Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rolling Into The Dungeon

Dungeon Roll
Designed by Chris Darden
Published by Tasty Minstrel Games
1 - 4 Players (Best with 1 or 2)
Unique Hero Rolling Dungeon Delving Dice Game

Background / Introduction
Dungeon Roll is definitely not your typical dice game.  If you are expecting the roll your dice three times routine, think again!  One of the things that I really enjoy about Dungeon Roll is how unique and different the game feels.  You should already get that feeling just from the actual packaging of the game.  I mean, the game comes in a little cardboard treasure chest and not only that but during the game when you gain treasure you actually open the chest to randomly get a piece of treasure - how cool is that.  The theme is nice, the variability is great, and the quality of components awesome.  The game is very light, easy to learn and doesn't take long to play.  There are dice involved and the game does have a large luck element to it.  So, for all the hard core strategists that can't stand games with luck, this may not be the game for you.  The game has a great variability built in with the different hero cards which really shape what kind of strategy you will play each game.  In this base game, there really isn't any player interaction, so while the game makes for great solo play and is enjoyable, don't expect to work together or attack one another in this game (although this may change with future expansions/promos, as the soon to be released Winter Promo has some fun player interaction).  Well, enough chit chat, let's talk about the game in a little bit more detail.

Components / Rulebook
OK, so I mentioned the really cool treasure chest packaging.  The box actually opens like a treasure chest too.  I was a bit worried that it would just rip right off the box after a few uses, but I have to give it to them - it seems to be doing very well.  It may not last forever, but even if the "hinge" functionality of the box is lost, it is still awesome.

Moving on to the dice.  Being such a huge element in the game, one should expect these dice to be the really nice quality.  I'm happy to say they really are.  The custom 15 dice (7 party dice, 7 dungeon dice, and 1 dungeon level tracker die) are very well made and I think they will remain that way.  The color coding and icons used are good and make sense.

The hero cards (8 included in the base game, and 8 more available in the Hero Booster Pack #1) in the game are printed on good card stock and each of the cards has really nice artwork.  Each hero card is double sided (one side is a Novice side and the other side is the Master side) and abilities change when flipped over.  I am disappointed that they didn't take the opportunity to provide the hero slightly differently on the Master side as each side has the same artwork of the hero.  They could have changed to pose of the hero, or add armor, or something.  The game also includes 4 reference cards to help remind players what each face of the die do and what treasure tokens can be obtained with their special purpose.


The game includes 36 treasure tokens and 24 experience tokens.  These are your usual card board cut out pieces.  the pieces are good thickness and didn't have too much of a problem punching them all out.  The game also includes a rulebook along with a Book of Heros.  The game play is simple, and the rulebook does well to explain the game and includes some illustrations.  The Book of Heroes is just a book comprised of pages summarizing the different hero cards and providing further clarifying information as necessary.

The game has a very quick setup.  Empty out the treasure chest if you choose to use it as your treasure token randomizer (which you always should!).  Place the treasure tokens in the chest or flip them all face down if keeping them out on the table.  Place the experience tokens near by.  Each player can have a reference card and then each player will either choose their hero or deal these out randomly.  That is it!

Goal / Gameplay
The game is played by each player entering the dungeon exactly 3 times to seek glory, treasure, and to gain experience points.  The winner of the game will be the one with the most experience points once everyone has tried their hand at the dungeon 3 times.

On a players turn (in general, this and other actions can be modified by a heroes special ability or ultimate ability) the player first rolls the 7 party dice.  This will represent the company of adventurers entering the dungeon with you and perhaps some scrolls (just in case you feel like reading in the dark dangerous dungeon).

The player will then enter the dungeon at dungeon level 1.  The dungeon level tracker die will be moved to show the number 1 face up.  The dungeon lord will be rolling dice equal to the number on the dungeon level tracker die or as many available dice as able if that can't be reached.  So, for example the dungeon lord will roll 1 of the dungeon dice for level 1 and 4 dungeon dice for level 4.

The player will then enter the Monster Phase of his turn and will need to defeat or otherwise dismiss any monsters rolled (Skeletons, Oozes, and Goblins make up the monsters you will encounter).  This is done by using your party dice rolled at the beginning of your "delve into the dungeon" (a.k.a. 1 of your 3 turns going through the dungeon).  You may use any one adventurer die (Clerics, Mages, Fighters, Thieves, and Champions) to defeat any one monster die.  Each type of adventurer also has specialties that help remove more of a certain kind of monster etc.  These are color coded for your convenience.  Example: The grey Cleric can defeat (or in other words remove) any number of grey Skeletons, the green Fighter can remove any number of Goblins, and the Thieves can open any number of chests (we will discuss these soon).  The gold Champion is pretty special, it can remove any of the same type of monster (consider it a wild die of sorts).

Also during the Monster Phase, you can activate your hero's ability or ultimate ability, you can use treasure tokens, or you may use any Scrolls that you have.  Scrolls allow you to re-roll any of the dice (party and dungeon).  Once all the monsters are removed from play, the player can then continue on to the Loot Phase where players can open chests or quaff potions.  It is always optional to open chests or quaff potions.  While players may not always want to open chests or quaff potions, each one of these rolled means one less monster (or possible dragon).  If you choose to open a chest using your dice, then you can gain a treasure token at random (these can be really useful!).  If you quaff a potion (even your scrolls can do this), then you can bring a party die back from the "graveyard" (the place where your used party dice end up) and you get to choose what face you want to use.

Without getting into too many details about all the rules, I do need to mention the dragon and how experience tokens are obtained as well as what happens if you can't defeat the monsters and/or dragon at a given level.  Whenever a dragon is rolled, it is set aside in an area known as the dragon's lair (these dice can't be re-rolled with the Scroll, but can be manipulated with certain hero abilities).  After the Monster and Loot phase, it is then the Dragon Phase.  If there are 3 or more dragons the hero must defeat the dragon.  To do this the player must use 3 different adventurers (or Companions as they are really called in the rulebook).  This can be done with the help of certain treasure tokens that can act as companions too.  So, here is a good spot to point out that while Champions are really versatile, you still need a variety of companions to defeat dragons.  When you defeat a dragon, you receive 1 experience point and you get 1 treasure.

After the Dragon Phase comes the Regroup phase.  Players can now determine if they want to leave the dungeon and receive experience points equal to the number shown on the dungeon level tracker or continue to go down to the next level (although 10 is the maximum and you are required to leave after defeating level 10).  If at any time you can't defeat the monsters or you are faced with a dragon that you can't defeat, you must end your delve that round without scoring any of the experience points on the die.

Conclusion / Final Thoughts
I really enjoy playing Dungeon Roll.  The quality of components are great and the theme really works well.  The heroes and their special abilities really make the game for me as they provide unique strategies depending on your character.  Dungeon Roll is just a great light dice game that can be taught and played very quickly.  The base game doesn't really have much as far as player interaction is concerned, but I think most players will enjoy watching to see what other players choose to do as well.  Now, with 3 or 4 players, the down time between turns lengthen and may result in people not enjoying the game as much.  The game fits well for a nice 2 player game as one player can always be rolling dice (either as the hero or the dungeon lord).  The game does have a large element of luck and that keeps the game different and challenging in its own way, but this may keep some gamers away that don't like a large element of luck in a game to mess up all their perfectly contrived strategies.  The game retails around $19.95, so the price point is nice too.  I am really looking forward to playing the Winter Promo pack and I can't wait to learn more about what they have in store for Dungeon Roll this year (I'm hearing that there will be some great things coming out).  If you like dice games and you are OK with a large luck element and dungeon fighting theme, I think you should get it!  I'm giving this game 4 Fingers Up or 9/10 Stars and that is How Lou Sees It!

A big SHOUT OUT to TMG for making this review possible.  I should be receiving Coin Age and the Dungeon Roll Winter Promo over the next few months.  TMG is really coming out with some great little games.  I will be reviewing The Village soon as well!  Hopefully I can take a look at Belfort too to give you an idea of how the TMG more complex games are.  Until next time!

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