A Backstab in the Dark--A Single-Take Review of Dungeon Raiders

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For today's review Jeremiah looks at Dungeon Raiders. It's time to bluff, slash, grab, loot, dodge, and throw your friends under the bus. Or whatever functions as a bus in fantasy world. A troll? I dunno. This metaphor is falling apart... Dungeon Raiders is a lightweight, bluffing dungeon crawler that brings a lot of cutthroat co-operative skullduggery to the table.

So should you go skulking into the dungeon with your fellow raiders? Or is this game as exciting as a gelatinous cube? Let's find out!

The Components

The components are cards (except for the life tokens which are plastic cubes). Here's how the cards shake out:

  • Dungeon cards--Traps, Monsters, Treasure, Vaults, and more.
  • Power cards--These make up each player's hand. They're numbered 1-5 and each player gets a set.
  • Item cards--Depending on your character you will start with a few of these, but can also gain them in a Vault room throughout the Dungeon.
  • Boss Monsters--No one gets out of the Dungeon without facing a Boss Monster!

    There are also Money Tracker cards, Door cards, and Character cards, and these all help you keep track of the minimal housekeeping items throughout the game.

 

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The Setup

You'll set up the game by giving each player a Character, the number of Life markers and Items as determined by that Character, and a set of Power cards. You'll also create 5 Dungeon levels. You'll create stacks of Dungeon cards that are dealt out one stack at a time as you progress through the levels. Some of the Dungeon cards are shuffled face up so as you go through the dungeon you can see some of the rooms in advance and others remaining darkened until you enter them.

The Gameplay

To begin a Level, deal out the five cards of the first Level in a row. If the first card is face down, turn it over. For each Room card all players will select a card from their hand (either a Power or Item card) and place it face down in front of them. Then everyone simultaneously turns over their cards, and the room is resolved. How do rooms resolve? Glad you asked!

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  • Monsters--You combine the value of all played Power cards, and if it's more than the life of the Monster, it's defeated. But if the Monster isn't defeated, the player who played the lowest-valued card takes the damage.
  • Treasure Rooms--Whoever played the highest Power card gets the Treasure. For a tie the treasure is split.
  • Traps--All Traps are different. Some affect all players, while others will only affect the player with the most health or gold. 
  • Vaults--Vaults have a list of five items with a number under them. The power card played determines what item you gain.

Players clear each Room one at a time, until they've gone through all five Levels of the Dungeon. Then they face the Boss Monster at the end of level five. The Boss Monster is usually a big baddie that has a special power of some sort to make life difficult. After defeating the Boss Monster, the surviving players emerge from the Dungeon. But the player with the least amount of life left collapses dead from his wounds! The remaining players then check to see who has the most gold and that player is the winner!

The Verdict  

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While at Origins last year, a friend who was with me happened upon Dungeon Raiders while I was demoing other games. He said I should check it out and he was right! The game components themselves are sufficient. The cards look okay, and I wish there were gold tokens instead of the sliding card tracker, but none of that matters! This game is FUN!

It plays up to 5, and as far as I'm concerned: The more the merrier! We've played with the full five and there is so much backstabby tension it's great! You have people doing math to figure out what needs played in order to defeat the monster you're facing, meanwhile everyone is giving sideways looks at everyone else to see if they're going to do that, and trying to figure out how low of a card you can play without taking the damage! Such delicious skullduggery!!

I've played this with friends, gamers, and family and it works great across the board! It's the social deduction of dungeon crawlers and it's great!   

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Jeremiah's Final Verdict--If you haven't guessed by now, I love this game! No down time, large amounts of player interaction in a game that's fun, easy to learn, and has high replayability! Dungeon Raiders should be in your collection!  

 

Thanks for reading! Have you played Dungeon Raiders? What do you think?! If you like what you see here on TheologyofGames.com we would appreciate it if you shared us with your friends. Be sure to check out our podcasts, and all of the social media fun! You can find links below!