Dwarf Mine: Barrier Mountains is a sci-fi expansion to Dwarf Mine, which is a solo map making adventure game created by James Hron of Paper Dice Games. I was given this expansion and the main game for free in exchange for an honest review.
“The Barrier Mountains are the site of a strange falling star from years ago! Your mine will strike the earth at the Barrier Mountains, and uncover the secrets of an ancient artifact buried deep below. Will you discover its secrets? Or will your mine fall to the odd creatures that inhabit these mountains? Play to find out, as your mine tells its story!”
Barrier Mountains requires Dwarf Mine to play and includes a few new rules and rooms. Just like Dwarf Mine, the rules in this expansion are easy to learn. The core game play is the same as Dwarf Mine; play happens in three phases: your turn, treasure and combat, and persistent events. The game ends when all your dwarves are dead.
There is a new mountainscape and, in the center of the mountain, is a ship which includes 4 of the new rooms. The rooms are crew quarters, med bay, security armory, and the ship’s bridge. To access the rooms on the ship, you will need to build a hallway or ladder to the rooms’ doors and you will need keys in the colors of the rooms. Once you have the key for a room, either through research or being found, you will then have access to its benefit. The benefits include rolling for more gold per turn, increasing your laser attack, rolling to regain some population during combat, or rolling an additional die when using any of the ship’s room benefits. The research lab is the last new room. It allows you to research a key once per turn.
The new mountainscape has numbers along the x and y axes. These numbers are for when you use grid dice. You roll grid dice to determine where a plantoid will grow. Plantoids are an enemy that, when you encounter them, you roll a d20 for the x-axis and a d20 for the y-axis to see where it will grow in the mountain. If it grows in a room, you will lose that room’s benefit until the plantoid is destroyed. If they grow in an area not built on yet, you will not be able to build there until you destroy it. In order to destroy the plantoid, you must have or build a room, ladder, or hallway adjacent to it.
You also get a new attack die which fits into the sci-fi theme as well; the laser attack die. If you find a laser pistol, laser rifle, or gain access to the security room, you gain the laser attack die. During combat, you can then roll both the attack die and the laser attack die, adding the results of both to get the total damage you will inflict on your enemy. The laser attack die has its own dice chain. The dice chain is as follows: 0 – d8 – d10 – d12 – d20 – 2d10 – 2d12 – 2d20 – 3d20 – 4d20. You go up the dice chain as you find laser pistols, laser rifles and orange keys. The laser attack die is very useful, since quite a few of the enemies have a lot of health.
There are also ignition codes. If you find an ignition code and all of the ship’s rooms can be used, you may use the code to fire up the ship’s engines and ignore the result of one combat roll. Ignition codes can only be used once but you can find multiple ignition codes to use.
Besides the regular enemies like dire wolves and cave bears, there are also sci-fi themed enemies like metal men, aliens, plantoids, and plantoid vines.There are four Barrier Mountain bosses which you roll a d4 to determine which one you will face. There is a Frogling Supreme Commander who has a 4d20 attack. The Ship’s A.I. which does not attack but, if not defeated, you will lose access to all of the ship’s rooms and their benefits. A Seed that doesn’t attack but all plantoids will move towards it and, if they reach the room the Seed is in or are all killed the Seed, becomes a mega-plantoid. The last boss is a Xenolien which you can choose to fight or try to hide. If you hide, you roll the Xenolien’s attack die to see how many dwarves it targets. Then for each dwarf you roll a d6. On a 4 or higher the dwarf was able to hide and, on a 3 or less, they were found and eaten.
I enjoyed this expansion. I like the sci-fi theme and the new game mechanics. Especially the laser die and the ship’s benefits. You do have to be strategic when placing buildings since the ship is part of the mountain so there is less building space. Unlike the main game, the Barrier Mountains expansion does not have achievements. I think it would be nice to include some achievements specific to this expansion, like ones for each of the bosses, maybe one for having a lot of plantoids or destroying a lot of plantoids. For all of my playthroughs, I also used the Bloodlines and More Rooms expansions found in the main game.
In one of my playthroughs, I was able to finally beat my first Dwarf Mine boss, the Frogling Supreme Commander. In my next playthrough, I lost all the ship’s benefits because the A.I. survived and then my dwarves were decimated by the Frogling Supreme Commander. I’m looking forward to playing again and hoping my dwarves can go up against the Xenolien. For the mine where I killed my first boss, I lasted 15 years with 306 prestige. For my last playthrough, I lasted 22 years with 207 prestige.
Below is the brief history of the last mine I played:
Thinher Bolhak the Glorious had heard of the stories of the falling star at Barrier Mountains. He had always been curious about it and decided to build his mine, Xulboram there in the hopes of learning more about this fallen star. As they delved further in the mountain they discovered the fallen star was a ship and he immediately had his people build a research lab to find a way into the ship. Eventually they had access to the whole ship and reveled in its benefits. As they delved deeper they encountered plantoids, a synthetic plant like organism. They were able to destroy several. They also encountered metal men and frogling aliens. But then the ship came alive. They tried to defeat the A.I. but unfortunately were unable to and lost access to all the ships benefits. Before they could get over their defeat, they were attacked by the Frogling Supreme Commander and were slaughtered.