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Review: Dungeonville

by Tonya Foust

Welcome to Dungeonville. Congratulations! You are a mad wizard who has inherited a terrible dungeon stocked with monstrous beings.1 John Kovalic, creator of Dork Tower, has been a busy little beaver lately, as his art graces yet another game. Dungeonville is a game designed by Mike Selinker and James Ernest, and produced by Z-Man Games. This game is for 2-5 players ages 10 and up and has a playing time of about an hour.

The game designers describe the game as follows:

You are a mad wizard who has inherited a terrible dungeon stocked with monstrous beings. For entertainment, you and the other mad wizards in your neighborhood will recruit parties of hapless adventurers to raid each others dungeons and see whose is the most lethal. Your goal is to be the first to kill seven of the other wizards adventurers.2

What's inside the box?
The game consists of 64 Adventurer cards, 5 Dungeon locations, 160 Dungeon cards (32 cards per Dungeon), 6 Town cards, 5 Dungeon deeds, 1 Seeing stone card, 5 colored plastic pawns and 75 Blood tokens in colors matching the pawns.


Adventurer Cards: Adventurers have a value from 1-64. The lower the number the better they are in combat, but the less gold they can carry out of a dungeon (and the less effective they are in a dungeon). Gold is used to recruit more adventurers; it is a certainty that you will need more as many of your adventurers will die either through combat or in the dungeons. By recruiting smartly and balancing your party you can maximize your benefit to win the game.

Dungeon Locations, Cards and Deeds: Each Dungeon has a separate entrance sheet with its name and a place for the treasure cards for that dungeon. There are 160 Dungeon cards. These cards are divided into 5 decks of 32 cards each, 1 deck per dungeon. Each card shows either the room name, dungeon value (a letter value that corresponds to the Adventurers skill), and gold value or the item name and description. Each dungeon has a Deed associated with it. These deeds are used to determine which dungeon you have control of.

Town Cards: The six town cards depict six locations in town. Five of them are places to recruit adventurers: the street, the inn, the temple, the guild, and the tavern. The sixth location, the deed house, is only used for games with less than 5 players.

Seeing Stone: The seeing stone simply identifies the first player for that round, but also helpfully lists the turn order.

Pawns and Blood Tokens: Standard plastic pawns in the player colors (red, yellow, blue, green, purple). The Blood Tokens are plain circular chits printed on light cardboard in the five player colors.

Gameplay Setup: Each player randomly draws one of the dungeon deeds, describing which of the five dungeons he controls. You can only control one dungeon at a time. Each player chooses a color and takes the pawn and blood tokens in that color. The five dungeon decks are shuffled, and each is placed on their appropriate location. The town is laid out with the five locations (and the deed building if there are less than five players). The adventurer cards are shuffled and finally one adventurer is placed at each of the five town locations as described below.

Order of Play: Dungeonville is played on a rotating round-robin basis. There are 5 stages in each round. The Seeing Stone indicates who the first player is each stage and is passed at the end of the round. The 5 stages are Recruitment, Reconnaissance, Combat, Exploration and Collection, each being described below:
  • Recruitment
    • In order to enter the dungeons, you need to have Adventurers. To get Adventurers, you have to recruit them from the town. You do this, one player at a time until each player has at least 3 Adventurers.
    • To recruit the Adventurers, there are 5 locations in the town, each with a specific cost the Adventurer found there. The costs range from 0 gold to 40 gold.
    • Now here is the fun part. The Adventurers are classified by their rank (1 - 64) as well as their skill (A - E). As stated above, the lower the number the better they are. This also means the lower the number, the more expensive they are. Each of the 5 available Adventurers is placed in numerical order, the highest rank under the 0 gold town location (the Street) down to the lowest rank under the 40 gold town location (the Tavern). Each Adventurers skill will be a determining factor in whether you hire them or not. The skills rank from A (best) to E (worst) for each dungeon. So if you have a party of three with A in the dungeon you wish to enter, you have a good dungeon raiding party. An Adventurer's dungeon fighting ability is inversely proportionate to his character fighting ability. The assassin, who is rank 1 and thus can kill every other character has a skill of E in all five dungeons, which means he will almost always die; while the rank 64 mule has a skill A in all the dungeons. Most characters have more varied dungeon skills. The Adventurers also have a color associated with them. This will be explained later, under Combat.
    • As you pick your Adventurers, the town is replenished from the Adventurer pile and reshuffled accordingly so that the highest rank is always in the street and the lowest rank is always in the tavern.
    • On the first turn only there's a special rule where you have 40 free gold to spend; afterward you must spend gold won in dungeons.
  • Reconnaissance
    • In this stage, starting with the player who has the Seeing Stone, you take your pawn and place it on the dungeon you wish to explore.
  • Combat
    • Once the Reconnaissance stage is complete, if there are any dungeons that have 2 or more player pawns, those players must battle to determine who gets the right to enter the dungeon.
    • Combat works like this. You take your Adventures and organize them into a random order. (if you have more than 3 you only get to use 3 of them.) Remember that the lower the Rank number, the more effective in combat the Adventurer will be. The combat is played out a little like war. The players involved then flip over their first card and the adventurer with the lowest number kills the others. The exception here is if the colors of the Adventurers match, then rather than killing the opponent, you recruit that Adventurer into your party. You get a blood token from the player you defeat. If you are in combat against more than one player, you only get a blood token from the weakest (highest Rank) Adventurer. This is repeated for the second and third cards.
    • At the end of combat the loser, the player who lost the most Adventurers, is sent home. Only the winner is allowed to explore the dungeon.
  • Exploration
    • Once the Combat stage is over, the players who still have their tokens on a dungeon can explore that dungeon. Again, starting with the player with the Seeing Stone, you turn over the top card on the dungeon deck.
    • If the card has a letter and value on it, you must lose one of your Adventurers whose skill matches that rooms letter. If you have more than one, you must choose one to die and place a blood token on the dungeon location. Then you must turn over the next card.
    • If you do not have any Adventurers whose skill matches, then you have two choices. You may continue to explore the dungeon or you may escape, take your treasure with you and end your turn in this stage. Dont forget to take you pawn off the Dungeon Location to show that you are finished.
    • If the card is an item, you place the in your carried treasure and turn over the next card.
    • You can only escape the dungeon if the card you turn over is not an item and none of your Adventurers die.
    • Another thing to consider is that you can only carry as much gold as the combined total of your Adventurers ranks, anything else must be discarded before you leave the dungeon.
    • If your Adventurer party is wiped out, place all your treasure cards from this round of exploration into the discard pile and move your pawn off the Dungeon Location.
  • Collection
    • When you are finished with the Exploration stage, take the treasure you have collected from the dungeon and place it in your treasury. This gold can now be used to recruit more Adventurers.
    • If there are fewer than 5 players, you can also use this gold to buy the dungeon in the Deed House. You must pay 50 gold and then exchange your deed for the new one.

Winning the Game: The game is over when you have collected 7 blood tokens. The blood tokens can either be from combat or from the Dungeon Location. However, if you have your own blood tokens in your dungeon, they count against you for your total. If a player has 7 or more points, you reveal your dungeon deed and claim victory.

I have played this game a few times with different numbers of people. I can honestly say that a full game of 5 has been the most fun. This game, while relatively simple on the surface, has twists that make for fun and interesting times.

This is a game that can be played over and over and never lose the innocent charm of adventure. It is truly never the same game twice.

1: Page 1; Dungeonville Rules, Copyright 2005, Z-Man Games
2: Z-Man Games website - Dungeonville

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