There once was a land filled with adventure. Where aspiring heroes could perform great deeds of valour and earn their just rewards. Over time they drove off the monsters and the land became peaceful.
So they packed up and left.
In their place arose a generation of posers; flakes who earned their income off of the deeds of heroes long gone. Needless to say the king was not impressed. He sent his scouts out to find the most dangerous dungeons left in the land and press ganged the ‘Heroes’ into parties to braved their depths. “Either come out the other side and prove yourselves or litter the floor with your corpses…”
Dungeon Fighter is a co-op dexterity game by IELLO Games. Each player has to take the role of one of the unlucky heroes forced to make their way through the dungeon depths to face the boss monster.
For the TL;DR version click here.
Opening the Box
Specs on the box:
- 1-6 players
- Ages 14+ (I play this game with my 9 and 11 year old, don’t expect to win too often if you’re playing with kids though.)
- 45-60 minutes
Your typical dungeon crawling game usually contains a few map tiles and more miniatures or tokens than you can shake a stick at, not so with this one. The main component is a huge target board. Then you’ve got decks of cards for the different levels of monsters, cards for the heroes and their equipment, some chunky dice and various other tokens for money and special status effects.
The Dungeon is actually a series of tiles that just map out the dungeon. A party token shows where the heroes are and is used to trace their path to the final boss fight. There is also a 3D tower that you have to build to hold the monster cards that you will use for the game.
You’re supposed to put the money on the very top of the tower but the slightest bump usually sends some coins falling so I just put them on the table in a pile.
The game does not take itself seriously and it shows. It is laced with humour, from little quotes on the cards to the artwork itself. Even the rules are a good read.
The fantasy world is generic and just a premise to play the game. All of the classic heroes are covered and most of the monsters that you can think of.
There are expansions to the game which have a storyline that they follow. I think I would actually like to see how it plays out, maybe they have a campaign to play too. I’ll find out when it reaches South Africa.
Setup is fairly easy. Place the target board in the centre of the table. Each player selects a character that they would like to use. Randomly select a boss card, and then use 3 of the 6 double sided dungeon tiles to build the dungeon and place the party token on the first room of the dungeon. The next step is to select a difficulty and then based on the difficulty populate the tower with monsters. The first player is then given the 3 coloured dice and a single white dice is placed into the party treasure chest.
So far so good.
Then the Heroes enter the first room and the first monster card is revealed. Then the first player selects which dice he wants to use and passes the rest to the left. He then throws the die at the target board.
Throw, not roll. Throw. You can roll the die but it must also bounce at least once before it hits the target board. Since the board is fairly thick the dice will have to bounce or it might not make it up onto the board.
It sounds easier than it actually is, although a few practice throws will quickly get you into the swing of things. The number that the die lands on is how much damage you will deal to the monster. If you miss the board then the monster will deal damage to you!
Each of the 3 coloured dice correspond with a special power on the hero cards, if the die lands with the power side face up then the power activates. Some of the powers need the dice to score a hit, like the Barbarians’ double swing. Other powers will activate even if you miss, like the Paladins’ healing.
There’s a bit more to it though. Once all of the dice are used you don’t automatically pick them up. If you want to pick up the dice then the monster gets a free attack, based on its level, to the entire party.
That’s right; if you need more attacks then it hits everyone.
The alternative is to use one of the white dice in your treasure chest. These dice cannot be picked up. When they are spent they are gone. You have to earn or buy more, and you want to have a lot of them because the boss monsters are so terrifying that you are not allowed to pick up dice in the boss fight, you must win only with the dice that you have. He is so dangerous that you cannot give him a chance to get a free attack.
If you kill the monster with the very first die throw then you earn 2 white dice into your chest, if it’s with the 2nd then you only receive 1 of them. Most monsters usually carry some coins with them that you will acquire once you kill them. These can be used when you reach a store to buy equipment or more white dice.
After killing the monster the players get to decide which path they want to follow to the next room. Most rooms are regular rooms with just a monster in it. Some have healing fountains; some hold treasure and others increase the difficulty of the combat buy forcing you to use trick shots.
Have you ever tried throwing a die off of your elbow? What about your nose or forehead? How about from below the table? What about throwing it with someone else’s hand? Yes, it can get ridiculously difficult, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
I don’t think I will ever forget the crossbow shot that Simon Rorke made from below the table edge. He could not even see the board and he still got the die to do its one bounce before landing on the board!
He died in that game but I reckon he was the MVP. Yes you can die in the game. If a hero loses his last point of health (HP) he faints and can only be revived by the party members who survive the fight. However he wakes up physically scarred. He permanently loses 3 HP and one of his powers. Having only 9 HP to start, with this can only happen 3 times before he ‘levels up’ and becomes an ‘angelic hero’.
Play continues until either the heroes are dead or they survive the dungeon and make their way to untold riches, or a beer.
You will get the chance to kit your chars out with some fancy gear along the way. Weapons, give you the option of adding a trick to your throw. If you succeed then you will do extra damage. You can combine multiple weapons at your own peril! Armour reduces damage received and potions can heal or provide you will a re-roll.
I typically don’t gravitate towards dexterity games but this one is more fun that any dexterity game has any right to be. Plus the ‘funner’ you are the more ‘drunk’ the game is 😉
Aside from being a good party game, it’s fun for the whole family. It’s got an appeal for kids, even younger ones, and it’s not difficult for them to play. No, you don’t need any alcohol to play this game. The trick shots can be frustrating but they are very satisfying when you do manage to hit with one of them, even if it’s just a fluke.
The game can lead to impossible situations but there’s actually a rule covering this. So don’t stress on that part. It does not travel well though. You need a fair amount of table space for some of the shots and sometimes will find players walking around to find the right angle to throw from. Also the dice can and most likely, will, go flying so I don’t recommend playing in a restaurant or bar.
Cooperation in this game is a must. You need to plan fairly carefully who should use which die and when to take the hit and pick them up. Make no mistake, it can be difficult but with most physical challenges of this nature, practise will make perfect.
Dungeon Fighter does add a new spin to the saying “The dice are trying to kill me.”
Can I play this at a braai?
I think it’s a great party game, and playing it at a social gathering would be perfect. Just make sure that you have a solid table and not one of those picnic tables with the grooves in them or the dice might get stuck.
Thanks to Boardgames.co.za for the review copy of Dungeon Fighter