What could be more foolhardy than a sword and sorcery dungeon crawl, where adventurers wander through an unexplored dungeon fighting monsters?  How about reckless boasts beforehand?  Gauntlet of Fools, from Indie Board and Cards, uses this element of deliberate foolishness to change the typical dungeon crawl -- only the change isn't that much.

The players in Gauntlet of Fools are adventurers out to get the most gold from killing dungeon monsters before dying.  At the start of the game, Heroes (made of pairs of Class and Weapon cards) are laid out, equal to the number of players.  Class cards have a character's name, Defense, Class Ability (which is either automatic or requires discarding a Class Token to use), and Class Tokens.  Weapon cards have the weapon's name, # of Attack Dice (rolled each combat), Weapon Ability (which is either automatic or requires discarding a Weapon Token to use).  These Class and Weapon cards are considered linked and can't be rearranged.

Players then choose their Heroes -- but they can also boast!  Boasts (shown below) are disadvantages each Hero has, from Hopping on One Leg to suffering from a Hangover.  Why boast?  Because after you choose a Hero, another player can steal that Hero from you if they add a new Boast to it.  So a player can select an unmodified Hero and risk having it stolen, or give it a Boast to make it less likely to be stolen (but also weakening it).  After all Heroes are chosen, it's off to the Dungeon!

In the Dungeon, the Encounter deck is flipped over one card at a time.  Most cards are Monsters, and each player is considered to be fighting the monster individually.  Monsters have an Attack Strength, Defense, Damage, Treasure, and sometimes Special Damage or Special Treasure.  Players roll their Attack Dice (and decide whether or not to use Attack or Character tokens) and compare the results with the monster.  If the player's Attack Dice (modified by any Boasts, bonuses, or penalties) equal or are greater than the Monster's Defense, the player kills the monster and gets its treasure (usually Gold); if not, the player gets nothing.  At the same time, the Monster's attack value is compared to the player's Defense (with any modification).  If the Monster's value is higher, the Hero suffers damage (usually one Wound); if the Hero's defense is higher, they Dodged the monster and take no damage.

After each encounter, players check their Wounds.  A Hero with four or more Wounds is dead and done adventuring -- but not necessarily the loser!  When all Heroes have died, the players compare their gold and the player with the most gold wins!
I like Gauntlet of Fools, but the Boasting mechanic isn't quite what I thought it would be.  While the Boasts are nicely goofy, the Heroes aren't so different that players will get into a "Boasting War" to keep stealing a desired Character-Weapon combo from each other.  And with that out of the way, the mechanics work as a fairly routine dungeon crawl (although knowing when to spend Character or Weapon tokens can make the difference between living and dying -- or, more importantly, getting gold or getting nothing).  Gauntlet of Fools is a decent game that's fun for a quick run-through before a bigger game.  It's just not much to, er, boast about.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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