Last weekend my wife and daughter where on a scrapbooking marathon. My plan was that me and my son (10 years old) should do some playing. We did, however not as much as I wanted, there was other things that he wanted to do (Star Wars the clone Wars season 4, and then he spent some time playing Minecraft. However we actually did play one game that he have asked for a lot, we revitalised and played the game Claustrophobia by Croc from Asmodee.
What is Claustrophobia?
This is a dungeon crawler set in 1634, where the Redeemer together with some condemned prisoners enters the dungeons under the city of New Jerusalem, all with the one purpose to clean the underworlds from the hordes of evil. The country of the setting is Helldorado,
There is quite a lot of background material to this setting that I have not, or not yet, familiarised completely with. This includes a novel and other material
The game itself is a miniature game and a tile laying, like Castle Ravenloft or maybe more close to Space Hulk. I purchased this because I played Spacehulk but that is not available at any decent price. Then worth noting is that Claustrophobia is by no means a cheap game, it definitely, is in the higher price class. When buying it a few years ago I remember being very satisfied with the quality of the components. All minis come decent pre-painted and all the tiles are in good quality cardboard. If I should say some negative then it would be the quality of the boxes for the character tiles for the good side, these feel a bit week.
From a rule perspective the game is rather easy, the 24 page rulebook is written in rather good language, plenty of illustrations. I would say that the rules could with no problem be understood even by a non-serious gamer. The rule book also includes 6 scenarios to play. Rather little you could imagine, but the randomness of the floor tiles as well as the mechanic for laying the tiles creates a rather good replayability.
The mechanics works from two different perspectives, playing as good you get as many dice as character you control, the results of these dice then reveals the types of stats the characters will have the next round. The dice are put on the character board to the appropriate character and is locked for that round. When stats are sealed the good can move, fight ore explore during the round.
The evil get three dice, the result from these dice should be placed on an evil board of destiny. Here the player face a number of choices, what to do, there are choices that ar continuous and choices that are one of. When the dice of destiny are placed and revealed, the evil can summon his evil beings. The rules for summoning are rather easy, it need to be an empty tile with an open ending. There are of cause tiles with special possibilities.
The fighting is solved in using dice, the humans and the monsters all have two stats one fight and one defence, the fight number is the amount of diced to be used in the attack, the defence value is the what the result the fighting dice need to reach to be a hit.
In solving a hit the good player have to block one line of action in the character board of that character, in that way limiting the possible choices of actions. There are two types of monsters, first the troglodytes, a simple hit on one of these terminates them. The boss monsters have hitpoints that are marked with hit tokens.
So what happened?
I actually had a read through of the rules on Friday evening accompanied with a glass of good red wine. Then after lunch I did prepare the game for us where I should be playing the evil hordes and my son should be the good side.
I decided that we should play the first scenario, called the survivors, in this scenario the redeemer and three of his condemned fighter need to find their way out through the labyrinth.
It started out very quick for him since he managed to explore four tiles out of ten the first round, and also block my possibilities to summon any troglodytes. I managed to slow his pace down, a few rounds later, with 6 troglodytes and one ”boss”. The dice where however not on my side this afternoon. So basically on time, around 45 minutes, my son manages to escape the dungeon and all four champions still alive. I had just managed to inflict four levels of damage totally. It is good that I am a happy looser…
So with this brutal setting how do this work with children?
1) Mechanically it is easier for children to play the good side, less to read, and or remember
2) When playing as good side it is generally knowledge of the meaning of handful cards, not more that they can be kept in memory.
3) The setting is brutal but the monster minis are kind of cute.
4) The timing and immediate action is good to keep children concentrated.
5) There is a strategic element that definitely adds value for children, as well as adults.
So my final judgement on this one is still very positive, I do like to play it. I do like the timing, in under one hour. There is definitely complexity enough to also play with adults.
There is also an expansion to this game; De Profundis, I have the expansion but have not come around to play it yet. The expansion adds more replayability with quite a few more scenarios. It also adds new monsters that could be summoned as well as two new condemned fighters. This time it is two female fighters to balance the game from the point of equality.