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    Review: Dungeon Raiders

    February 12, 2015

    Following in the footsteps of other great “semi-cooperative” games like Cutthroat Caverns and Munchkin, Dungeon Raiders is a card-based strategy game in which 3-5 players delve into dark and arcane passages to acquire gold and defeat deadly monsters. The objective is simple: survive the dungeon with more gold than the other surviving players. After all, you need them to stay alive. But making that happen can be very difficult when your companions are trying to throw you under the proverbial monster-bus.

    At the beginning of the game, players are assigned a character with which they will go a-delving. Each character starts with one or more additional Item cards to help the exploration, such as torches or crystal balls. On each turn, the party of characters enters a different type of dungeon room, whether it be a Treasure, Trap, Vault, or Monster room. Each player then secretly chooses a card from his hand to play: either a Power card of strength 1-5 or an Item card with a more specialized effect. Players reveal their cards and resolve each room, gaining treasure, wounds, or new Items as dictated by each completed Room card.

    For example: The players enter a Monster room and encounter a troll. Everyone puts down a card secretly and then reveals them one at a time. If the total of those cards equals or exceeds the troll’s strength of 14, no one gets hurt. Otherwise the player who puts in the lowest card takes two damage. Regardless of whether or not the troll is defeated, the group then moves on to the next room.

    The game is divided into five “levels” of five rooms each. A player can only use each of their numbered Power cards once on each level, so managing your Power commitment to a given fight is important. Item cards can only be used once before they are discarded out of your current card pool. At the end of five levels, the character with the most gold and fewest wounds wins the game. With these things in mind, the game requires a lot of foresight in deciding when to use certain cards, as well as keeping track of what cards your opponents have left. To further complicate things, some rooms are dark, and you will only discover what they hold when you reach them (unless you use a torch to look ahead of time). All the while, you must keep your opponents’ goals in mind to guess what they will play, while trying to ensure that you’re not left wounded on the dungeon floor as your companions move ahead.

    Dungeon Raiders is an excellent and very quick game consisting of about 50% co-op and 50% subterfuge, making it wholly interesting. Players need each other in the long run, but still have to work against each other to acquire the most loot, making it difficult to single any one player out as a target. You can expect a game to last about 20-30 minutes, and the rules are very easy to pick up for beginning gamers as well as families. It’s also well-balanced enough to allow a player who is behind to catch up, while making your decisions early on still count and be meaningful. While designed for 3-5 players, Dungeon Raiders also includes optional rules for two players, solo play, and Speed variants. The fact that it fits in your pocket is just an added bonus.

    So put on your wizarding hat, grab your sword, and prepare to run screaming down the halls after your “friends” point a Mega Dragon in your direction. All the kids are doing it.
     

    -Jake

     
    If you like: Cutthroat Caverns, Munchkin, Love Letter
    You’d definitely enjoy: Dungeon Raiders
    MRP: $19.99
    Designer: Phil Harding
    Produced by: Passport Game Studios