Even just a glimpse at the gameplay in Guild of Dungeoneering is enough to know that there's an enormous amount of potential here.
The hand-sketched aesthetic in Guild of Dungeoneering is one of its least novel features, and that's saying a lot, given the seeming rarity of that stylistic approach. The game is still in early stages, and there's a lot of content left to implement, but the brief demo I got to play at GDC did little except to make me want more. It immediately reminded me of Hand of Fate, which I adored for both its simplicity and its complexity. Dungeoneering looks like it just might be another situation where the uninitiated will be shocked by just how good the experience is.
Guild of Dungeoneering is at its core exactly as it sounds; you're in charge of a guild dedicated to dungeon crawling. The kickers are twofold. First, you don't control your dungeon crawler. They make decisions on their own as they navigate the dungeon. The other major factor is that you actually build the dungeon and populate the monsters yourself.
Before your guildie takes each turn, you'll have to place some dungeon cards, which you draw randomly. You'll get to use these cards to determine the layout of the dungeon. If you want to force your guildmate to beeline straight for the boss, you can hope to draw the straight path dungeon elements you need to get there. If you want to meander a bit, you can use twisting corridors capped with treasure chambers. You'll also frequently have to place enemy cards on the map somewhere, which can either incentivize or dissuade your dungeon crawler on taking a certain path. If you don't want them to go left, just drop a big scary creature there and they (hopefully) won't go that way. Until they do, of course. After which, you'll need a new guildie.
Once it's time to fight, you'll draw from your guild member's ability deck, which has some core cards that deal basic damage, as well as special cards based on the equipment they've picked up. It's turn-based fighting, so no twitching necessary, but you'll do well to read each card carefully, as you'll frequently have the opportunity to counter your opponent's moves quite handily. For example, I had a baddie use Headbutt on me, which deals two damage to your hero, but also one damage to the bad guy. By using Block to negate the two damage, your enemy just hurts itself, ostensibly by headbutting your shield. There's a "quick" modifier on some abilities as well, which acts much like First Strike in Magic; kill them with quick damage, and they won't get to hit you back.
The dungeon crawling on its own would make for a fine game, given the near-infinite replayability of the game's core concepts, but there's going to be more to be had with Dungeoneering than just... well... dungeoneering. The groundwork is laid for managing your guild hall, and it's only a matter of time before you're building out your very own base of dungeoneering operations if you're in early access.
Guild of Dungeoneering is tentatively slated for a Summer 2015 release via Steam. Once we at The Escapist have had an opportunity to really delve into the game, we'll bring you a more fleshed out look at what's in store. Stay tuned!