[The Gentleman Nerd is a weekly column written by Jason McMaster and is dedicated to the more discerning tastes of the refined dork. Due to Jason's extreme nature, most of his columns will be subtitled 'Why I Love...' or 'Why I Hate...' - in case you were wondering.]

Dungeon TwisterI have the kind of day schedule that allows me to spend copious amounts of time helling through the internet at unsafe speeds. I won’t usually censor myself for the sake of others outside of not playing the role of digital ne’er do well, leering through a smoke filled room at some chippie trying to send herself through school. This gives me quite a bit of leeway, and so I use it… to look up board games. One day, while cruising through Board Game Geek, I stumbled upon something called “Dungeon Twister.”

What the hell is a Dungeon Twister? It sounds like you’ll need a spinner and some elf ears, but the box isn’t even remotely big enough for that. The only other kind of twister I can think of, other than the kind that tear-ass across Kansas from time to time, is of the Texas titty variety. I can’t imagine a boxed game coming with instructions on what to do to a man’s useless mammaries while my friends have him held down on the floor. Besides, I have people that do that for me. So, what is it? I had to know, so I ordered it. As it turns out, it’s one of the more inventive board games to come around in quite some time.

Dungeon TwisterThere are plenty of new ideas in the world of board gaming. In fact, it’s hard to find a game that isn’t doing at least SOMETHING that’s out of the ordinary. What’s interesting, however, is when you find a game that manages to cobble together a concept that’s completely bizarre and yet is still playable. That’s exactly what Dungeon Twister does. It takes a pretty odd concept and makes it work. I guess that’s most easily demonstrated by a quick look at the rules and how an average game goes.

First of all, the players set up the board as illustrated by my lovely, under exposed picture to the side over there. The game board sections are shuffled up and placed in the illustrated fashion. Each player then takes his team icons and, behind the screen, places them face down on either side of the starting board. Each side has a number of tokens that represent characters and items, once the player chooses his starting team, the rest of the tokens are placed upon the board face down. Once the starting team for each player is revealed, the game begins.

The basic idea behind Dungeon Twister is that both players have a set amount of cards that have Action Point amounts that range from two to five printed on them. Each player uses all of his Action Point cards and then they start over. In fact, all the cards in Dungeon Twister recycle with the exception of a few attack and jump cards. Each player plays his Action Point card and then uses those points to either move his characters, attack another player, reveal a section of the dungeon or turn a piece of the board. That last bit will take a little explaining.

Dungeon TwisterYou see, each tile in the dungeon has a gear on it, and on that gear is a number and an arrow. If you move your character to that section of the board and spend an Action Point, you can rotate the board piece a quarter turn. Now, somewhere in the dungeon is another piece that corresponds to the number on that gear. You can also move this piece by a quarter turn in the direction indicated by the arrow on that section. This is what makes Dungeon Twister interesting. You can manipulate far off sides of the dungeon to try and stop your opponent from scoring by moving his pieces off the opposite side of the board. Of course, he can do the same to you.

There are no dice and absolutely no luck involved, this game relies entirely on strategy. I’ve heard to Dungeon Twister referred to as a “crazy” version of chess, but that’s a little too narrow of a view for it. Sure, each of the pieces has a special ability and movement capability, but that’s where the similarities end. It’s hard to define or categorize. The only randomization I can think of in this game is the placement of the dungeon tiles, and there are only eight of those.

Dungeon Twister is a game of skill in a world dominated by chance. For that reason alone, it stands out as a game that should be tried. Beyond that, however, is the fact that it’s a well designed game with a low entry cost for two to four players (with the expansion). I know I’ve spoken to a few people that have trouble finding people to play games with, so here’s your chance as it only requires one other person. Sally forth.

[Jason McMaster is a freelance writer who has written for Gamasutra, GameSpy and several other publications. He’s currently working on a few small projects and updating his blog, Lamethrower, as often as he can.]