Dungeon Roll is a quick push-your-luck dice game

Dungeon Roll by Tasty Minstrel Games was a Kickstarter-backed project that was funded in March, 2013. It’s a push-your-luck dice game that has you exploring a cavernous dungeon to defeat monsters, collect treasure and – if all goes well – encounter a dragon without getting messily devoured. It fosters that “one more roll” feeling well, which is exactly what this type of game should do. There’s nice, chunky dice to roll, cool heroes and lots of treasure. It offers something for two players to do on every turn, so even those in a larger group won’t be idle for long. Dungeon Roll is for 2–4 players aged eight and up. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to play.

Game Overview

Dungeon Roll charmed me as soon as I saw its box, which resembles a little treasure chest. There’s a variant out there that was awarded to Kickstarter backers, but I’m pretty happy with the retail iteration. On each turn, one player acts as the adventurer, and the other the dungeon master. The adventurer uses one set of dice to build a raiding party, uncover treasures and cast spells. Meanwhile, the dungeon dice reveal the monsters and treasures that await the adventurer.

The goal is to amass as many experience points as you can by the end of three rounds. Once every player has had three “delves” into the dungeon, the game ends and players tally their victory points. Whoever has the most, wins. You can go further and further into the dungeon to gain additional XP, but a nasty dragon could send you home with zilch, sohow far do you want to push your luck?

Components

Dungeon Roll dice

I love to roll big, chunky dice and Dungeon Roll has fifteen of them! They’re not as awesome as the delightful, clack-y cubes that ship with King of Tokyo or the massive, table-shaking dice pool you can build with Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, but still quite satisfying. The seven white party dice represent the members of your exploring party. You’ve got:

  • A champion
  • A warrior
  • A thief
  • A cleric
  • A wizard
  • A scroll

Each role is represented by a color-coded and easily-recognized symbol. As for the dungeon dice, you get:

  • A goblin
  • A skeleton
  • A dragon
  • A slime
  • A chest
  • A potion

There’s also a 10-sided level-tracking die that the dungeon master uses to record how far you’ve traveled, as well as how much XP you’ve earned.

Dungeon Roll also comes with several XP tokes and treasure tokens. While they’re sturdy and brightly colored, I have to complain about the iconography. Some of the treasure token icons are hard to decipher. Fortunately, the game comes with four player aid cards, which explain the treasure tokens as well as the party dice and dungeon dice. Be sure to keep them nearby, as you’ll definitely need them.

Dungeon Roll hero cards

You’ll also find eight hero cards, each representing the hero that the player is when going into a dungeon. The two-sided cards feature the level one and level two characters, as well as that character’s special ability. You differentiate between the lower- and upper-level side by looking at the texture behind that card’s descriptive text. If it’s wood, you’re looking at the first-level version. I think that’s an oversight. Whenever I play this with new players, someone invariably says, “Which side is level one?”. A simple “1” or “2” in a corner somewhere would be very nice. But the art on these is great and the text is legible, if not a bit small.

Finally, Dungeon Roll comes with a tiny rule book and a “Book of Heroes,” which explains each hero card in detail. Despite my minor design quibbles, I’ll say this game has very nice components.

Gameplay

Setup is simple, and begins when each player chooses a hero. The rules state that you can either choose one at random, or flip through the deck and find the one you like. I think it’s more fun to use the hero you really like. Next, each player takes a player’s aid card and the first player is determined. The booklet says the first player should be the person who has been underground most recently, but I suggest just rolling the 10-sided level die. Highest number goes first.

The first player takes the seven party dice, and the player to his left takes the seven dungeon dice plus the level die. At last, the adventure begins!

The dungeon master sets the level die to “1” and the adventurer rolls the party dice. The result makes up her party. For example, she might get a champion, two clerics, two wizards, a warrior and a scroll. Those characters, plus her hero card, make up the adventuring party.

Each option on the party dice has its own special ability. For example, any result can kill a goblin, kill one skeleton, kill one ooze or open one chest. However, a single warrior die can defeat any number of goblins at once. Likewise, a cleric can defeat any number of skeletons. A single thief can unlock any number of chests, and the champion can defeat any number of any monster, all on his own.

There are two other options for the adventurer: scrolls and potions. The scroll lets you re-roll any number of active party dice or dungeon dice. The potion lets you revive any dead party dice as any option you want (more on “dying” in a minute).

Dungeon Roll dungeon dice

Meanwhile, the player in the dungeon master role rolls a number of dice corresponding to the level you’re at. On your first turn, he rolls one die. The result should be pretty easy to eliminate with your seven starting party dice.

For example, let’s say you have the party dice pool described above. On level one, the dungeon master rolls one goblin. You use a cleric to defeat the goblin. The goblin die is returned to the dungeon master, and the cleric is moved to the graveyard, out of play. Next, the dungeon master moves the level die to two and rolls two dice. A skeleton and a chest appear. You must take care of monsters before dealing with anything else. So, you use the remaining wizard to dispatch the skeleton and the thief to open the chest. The skeleton dies goes back to the dungeon master while the wizard and thief go to the graveyard. Since you opened a chest, you may draw one treasure from the treasure chest box. And thus play continues until everyone has gone into the dungeon three times.

Dragons are special creatures. When a dragon is rolled, it goes into the “dragon’s lair,” which is a special area off to the side of the main action (I like to line them up on the active player’s hero card). Dragon dice do not go back into the dungeon master’s hand. Once three dragons appear in the dragon’s lair, the hero must face the dragon. A dragon can only be destroyed by three different adventurers. For example, a cleric, a warrior and a wizard. If the adventurer defeats the dragon, she gets one XP and one treasure. The dragon die are then returned to the dungeon master’s pool. If she loses, she is chased out of the dungeon and receives no XP for that round at all. Bummer, dude.

The treasurers offer various advantages as does your hero. Once you’ve gained 5 XP, you may level your hero up to level two and flip the card over.

The Dungeon Roll Experience

Dungeon Roll player aid cardsA good game is over before you’re ready to be done playing. That makes you want to play again. Push-your-luck game are especially good at this, as you’re left wanting “just one more try.” Dungeon Roll fosters that experience and looks great doing it. It’s a fun game that you’ll pick up in a minute and can break out for the family or your gaming group.

Conclusion

I have some quibbles about the design. They don’t hinder gameplay drastically, but fixes would be welcome. But the gameplay itself is great and the theme is carried throughout.

Pros:

  • Looks great
  • Fun, chunky dice to roll on every turn
  • Cute packaging
  • Super easy to learn

Cons:

  • Some poor design choices
  • Lots of dependence on luck
  • Tiny tokes are easily lost

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