Base price: $27.
1 – 4 players.
Play time: 45 – 60 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 3
Full disclosure: A preview copy of Dungeons, Dice, & Danger was provided by Ravensburger. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
Weirdly enough, I couldn’t think of a lead-in for this one! Usually I have something pithy or topical about what I’m up to or what I’m planning, but I’ve been writing a lot this week and I think I’m hitting the intro paragraph limit? I’ll probably be fine by the next one. It’s also kind of a lull, board game-wise, right now, anyways. Mostly playing on Board Game Arena, but we’re firmly between Gen Con and PAX Unplugged, so it’s a bit of a holding pattern. We’ll see how things go. Anyways, got to try Dungeons, Dice, & Danger after Gen Con, so let’s check it out!
In Dungeons, Dice, & Danger, you’ve got dungeons to explore! What do you want? Treasure? Conquest? Some puzzles to solve? Well, today’s your day: you can get all of them! You can also get horribly violenced by a giant monster, if that’s your thing. Just watch out for various traps and maybe one dessert-themed sorcerer? That one confuses me a bit more. Keep an eye on him. Will you be able to survive what lies in wait below?
Setup is pretty simple! All you need to do is pick an adventure:
Give everyone a pencil or pen, and then give the start player the Active Dice:
You should be ready to start!
Dungeons, Dice, and Danger challenges players to delve! Search for treasures, fight monsters, explore, maybe even see a dinosaur! World’s your oyster. As you do, players will use dice to determine which rooms they explore and which monsters they fight. Let’s talk about how.
To start a given round, the Active Player rolls all five dice. Players independently choose four of those dice to form two different pairs, but only the Active Player gets to include the Black Die in one of the pairs of their choice. If a Passive Player wants to use the Black Die, they must cross out one of the Black Die symbols on their player sheet. Everyone gets three, unless they use a Treasure Ability; more on that later.
Once every player has made their two pairs, they must cross out two spaces on their Dungeon Maps! You can only visit currently-unvisited spaces that meet one of the following requirements:
- Any Start space
- Any Regular space adjacent to an already-visited space
Certain spaces (generally gray boxes adjacent to a Monster) will “unlock” a number that you can fight that Monster with. When you cross out one of those boxes, you fill in the corresponding number in the adjacent Monster space. On subsequent turns, you can use any filled-in number to “fight” the Monster by crossing off one of its life point boxes. If you fill them all in, you defeat the Monster! If you are the first to do so, you announce it and gain the better of the two rewards. All other players get to deal 1 Damage to the Monster for free (even if you haven’t made it to the Monster’s room yet). If you are not the first to defeat the Monster, you get the lower reward and other players do not get to deal any free Damage. Sad times. Some Monsters may deal damage to you! If they do, cross off the topmost unchecked space on your Life Tracker.
If you cross off any coins or gems, mark a box in the corresponding area on your player sheet. They’re worth points at the end of the game. For Treasure Chests, you unlock a special ability! One gives you a gem and some extra Life Points, another lets you cross off any two spaces of your choice, and the third lets you use the Black Die another three times.
If you cannot cross off two spaces on your turn, you take damage! Cross off the topmost space on your Life Tracker for each of the two spaces you cannot fill.
The game ends as soon as every Monster has been defeated at least once (collectively). There’s a bit of a goof in the English rulebook, but I checked. Once that happens, players finish the current round and then move on to scoring.
The first thing to do is calculate a bit of Boss Monster scoring: every player who has not defeated the Boss Monster gains 3 VP for every 3 Damage they’ve done to it. Note that it’s specifically 3 VP for 3 Damage, not 1 for 1. Then, players total all of their other VP, from Gems, Gold, et cetera. If you’ve lost points from losing Life Points, subtract those, as well. The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
This one’s got some differences based on how many players you have. First off, Dungeons, Dice, & Danger has an explicit Solo Mode where you are always the Passive Player (and you take 1 Damage if you don’t damage a Monster on your turn). Go for the high score, there. For the multiplayer game, the game tends to vary in time depending on player count. There are a few ways to go about it! With more players, you can have a situation where all players focus on different Monsters and get through them pretty quickly, in which case, you’ll have a short game. With two players, that variance kind of goes away; there are still just as many Monsters, granted, but there isn’t necessarily going to be any way for those two players to get through the existing Monsters as quickly as four players could. Since the game moves a bit slower, however, you may find that you’re running the risk of losing health since the game’s gone on a bit longer. Just the tragedy of getting to explore more. I’ve had a great time with Dungeons, Dice, & Danger, so I wouldn’t necessarily mind playing it at any player count.
- I find it’s generally handy to try and avoid filling in Start Spaces until you need to. It’s really nice to have a bunch of extra numbers around if you can spare them. Plus, they can provide new and useful inroads to other parts of the dungeon that you haven’t gotten to, yet. Towards the end of the game, having a variety of spaces available to you can help ensure that you don’t end up taking damage towards the end of the game.
- Either way, keep an eye on the distribution of available spaces! You might be running out of certain numbers. There’s some level of probability to everything, granted, so you’re going to want to prioritize certain numbers over others, but I do think it’s a certain level of unwise to run out of a particular number. You should try to make sure that you can always make a play of some kind. Sometimes, it’s best to go around certain spaces and then use the Monsters as a dumping ground, but you also want to score points.
- You don’t necessarily need to unlock all of a Monster’s numbers before you just go at it. Approaching it on all sides is slow, so you may just want to go after the Monster as quick as you can. This will help you get perks early, but it may take you longer to hit the Monster if the numbers aren’t in your favor.
- Try eyeballing your opponents’ sheets; you can often see which Monsters aren’t getting much play and go after them, if you want. It’s generally good to know what your opponents are going after, but if you get a sense of what they’re ignoring, you might be able to sneak around and nab some early Monsters for yourself.
- Your sheet offers dungeon-specific rewards; use that to guide some of your strategy. Do you go after the Pastry Mancer? Do you attack Armored Dinosaurs? Go for all the Fist icons? There are a lot of dungeon-specific things that you can do. If you’re not sure how to get started, check the bottom of the sheet and see what specific benefits exist for your board. That should give you an idea on how to get things rolling.
- At higher player counts, you may find the Black Die rewards more valuable. I mostly say this because at lower player counts, you get more turns with the Black Die (as the Active Player), but at higher player counts, you end up being the Passive Player more. This means that you will likely have less overall influence on your dice, so you may want to take rewards that let you go after the Black Die more often.
- Either way, I always recommend going after the Torch! It’s very helpful when you need to get a very specific combo, or when you want to snake a Monster out from underneath of an opponent before they can beat it first. I really like the Torch! It’s also useful when you’re going after particularly uncommon sets of numbers, like 2 or 12. You’ll have plenty of options for when to use it.
- The Gems are going to be a primary driver of your score; make sure to grab as many as you can! Having a lot of Gems will earn you a lot of points! This means that you might want to go after the main Monster, target the smaller Monsters, and just explore as quickly as possible. If you’re not sure what to do, get more gems!
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I’m, more generally, a big fan of alea’s rulebook style. I appreciate that they have all of the content and then essentially a “quick reference” on the right side. It makes the rulebook easy to read and then easy to reference later on when I’m trying to re-teach the game. They’ve done this for a number of their other games and it really lands for me.
- Love the art style! It’s reminiscent of Kyle Ferrin’s art in terms of colors, and it’s fun and cartoony. I really like what Cam Kendell did with the game!
- I appreciate that this is a fairly low-complexity dungeon crawling game. I see it as a pretty nice counterpart to Paper Dungeons, which feels a bit more complicated in a different way. Paper Dungeons challenges players to manage inventory and combat, whereas Dungeons, Dice, & Danger simplifies combat and focuses on movement. I think that this is a really great introduction to the genre.
- I also enjoy the whole “creating two pairs from five dice” gameplay. It’s much more my speed than, say, an “I cut, you choose” type of game, since my choice doesn’t negatively impact anyone else. I also appreciate that you get the better of five dice when you’re the Active Player; it makes me feel like there’s actually some benefit as the rounds progress.
- Lots of flexibility of play, which is also very nice. I like that you can largely just progress at your own pace and do what you feel like. It’s a very smooth dungeon-crawling experience. Unless I completely run out of numbers, I feel like there’s a lot that I can do on every turn!
- Who doesn’t want to explore a dungeon full of dinosaurs? Dinosaurs! In a dungeon! It’s great. I love that they’re doing fun things with the dungeons and that they aren’t afraid to get a little silly. Especially for games on the more casual side, I appreciate some goofiness.
- The dungeons are also fairly different and interesting, which I love. I think they kind of have to be, just because it’s rare to have a roll-and-write with only one board, but I do like how they provide a variety of gameplay options (as well as a gradual increase in difficulty).
- Plays relatively quickly! I never feel like individual turns take all that long, since you’re usually just checking off two boxes. Certain turns take a while, granted, and the game itself takes a good amount of time to play, but I never feel like the game is dragging.
- Watch out for that rulebook misprint! It almost threw us off in our first game. I think it only appears in English rulebooks, but we were definitely about to wait until one player has defeated all of the monsters, which would have just resulted in a ton of lost life. It also would have … taken much longer than the standard game.
- It probably won’t happen much, but I’m not wild about the player elimination if you run out of health. It’s more of an aggressive deterrent, but, you can get knocked out of the game if you run out of health. It’s not really an ideal outcome. I’d kind of prefer that you be able to stay in the game, but I’ll freely admit that there’s not much else for you to do if you do get to the point of running out of health. If you can’t fill in more squares, there’s not much game left to be played, is there? It’s just that player elimination leaves a bad taste in my mouth more generally.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I really like Dungeons, Dice, & Danger! It strikes me as a nice, casual alternative to the more intense dungeon crawler-type games that I’ve played before. The most immediate parallel is probably to Paper Dungeons, which is a similar roll-and-write dungeon-crawler, but it tracks a number of more complex details, focusing on inventory and stat-boosting as well. I actually like the simplicity of Dungeons, Dice, & Danger a fair bit! It lets me focus on the strategy of navigating the dungeon and figuring out each one’s particular quirks. And they have fun quirks! I enjoy the light humor of the game (the Pastry Mancer is currently my favorite), and I think the fun colors and fantastic art help make the game engaging and appealing (along with a bright blue box to help). Generally, just a big fan. I don’t love the player elimination, though you’re not exactly out; you just can’t score any more points (or play more). I suppose you could still win, but it feels unlikely. There’s a lot to do in Dungeons, Dice, & Danger, though! Crypts and pyramids and dinosaurs and such. I love the variety of places to explore, and I think that these dungeon crawlers focusing on exploration makes them more fun, for me, since I don’t really love combat. If the exploration side of dungeon crawling appeals to you, you want to explore a fun and colorful land and maybe meet a dinosaur, or you’re just looking for a roll-and-write with a bit of heft to it, you’d probably enjoy Dungeons, Dice, & Danger! I really liked it.
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