Pick a class! Move 5 spaces! Fight monsters! Gather treasure! Laugh at your friend's misfortune! Read the Dungeon! board game review!
Today we are taking a look at the board game Dungeon! published by Wizards of the Coast. Dungeon! is a 1-8 player game where each player will take on the role of a classic Dungeons and Dragons character in a race to see who can gather a set amount of treasure and make it back to the dungeon entrance first. Players choose from one of four classes, including the Rogue, the Cleric, the Fighter, and the Wizard. Each class has a set amount of treasure needed to win the game and a recommended range of levels on which to explore and fight monsters.
How to Play Dungeon!
The Rogue needs to gather 10,000 gold worth of treasure to win but is rather weak and should stick to Levels 1-3. The Rogue also has the ability to find and open secret doors on a die roll of 3-6, whereas other classes only locate the secret doors on a roll of 5-6. The Cleric also needs 10,000 gold worth of treasure and is best suited to levels 2-4. The Fighter needs 20,000 gold worth of treasure and is best on levels 3-5. Finally, the Wizard needs to accrue 30,000 gold worth of treasure and is best suited to levels 4-6. The Wizard gets a random number of spells to use in the game and is almost entirely dependent upon those spells.
On their turns, players will be moving their character 5 spaces on the board. If the character enters one of the various rooms or lairs on the board, they will fight a monster. The player will draw a card based on the level of the dungeon that they are on, and the card will show which monster is to be fought and the number that a player has to meet or beat on two dice to defeat it and claim a treasure. If the player defeats the monster, they draw a treasure from the appropriate level's stack and also claim any treasures that may have been dropped in that room.
If a player fails to meet or beat the number shown for their class on a monster card, the monster attacks the player's character. For the monster's attack, the player will roll 2 dice and suffer the consequences based on the result of the roll. The consequences range from the monster missing the player completely to the player's character being killed outright! If a player's character has killed that player will choose a new character and begin anew. After a monster has been defeated in a room, players will mark that room with a tombstone marker to show that no additional treasure can be gained from that room. Monsters fought in lairs do not provide treasure, and three monsters need to be defeated before a lair is considered empty.
The first player to make it back to the Great Hall starting space with their class's allotted treasure value wins the game.
Dungeon! Is Simplicity Itself
There really isn't much to Dungeon! and I wouldn't recommend it to most gaming groups. I do recommend Dungeon! to people that want a relatively simple game to play with kids, though. Kids have a great time playing Dungeon! and I play it with my 8-year-old son often. While the gameplay is very simple, the D&D theme makes kids feel like they are playing a game geared more toward adults, especially if they have ever watched adults play a thematic board game.
A Few Notes on Dungeon!
A note on game length
Dungeon! plays quickly. A typical game can be played in about 30 minutes which is a perfect amount of time to keep kids engaged without getting bored.
A note on complexity
Dungeon! is very simple to play and can be taught very quickly. I initially bought dungeon for my son to help him practice counting and very basic math, and the theme and gameplay have kept him engaged and playing long after he has mastered the basic counting and math involved.
A note on “chrome”
The components of Dungeon! are serviceable. The board and cardboard are all good quality. The treasure and monster cards are very small, and the character tokens are simple cardboard standees.
Should I buy Dungeon! ?
Dungeon! is a great game to play with younger players. It is easy to teach and learn, and the theme appeals to kids who want to feel like they are playing a more thematic, adult game. If you have some kids in your life that you need to keep entertained, but you're also secretly raising them to be DnD players, then this might just be your perfect choice. Of course, any gaming group composed of adults is going to find this incredibly dull and should probably avoid it.
The copy of Dungeon! used in this review was provided by the publisher. This review was originally published on 12-10-2014. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.