Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Unofficial Delve Rules FAQ

Here are the questions I have had while reading the rules or playing, and the answers I've come up with for my own play. Sharing for others.

Awww. Ain't he cute.

Q: You get 5 soldiers at the start, in your entrance square. Is this square a kind of Barracks? If so, is its limit 5? Or will the soldiers move to the first Barracks I build? 

A: Unclear in the rules. I treat it like a free, first Barracks with a capacity of 10.

Q: When do I shuffle the cards I've drawn back in?

A: Page 4 says "After you've resolved a card (e.g. drawn the discovery on your map, and dealt with any combat) shuffle it back into your deck." This could mean every turn and maybe more. That's kind of BS and ungainly, so my ruling is that I only shuffle the deck at the end of a turn in which I have drawn an Ace. Note that I also use the deck for the d2/d4 "rolls" instead of rolling dice. So I go through a lot of cards. 

Q: When Exploring, do I have to build a corridor to get to an adjacent cell? 

A: It is a little unclear, but my impression is this, from reading pages 3 and 11 primarily: all adjacent cells on the same level (row) are implicitly connected. All cells above or below are not connected, by default, and require stairs. Stairs and corridors are free, but you can only build one per turn and it takes up the time you would have built a room (so it's stairs OR corridor OR room). So why would one even build a corridor? Well, on page 9 it says a corridor or drawbridge can be built over water, so you could use it to bridge a space. A corridor takes up a cell, BTW. 

Q: Can I build in a cell I haven't explored?

A: Yes? Apparently that's how it works. You can build in an empty room or cavern or in an empty cell. I got this (still get this) wrong a lot and think I have to have an empty room to build in, but the rules indicate you can build in an "unexplored space" that "you haven't drawn in" and which "connects to at least one adjacent explored space."

Q: Which units can I recruit at the start? Which things need a special room?

A: The answer is, ALL units that you might recruit require a room to be built (or sometimes found) first. (The exception would be if you treat the initial cell as a free Barracks.) Here is the correlation:

  • Soldiers and Gunners need Barracks
  • Hounds need Kennels
  • Clerics need a Shrine or Temple
  • Mages need a Library
  • Prisoners need a Prison (duh)
  • Alchemists need a Lab
  • Golems need a Golem Forge (which you find, not build)
  • Cannons need a Forge
  • Skull Dwarves need a Crypt (which you find, not build)
Note that most rooms have a max capacity. You can only "recruit as many units as you are able to house and afford."

Q: How do I calculate enemy unit STR? Are the terms Unit and Troop used interchangeably?

A: As I understand it, a unit is a singular thing you recruit, e.g. 1 Soldier or 1 Cannon. A Troop is a group of units moving together. The card draw tables will tell you how to calculate enemy STR (sort of). Sometimes the STR is fixed, sometimes it is by the size of the room they are found in. But you always add Level x 5 STR. If a "Hive" is 10 STR  x 2 grid cells, that makes it 20 STR. Except that, if it is found on level 6, the Hive would be (10 STR x 2 cells) + (5 STR x 6 levels) or  50 STR. That's how I read it. The rules aren't super clear, but I think it would be a little weird to add the level bonus first, e.g. (10 STR + (5 STR x level 6)) x 2 cells = 80 STR.

Q: Cleric shields have a range and are "per cleric," but what about Temple-generated shields?

A: On page 8 it says that "Clerics can only apply shields to units/Troop that are in the same grid space or directly adjacent." It also says they can do one shield per cleric. My assumption is they can stack. A Temple says "A Temple of Protection allows you to pay 5 Trade Goods (Diamonds) and place a Shield with 20 STR on a unit or Troop" (page 15). Later it says, on the same page, that Temples need at least one Cleric to activate their effects. So, can I activate that effect multiple times if I pay the 5 TG multiple times? Can I only do it as many times as I have clerics, even though I only need one to activate the power, and/or as many times as I have units, and/or as many times as I have troops? And since it's implied that the temple (not the cleric) is generating the shield, does it have to go on a unit in an adjacent space or can it go on any unit/troop? My ruling has been that there is no range. You need 1+ clerics to activate the temple and it can place a 20 STR shield on any troop for 5 TG. Can it do it multiple times? I've played it different ways, but let's say "no." I think it's more fun if it only works once per combat. The upside is that it can go anywhere. I suppose if you play it just like clerics (with a range of 1, IOW) you could move your troops adjacent to the temple, get the blessing, and then ship out. In which case you might want some rails leading to your temple! Also, the extra clerics could stack on some 5 STR shields that way. IOW, 3 clerics could apply 30STR (20+5+5) of shields to a unit that way. 

Q: If a unit is wounded but doesn't die, what happens? Or, what do I do with leftover damage that isn't enough to kill a unit?

A: It's clear that if an enemy takes damage but isn't killed, the damage sticks. A 50 STR horde of goblins climbing over a 20 STR spear wall comes out the other side as a 30 STR horde of goblins. Let's say that same 50 STR horde moves through a troop of 10 soldiers that each have a 7.5 STR because of a nearby Kitchen. The combined strength of the soldiers is 75. The goblins die, and in the process reduce the soldiers STR to 25, which at 7.5 per soldier means there are 3.333 bodies remaining. The rules say (page 8) "if the damage would be enough to defeat a unit in that Troop (i.e. 6 damage in a Troop of soldiers), then a unit is defeated." The implication and letter of the text there is that since the damage was enough to kill 6/10 soldiers in this case and not enough to kill 7/10, then that "third" of a soldier walks away to fight again as a whole soldier. And that's the way I play it. Note that in the example given by the book, assumed soldier STR is 5 per. So 6 damage on 2 soldiers (10 STR total) kills one and leaves one.

Q: Does combat take place all in the same turn?

A: Yes. At first I thought the rules might mean that units move one space every turn, but the term used is "combat rounds" (not turns). You play out the combat in rounds, but all within the same turn. Round movement mostly just determines where the battles take place and how many/which rooms a unit moves through. I also use a round in which one of my troops can move to activate things like Temples and Pumps. More on that below.

Q: Is there a limit to the width/depth of my hold?

A: Apparently not, per page 9, though the play grid supplied is 10 cells wide by 8 tall. 

Q: Are barricades relative to a cell's wall?

A: I asked this question because of an oddball comment on page 9 under Burrowing. It says "barricades can be built horizontally over openings like these or to close off stairs." Which made me wonder, if I used a barricade to seal off a room of gas to the "left" of a room, does that mean monsters could freely travel through the room north to south? Or could I place the barricade in front of the stairs and allow monsters to move freely in all directions except up the stairs? Sounds like I could. I place barricades relative to a specific wall or walls. I pay the same no matter how many walls/exits in a cell I want to cover. It doesn't come up all that much.

Q: Liquid and gas flows up to 2 spaces sideways, just at the beginning? In one direction or both?

A: I've read this different ways at different times, but the let's start with a simple answer and then explain why the question is worth asking. Identify the source of liquid or gas. Have it go up (gas) or down (liquid) as soon as it can. If it needs to move one or two spaces to do that, then have it flow in the direction of the nearest point of escape. Once it flows up or down, it doesn't move laterally anymore. If it can't go up or down, even after flowing two spaces left or right, then just roll a d2 to see which way it flows (black left, red right). We are assuming that no ground or ceiling is perfectly level and slopes slightly toward the nearest drop or ascent. So, up/down as soon as it can, and laterally up to two spaces beforehand if it can't.

Having said that, there are lots of ways to interpret the movement described. You could, for instance, have it go laterally up to two spaces in either/both directions as well as going up/down. Or you could have it go one space laterally, then fall or rise until blocked, and then have it flow another space laterally, and then ascend/descend if possible. Some might read it as flowing two spaces and then rising/dropping and then flowing up to another two spaces, etc. 

Q: How do monsters move during a takeover?

A: I have them move one cell at a time, as per normal combat, and determine direction randomly when progress toward the entrance is impossible. This will matter if you have troops that can get to the monsters and defeat them. If you don't, you can just shorthand this and have them move through all the rooms they are going to eventually claim in one go.

Q: The rules say Hospitals revives one troop of your choice on the same level after combat, is that really a troop or just a unit?

A: Good question. I think the rules may have meant to say unit, not troop. IOW, if you had 10 soldiers in a troop and they all got wiped out, does the hospital bring back 1 or 10? You can make your own call. One is seemingly too weak and the other might be too strong. You pay 10 hearts and 10 diamonds for a hospital (so 15 diamonds if you covert the hearts/resources). That's the cost of three soldiers. A hospital would only be worth it if there were more than three battles on that level involving soldiers, if you take the conservative "unit" view. But what if a hospital could bring back a singular 30 diamond cannon unit? Can a hospital heal a cannon? Let's say this - hospitals can't heal constructs, but they do in fact restore ALL of the units in a single living/breathing troop on the same level at the end of a combat.

Q: Are Museums worth it? 

A: My math says no, though there is definitely a cool factor. You could spend 50 hearts and 50 diamonds, then wait to defeat an enemy, and THEN you get to build a statue that gives you a measly +10 STR against them in future combats? Nah. Note though, that this should/would apply to multiple troops. If an enemy for which you have a statue just happens to pop up a second time and goes through a troop of soldiers and then a troop of cannon, that +10 STR would be applied to both combats, I think.

Q: The Overseer's Office doubles any diamond card in its column, is that before or after the level bonus?

A: Since it doubles the card, I read that as before the level bonus. Say you draw a 2 of diamonds on level 8. Normally that would be worth 10 TGs (2 + 8). With an overseer it would be (2 x 2) + 8 = 12. If you read it the other way, it would be (2 + 8) x 2 = 20. 

Q: Shrines can work as a level 3 trap and are much cheaper, am I missing something?

A: Good question. Yes, a shrine of defense costs 20 hearts (same as a L1 trap) but counts as a passable level 3 trap - AND you can recruit a cleric with it AND you don't need a mason to build it. The rules don't say if this is a stopping or damage trap, so one would presume it's your choice. Also, what does "passable" mean - that you can pass through it with troops unlike other L3 traps (page 17, bottom) - or that it "passes for" a L3 trap? I guess since you need the cleric to activate the trap it's more like 28 hearts for that trap. But a L3 trap built by a mason effectively costs 60 hearts plus the cost of the mason (though he can build more than one). Hmmm. It's a loophole, exploit it to your heart's content.

Q: Stockpiles and Treasuries (page 14 and 15) say they "increase your maximum" and under the Rune of Greed rules (page 39) an effect applies when you have more TGs "than the capacities of your Treasuries." Do you have a limit on resources and trade goods? What is it?

A: Yeah. I don't know. I read this at first as adding 50 hearts (Stockpile) or TGs (Treasury) to your pool. But I think it means increase your maximum by 50. But I haven't seen anywhere that tells you what your original maximum was. Let's assume it is 50. So increasing it by 50 doubles it. 

Q: How do Temples work? 

A: See the question above about cleric shields. 

Q: When do you activate drawbridges, pumps, temples, and other stuff you can activate. Do you need a unit there to activate them?

A: I say you do it on a turn in which you could move a unit, but no, you don't have to have a unit there - unless the room description says you do. IOW, you need a cleric at a Temple of Defense to throw up a  20 STR shield but you can open up a pump to flood an area without any unit in the room. In most cases having a troop there would defeat the purpose. For instance if a unit was in the room with a pump, it would die. If a unit was activating a drawbridge in a square where an enemy was, they would immediately fight (before the drawbridge is activated?) and the unit would either die before closing the bridge or the enemy would die in which case there is no point in closing the bridge.

Q: Elevators give a speed for monsters ascending, can troops descend in them too? How fast? At the same time?

A: Enemies take 2 rounds per cell to ascend. I say troops ascend or descend at normal speed (1 cell per round) and that, yes, they can do that while an enemy is ascending. However, these elevators are open (no sides) so if/when one enters the square of the other a fight breaks out. Otherwise, they would just pass each other by! And that's no fun.

Q: Pumps are pretty great aren't they? Do they cost anything to reset?

A: Yes. Yes they are. They can become a really easy way to defeat an enemy. So here is what I say. First, you have to pay 5 diamonds to reset the pump (like a trap). Second, you have to drain the room first. You also have to drain any other room it flooded if you want it dry again (it costs 5 diamonds, per page 5). Stop your crying, you killed a dragon with it, right? Also, pumps follow the flow rules I set above. The water drops as soon as it can and stops flowing sideways when it does - but until it drops it can go up to two cells toward a drop or just sideways in one direction or another (random if no drop is closer than another).

Q: Are Breeder rooms worth it?

A: Probably not, but consider the cool factor of having your own mini-dragon. 

Q: The book says that Damage and Stopping Traps "start at level 1," is that the dungeon level?

A: Nah. This was a poor word choice. Trap and barricade levels are kind of like "ranks." A level 1 damage trap does 10 STR damage. A level 3 trap does 30 damage. They do this damage regardless of what level of the dungeon they are on.

Q: Do defensive barricades damage units?

A: I don't think so. It's just a kind of wall. Once the unit is strong enough to bust through, it does, without taking damage.


Post them below!


  1. I've played through a couple games thus far, and absolutely love DELVE.
    I wondered what you'd think of a rule I'm planning on testing:

    Instead of removing the Jokers from the deck (I use the same card rules you do as a baseline) when drawing a joker I may spend X=(the current Level) in BOTH Resources and Trade goods to then draw the next two cards from the deck and choose one. Otherwise, simply ignore the Joker and draw the next card BUT also reshuffle at the end of resolution.

    I think the cost math may have to be tweaked on the high-end, but on paper I like the low-cost on the initial levels. Early use might pay off but long-term that investment will add up.

  2. That’s an interesting idea. Feels like an effect that ought to be on the Good Magic table. Maybe you pay level squared. So 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 etc.

    1. After a few levels in a new delve, I thorouly agree.
      The effect is great, but (level)^2 is better-balanced.
      Might keep it as a replacement Good Magic effect to keep the table fresh.


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