Welcome to the Dungeon

Welcome to the Dungeon

  • Designer: Masato Uesugi
  • Players: 1-4
  • Time: 30 Minutes

“Welcome to the Dungeon… we’ve got fun ‘n’ games!” Yep, the title just begs you to bust out a hair metal rendition of the Guns N’ Roses classic. It is absolutely impossible not to. But don’t let the title distract you. Though the game is crunchy fun (meaning each decision is crucial), the only heavy metal you’ll be rocking is a battle axe… and even then you may not want to. Here’s how it works.

In this light, small box game (literally not much bigger than a box of matches) you and three of your friends will be vying each round to become the squire of one of four different heroes. Becoming the squire means you will enter the dungeon with the associated hero and reap the glorious rewards found therein. Or… the hero may die a horrible and gruesome death leaving you to escape the god-forsaken chamber of your own volition. The game is a simple, harmonious mix of blackjack and chicken, and each round a hero steps forward clad in all manner of monster-crushing implements. Players take turns drawing a monster of varied strength from the top of a face down deck, looking at it and then choosing to either place the monster in the dungeon or withhold it from the round. Monsters placed in the dungeon will be met in combat by the hero. Those that are withheld strip the hero of one piece of equipment. The game will proceed like this for a number of turns before someone, seeing the hero relieved of the majority of his gear, will pass. This ends their bid to enter the dungeon, leaving the others to either continue adding monsters or pass themselves. Once all but one person has passed, the sole player is chosen to enter the dungeon and face the consequences with, more often than not, a dramatically less impressive hero than anticipated.

I’m not gonna lie. Like most bluffing games, this one is at its best with a full complement of four players. But for such a small offering, this game packs a surprisingly deep and enjoyable punch. Because you know at least a handful of the monsters that lay in wait for the hero each round, you often end up in an internal struggle debating the motives of the other players. Why did they withhold that card? Do they want to enter the dungeon and claim the reward? Or maybe they want me to enter knowing there is a slim chance of survival? The game has crunch, but it’s so light and the art so whimsical each choice is a joy to make. This is a great, inexpensive game that has certainly provided a handful of laughs in our group. It’s perfect for poker players and role players alike. And here’s a friendly tip from an experienced dungeon crawler: use the lid of the box as the dungeon. It keeps the dungeon monsters centralized and in order. Have fun adventuring!

Pros: Simple, Portable, Quick, Great Art, Family Friendly

Cons: Theme and Game Play May Not Satisfy Some

Want more insight? Check out Episode 11 – Origins 2015 Part 1 from our podcast library.

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