Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Dungeon! 2012

I've eagerly awaited the new Dungeon! Boardgame. Yes, I knew it would have some WotC silliness (and it does) but I still have my original copy in great shape (Roslof cover) and have enjoyed it a great deal over the years. It's a nice alternative when you want a break from a regular D&D campaign.

I like the new board. I would have liked more of a distinction between light orange and dark orange for levels 2 and 3. That should have been cleaned up. I also would have preferred true purple over pink for level 4. It doesn't have the monster illustrations on the board like the older version. I like those fanciful but meaningful aesthetic additions. It gave the game a certain charm. I did appreciate male and female characters, even though I think the over-produced, over-posed 4e art is terrible.

I have gripes with the monster/treasure/spell cards. The stock won't accomodate regular usage. They are simply too thin and won't hold up with regular wear and tear. Also, I found the cards too busy. They just don't need that much information. I want big monster illos, not boring stats. As I normally say with most WotC items, for-the-love-of-the-gods keep it simple. The cardstock character pieces are too tall, tip over, and make no sense. The pawns in the old game (although not very cool) were far more practical than the tall character stand-ins. We, as you can see, used some mins instead (you know, the ones with the decomposing plastic).

Finally, some of the logic of the game bugs me. For example, if you are republishing Dungeon! you are saying, very clearly, THIS IS A NOSTALGIA GAME and we are targeting a certain demographic. Yes, other folks might buy the game but - odds are - the target audience has played the original game at some point. With that in mind, why is a Gelatinous Cube located on level 5? Why is a Carrion Crawler located on level 6 along with a Purple Worm and the Red/Black/Blue Dragons? Similarly, for a nostalgia game why use the terrible monster and PC aesthetic of 4e? If Elmore was good enough for the the cover of the 4e redbox then I would have gone a different direction with this game. If you are going to be a bear, then be a grizzly, so to speak.

The board of my game was/is bowed pretty badly. That sucks.

In sum, I appreciate WotC republishing this game. So much so I bought two as my kids are young and will no doubt destroy the first copy over time (I'm realistic). Being completely honest, I am more inclined to use the board and reprint the cards from the original game, than use the monster cards provided. They are more simple and easier for the kids to read. In all I'm underwhelmed. If you have no other options and want to play then buy a copy, if you have the old game, stick with that one.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Or, you could play Megadungeon! (Shameless plug)

    Seriously, though, I have the original game and there were serious limitations with that - which is what prompted me to create Megadungeon! in the first place. I can't imagine that a version published by WotC could be anything but a let terrible let down.

  3. Hmm,it ate my response lol

    I was saying that I dont have a problem with the original as I approach it as a pop and pretzels family/friends sorta deal.

  4. Thanks for the review. It confirms my suspicions. I had a copy of the edition with the Roslof cover art, and I wish it was still intact. Instead of the WOTC version, I'll just buy a used copy of the TSR game to replace my old one (if I can find one for a somewhat reasonable price).

  5. Do the cards come in "break it apart" sheets? If so, it might be worthwhile to scan and print onto heavier cardstock (or at least scan the sheets so new copies can be made when the old ones fall apart. I played the hell out of this game back in the day. My copy was destroyed when it was too close to a black spray primer can explosion in about 1989 or so.

  6. I have the early 90s edition with the incongruous Easley cover of the cavalier on horseback and the Ral Partha minis. I love the game and still play it regularly.

    But that edition was not without it's flaws either. The level 1 and 2 chambers had different graphic design on the board, but the corresponding cards looked the same, meaning it was easy to confuse the cards and get them shuffled together.

    I always found the dwarf and elf had the best chance of winning the game too, because they had such low gold requirements that they could run around the easier upper levels whilst the stronger characters had to go traipsing around the far riskier deep levels. We rarely even bothered to explore levels 5 and 6. This could have been fixed with more pit traps that drop players down to the deeper levels.

    I also never liked that the game provides exactly the same number of monster and treasure cards as chambers. This meant that you could fairly easily predict what's to come if you've played the game a few times. ie go straight to level 2, because the monsters are weak and there's a +1 sword and a 3,000gp treasure to be had.

    But as I say, I love the game and play it often. Glad it's back in print and selling so cheap.

  7. I am happy to say I own both the 1981 version still as well as this newer one. All in all, they are both very fun games to play with my daughter. I'll be honest and say that the nostalgia factor makes it better. I remember it being more fun, but maybe that's because i was only eight at the time.

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