Dungeons, Dice & Danger
- Designer: Richard Garfield
- Publisher: alea / Ravensburger
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 12+
- Time: 30-40 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Ravensburger USA
From the multilingual box: Gather your courage, pack your sword, and roll the dice as you journey through the realm in search of treasure and glory. In this roll and write game, you’ll explore deep, dark dungeons filled with treasure – and infested with monsters! Do you have what it takes to be a hero of legend?
In this game, players will explore a Dungeon (from amongst four different choices) made up of a maze of rooms, some with treasure, some with monsters, and some with other special actions inside. The right side of the sheet has a life point tracker as well as a summary of your special abilities. The bottom of the sheet has an area to track your score.
On a turn, the active player rolls the dice (4 white and 1 black), and then all players make 2 pairs of dice. The passive players are limited to just the 4 white dice while the active player is allowed to include the black die in one of his pairs. (The passive player can use the black die if they cross off one of the three black dice in the green start area on the right of their sheet.) Each player then sums up each pair and then uses those two numbers to cross off rooms on their dungeon sheet. You may always cross off a green Start space. Otherwise, you can only cross off spaces that are adjacent to previously crossed off rooms. If you visit a room with a gold or gem, make a corresponding mark in the score area on the bottom of your sheet. Anyways, on your turn, you have to be able to make two crosses on your sheet. If you cannot, you mark off one space of damage on your life meter for each cross you could not make. (So really you are still making 2 marks – but man, you really don’t want to put marks on your life meter).
If you have access to a monster, you can also use a number to cross off a damage space for that monster. There are some numbers in the upper left corner of each monster space. If any of those numbers are black, they are always active, and you can use that number to “hit” the monster. There may be some numbers in outline in the monster space. If you have crossed off an adjacent grey room, you can fill in the number in the monster’s room – this is now a valid number to hit the monster as well! The first person to defeat a monster (i.e. fill in all the damage spaces) gets the left bonus under said monster. All other players crush it out and they will only score the lesser right bonus when they defeat the monster. For some of the bigger monsters, you might even have to take damage when you’re the first one to defeat it! As a consolation, when a monster is first defeated by a player, all other players get one free damage to that monster (even if they can’t access that monster yet!).
Each of the four sheets has some unique bonuses in the bottom left corner – make sure that you are paying attention to these, and cross off the
As you play, you may encounter rooms with a treasure chest. When you do, you must pick one of the special abilities on the right side of your sheet to activate
- Extra Life – get three more spaces to cross out instead of spaces on your life track
- Torch – at any time, mark off two rooms adjacent to places you’ve already crossed off
- Black Dice – three times in the game, you can use the black die when you’re a passive player
The game continues until one player has defeated all the monsters on their sheet. Then players calculate their final scores – points from gems and gold are added up, and then points lost from marks on the life track are subtracted. The player with the most points wins. Ties broken in favor of the player who crossed out the most points on the life tracker.
My thoughts on the game
Well, I like Richard Garfield games (for the most part). I like Roll and Writes (for the most part). Surely, I’ll like the combination, right? TL;DR – yeah, DD+D is pretty fun, and I have enjoyed my plays so far. Is it perfect? Well, maybe not – but really, what game is perfect?
For a RAW, this one is going to be on the longer side – our games routinely take 45 minutes or more. That’s maybe a bit more that what most other RAW games are going to take, but there is a lot going on in the dungeon contained on the sheet before you.
I like the fact there are four different dungeons included in the game. I have played each of them at least once, and they definitely feel different. I would certainly recommend referring to the rules at the start of each game to make sure that you understand the specific rules for each particular dungeon.
Overall the rules are pretty simple, and you can teach in a few minutes. I like to keep one of my sheets for the beginner dungeon on hand, and I can pretty much teach all the rules from this in just a few minutes. The one rule that I have consistently seen missed is the rule about getting a free hit on a monster whenever someone defeats it for the first time. Don’t cheat yourself on hits on the monsters!
Scoring is pretty granular, you only score in 2s or 3s – but how you get the points can differ greatly from board to board. For some people, they go straight for the monsters and pick up points in bunches for defeating them, hopefully getting the larger scores for being the first to vanquish a particular monster. You can otherwise pick up points from treasures on the board or from other bonuses in the lower left of each sheet.
As you cross off rooms, I think it is also important to see what options you leave yourself; it is good to always be adjacent to as many different numbers as possible – because the penalties for not crossing off rooms can get pretty painful on your health meter. In fact, in a fair number of our games, the deciding factor in the final score has been the size of the penalty on the health meter!
But, as with most of these RAW games, scoring is better when things are crossed off first, so you’ll always be choosing between rushing for certain things versus playing it safe and leaving yourself options. The treasure chests can give you a bit more flexibility, but sometimes even going to get a chest might pull you off the direct path to your objective(s)!
If you are looking for a Roll and Write game that is more than just a trifle, this might be the one for you. The theme is a little more concrete than some of the abstract “put a number in this box” RAWs, and that will also be a positive for some. With four different boards to play, there is plenty of variety in the box, and they do give you a lot of sheets to play on, so it will be a long while before you run out.
For you collectors, I’ll warn you now that this is a new alea box size, and it does have a number “1” on the side. So, I guess there is a new series of games you’ll have to collect!
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Not for me…
André Maack has confirmed that the game end condition in the English translation is incorrect. The game ends when, across all players, all the monsters have been defeated. This speeds the game up considerably.
André Maack has confirmed that the game end condition in the English rule book was mis-translated. The game ends when, across all players, all the monsters have been defeated at least once. This speeds things up considerably!
Oh interesting. That would probably improve my overall opinion of the game. Thanks for the update!