It might be because I first cut my gamer teeth on Dungeons and Dragons, but I love playing dungeon crawlers, especially fantasy. I don’t RPG as much as I used to so maybe I miss throwing dice, searching dungeons, and beating on some monsters. There have been plenty of board games to help me scratched that itch that I have in my collection like Claustrophobia 1643 or Masmorra to name a few. But maybe like you, I’m always looking for more. So, that brings us to Dungeon Drop from Phase Shift Games & Gamewright. Is Dungeon Drop another a dungeon crawler that I want to add to my collection. Read on!
Setup begins by randomly dealing players a face-up Race and Class Card that will create their hero and then a random face down Quest Card. Quest Cards will determine gem scoring for end game. Lastly, all the small cubes and the one huge red dragon cube will be dropped onto the table to create the dungeon by the first player.
The small cubes are made up of gem, gold, monster, pillar, health, and key cubes (all separated by color). The large cubes that will be added to the dungeon all add more options as the small but also chests and magic shields.
The first player will begin and do the following actions:
- Explore: collect and drop the specified number of large cubes to add to the dungeon.
- Act: may activate either their race or class power.
- Loot: form a room by selecting 3 pillar cubes and collect all cubes within or touching that space.
When collecting cubes please note two things: Monster cubes you collect will take away your hero’s health so you cannot collect a room that would kill your hero. And treasure will become part of your stash and will add to your hero’s weight which will increase their initiative (turn order).
The current player will flip over their initiative marker and play then continues to the next hero in initiative order.
The game ends after 3 rounds, and players determine their final score based on their stashes. The player with the highest score wins.
I hope it’s apparent from the overview that Dungeon Drop is not your typical dudes on a map dungeon crawler. It’s closer to an abstract, dexterity game than anything else. But to be honest it doesn’t lessen the fun. Dungeon Drop is a very easy game to pick up and play. The rules are simple, and it comes with great player aids to identify all the cube’s colors and values.
What does have a typical dungeon crawl feel are the Dungeon Drop race and class cards. Even though these are dealt randomly they all seem balanced. None stood out as over or under powered in our plays. Now, I will say some combinations do seem to compliment others better, but being that these are dealt randomly will help offset seeing those combinations consistently.
What I like best about the race and class cards is that any of the powers listed help players offset the randomness of the dungeon and allow players to make changes before they loot. This should give players a sense of control. Powers don’t allow you to change everything as your heart desires, but most give you an opportunity to change rooms or dungeon to your possible benefit.
The best thing about Dungeon Drop is creating a random dungeon and then watching yourself and other players add and change it over 3 rounds. It’s just fun dropping cubes and seeing what happens. Your mind starts racing looking for advantageous rooms to loot or what changes you can make to score you the most points. And that experience repeats with your turns and other players as more cubes are added each turn. Overall, lots of engaging fun.
Now, Dungeon Drop gives players a wide range of assorted cubes to survey so analysis by paralysis can happen to players and slow the game. Again, it’s ideal that players would be eyeing options before their turns but as players add and change the dungeons so do your options. Just be aware especially at the start that some players might slow the game down to see what their best possible options are.
I will say that my family and especially my wife and son loved this game. I think Dungeon Drop is a great family game and even can be a gateway game since it’s very light and easy to learn. Now, that said, my serious gamer friends played it as a filler and most thought it was novel. Dungeon Drop will not be a game I can play with my group with any regularity; it’s just too light.
Dungeon Drop is not your typical dungeon crawler. It’s more of an abstract game but it’s easy to learn and play for all ages. It has balanced race and class cards that help mitigate the randomness by giving players a chance to change the dungeon to give them better options when looting.
The best part is you drop cubes and watch them bounce around to form a dungeon and then watch it change each turn. Now, all those changing options can lead players to some analysis paralysis, so be aware of that. While Dungeon Drop makes a great gateway game, it probably won’t be much more than a fun filler for your gaming group.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – An abstract take on the dungeon crawler genre that’s fun for families and makes a nice gateway game for new gamers.
• Prone to analysis by paralysis