blacksmith Shop or other warbands, and I hear that they are going to make the Relic Knight crossovers available once all those guys get their Kickstarter packages.

So, yeah, I am going to start simple with the "core" set of heroes: later articles will touch on the others.

Before I get started I want to point out how potions work, since I mention them quite a bit and there can be some confusion surrounding them. Each hero has a potion ability, and while more recent ones can require actions to use, in the standard box you can use them for free at almost any time: you just cannot use one to undo an effect, or to gain a potion after rolling one (heroes have potion caps, so if everyone is at their potion cap and one comes up, too bad). Otherwise you can use them even when it is not your turn, on any hero no matter where they are.

Otherwise the rest of this article is going to assume that you are familiar with the game. If not you can read up on the most recent version of the rules, or have someone explain the rules and walk you through a game.

NOTE: If you do not feel like reading the whole thing, my primary choices for any game are (in alphabetical order): Claw Tribe Barbarian, Ember Mage, Hearthsworn Fighter, and Royal Paladin. In a three-player game you could also add in Deeproot Druid and Glimmerdusk Ranger, as well as the Hexcast Sorceress and Riftling Rogue if you are feeling a bit daring, but I would save them for 4-5 man party.

Claw Tribe Barbarian
She is one of the best heroes in the starting box, and my go-to hero when I am not feeling like thinking too much, or I just lost and "really want to win this time, dammit". Her offensive power and durability are just fucking insane: attack starts at 2R, and when she activates she both heals a wound and can make a free attack so long as you do not use Rage (or rather, you can use Rage if you do not make the free attack).

What is Rage, you ask? Rage uses up all three of her action points, but lets her make an attack every time she moves. Since by default her speed is 6 this means that she can make up to six attacks in a turn. The only drawback is that her Armor is reduced by 1B until she activates again. Of course that might not be an issue since those six attacks can be used to hew through a sizable group of monsters, including a mini-boss or even boss.

Oh, she also has a potion that gives whoever uses it +1B Armor and Backlash, which causes whoever attacks you to take a wound if you make your defense roll. Since her attack dice start out all reds, there is a decent chance of her rolling potions (especially if you use Rage).

My Cheap Strategies
  • If someone is playing with the Riftling Rogue have her use Dimensional Draught to teleport you over to a spawn point, use Rage, and butcher it and probably whatever monsters are nearby. You can also get similar results using the Hexcast Sorceress's potion and flying over any hazards/denizens in the way.
  • Do not be afraid to use your potion constantly. In fact, you might want to encourage others to use theirs, too. I tend to drink it before making any attacks since I will probably just get it back, and if I feel lucky will even drop it on other allies to make them harder to hurt (as well as hurt monsters if they make the Armor roll).

Deeproot Druid
This guy reminds me of the druid from 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons (which is awesome), in that you can freely switch between two "modes" of play. Unfortunately my experience has been met with mixed success.

In druid form he can do okay in melee, but his main strengths are that all of his attacks add Poison and Stranglethorn, a ranged area-effect that also adds Slow. I find it has a tendency to not work at the start of the game despite having decent odds of rolling two stars (which is generally what is needed to hurt most things), but if you can get any Will boosts (Princess Ruby's Maiden's Token, the Hexcast Sorceress's potion, or loot/relic drops) then it is great for clearing out groups of minions, and greatly hindering tougher melee-oriented monsters.

As Angry Bear he is both stronger in melee, tougher in general, and is immune to Knockdown (which a lot of the dragons and Rex have). Really the only downside is that he no longer lumps on Poison, though in addition to all the Red dice he gets to throw around he also has a pair of special attacks that either let him add Knockdown, or both Immobile and Weak.

My Cheap Strategies
  • If you can get Angry Bear some Attack bonuses, give a mini-boss or boss a Bear Hug, then let other heroes finish it off with ranged attacks, or keep slapping it with Angry Bear since it will probably never hurt you thanks to Weak.
  • If you can get some Armor-boosting loot or relics (which can give you fabled Green dice), you can pretty much run around in druid form with Backlash always on. Melissa did this in one game and basically cleared the board solo as my monsters suicided against her.
  • If you are playing with the Hexcast Sorceress, down her potion (preferably before even rolling initiative): this will give you an added boost for an opening Stranglethorn.

Ember Mage
Another very strong hero. She not only has a great Will stat and range, adds Fire to everything she hits, but has some pretty flexible attacks: going up against something with a lot of Armor? She can burn two action points to use Magma Strike, which lumps on three more Blue dice to the attack (and since it applies until she activates again, also helps out with the Initiative roll). If she gets surrounded Fire Wave lets her hit everything next to her at the cost of two points: as long as there are three or more denizens in range it is economically viable.

She also comes with two different potions, and can pack up to two. Fire Water gives her allies a chance to fan the flames by adding +1B Attack and Fire to their attacks: toss that on the Claw Tribe Barbarian and watch her leave nothing but burned corpses and razed spawning points in her wake. The other is an area-effect Heal 1. Granted it is not much, but it affects a really big area, making it very likely that you will catch multiple heroes with it.

My Not So Cheap Strategies
There is really nothing cheap about Ember Mage, unless you count lighting a monster on fire and watching it just gradually burn to death. She is just really straight forward: hang back and start blasting. If you get surrounded use Fire Wave, and if you really need to make an attack count, use Magma Strike. Help your friends out by having them knock back some Fire Water: your main attacks use Red dice, which means more potions, and you can carry two at a time.

Glimmerdusk Ranger
I have not had much experience with this one, nor seen many people pick her. Like the Ember Mage she has good range and solid attack dice, I am not saying she is a bad hero, but there is not much about her that really grabs me. She has a 2 action point area-attack, can remove all status effects with one action point, and her potion gives you a +1B boost to Dexterity and Stealth.

Again, nothing particularly bad, but if I wanted to "go bow" I would probably play the Celestial Herald.

Hearthsworn Fighter
The "tanky" melee character out of the bunch, he is similar to the Claw Tribe Barbarian but requires a bit of prep work to get the most out of his offensive capabilities.

Cleave lets you hit up to three monsters at a time at the cost of one action point. If they are not set up ahead of time, you can use Dwarven Curse to group them together and really make the most out of it (which can also be helpful to other heroes with area-effect attacks). He is also immune to knockdown and poison, the former of which crops up a lot with the dragons out of the starter set, and the latter I have only seen on the Crypt Spider from Von Drakk's Manor.

His potion is so-so: whoever drinks it takes a hit for someone. It can be nice to save someone's butt, but we have never used it much.

My Strategies
Cleave as often as you can, setting them up with Dwarven Curse if you must. Even if you fail the first time, it might ultimately benefit you more to try again, especially if A) they have already activated, and B) someone with an area-effect attack can go next.

Hexcast Sorceress
This is a kind of strange caster type because her Will dice start a bit under par, but everything she does kicks it up a notch by adding +1 Blue and some kind of status effect, two of which are great for crippling mini-boss and bosses alike. The downside is that they are all special attacks, which can be locked out by Pacify, so you might want to avoid her in Delve runs against dragons (or if the Consul if using Succubus Vandella).

Her potion adds fly, which I have found to be pretty situational, but is also adds +1B Will, which can be really handy, especially if someone else is playing a caster like the Deeproot Druid or Ember Mage: drop it on them before you even roll initiative to get a head start in clearing the tile.

Riftling Rogue
I tend to shun her outside of larger games (3+ heroes, though I recommend a four-hero game), because she seems to function best as a supporting character:
  • Despite having Dodge she can be pretty fragile, especially if she gets hit with Knockdown (which a lot of the dragons and Rex can do), Immobile, Slow (which the Crypt Spider can do automatically), or gets surrounded by a lot of denizens with Mob (which all the kobolds and some of the weaker skeletons have). 
  • Backstab is nice for polishing things off, especially if you can load her up with lots of loot that adds status effects (like Weak, which will make it even harder to hurt her). 
  • Luck makes it more likely that you will get awesome loot out of treasure chests, and the more heroes you have the more chests you can crack.
  • Her potion can be great for zipping around, smashing spawn points and cracking chests, and the more heroes you have, the more likely you will get potion drops.

My Cheap Strategies
Use her potion to teleport her or someone else over to a distant spawn point and smash it. If you have someone with lots of Red dice, you can keep using them to zip multiple party members around.

Royal Paladin
I am normally not a fan of the paladin concept, but I have to admit that this guy is a solid choice, especially in larger games and/or when you are going up against undead. His stats are alright, but his special abilities are where he really shines: every time he rolls a heart you get two, he can re-roll an attack die against undead or demons, he can give every nearby ally +1B Armor, he has a special attack that adds a Red die, Knockdown, and Fire on a hit, and his potion removes three wounds and all status effects.

My (Somewhat) Cheap Strategies
  • Use Iron Halo to make everyone nearby harder to hit. If you can combine this with the Claw Tribe Barbarian's potion or Deeproot Druid's Briar Armor, even better. 
  • You can use potions almost whenever you want, so feel free to drop it on a hero suffering from Knockdown or Poison before they activate, so that they get their full suite of action points.
  • Use Smite on a monster with 2 or more hearts, and just watch it burn to death. This works especially well against undead mini-bosses and bosses.


  1. Good stuff. Thanks for the overview!

  2. David, I have been working on a Super Dungeon Explore/Dungeon World mash up but am having some trouble deciding how to conceptualize the classes and their leveling. Would you be willing to discuss this sometime or look over my notes?

  3. @Kinak: No prob! Hey, we have been doing bi-weekly hangout board games if you are interested in that sort of thing. :-)

    @Adam: Sure! I have actually been considering doing FATE versions of the heroes, since in FATE you generally get three stunts.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Ok I threw together what I have so far. It isn't much but here it is:

    1. Can you allow me to edit or enable comments?

    2. sorry about that, added the ability to comment to the drive and added you on G+ as well as facebook, in the off chance you prefer to communicate through either of those avenues.


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