Game Buzz: Dungeon Run

One of the more interesting segments of board game players is those who devour print-and-play games.  PnP games are those that are published in PDF form for you, the player, to print out yourself.  Some games can just be printed out on a single piece of paper, while others will be more expensive than a published game once you’ve constructed the materials and wasted a lot of ink and paper.  Some must be purchase, while others are free.  Poke around on BGG long enough, and you’ll start coming across Geeklists, forums, even a podcast that will assist you in finding some PnP games you might like to try.

Dungeon Run - image by BGG user screamingtruth

Occasionally, one of these games will catch the eye of a publisher.  Usually, it’s a smaller publisher, as with Cambridge Games Factory and Zombie in my Pocket.  In August, we’ll see the release of the published version of Dungeon Run, a formerly PnP game that is now coming out from Plaid Hat Games, publishers of Summoner Wars.  The game was designed by Mr. Bistro, with art by John Ariosa and Sergi Macet.  The game was originally a solitaire game, but the new version plays up to for.  The age range is 9 and up, and the game takes around 90 minutes to play.  Now, dungeon games are not new…there are a ton of games about diving into a dungeon, fighting monsters, and searching for treasures.  Plaid Hat has set their version in the same universe as Summoner Wars – in fact, the goal of the game is to find and escape with a Summoning Stone.

Some components - image by BGG user screamingtruth

The game comes with 8 hero miniatures and matching cards, 4 dungeon boss cards, 26 dungeon tiles, 80 ability tiles, 38 encounter tiles, 22 treasure cards, 4 artifact cards, 4 player references, 40 wound markers, 24 training markers, 20 dice, and a first player token.  At the start of the game, you’ll randomly select a secret boss that will not be revealed until the appropriate time.  You’ll start with the dungeon entrance tile on the board, with the boss lair tile set to the side (hiding the boss for the game).  You’ll use four standard dungeon tiles per player and two special dungeon tiles per player, all mixed into one pile.  Each player is dealt a character card – this is the hero you will control for the game.  Each player gets to draw two ability cards from that hero’s ability deck and choose one to keep.

I have to say that I love the way the rules have you select the first player.  I’m going to quote it here:

Each player…rolls a die, rerolling ties.  The highest roller takes the First Player token and can make fun of the other players.  Don’t worry – I’m sure it won’t backfire on you later.

Players take turns until someone escapes with the Summoning Stone, or until only one hero is not dead.  On your turn, you may take two actions: move, escape, battle, equip, search, or advance.  You can do them in any order, and you can do the same action twice in a turn.

MOVE: To do this, simply move from one tile to another.  You can’t do this if you share the tile with a monster.  If you’re going into a room that hasn’t been opened yet, draw a tile and place it, being sure to match the entrances so that there are no blocked hallways.  If you can’t place it, discard it and draw a new one.  If you can’t place any, you lose your action for the turn.  Any discarded tiles get reshuffled into the pile after a tile has been placed.  When you place a standard dungeon tile, you roll a die.  If you match the treasure rating, you draw a treasure card and place it face down on the tile.  If you match the encounter rating, you draw an encounter card and place it face up on the tile.  If you match both, the treasure goes under the encounter.  When placing a special tile, you follow instructions as printed on the tile.

ESCAPE: If you are on a tile with a monster, you can try to escape by rolling a number of dice equal to your skill rating.  If any of the numbers beat or tie the monster’s escape rating, you can escape, moving to a different tile.

BATTLE: This is where you try to “whack the snot out of monsters” (these rules are REALLY casual).  You can choose to fight a monster already on your tile, and you must fight a monster when you draw a monster card.  Battles work like this: first the monster attacks, with the First Player rolling a number of dice equal to the monster’s attack rating.  Next, the hero attacks by rolling dice equal to either his brawn or magic rating.  Then, you determine the results.  If a number rolled by a hero matches a number rolled by a monster, you can use it as a block, removing both dice from the battle.  Any number the hero rolls that is higher can be used as a hit (or a block).  Any unblocked hits adds one wound marker to hittee (monster or hero).  If the monster is defeated, it is added to the hero’s loot pile.  If the hero is defeated, it is knocked out and loses the remainder of its turn, losing one treasure or artifact.

You can also attack other heroes if you want, as long as there are no monsters present on the tile.  And it should be noted that monsters who do not share tiles with heroes will always move before the First Player’s turn.  The First Player decides where they go.

EQUIP: You have a primary hand, off hand, head, and body slot.  To use most treasures or artifacts, you must place it face up in one of these slots (indicated by the card).  You can add, swap, or remove items using this action.  You can also use it to trade with any other hero on your tile.  You may do this all as one action, though you can only trade with one hero per action.  If there’s a monster present, you can’t take more than one equip action per turn.

SEARCH: If there’s an available treasure card on your tile, you can use this action to grab it.  They can be equipped immediately without using an action, or can be added to your loot pile.

ADVANCE: You can discard any two encounter cards from your loot pile to place a training token by your hero card.  This allows you to increase one rating by one point.  You also can draw two new ability cards, keeping one and discarding the other.

There are some free actions that don’t take up a turn.  You can immediately attempt to disarm a trap upon drawing a trap card; you can assist another hero that you share a tile with; you can sabotage another hero that you share a tile with; you can remove a wound token after defeating a monster or disarming a trap; or you can summon (with the Summoning Stone only).

The Boss tile is placed at the end of a player’s turn when the last dungeon tile was placed.  You must now defeat the boss to take the Summoning Stone.  You must now make it to the entrance with the stone without getting killed.  During the first part of the game, when defeated, you are only knocked out.  In this part, when defeated, you are dead.  If you outlast all other heroes, or escape with the stone, you win.

So what do I think?  Well, it seems like it’s a very stripped down version of the big dungeon crawls.  Descent is the one that comes most readily to mind, but this game seems much much MUCH simpler.  Rather than having a bunch of spaces per tile, each tile is a space.  The dice rolling system is very stripped down.  It seems like this will be a very accessible game to a lot of people.  There are elements of cooperation as well as competition.  It seems that you can be really nice to someone, then turn around and stab ’em in the back.  You can also try to swoop in and take a monster they’ve been chipping away at.

One problem I’m having right now is with the First Player.  It seems that the First Player has a lot of power, especially since he decides where to move the monsters.  It doesn’t seem like the First Player ever changes until the end of the game – whoever has the Summoning Stone is the first player.  If the First Player rotated, that might appeal to me more.  As it is, whoever wins a die roll at the start of the game seems to have a bit of an advantage.  I don’t know how many choices the First Player will have in practice – I’ll just have to see when I play it.

The game looks like it’s going to cost about $50, much more expensive than Summoner Wars.  However, I think it will be a simple dungeon crawl that lots of people can enjoy, so it might be worth the expense.  I’m sure expansions will be in the works as well as time goes on.  Thanks for reading!



  1. Nice write-up! The First Player token rotates at the end of each round, so everyone will have a chance to harass their friends.



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