A long time ago I picked up Super Dungeon Explore, because the chibi models were adorable, a huge change of pace from painting Warmachine, Infinity and Warhammer, and the idea of an adorable dungeon crawl style game that played like a 1980’s arcade adventure was appealing as hell to my slow-getting-older-and-more-nostalgic self. I really, reallyliked what I found. The game wasn’t perfect but it was a stupid amount of fun, easy to pick up and teach, and – as mentioned – the models were adorable and fun to paint. Over the years I added Ninja All Stars and Rail Raiders Infinite to my collection, and the end result is an awful lot of chibi models at home in the Gdaycave.
A decent percentage are painted, and that’s something I’m proud of, though there’s a long way to go before they’re all done. Even though it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to coordinate a game of SDE (or NAS or RRI, for that matter), I love my pile of chibi adventurers and monsters, and I’ve added a bunch of Masterclass models to the collection over the years, such as the utterly gorgeous Star Guild Rock Singer and the Tusk Raider.
With such a prodigious collection chibi models, I’m well invested in Ninja Division, and I’m in support of John, Deke and the lads as they work to make cool things and to deliver on their kickstarters. It’s a slow process, but they’re working to make good on all of the things, and with Super Dungeon Conquest going into public alpha, I’m very curious to see the next stage.
Super Dungeon Conquest is – at least, in the Alpha – a tabletop miniature game that’ll scale down to fit on a 2×2, but a 3×3 seems to be the norm. While the game is being made available with Ninja Division’s excellent chibis, the rules do allow for any miniatures to be used. Players put together a warband of up to 20 models, from which you’ll select a limited number (point value) of models depending on the scenario. The rules currently have you building a warband of up to 1000pts value, but the two scenarios in the rules recommend playing at 750pts. It’s implied in the rules that there’ll possibly be a campaign system where casualties and injuries can carry over from game to game – that alone could be a major selling point for gamers looking for an alternative campaign tabletop game with a different aesthetic to, for example, Necromunda.
The current rules introduce two factions – the Royal Army and House Von Drakk – allowing you to pit paladins against the undead, with a variety of models available for each, from grunts to solo heroes. Another nice touch is spellcasters than can pick and choose their spell lists, based on level. This really called back to 1990’s Warhammer to me, where pumping Heinrich Kemmler or Nagash up to be the single most powerful spellcasters on the table was a big deal, and more powerful spellcasters meant more spell options from your preferred lore – and yes, the Royal Army and House Von Drakk build their spell lists from seperate lores (Aegis and Necromancy respectively).
True to the Super Dungeon theme, models have a crystalline affiliation, powered by one of five gem types – Sapphire, Amethyst, Citrine, Ruby and Emerald – which implies that we’ll see at least five primary factions. The Royal Army are Sapphire, Von Drakk is Amethyst, though of course there’s nothing restricting the release of multiple warbands affiliated with a single gem.
Play is d10 based, meaning you’re not restricted to using the usual Super Dungeon red, blue and green dice. This, combined with the rules allowing for any models around the 28-30mm scale, has me looking at these rules and thinking they’re very timely as people try to make their way though the pandemic and are looking to be able to play games with whatever they have on hand. I would hope that we would see dedicated armies come out and rules for the existing models from SDE – who doesn’t want to play an army of koopa troopa analogues led by a Blastoise analogue with the Rock Top Gang? – but time will tell.
You can get your mitts on the alpha rules directly from the source, and Sapphire and Amethyst starter sets are available directly from Ninja Division. If all goes well, not only will we have a new game to play, not only will we have another use for those swarms of kinoshrooms (which, to be fair, I use as mobs for D&D), but we’ll also be that much closer to Super Dungeon Legends…