Review - Dungeon Fantasy Boardgame by Wizards of the Coast

The Boardgame 'Dungeon - The Fantasy Boardgame' has been around in different incarnations for quite a while.  The version reviewed is pictured below, though there is little to indicate it will get anything but better.

First up what this game is, and what it is not.   It is not complex, it is simple.  It is not Talisman or anything like that.  This is very much an introductory game for a younger audience.  I would say 7-12 is the age range and it acts as a great introduction to gaming and bashing monsters.  Both my kids (girl and boy) enjoy it greatly.

What is is, it is very well produced.  I was flabbergasted at the quality of the board and the cards when I received this game.  I bought it a couple of years ago on Amazon for the princely sum of £9.99 and was not expecting much.  The quality of the board and cards is exactly the same as games for which I have paid six times that amount.  Cards are glossy with nice illustrations.  Fantastic.

So you have a fold-up dungeon board.  In the centre is the great hall where all the players start.  There are a number of different characters types as per D&D, each with their own strengths.  The characters are represented by card stand-ups.  Fighters are probably the best all rounder to start with.  The Dungeon has six colour coded 'levels', the higher the number the harder the monsters. However defeat those monsters and the rewards are proportionally greater.

The idea of the game is to enter rooms in the dungeon, fight the random;y selected monster inside, kill it and collect a random treasure card.  Each level of the Dungeon has its own colour coded card deck of monsters and of treasure from which you choose.   Depending on your character type you will have a different  treasure target to collect.  Once you have reached your target amount of gold and jewels you must return to the Great Hall to win.

Beware that this is not as easy as it sounds!   Inevitably you will need to pass through a chamber, which are widenings of the corridors, and may have to fit a monster within.  Potentially you could lose that fight, your life and all your treasure!  So don't gloat too early if you reach your target.

Combat is simple but quick, the ability to defeat certain opponents depends on your character type - strong fighters are not always the best.  There is a high level of luck rather than skill to the fighting but it keeps everything simple.  There is also a simple magic system.

If you lose a combat effects range from nothing through to death, which means you lose all your treasure and must start again in the great hall.  Another possible effect is that you drop some random treasure and another player can come along and pick it up.  Agggh!

To spice up play a bit we use some Warhammer figures for our heroes, and whatever monsters we have when there is an encounter.  It improves the 3D effect, the squares are a little small for the standard Warhammer bases but it all works ok.   For those with experience of Role playing games it would be very easy to add a little complexity to the combat and magic to extend the playing life.  You can also just agree an amount of treasure for all players to collect.  The higher the amount the longer the game.

There are a few grey areas for such a simplistic game but just agree an approach and stick to it if you find something that does not quite make sense.  Children like certainty, especially if it goes in their favour!

Overall the system is neat, simple but fun and ideal for young beginners.  The components are excellent and once you grasp the rules games are quick and fun at about 30 minutes.  It does exactly what it sets out to do and as a simple introduction for a younger audience gets a score of 9.5/10.

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