Get your dungeon-crawling fix in a small format and with time to spare in this classic adventure game where one player controls a party of four heroes while the other takes on the role of dungeon master.
|Dungeon Heroes||Gamelyn Games/Game Salute||Board Game|
In The Box
We love constructible games, but if you pushed us we’d say that the tile-building variety occasionally prompt a tiny bit of buyer’s remorse when one opens the box and finds it’s mainly a big pile of tiles. Dungeon Heroes solves this nicely by including a cast of cool carved wooden figures that end up populating the dungeon, along with a set of dice. You have a slew of monsters, plus the four adventurers in their classic roles of Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, and Wizard. You have dice in d4, d6, d8, and d10 varieties. Right away it feels like a dungeon crawl, and you haven’t even started setting out tiles!
The other aspect of constructible tile games that takes some getting used to is not having a game board. Dungeon Heroes also solves for this by including an illustrated board, made in a sturdy fashion that still folds up compactly. It’s on this board that you’ll place the small tiles representing player actions, monsters, and traps. Each dungeon tile is illustrated with images representing the condition created when it is activated, along with icons that serve as reminders for how to resolve any effects. Learning these will require a few play-throughs with the instruction manual, which thoroughly details everything and also outlines the solitaire variation of the game.
Nitpicking, but we’d have liked a couple of player cards showing frequently referenced icons or actions. Some questions about things like player movement can be answered by referring to tiles representing each of the heroes that are placed beside the board, to represent your party as it moves through the dungeon in search of treasure and glory.
How It Plays
We’ve tried introducing D&D to young players with mixed results. On one hand, pen-and-paper dungeon crawling is the epitome of imaginative play and a perfect activity for kids. The problem in a family setting is that classic role-playing games tend to push kids past that fine line where gameplay mechanics are overshadowing the fun. Dungeon Heroes takes the exploration and spirit of adventure in D&D and boils things down to a fast-paced game you can complete in 20 minutes that still feels plenty strategic. In capable hands it’s also possible to introduce role-playing elements.
The goal of Dungeon Heroes is for one player to move the four heroes around a small grid of tiles that are initially chosen at random, but later placed with intent during the game by an opposing player. The second player determines how treasure, traps, and monsters are initially situated in the dungeon and will later control the monsters. Playing the heroes is fun but nerve-wracking. Each hero can use a special ability that makes all the difference between a quick demise and victory. The dice are used only to track health for the heroes, but they’re a cool addition to the game.
During the dungeon crawl you’ll experience two main phases. One is characterized by the dungeon master placing tiles while the other has to do with exposing tiles and controlling monsters. The player opposing the dungeon master can win by learning to leverage each hero’s special abilities. The Wizard can expose hidden tiles, the Rogue can disarm traps, the Warrior can demolish monsters, and the Cleric can heal friendly characters. Losing one of your heroes doesn’t mean the end of the game, but it definitely makes things much harder. The heroes win if they can gather enough hidden treasure before the dungeon master wipes them out with monsters and traps. Who knows, they may even end up celebrating at the Red Dragon Inn…
Not only is this the best short-form D&D adaptation we’ve seen, but it makes the classic party adventure accessible for younger games. It’s simple and brilliant and we’re looking forward to checking out future expansions that add additional monsters and hero characters.
If you like D&D you’re going to like this. If the player controlling the heroes doesn’t plan well, he can die on the first turn because some of the trap tiles are really strong. I love the little figures!