Dwarf Mine,  Map Drawing Games,  Pen & Paper Games,  Solo Games,  Solo RPG

Dwarf Mine

Dwarf Mine is a solo map making adventure game created by James Hron of Paper Dice Games. I was given the game and its expansion Barrier Mountains for free in exchange for an honest review. The review for Barrier Mountains will go up sometime next week.

“Dwarf Mine is a game about drawing and designing a mine, uncovering treasure, and surviving the dangers of the mountain.

In Dwarf Mine, you will draw your mine on graph paper, roll dice to determine what gold, gems, or other treasure you’ve discovered, and (hopefully) defeat monsters in combat, keeping your mine alive and thriving!

By the end of your game, you’ll have created a rich and unique history for your mine – no two games are the same!”

Besides the main rules, Dwarf Mine also comes with four mini expansions:

  • “Mountain Creation” which allows you to customize the mountain by creating inaccessible caves and adding treasure to the last level. 
  • “More than a Dragon” gives you different enemies to fight at the end. Besides the dragon, you could fight the First of the Stone Folk, the Mother Root or a Goblin Invasion. 
  • “Bloodlines” helps you create your dwarf leader and gives you a random unique ability. 
  • “More Rooms” can help your mine quite a bit but can also make your mine a little challenging to design.

To play the game you need the mine sheet and Mountainscape grid, which can be found on the Paper Dice Games website, writing/drawing tool and several dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20) or a dice app.

The rules are easy to learn so you can start playing within minutes. The game is played in three phases; your turn, treasure and combat, and persistent events. During your turn you add a year to the age of your mine, build halls and ladders, build as many rooms as you can afford, and use the benefits of any rooms. Some rooms have one time use benefits and others have benefits you can use each turn. Rooms must be connected to a built section of your mine by a hall or a ladder. 

In the treasure and combat phase, you can roll for treasure as long as you have built at least one hall, ladder or room. To determine your treasure you roll a d8 and add your mine’s age. You then look at the table for the mine level you are in to see what treasure you receive. Once that is done you roll for combat. The combat roll is made in the same way as the treasure roll; roll a d8 and add your mine’s age and then look at the table for the mine level you are in. You will then enter into combat. Combat is simultaneous; which means your mine attacks the enemy and the enemy attacks your mine at the same time. You roll your current attack die and add any modifiers to determine the damage dealt to your enemy. Then you roll the enemy’s attack die, plus any abilities they have, to determine the damage your mine receives. For any damage received, you lose an equal amount of population. You continue with simultaneous attacks until the enemy has no health (you win) or your mine’s population is zero (your mine is lost.) 

In the persistent phase, certain enemies will continue to impact your mine until they are defeated or leave your mine. Persistent enemies only attack once in normal combat. There are specific rules for each persistent enemy that you follow during the persistent phase. You can attack them as many times as you want during this phase and, if you defeat them, you earn prestige equal to their original health. Your mine level increases by one if they leave or you kill them.

The game inevitably ends when your entire population is dead. Once this happens, you add up your prestige and mine age to use as a final score. Then you can compare it to previous games or to your friends’ games.

I had a lot of fun playing the game despite my mines and dwarves not surviving for many years. During my first couple of playthroughs, I just played the game without the expansions; that way I could get a hang of the base game. All the other playthroughs included some or all of the expansions. I liked how the mine could only be so many levels, which meant as you designed it, you had to try to plan well since eventually you would run out of space. Though I wouldn’t mind an expansion that allowed for a few more levels. I also liked the dice attack chain which went from a d4 to a d20. As you build barracks your attack die moves up the chain or, if you get a specific ability in the Bloodlines expansion, you can start higher in the chain. Some enemies can also have their attack die go up the dice chain as well. 

I liked all the mini expansions, especially Bloodlines for the special ability it gave my dwarf leaders, and More Rooms for the benefits the extra rooms could give. I also appreciated the dwarf leader name table included in Bloodlines. I am terrible at naming things so this made it easy. There is also a room name table on Appendix 2 if you don’t want to always name your barracks “barracks” or hovels “hovel”.

Finally, there are also achievements that you can earn during multiple plays. Achievements give all your future dwarf leaders a title they can use. I like the idea of achievements, however I wish some of them had a benefit to using them. For example, if you completed the Kill the Dragon achievement, when you use the title Dragonslayer on one of your dwarf leaders, you’d get 10 more gold at the start of your mine creation or an advantage against any future dragons fought. I don’t think all of them should have a benefit but it would be nice with the bigger achievements.

I definitely plan to play this game more. I want to last more than 17 years and really would like to finally defeat an end game enemy. Dragons are mean and the First of the Stone Folk is even worse. If you’ve played Dwarf Mine, what was your best playthrough? If you haven’t, let me know if you beat my current best of 17 years with 133 prestige!

Below is the brief history of the last mine I played:

King of the Mountain, Gimhar Bulheft, built Karak Darum in the hopes of giving his people a prosperous place to live. He did not fear battle and his bravery gave his people strength and courage. The early years went smoothly. The mine prospered and, though they fought many enemies, they easily defeated them. But then things changed; their luck seemed to run out. Several stone folk broods dwindled their population and, on the final day of Karak Darum, they encountered the First of the Stone Folk. Having no room to imprison the enemy, they decided to bravely charge the First of the Stone Folk, knowing they would not survive.
My map for Karak Darom.
Note: The Darom Military Academy is not drawn correctly. Its the right length but the smaller sections should be shorter in height.

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