You travel deep into Hades, with sword and shield, to reclaim your sweetheart from death. To do that you must fight evil creatures and beat Thanatos in a final battle.
Journey in the Underworld is a solo Print and Play from Todd Sanders. You are a Greek warrior and you are travelling through several location in Hades, fighting all kinds of creatures along the way and eventually you challenge the God of Death, Thanatos, in the last location. If you beat him, you win the game.
The mechanisms are quite simple. You start with twenty health points, four dice and six Resources of the Gods cards. A resource card has one or more resource icons on two opposite ends of the card: the Glory of Zeus, the Might of Ares or the Wisdom of Athena.
You draw one location from the location deck. A location card has a difficulty level and then depending on the difficulty level and the amount of cards you have in your hand, a number of creature cards are drawn from the creature deck.
A creature has a strength or health level (a number of dice), a (die) value this creature hits with, some resource icons and some creatures also have a special damage condition. Both creatures and locations can also have a special rule or a treasure icon.
You then start to fight the creature by rolling your dice. You also have specific values you hit with. You also roll the creature dice and when you have enough hits he loses dice and when he has enough hits you lose health. Then you go to the next creature. Every time you kill a creature you may take the creature card in your hand.
You can use these Creature cards and your Resources of the Gods cards, or actually the Resource icons on them, to gain special bonuses during a round. You can gain extra dice, healing, re-rolls and other stuff when you discard cards with specific icons. There are different icons on opposite sides of the cards, but you can only use one side, so you have to discard multiple cards to get these specific icon combinations. You can also win special items when you beat a certain creature or beat all creature in some locations. These items can give you extra abilities throughout the game.
When you’ve travelled through all the location and defeated Thanatos you win and you can reclaim your lover from death.
The two basic elements of Journey in the Underworld are rolling you dice and managing your hand of cards. To be honest, it’s more like roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, play cards, roll, roll, roll, roll, play cards, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, play cards, than anything else. A lot of dice chucking and therefore you are very dependent on luck in this game, also because you can have a lucky creature card draw or a bad one.
I like the way the encounter card tells you how many creature card you have to draw after you have started an adventure in new location. The higher level the location has, the more creatures you have to draw. But, there’s more, when you have many cards in your hand you must draw even more cards from the creature deck. Throughout the game, you constantly have to make the decision; a large collection of resources and many creature to beat, or few resources in your hand and also fewer creature on the table. That’s interesting.
The fact that you can win a special treasure with special abilities is also quite nice.
The game has a very clean look, but in a very appealing and thematic way. This was the aspect of the game that drew me in, Todd Sanders did a good job here. The game itself isn’t bad, easy rules, plays quick, but it just isn’t my kind of solo game. There’s a lot of dice rolling and the rolling felt repetitive after a couple of locations.
So, if you like to chuck loads of dice, this game might be right up your alley. I like my solo games with a minimal amount of luck involved, therefore Journey in the Underworld is not quite for me. Well, I have to try everything at least once, right?