In search of another Dragon Scale
Dungeon Roll is a dice game about rolling dice in order to explore a dungeon, pretty much doing what it says on the tin.
Speaking of the tin, it’s worth noting the packaging. Dungeon Roll comes in a box shaped like a treasure chest, with a hinged lid. In fact, thanks to a friend (hi, Greg!) we have the special Kickstarter edition that is done up like a Mimic, a D&D monster that can take deceptive shapes, often like a treasure chest that attacks unwary adventurers. The box is actually used in the game: when you win treasure, you randomly draw counters from the chest, which is a lovely touch.
So we have had the game for quite a while but, despite playing it a few times myself, I never got around to introducing it to Miss B until now.
The game is a push-your-luck dice rolling fest with some lovely custom dice. Some of the dice are used to roll and find out which characters are in your adventuring party (fighters, thieves, clerics, that sort of stuff), then another player rolls the black dungeon dice to see what obstacles (and treasures) you encounter. You then allocate your adventurers to deal with the dungeon dice before deciding if you will continue to the next level, where even more dungeon dice will be rolled.
All this is pretty good fun, but what makes the game is that everyone has a unique character taken from a small bundle of cards that came with the game. There are eight in the base game, plus an additional promo card that came with the Kickstarter set, and we also have an unopened booster pack of further characters that we will open as and when we get bored of the original set. Each character has a couple of abilities that can really shape how you approach the game and, while they don’t introduce any deep strategy, they do make you think a bit about how and when to use them. Plus, after you have earned some experience in the game you can flip the cards to get an advanced version of the character with even cooler powers. Miss B and I were delighted to find that four of the nine characters that we have are female. And it’s not “princess” or “witch” characters: the females include the Paladin and the Necromancer. This sort of thing is sure to make Miss B a happy girl.
In play we had a ball. The whole thing of having the active player doing their thing while another player rolls the dungeon dice is a stroke of genius. It means that at any given time you have two players involved in the game play, and with two players that means all the game, all the time, which deals with a common problem of dice games (and not just dice games, if truth be told) where everyone just twiddles their thumbs waiting for their turn.
There are plenty of subtleties about using abilities and treasures effectively, but I pointed out options to Miss B and she decided what she would do, steadily getting her head around the game. Frustrations were surprisingly few, and it must me said that the joy of rolling fistfuls of these gorgeous, colourful dice (they really are great) more than made up for any disappointments that did occur.
We both like this game, and I think we’ll have fun working our way through the various characters.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¼): “I especially liked the Paladin because you can discard one treasure to defeat all monsters, open all chests, quaff all potions and discard all dice in the Dragon’s Lair, and just for one treasure, so that’s really good. I think the Knight (Dragon Slayer), Necromancer (Occultist), Enchantress (Beguiler), and Half Goblin (Chieftain) all look really good and I’m probably going to ask most of the time to play the game to try out all of them. I think it’s 10 out of 10 and I can’t think of anything else to say about it (LOL).”
The game: Dungeon Roll (Tasty Minstrel Games), 1 to 4 players aged 8+.