Review – Dungeons, Dice & Danger

Like Bingo meets D&D

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Designer Richard Garfield

Artist Cam Kendell

Publisher alea

Category Roll & Write

Length 30-60 minutes

Release Date 2022

Player Count 1-4

In this roll and write game, players will attempt to take on the dangers of four different dungeons by making pairs of dice from what’s rolled every round. Players will have to defeat monsters, collect treasure, find gems, and deal with each dungeon’s special rules in order to make it out alive and with the most treasures! So is it worth the roll, or should you skip over this dungeon crawl? Read on for the review!

Review

Gameplay in Dungeons, Dice & Danger starts with the active player rolling all 5 dice. The active player can make any combinations they’d like to form 2 sets of dice, while the other players may only use the white dice unless they’d like to use 1 of their 3 starting black die uses, indicated on the right side under the treasures. Players may also gain three more black dice, or a torch, or +3 health when they cross off a space on their map with a treasure chest. 

After deciding on what pairs to use for their map, players can cross off any space adjacent to an already visited space or starting space. You can only cross off each space without a monster once. Monsters must have all their boxes filled before crossing them off. If they have a torch, players can also cross off an extra space adjacent to somewhere they’ve already crossed off for each use of the torch they have left. Some spaces in gray are activating spaces, and will allow monsters to be attacked on additional numbers. Many of the bosses are only vulnerable after you’ve crossed out activating spaces, so these can be key to winning. All of the monsters have multiple boxes to cross out, and only once you’ve crossed off their last box do you get their reward. The first player to defeat a monster gets a higher gem reward, but the other players may deal 1 damage to the monster, even if they haven’t accessed that room yet. This can result in multiple players getting the higher reward. 

Each dungeon has a couple small differences that make them all worth trying out. For instance, the Annoyed Animals (Novice difficulty) has spots with a Fist symbol and 2 dice – doubles must be rolled there equaling the number listed. Once players cross off 1 of these spaces, however, they also get to deal 1 damage to every monster on the board, even ones they haven’t visited yet! There is also a reward in this dungeon for connecting the right and left starting areas with a contiguous path of rooms. Compare those with the Expert dungeon Defiant Dinosaurs, where players must face armored dinosaurs that they have to deal 2 damage to or none gets through, and the activating spaces are replaced with claw spaces that unlock damage opportunities all over the board. There are also 2 more enemies in the Expert dungeon, which doesn’t sound like much but when they’re armored can prove quite the challenge. 

There’s also a solo option, which in my opinion is where the game shines since there isn’t any player interaction outside of benefiting or muttering when another player defeats a monster first. In solo mode, the player acts as if they’re always the passive player, only getting to use the black die 3 times (6 if they choose it as one of their treasures). It also stipulates that if the player doesn’t attack a monster each round they lose a health point. This rule makes you play with much more urgency, but also makes exploration and point-seeking dangerous pastimes, as they can cost you health. 

I liked Dungeons, Dice & Danger for how easy it is to set up and play and still feel like you’re traversing a quick dungeon dive. My biggest problem with it is that once someone gets a few rolls their way, it’s hard for anyone to catch up to them. In all the games I played, once someone took the lead, they won the game, usually by a landslide. The rule benefiting everyone when someone defeats a monster for the first time is a help, but wasn’t enough to offset the leader’s head start. I will say however, that I’d like to keep trying and seeing if I can top my scores after playing several rounds. Dungeons, Dice & Danger does a great job of threading the needle of being strategic enough to satisfy the serious, but uncomplicated enough to welcome the “non-gamer” or novice. I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking to pick up an easy-to-explain game or something quick to play inbetween heavier games. 

A copy was purchased at the reviewer’s Friendly Local Game Store. Thanks, Uncle’s Games!

The Bottom Line

I recommend it to anyone looking to pick up an easy-to-explain dungeon crawl game or something quick to play in between heavier games. 

 

7.5

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Author: Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.