Dungeon! Review

Dungeon board game in play

Recently, Wizards of the Coast decided to re-print a classic game from the 1970's - Dungeon!

In Dungeon! each player takes on the role of a different adventurer with the goal of looting the dungeon.  Each character has a certain amount of loot that they are attempting to collect before returning to the Great Hall for victory.  Each turn, you can move your adventurer up to five spaces - but you are stopped if you go into an uncleared room or chamber.  In these rooms and chambers, you must fight a monster.  After selecting the monster of the appropriate level, you find the number that your adventurer must roll.  After rolling the dice, if you have rolled high enough to defeat the monster, then you gain loot (if you are in a room or the monster had stolen loot).  If you do not defeat the monster, then you roll again to see what happens - this can range from nothing, to losing some of your loot, to being killed and having to start over.  Turns continue in this manner until one player has collected enough loot to win and successfully returns to the Great Hall (with that loot).

Dungeon monster card - Hill Giant
Find the number your character needs to roll
The first pro for Dungeon! is that it is easy to teach anybody.  Now, this pro comes with a caveat.  Though it is easy to teach anybody, that doesn't mean that adults will enjoy the game.  This should probably be considered a kid-friendly game more than a non-gamer game.  However, with that said, it seems like the kind of game that you could enjoy with young children.  The amount of luck and die rolling involved would help put both children and adults on approximately equal footing when it comes to chances of victory, which I think could add even more to the children's enjoyment.

Oh, and the next pro for Dungeon! is that it's inexpensive.  A suggested retail price of $20 for a full board game with any kind of role playing element (however small) is essentially unheard of.

Now that I have listed all of my pros for Dungeon! it's off to the cons.  There is a ridiculously overpowered strategy in the game.  Do you want to know what it is?  It is to roll the dice well.  This strategy will defeat any other strategy that players choose to implement (like not rolling well).  Basically, the entire game is dependent on luck.  The higher you roll against monsters, the better your chance of victory.  However, as opposed to games like Runebound where you defeat the smaller monsters to level up and get better weapons before continuing onto the harder monsters, you will have essentially the same chances of defeating a huge monster at the end of the game as you would at the beginning.  (The one exception is that you might be able to get a "magic sword" which can give you a +1 or +2 bonus to your rolls - normally a +1; again, unless you roll well.)  So, if you're going to go after gigantic monsters, you might as well do it right at the beginning before you have loot to drop.  But, then you might get really good loot and drop it later where someone else can go get it.

Dungeon board game close up
You better play friendly with those dice!
The next con for Dungeon! is related to the first con.  If you choose the sub-optimal strategy (you don't roll well), then you are going to be very frustrated in this game.  I played a game of Dungeon! where one of the players spent significantly more time without loot than with loot.  Each time they earned any loot, they immediately lost to another monster (of a level that they were "recommended" to be fighting), and then would have to spend the next several turns fighting that monster in order to re-gain their loot.  After all, once you've already lost all of your loot, there's not really much downside to losing to a monster.  However, it can be incredibly frustrating to play the game and constantly roll slightly too low to beat the monster - just to see your high roll get used by determining how the monster smashes you in return.  (This is the kind of frustration that makes people want to flip the table.  I'm not condoning this action - just stating that this is an example of what could possibly cause someone to want to do that.) 

That's really all there is to Dungeon!  Overall, I give it a 6.0/10.  And, honestly, I only gave it a score that high because it can be played with kids.  However, like Uno, just because your kids will enjoy it doesn't necessarily mean that you will.  If you're looking for a highly luck based game with a lot of die rolling and a slight role playing element, then you should check out Dungeon!  Otherwise, you should probably stay away.

If you are looking for games for children, you might also check out Hey, That's My Fish! or Scallywags; or, if you're looking for a role playing game, you might check out Runebound or Legend of Drizzt.

I would like to thank Wizards of the Coast for providing me with a review copy of Dungeon!

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