Dungeon Roll Preview

Today's post will be about a dice rolling game that Tasty Minstrel Games currently is running a Kickstarter campaign for - Dungeon Roll.  They have provided me with a prototype of this game, which obviously means that it does not include the final components.  Though I'm pretty confident that the core game won't be changing, I would guess that some minor things like character balance and treasure token breakdown may change, so I'm going to classify this as a "preview" instead of a full fledged review.

Dungeon Roll is a simple press your luck dice game in the same vein as Martian Dice or Zombie Dice.  Each turn, you get to take the seven party dice and roll them.  Then, you (or your opponent, depending on if you're playing solo) will roll a number of dungeon dice equal to the current dungeon level (to start each turn this is level one), but with a minimum of three dice.  Now, you must use (discard) your party dice to kill any monsters that were rolled.  Each of your dice can defeat any number of the corresponding monsters, or one of a different monster.  (For example, if you rolled a "Fighter", which is the green face of the die in my prototype, he can defeat any number of Goblins - which are also green.  Or, he can defeat a single Ooze (blue) or Skeleton (grey).)  Any dragons that are rolled are set aside until after you have dealt with the other monsters.  Once all the sissy little monsters are defeated, you check to see if you have awakened the dragon - if there are at least three dice with a dragon face, then you must fight the dragon.  The dragon requires you to use three different types of party members to defeat him (which makes him tough - that and the fact that his skin is made out of diamonds, and he breathes fire!  Though they forgot to mention those last two things in the rules.)  If you successfully defeat the dragon, then you get a treasure!  Yay!  After you have defeated all of the piddly minions and either skirted around or defeated the dragon, you can finally use any potions that were rolled and open any treasures (these two faces are on the dungeon dice, not the party dice).  Drinking a potion lets you take one of your previously discarded party dice, roll it, and add it back to your party.  To open treasure chests, you can either use (discard) a single thief or champion die to open all of them, or you can use (discard) any other party member for each single treasure chest you choose to open.  Finally, you decide if you want to go to the next level of the dungeon, or escape with your life.  If you continue in the dungeon, though, you don't re-roll all of your dice.  You must continue with what you have left.  And, if you don't successfully complete your chosen level, then you get no experience points.  If you run, then you get experience points equal to the last completed level.  At the end of the game (three rounds), whoever has the most experience points wins!  And, unused treasure gives you extra experience points.

The key to going far - a favorable dungeon!
Whew - that was long winded.  But, since you might not be able to find the rules online, and since you're probably trying to decide whether this unpublished game is worth your money, I figured it's ok.

There are three questions that I feel need to be answered in this post.  First, what does Dungeon Roll add to this genre?  Well, it adds a couple of things in my opinion (which is the one that you're payin' the big bucks for right now).  First, it does the press your luck aspect of the game in a different way.  Instead of always rolling your dice and simply calculating odds, you actually have some knowledge.  Each time you decide whether you want to continue in the dungeon, you get to see your remaining party members.  If you only have two party members, then it might be time to retire - whereas if you still have six dice sitting in front of you, then it's probably a good decision to press forward.  The second thing that it adds to the genre is a "polymorph wand."  This is one of the faces of the party dice.  You may spend a polymorph wand to re-roll any number of dice in your party and/or in the dungeon (aside from dragons).  So, determining when you spend this, and which dice to re-roll is another interesting element.  Finally, there is treasure!  Treasure does two things - first, it increases your score (so there are two ways of scoring in Dungeon Roll: advancing safely in the dungeon, and looting treasure).  Secondly, it bails you out of sticky situations.  For example, one treasure lets you immediately leave the dungeon.  Many of the others can be used like a party member, and some are only for scoring.

The second (and probably most important) question is  - who would like Dungeon Roll?  To me, that's a really easy question - the same people that like Martian Dice and Zombie Dice would love Dungeon Roll.  At its core, the game is very similar - how many times are you going to roll the dice before you keep the score that you have, with almost every roll increasingly the likelihood that you "bust".  Now, whereas Martian and Zombie Dice really have very few other elements, Dungeon Roll has a few more strategic choices than that.  You must make decisions such as - should I use my treasure token, or keep it for a victory point at the end of the game?  Should I open the treasure chest, or keep my party full so that I can defeat the next level of the dungeon?  When should I use my party leader ability?  (You get a twice per game "party leader" ability that you can use - also, each "party leader" gives you an ongoing ability like allowing you to take potions earlier in the turn, or allowing a certain die face to be better.) 

A sample party - you choose how to use them.
The last question is probably equally important as the others - who won't like this game?  That answer is also easy.  If you are looking for a strategic game where the person that makes the best strategic decisions wins 75% of the time (or more), then Dungeon Roll is not what you are looking for.  As with any game that is based on rolling dice, Dungeon Roll has an incredibly high luck factor in it.  I've played the game and gotten a score of 40.  Then, I've turned around and played it again, only to get a score of a 14.  Was this because I used brilliant strategies the first time, but those strategies failed me the second time?  No!  It's because I rolled a lot of treasure chests and potions the first time, and rolled a lot of enemies the second time.  (Though, also, the first time allowed me a "party leader" ability which let me convert a goblin to my team - thus allowing me to reduce the total number of dungeon dice.  That helped, too.)  The other group of people that won't like this game are players looking for highly interactive games.  There are really only two forms of interaction while playing Dungeon Roll multiplayer: your opponent will roll the dungeon dice for you, and if you go before another player and score well, then it will force him to make potentially poor decisions in order to attempt to catch your score.

With all that said, what do I think about Dungeon Roll?  Overall, I think that it is a solid game, and that it excels at what it sets out to do.  It sets out to give you a die rolling experience with a little bit of dungeon crawling theme.  I think that it succeeds in this regard.  And, just like I feel that Yahtzee has a place in the world of gaming, I feel like Dungeon Roll fills a similar niche - but for someone that wants a bit more going on than Yahtzee provides.

If Dungeon Roll sounds interesting, and you're too impatient for Kickstarter, you might also check out Perudo (or "Liar's Dice"), Martian Dice, and Zombie Dice.

I would like to thank Tasty Minstrel Games for providing me with a prototype copy of Dungeon Roll in order to bring you this preview, and if you're interested in backing to on Kickstarter, here is a handy link.

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