5-Minute Dungeon (Preview)
Why are cooperative tabletop games so successful? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that everyone is on the same team…those of you with kids know how THAT goes, especially with games that encourage backstabbing and the like to win. Feelings get hurt and egos get bruised, which is so not the point of having “family fun night” in the first place. “5-Minute Dungeon”, a game that’ll be launching its campaign on Kickstarter on November 1st, 2016, fits nicely into my collection for all the above mentioned reasons in that it’s quick, easy to play, and cooperative in nature. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Sarah Gumina on behalf of Wiggles 3D for providing me with a prototype for preview purposes. It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the final product, making everything you see and read about here (including the rules) subject to change.
Setting up the game turned out to be pretty simple, though I expected as much from a game that takes five minutes to play. Yes, you’re timed, though no need to fret…I’m all about adjusting the rules to suit our play style. For a more casual experience for example, bump up the time limit during setup to six minutes. In short, players choose one of ten heroes to play individually takes their respective hero mat and deck (each hero has its own colored deck). Players start with a hand of cards, the number of which depends on how many people are playing the game. In a two-player game, each player will take an additional deck and shuffle it in with their chosen hero’s deck. The dungeon is formed by observing the appropriate boss’s mat (there are five total, numbered 1-5)…it’ll tell you how many doors cards to add to the boss deck. Two challenge cards per player are shuffled into said boss deck. Optionally, you can download the game’s official five minute app timer, though you can use any timing device.
Gameplay is both simple and fast…or at least, you should aim to be fast to beat the timer. As a collective, every player has five minutes to defeat the boss or lose the game. There are no player turns, so play when you want while coordinating with others freely. When you flip the first door card (they start face down), the timer begins. Dealing with most door cards are done by playing a resource card from your hand of the matching symbol. Certain action cards perform a similar function. Each hero has a unique ability that requires the player to discard three cards to use it. Any time you play cards, you immediately refill your hand back up to the hand limit. If you’re out of cards in your hand AND draw pile, then you’ll have to wait until another player plays something that allows you to get back into the game (like a donation or heal card). In addition to letting the time limit expire, players can also lose by not being able to deal with the revealed door card or if all players run out of cards. Should you get through all the cards and deal with the current boss (players start with the Baby Barbarian – #1), they can set things up and play another game using boss #2.
While I didn’t touch on all of the rules in the manual, the above should give you a good idea as far as what to expect. I liked the addition of the cards that allowed you to take from your discard pile (or receive cards from others), though there is a stipulation that action cards and resource cards used for dealing with door cards are swept away (removed from the match forever). The only time you actually put cards into your discard pile is when using your special ability or through some event that was observed when a door was revealed. I mentioned above that there were ten heroes to choose between…that is partially true. The game supports a max of five players, with the hero mats being double sided. There is a Barbarian class and a Gladiator class, for example, that both use the same red deck. When choosing the red deck, the player will have to decide on which of the two they want to play as. No one else can use the red deck (and thus the other class) but them as again, the hero mats are double-sided. With that said, each class and deck is fairly unique as they contain cards that do abilities you’d expect from that class. A Paladin/Valkyrie have cards like heal, divine shield, and holy hand grenade to contribute to the battle, just to name an example.
“5-Minute Dungeon” has got a lot of spunk for such a quick little game. Gameplay is extremely simple but the different class decks give each player their own unique identity, just as you would experience if you were raiding while playing an MMORPG like “World of Warcraft”. The five minute timer puts me off a little because I hate to be rushed, though as mentioned above, there are ways around that. I see no reason why you can’t pad a few extra minutes to the five minute timer and define it as an “easy mode” of sorts. Playing with two players felt a bit less thematic in that RPG way as players use two decks instead of one…but again, there are ways around that. For example, each player could manage two hero mats/two heroes/two decks instead of one. There’d be some balance issues with this approach possibly, so feel free to experiment. All in all, this is one cooperative game you’ll want to check out whether it be as a filler or the main attraction.