After some delay, Plaid Hat Games released Dungeon Run, a new game about dungeon crawling… without really crawling based on the game’s premise. However what surely sets this apart from most games in it’s type, that the final boss will be one of the players.
The story of the game is pretty simple: on the same fantasy world as the Summoner Wars game a group of unlikely allies goes into a dungeon to slay the monsters there, and get a Summoner Stone hiding there. However only one player could claim the final reward, so the players will be as much rivals as allies.
The components in the game are very good quality. The dungeon tiles are very sturdy, and the figures itself are looking really good. The artwork for the game also high in quality, and has a somewhat distinct feel.
While I’m pleased with the quality, I cannot say the same the quantity. There are only 26 dungeon tiles, so with 5 or 6 players you will use all of the and only two less with 4 players, however the dungeon itself will be different every time, so it’s somewhat negates my point. We also get only 38 encounters, but currently I’m not sure how fast it will become repetitive. Hopefully, future expansions (which are already rumored) will be satisfiing in this regard.
I also have to speak about the rulebook, as it’s a weak point for many games. But not this one ! The rules of Dungeon Run are very easy to understand, and even after one read you will know most of the rules. Some player aids also included is the box, which will help players during the game. The layout and the artworks of the rulebook are also nicely made, so I could say it’s perfect.
The game is played in a series of turns, when every player could make two actions in his turn. The actions are basic thing like moving, attacking, searching for treasure or running away from an enemy, or you may activate one of you available abilities. Most of the actions are self explanatory, and even the abilities are clear to understand.
The rooms of the dungeon are revealed if somebody enterthe room, and place a dungeon title to the empty space. This also meen that there is no turning back if you don’t like the room : you must face what you find there, which could be nasty in some circumstances. for example you could take 10 damage if you fall of the old bridge! i have to note, that it’s the same for traps, as you could disarm them or suffer the results, but there is no option to looking for an easier route.
The playable characters are thankfuly diverse and unique in the game. You could be a racist dwarf, a murderous thundra ork, a sneaky goblin, a questing knight, or even a demon worshipper with strange abilities. There are no two characters which would feel the same, and they have completely different abilities and playstyle.
There are two unique mechanics in this dungeon crawl : assist and sabotage. These are both free actions, letting you help or hinder your fellow players. Since only one player could win in the end, I guess it’s no need to tell you why sabotaging your rivals turn would be a good idea. Sabotage however has it1s own danger, because if the player could manage a success, regardless of your backstabbing you get a wound.On the other hand, some opponents (for example some bosses) are very hard to handle alone, so assisting others is also a valid option, especially because it’s enable you to get some free healing in the process.
During the game several treasures, artifacts or wandering strangers could assist the players. The characters in the dungeon could advance in a quick pace, gaining better stats and even more abilities as a result.
I think this is a very good light dungeon crawling game, with a very good, distinct flavor.The only thing I miss here, compared to Descent and the like is the tactical element, however since it’s a much simpler (and shorter) game I think this simplification was needed. I think this game really deserves an 5/5, as it’s really stands out as a well made and interesting game.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros