In the past I have looked at quite a few press your luck dice games. I wouldn’t say that I love or hate the genre. Press your luck dice games are quick and easy to play and can be fun in short doses. The genre doesn’t usually have a lot of strategy though since there are few decisions to make and they rely a lot on the luck of the roll. While Dungeon Roll looked like just another press your luck dice game, I was intrigued by the game’s theme. Dungeon Roll does some interesting things for the press your luck genre and is a fun game but fails to fix some of the problems with the genre.
How to Play Dungeon Roll
Players either randomly choose one hero card or every player can choose their own hero. All of the hero cards chosen are placed with their novice side face up. All of the contents other than the treasure tokens are removed from the treasure chest. The player who was most recently underground gets to be the first adventurer. The player to the left of the adventurer will be the first dungeon lord.
The Party Dice
When starting an adventure the adventurer will roll their party dice. The party dice have six different faces:
Going On An Adventure
To begin the player’s adventure they will roll all seven party dice. If the player used their hero’s special ability on their previous turn, refresh the hero card. The level die is set to one. The dungeon lord rolls one of the dungeon dice. If a dragon was rolled is it set off to the side.
The player can use their hero’s specialty at any time. The player can use their hero’s ultimate ability one time during each adventure. When a player uses their ultimate ability they turn the card to indicate that it was used.
Based on what die was rolled the player will likely have to face off against a monster. To defeat a monster a player will have to use one of their party dice to defeat the monster. Once a die is used it is put in the graveyard and can’t be used again.
If there are multiple monsters of the same type, a player can use the appropriate party die to remove all monsters of the same type. If the player doesn’t have the necessary dice to defeat all of the monsters their adventure immediately ends and the player gains no experience for the adventure.
If one or more treasure chests are rolled, the player can use one die to open one or more treasure chests (depending on what die is used to open the treasure chests). A player grabs one treasure token for each treasure chest opened.
If one or more potions are rolled, the player can use one of their die to use all of the potions that were rolled. For each potion the player will get to take back one of their dice from the graveyard. The dice that are taken can be placed on any side that the player prefers.
After the player has defeated all of the monsters and have chosen whether they want to use the potions and treasure chests they will move onto the dragon phase. If there have been three or more dragons set aside, the player will have to face off against the dragon. To beat the dragon the player has to use three dice with different symbols on them (can’t use the scroll symbol). If the player defeats the dragon, all of the dragon dice are put back into the pool of dungeon dice. The player earns one experience and gets to draw one treasure token. If the player can’t beat the dragon, their adventure ends immediately and they receive no experience.
After the dragon phase the player enters the regroup phase. The player can then choose whether to continue or end their adventure. If the player has already reached level ten they are forced to end their adventure. If a player ends their adventure they will receive experience equal to their current level. Pass the dice to the next player so they can start their adventure.
If a player has earned as much experience as is printed on the bottom of the card, they will upgrade their hero and flip it to the other side.
If the player decides to continue their adventure, the level die is increased to the next level. The dungeon lord will roll a number of dice equal to the current level. If there are not enough dungeon dice to roll all of the dice for the current level, the player rolls as many dungeon dice as they can.
All treasure tokens can be used one time for their effect. Once used the token is put back into the treasure chest. The tokens in Dungeon Roll are as follows (from top to bottom);
Ring of Invisibility: Remove all dragon dice that have been set aside. This does not count as defeating the dragon.
Dragon Scales: You will score an additional two points for each pair of dragon scales collected.
Potion: Take one die from the graveyard and choose its’ face.
Dragon Bait: Turn all monsters into dragon faces and set them aside.
Town Portal: Can be used at any time to leave the adventure and gain the associated amount of experience. If unused it is worth two points at the end of the game.
Vorpal Sword: Can be used as a fighter.
Talisman: Can be used as a cleric.
Scepter of Power: Can be used as a mage.
Thieves Tools: Can be used as a thief.
Scroll: Can be used as a scroll.
End of Game
The game ends when everyone has had three adventures. Players count up their experience. All unused treasure tokens are worth one point except for the town portal which is worth two points and the dragon scales are worth an additional two points for each pair you collect. The player with the most experience wins the game. If there is a tie the player with the fewest treasure tokens wins. If the tie is not resolved, the tied players share the victory.
My Thoughts on Dungeon Roll
At its’ core Dungeon Roll shares a lot in common with your typical press your luck dice game. Instead of coming from your own dice though, the press your luck mechanics come from the dungeon dice. You will roll your own dice to begin each adventure, but you will rely on the dungeon dice for the rest of the adventure. The first couple levels of the dungeon should not present you with any real issues since you have enough dice to handle a couple monsters. The risk/reward mechanics really start to come into play around levels 4-6. At this point you have probably used a lot of your dice so you don’t have enough dice to cover every possible situation. At this point you need to decide whether you want to take the risk of losing everything for the opportunity to gain some more experience. Gaining the extra experience is important but ending an adventure with no experience almost guarantees that you won’t win.
While Dungeon Roll shares a lot in common with your typical press your luck dice game, there is more to it than most games from the genre. There is actually quite a few things to consider instead of just whether to roll the dice again or stop. You need to choose which dice you want to use for the monsters, treasure chests and potions. While it is usually pretty obvious what dice you are probably going to use, some thought has to go into the decision. Dungeon Roll is far from a strategic game but it feels like you actually have an impact on your fate in the game.
In general I like the idea of the hero cards in Dungeon Roll. Each hero gives players a little advantage that they can hopefully take advantage of to extend their adventures. Most of the heroes are just slight variations of one another but they tweak the game enough that it is interesting trying out new heroes. Upgrading your hero in particular is really important because their advanced abilities can be quite powerful in certain situations. While I like the hero cards, I do not think all of the heroes were created equally. None of the heroes appear to be drastically better than the other heroes but some heroes seem to be useful in more situations than other heroes.
Being a dice game it should not surprise anyone that Dungeon Roll is a really quick game. As long as you don’t take a long time deciding what to do I would estimate that the game takes about five minutes per player. Since I would recommend playing with at most three players a game should only take 10-15 minutes. Dungeon Roll should also only take minutes to teach to new players. This makes Dungeon Roll a great filler game for people who like press your luck dice rolling games.
Dungeon Roll supports between one and four players. Usually more is better in board games but that is not the case with Dungeon Roll. While the game supports up to four players I wouldn’t recommend playing the game with more than two or three players. The reason I don’t recommend four players is that only two players do anything at a given time. One player rolls the party dice and decides what to do while the other player rolls the dungeon dice. All of the other players have to just sit around waiting for their turn. This can become quite boring since in a four player game you will be spending half your time just sitting around watching the other players playing the game.
While it doesn’t work with four players, Dungeon Roll works quite well with one or two players. In a two player game you aren’t actually playing the game half of the time but the game moves quick enough that it is enjoyable enough just rolling the dungeon dice for the other player. While Dungeon Roll is good as a two player game, I could make an argument that it is best as a single player game. Since you can just roll the dungeon dice yourself, as a single player game you will get the same experience and not have to wait for the other players to complete their turns. Instead of comparing your scores against other players, in the single player game you just compare your final score against a chart to see how well you did.
I would say that the game’s biggest fault is that like every other dice game it relies pretty heavily on luck. While it has more strategy and less luck than a lot of dice rolling games, luck is still prevalent in the game. What I was most surprised by was that most of the luck comes from the roll of the dungeon dice. While the roll of the party dice is important, the dungeon dice are more important to your success in the game. I find this weird since the current player doesn’t even roll the dice that are usually the most important for their success.
The reason that the dungeon dice are so important is that they basically determine how many dice you will have to use on a given turn. Every potion and treasure chest rolled is extremely helpful even if you don’t use them since they take the place of a monster die that the player would otherwise have to use a die to get rid of. When multiple potions are rolled on a turn a player will actually gain dice since they will only have to use one die and will then be able to take back several dice. When you do have to fight monsters you want a lot of monsters of the same type because you can then use one die to get rid of all of them.
While Dungeon Roll is not meant to be a serious game, it is kind of annoying that a player will usually win because they had more success with the dungeon dice. While there are decisions to make in Dungeon Dice, they are usually pretty obvious so you really can’t use strategy to gain a significant advantage over the other players. In one of the games I played I was destroyed because as the dungeon lord I kept rolling potions and treasure chests while my opponent rolled several different monsters every roll. This forced me to use dice quickly while the other player had to use few dice or even gained dice on some levels. While the game is fast and lighthearted, it is still a little frustrating when you lose and have no way of preventing it.
One thing I kind of question about Dungeon Roll is the theme. I love the game’s dungeon crawling theme and the game’s artwork does a good job supporting it. When you get to the gameplay though the theme kind of falls apart. I think it is weird that you have to give up adventurers when you kill monsters, open treasures or use potions. Why do you sacrifice an adventurer to perform these actions? Some of the heroes’ abilities don’t really make any thematic sense either. If you like the fantasy adventure theme you will like parts of the game’s theme but be warned that the theme fails more often than you would like.
Overall I would say the component quality for Dungeon Roll is quite good. While it is kind of a pain to stack on a shelf, I really like the treasure chest box. I could see the lid ripping off pretty easily but I love when a game uses its’ box to serve as more than just a container. The game’s artwork is really nice. The dice are also of a very high quality. The only real complaint I have with the components are that the included rules could have been formatted better since they are kind of hard to follow the first time you play the game.
Should You Buy Dungeon Roll?
Basically I would consider Dungeon Roll to be better than your average press your luck dice game. While Dungeon Roll doesn’t have a lot of decision making, it does provide more opportunities for strategy than most dice rolling games. Usually your decisions are pretty obvious but it feels like you have more power over your fate in the game. The game’s theme occasionally fails but the game has really nice components. The only significant problem I have with Dungeon Roll is that luck still plays a pretty big role in the game. The dungeon dice in particular are going to have a big impact on your success in the game.
If you don’t really like the dungeon crawling theme or don’t care for press your luck dice games, Dungeon Roll is not going to be for you. If the theme interests you though and you are looking for an easy and fast press your luck dice game, I think you will enjoy your time with Dungeon Roll.