Monday, July 22, 2019

Review: 5-Minute Dungeon

Today is a look at a game I discovered at Wal-Mart, of all places.  Typically, they do not have the best selection of board games of the type I am interested in.  However, this one caught my eye for a simple reason it was designed to be a quick cooperative game.  As you may recall, my family likes cooperative games and I get tired of losing to my family all the time.  This seemed like a good compromise.  The game is called 5-MinuteDungeon and I bought mine for about $20 bucks.

Things That I Liked
The game is a cooperative card game.  I do not have a ton of experience with these types of games, so I am sure the features I discuss below will be very familiar to many of you card gamers.      

You choose between 10 heroes, and each group of 2 has a different set of cards, and all of them have a unique ability.  The card deck has different combinations of “suits” that make fighter guys better at fighting, rogue types better at sneaking, ranged guys better at shooting, and magic characters better at knowledge.  Therefore, each color deck has a unique mix of abilities. 

The “Dungeon” is a deck of door cards.  On the other side is various encounters where you need combinations of cards to bypass them.  Therefore, you will want a mix of Hero types to give you the best combination of abilities and likelihood of cards to bypass various encounters.  There are sub-bosses and then a large boss at the end.  Therefore, conserving the right cards for the end battle is a must.

If you run you run out of cards your character dies.  Therefore, if you are not using your cards well your team will probably not beat the dungeon as you need a mix to beat the harder encounter cards. 

Did I mention that it is cooperative?  Either the party all win, or you all loose.  Thumbs up!  

Things I Do Not Like   
You only have 5 minutes to bypass every card in the dungeon deck, with the dungeon getting progressively more doors/encounters as you go up in difficulty level.  I am not a fan of this timer approach for two reasons:

  • The game does not come with a 5 minute timer!
  • I think a more leisurely pace would allow you to “enjoy” the game further

Instead, you are so busy slapping down cards that you do not spend much time thinking about your team strategy, talking to each other beyond grunts, or appreciating the clever artwork/word play in the game. 

It also becomes clear pretty fast that characters that allow you to draw new hands or more cards are way better than characters who can bypass certain obstacle types.  Soon, the characters you are taking become pretty set as accessing more cards to play is better than discarding three cards and bypassing an encounter.  The one outlier are the special abilities that stop the timer.  A cool idea in theory, but a bit fiddly in the execution. 

Meh and Other Uncertainties
There are 10 Heroes, but really they are just slight variants of 5.  I applaud the attempt, but it just isn’t enough variety.

Since the game only takes about 5 minutes to play, it is a bit discouraging that set-up can take about the same length of time.  I mean, you have to shuffle each character’s deck, the dungeon deck, load the sub-bosses, etc.  Still you can play several games in 30 minutes to an hour.

It has decent re-playability as the dungeons get harder (I mean longer) you tend to die more often.  Plus, the cards get less interesting the more you see them.  However, the tactical play and strategy is not deep enough to play for more than an hour or so without getting tired of it all.  However, an hour of family time playing a game that is not on a screen is pretty decent value for $20.  We have sat down and played it as much as games like King of Tokyo, Pandemic, Flick’emUp and Machi Koro.  For a “specialty” game from a big-box retailer not know for such things; that is a pretty good deal.

Final Thoughts
Since I am starting to experiment and think a bit about how card mechanics works and how they could be used for various resolution mechanics this was an interesting buy for me.  It worked good for the type of games my family was interested in and helped me get a good basic overview of one way cards can help resolve mechanics.  Overall, I was pleased with my purchase.        

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