DUNGEON! is one of those board games that has always been fun to play, and this new rendition of the game is no exception. It’s easy to learn, fast-paced, and just a darned good time to play - even solo. It is very much a family style game, and both children and adults can enjoy a good DUNGEON! delve anytime they have time to play. And it is definitely one of those games that makes a good “litmus test” to see if a friend or family member might make a good recruit into a Dungeons & Dragons game group!
Distills the D&D dungeon crawling experience down to bare bones - move through a dungeon, kill monsters, gain treasure. A good way to kill time, and simple enough for nearly anyone to play. But it's pretty light fare, so don't go in expecting a deep tactical experience.
Hasbro-owned Wizards of the Coast made some smart decisions when they decided to republish this game. They did away with some of the variant rules that appeared in later editions, returning to Megarry’s original vision. They designed attractive new art, and fit the whole thing into a conveniently compact 20″ by 10″ box. And they kept it inexpensive: At just $20, the game is perfectly priced. You won’t care that the cardboard playing pieces are a bit flimsy, or that there’s no fancy plastic box insert to hold all the parts in place.
This is a boardgame for players ages 8 & up. The difficulty is low, but once you start competing against other players strategy kicks in and the depth reveals itself. It is not as deep in its design as Dungeons & Dragons, and certainly not as abundant in its rules, but the Dungeon! boardgame allows for fun, quick games lasting about 1-3 hours or so for 2-8 players.
The design has been improved in some places, but not all of the changes and potential variants from the 3 versions of the game published from 1974-1989 have been kept. This new game is more streamlined with how monsters and treasure are layed out and cleared rooms are simpler to track. The cards are small, but durable. So too are the many thick cardboard tokens. The only real drawback here are the character markers, which players should definitely feel free to substitute with minis or anything else more sturdily standing.
The board is a large 1-piece with 4 panels and there are two standard 6-sided dice. The rules booklet is small and much improved in clarity and layout over any previous editions I know of, but it can get tricky in places. Collecting the most common rules and then regularly calling out forgotten small rules might be one way to improve. A few rules for game variants are included at the end, but not cooperative gaming, which seems unusual given the game's shared heritage with D&D.
I own the 2012 Wizards of the Coast version of the game. I understand there may be a new 2014 version (even another 2013 too?). It's difficult to know, but the box cover art has definitely changed. Reading the most recent advertisement the 2014 version may have another newer set of rules as well.
Even though it's a competitive game any D&D aficionado will recognize many similar game design elements. Variable difficulty dungeon levels. Rooms and corridors to explore. Movement rates. Secret Door shortcuts. Monsters to kill. Treasure to collect (in order to win, not increase in level). Magic Items that improve your character's abilities and even grant new ones. Spells preselected prior to exploration. Even spells declared before a combat begins (under a common circumstance wizards can cast a spell into a room before knowing what monster lies within ...and its susceptibilities). While I suspect not as well balanced in the new rules, old school variable XP rates for classes are included as GP is required to win and different classes need to collect different GP totals.
Perhaps one of the first boardgames ever available with asymmetrically balanced game play the Dungeon! boardgame is a surefire favorite for grade school kids interested in joining your role playing game, but not quite old enough to keep up. It is simple, fun, competitive, surprising, and over quickly enough.
I have almost every version of this game in my arsenal of boardgames. I remember playing the original as a kid and teaching my kids on the intermediate versions. I played this at GenCon this year with a group of friends from all over the US and I have to say, it's about as close to the original as you can get while improving on minor things without screwing up the overall play feel. The rules have been streamlined a bit, but not the detriment of the game to its benefit. The only concern I have is the board, the new layout is a little cramped, otherwise, its a great overhaul.