- Desginers: Paolo Di Stefano & Gabriel Gendron
- Players: 1-2
- Time: 30 mins
- Age: 14+
- Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/32JnaF2
- Played with review copy provided by Ares Games
Mini Rogue was a game that I had heard about from a few of my friends who backed it via Kickstarter earlier in the year. The elevator pitch was that this was a minimal roguelike dungeon crawl. Initially meant to be played with only 9 cards, this new retail version now there are a few more cards (now 20 dungeon cards) as well as some character and boss cards.
You start by choosing a character from the 4 options and taking a mat to mark you XP, HP, Armor, and inventory – using cubes on tracks. You start the game with a single die, though you will earn more dice as you gain experience. There is another board which helps you represent the dungeon, showing you the overall layout – 10 areas within 4 floors. At the end of each floor, you must face off against a Boss Monster.
To make up the current floor, shuffle the room cards, deal out 8 of them in a 3×3 grid placing the Exit card in the lower right, and you are ready to go. You always start in the top right corner and must traverse to the lower left corner to get out. Watch out for the boss monster which will be the bottom right (if you are on the final area of this level of the dungeon)!
You reveal the top right room (As you are in it) and you resolve the room. You might need to do a skill check where you roll your character dice as well as the Dungeon Die. You generally succeed if you see a star icon on any of your character dice. The Dungeon Die helps decide what happens in the room (See the chart on the bottom of the card). You might end up in combat – again rolling dice and then figuring out the result. In many cases, you can also give up HP or XP to reroll a bad die result.
As you work through the dungeon and the different cards and types of actions, a lot of the information will be represented on the cards with a multitude of icons. It can honestly be pretty bewildering at first, but I’d recommend keeping the one page reference sheet handy as it has almost all the information you need to play.
After you have dealt with your current room, you reveal the card to the right and the one below the current room – you can only move right or down, and you can only peer through to the next adjacent room. Then you choose one of the two visible rooms to move to, and then resolve that next room.
This means you have 4 events/rooms before reaching the end card for every floor. You need to make the most of these events to upgrade your character or to stock up by getting money, experience, items, armor, or just replenishing your health. Thus, over the course of the game, you’ll see 40 rooms in total – 4 on each level. The first card of each level you must face, but then it’ll be up to you to decide which path of three cards you will take to get to the exit card in the lower right.
Again, when you get to the last area of each floor, you will have a bigger battle with a Boss, and then at the final room you will fight the Big Big Boss of Og’s Remains. If you get all the way through the dungeon and defeat this final card, you win! Otherwise, you lose when your health falls to zero. I suppose if you wanted to track the level of your suckiness, you could count which level and which room you got to.
The game also includes a few other modes – both a 2p cooperative version as well as Campaign mode which has you play multiple games, and allows to carry some attributes through the campaign. Overall, there is plenty of re-playability in the game. Each of the 4 characters is slightly different, and their varying skills may cause you to play differently. The makeup of each floor is random based on the card draw, and honestly, a lot of the action in the rooms comes down to lady luck and the die rolls. While there are only 20 room cards, the monsters are cleverly designed to become progressively harder as you get deeper in the dungeon, so this also helps the deck feel a bit larger than it really is.
The rules are pretty simple to grok, and while the icons are hard at first – once you get the hang of them, it’s really pretty easy to bust through the game quickly. My games which get to the end come in around 25-30 minutes now, just as the box suggests.
There are apparently a few different versions (levels of bling) and expansions out there – and I have just the basic retail version without any of the expansions. For me, it is a great solo game which comes in a tiny package, making it perfect for travel play. Assuming I roll my dice into the box top, I think this would even pass the airplane tray table test.
That being said, I do know that some of my friends have some of the expansions, and they say that the game is even better and is much improved with “lore cards”. I don’t have any idea what they mean by this, but hopefully one of them will comment below.
I would recommend this game for anyone looking for a fun and quick solo game.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Mark Jackson: My single partial play isn’t enough for me to rate the game… but it’s got some intriguing ideas for a “tiny” game and I really liked the way the 2 player cooperative version worked.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Mark J
- Not for me…