In the mood for a little “Dungeons & Dragons” but don’t have a lot of time on your hands? “Dungeon!” may just be what the doctor ordered, as it is a simplified version of the aforementioned game. I admittedly have never played “D&D”, mainly due to time constraints. There’s also the fact that I seem to enjoy simpler things the older I get…just ask the kids. I’m apparently hilarious when I attempt to work that blasted DVR on the TV remote. At any rate, I picked “Dungeon!” up on a whim to see if it was as user-friendly as it claimed to be. If you’re curious as to whether or not a “D&D” game can be simplified enough for the layman, read on. For the record, my copy is the English fourth edition, released in 2012.
Game Board – The board consists of corridors, rooms, and chambers. Corridors serve as the pathways leading to the board’s rooms and chambers. The rooms are labeled and clustered in various colors, indicating their respective level (or difficulty). Chambers are larger versions of rooms, though act a little different.
Heroes – The game includes eight hero standees, consisting of two Human Fighters, two Elf Wizards, two Halfling Rogues, and two Dwarf Clerics.
Cards – There are a total of one hundred and sixty-five cards, consisting of monster cards, treasure cards, and spell cards. The monster and treasure cards are further broken up into six categories, representative of the six different levels found on the game board. Spell cards are special powers that only wizards can use.
Tokens – There are a total of one hundred and thirty-nine tokens, consisting of number tokens, lose a turn tokens, cleared tokens, and magic sword tokens. These help players organize their current session, among other things.
Dice – There are two, six-sided dice.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player will choose a hero, placing them on the Great Hall space on the center of the board. All of the tokens are placed into individual piles off to the side. The monster and treasure cards are separated and shuffled by number and type, ergo you should have a total of twelve piles (six monster card piles and six treasure card piles, each numbered 1-6). If anyone chose a Wizard, then the spell cards will also need separated by type, otherwise they are simply removed from the game. Each Wizard in the game will roll one die and adds six to the result, taking that many spell cards one at a time, in turn, until they reach their maximum spell count.
The objective of this game is gather a certain amount of gold and return it to the Great Hall space. The first person to do so, wins the game. Each of the four hero types have different requirements, however. Rogues and Clerics need 10,000 gp, Fighters need 20,000 gp, and Wizards need 30,000 gp in order to win. As you may have deduced, the different heroes have special abilities unique to them. Rogues have an easier time finding secret doors, Clerics are average fighters, Fighters have a higher combat rating than Clerics, and Wizards can use spells.
On a player’s turn, they’ll observe the following actions, in this order:
1) Move – A hero can move up to five spaces on their turn. In some cases, the hero will need to stop moving (like when they land in a room or chamber that hasn’t been cleared or when trying to locate a secret door).
2) Encounter – After the hero is done moving, they’ll check to see if they encounter anything. Landing on a corridor space or a cleared room/chamber will not result in an encounter. If the player ends their move in a room/chamber with a monster or in a room/chamber that hasn’t been cleared, combat ensues. In the case of the latter, the top monster card of the appropriate level deck is revealed.
3) Combat – In this phase, only one attack is performed by the hero and monster, respectively. The hero will roll two dice and compare that value to the appropriate number on the monster card. The monster card lists many numbers, so you’ll need to match up your class with the right value. If combat is successful, the monster is defeated. If the monster was not defeated, they’ll strike back and possibly inflict damage or fatal injuries.
4) Loot – If combat was successful, the player will draw a random treasure card from the appropriate level deck only if the room is now clear (you do not draw a random treasure card in a chamber). Rooms need one monster defeated to be cleared, while chambers need three monsters defeated to be cleared (use the cleared tokens to keep track).
Players will continue taking turns until someone wins the game.
The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played. For more information, you can check out the manual, here:
The quality of the components weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. I was mainly disappointed with the lack of baggies, as there are plenty of little pieces that can get jostled around while the box is closed. Normally I wouldn’t harp on this, but the game also lacks a tray insert. Most games nowadays (at least, the ones I own) have at least a some type of tray insert or organizer. The manual did a decent job in conveying the rules and even includes a lot of variants for solo play, which is a plus.
There is admittedly a learning curve, but when compared to some of the other games I’ve played, it’s actually pretty easy to get into. Using the Wizard was probably the most difficult concept to master, as his/her spells are used in a particular way. Some monsters can only be hurt by a “magic sword” card, so you’ll need to pay extra attention the monster cards as they are drawn. There were also a few times where we had to refer to the manual with regard to handling combat and traps. While being an easier dungeon crawler, you’ll still more than likely need a few playthrus under your belt to fully master the gameplay mechanics.
Speaking of which, the gameplay mechanics were sound overall. The actual process of attacking and defending was probably the easiest aspect to understand…it was the “if-thens” that required a rule check. There’s a heavy emphasis on dice, which may turn some folks off. When attacking or defending, it’s possible to miss your attack and then die in one hit if the dice don’t agree with you. I also didn’t like the fact that individual die rolls at the beginning of the game determined how many spells each player could have…I would have personally used one die roll for all Wizards rather than each player rolling their own die, just to keep things equal.
While “Dungeon!” won’t win any awards for being the most innovative game out on the market, it does get high marks from me for being relatively easy to pick up and play. Even the race/class system is dumbed down in the sense that each class is stuck and associated with a particular race, rather than players being able to choose one of each. As such, it’s well suited as an entry-level dungeon crawler for younger children or those who don’t play tabletop games on a regular basis. It can be a bit too luck based for my tastes, so I’ve forced myself to go into the game with the mindset that I didn’t need to play as well as I could. Those who play “Dungeon!” from a casual perspective, I feel, will get the most enjoyment out of playing it.
Final Verdict: 6/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Dungeon!” by visiting the following websites: