I’m a big fan of games that take the dungeon delving pleasures of D&D and distill it down into a simple form that lets me get that RPG fix when I only have a few free minutes. All the better when I’m on the go.
There are plenty of mobile games that scratch that itch, but not many tabletop games, as most of them have long setup, game times or require many players. So when Dungeon Roll popped up on Kickstarter, with promises of fast dungeon delving game play, a solitaire component, and a fantastic price point; I couldn’t resist becoming a backer.
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Number of players: 1 – 4 players
Playing time: 10 – 30 minutes
Contents: Core Game 7 white party dice, 7 black dungeon dice, 1 10-sided level die, 36 treasure tokens, 24 experience tokens, 8 hero cards, 4 player aid cards, 1 rulebook and 1 book of heroes. Kickstarter Bonuses included: Dragon’s Lair card, Graveyard card, Expansion pack 1 – with 8 additional heroes, kickstarter exclusive character – Guild Leader, 1 additional white party die (for Guild Leader), 2 additional black dungeon dice, and a mimic box variant container.
Retail price: $19.95 – available on Amazon.
Dungeon Roll has a really basic premise. Take a party of heroes into a dungeon and descend as far as you can, trying to conquer all ten levels while battling monsters, collecting loot/experience and facing down the powerful dragon that dwells inside. But, yours might not be the only party hoping to achieve fame and riches. Rather than craft a co-op experience, with multiple players each person rolls and controls their own party, taking turns delving into the dungeon. The game lasts three rounds and at the end, the person with the most accumulated experience is the winner.
Experience is gained based on how far you descend into the dungeon, and there’s a risk reward system since you must clear an entire level of a dungeon in order to proceed, and possibly bank the experience. Your party dice represent heroes, each of whom can be used to defeat one of several monster types, with certain heroes having a proficiency to take out multiple enemies of one type at a time. However, the risk comes in trying to delve too deep without the necessary forces. So, if on level six you roll 5 monsters, but only have four dice to cover it, you lose that round and get no experience, unless you have items gained from chests or potions to help you out.
There’s no real interaction between the competitors. When one player is in the dungeon, another player acts as the dungeon master and rolls the dungeon dice to generate the monsters and obstacles, but beyond that, it’s practically a solo experience. Actually, with multiple copies of the game, players can run through their dungeons simultaneously and further reduce game time. After a few games learning the rules, players can expect to run through the game in about 10-15 minutes, possibly less.
Speed runs make the game the perfect starter for a game night and actually serves the “something to play while we wait for the group” purpose. It also is an easy but challenging enough game to help introduce new gamers to an expanded universe of dice rolling games. The rule book could use a little extra work, as some of the nuanced rules are buried in different sections and the book isn’t entirely chronological. This problem abates after a few games, once you’ve consulted the instructions a few times to correct mistakes.
A large book of heroes keeps the game repayable, though a few of the heroes have powers that are much more useful than others. Nothing game breaking, but you may end up with a hero who doesn’t provide any benefit unless the dice fall exactly in your favor. The booklet describing each hero is nice, but seems unnecessary given that it provides exactly the same information as the hero cards themselves, and given the small packaging and economy of the game itself, it probably could have been omitted. There’s an expansion pack available and a holiday pack of heroes is also on the way, indicating a cheap and easy way to keep the game in your rotation well into the future, with little extra investment.
Kickstarter rewards gave backers access to an exclusive Mimic box (rather than the traditional treasure chest) as well as a special hero the Guild Leader and the guild leader’s die. There are a few other KS exclusives like graveyard and Dragon lair card, but nothing that fundamentally alters the game, which is nice since retail customers won’t feel like they are being sold a half-baked version of a better game.
As far as Kickstarter games goes, it’s pretty well put together, with cards and tokens feeling well made – though tokens feel slightly small. The dice are the highlight of the set, and intrepid RPG players might find them an excellent accessory for a druid character. The same can’t be said for the box, which looks nice but already was showing signs of wear even after a few opens and closes. My game arrived with a small crease in one of the corners of the box, and several attempts to travel with the game in a bag yielded a few more creases. The treasure chest design is nice, but long-term I worry a bit about how well the box will hold up.
All in all, Dungeon Roll scratches that specific itch of a quick game to get the dice rolling during a get together or party, while also providing some short-term escapist play even in solitaire situations. There’s great value here for the price, and room to grow the game without breaking your wallet. I love the solitaire play and the ability to get a quick game going in about a minute. Hard to imagine this falling out of the game rotation anytime soon, it fills one of gaming’s most important – but hard to accommodate – niches nearly flawlessly.
Beautiful well designed and high quality dice.
Gameplay is lightning quick, perfect as an intro or setup game.
Enough challenge to make solitaire play fun.
The box is nice, but doesn’t travel well.
A few rules are buried in the instruction booklet.
Booklet of heroes seems completely unnecessary.
Dungeon Roll is available on Amazon and at local retailers.