Dungeons & Dragons is one of the most influential games of all-time. It’s also one of the most intimidating. The game features a ton of rules and requires a group of players to have at least one that’s designated as Dungeon Master, which is a very difficult role to fill. To this day, I’ve never played actual D&D before and I’m not sure if I ever will.
With that said, that doesn’t mean I’ve been deprived of the dungeon crawling experience. D&D might be the original, though its core concepts have been streamlined, simplified, or just straight-up copied a countless number of times. This Board Game Night Playlist features dungeon raiding games that are fine-tuned for casual players to get their fix. Now let’s gear up and head into this introductory dungeon crawl playlist!
Ages 8 and up
Contained in a small box shaped like a treasure chest, Dungeon Roll distills the dungeon crawl experience down to a fairly simple dice game. Each player takes turns managing a group of heroes through a dungeon that increases in difficulty the further you go. Along the way, you’ll gain experience points and treasure, though some of your heroes are likely to die along the way. Make sure to escape before everyone dies, because if they don’t, you lose everything you would have gained. After three rounds, the player with the most experience points wins.
Dungeon Roll simplifies the action down to a push-your-luck game. You’re constantly hoping to roll the right group of bad guys or treasures that your squad can easily dispatch of, though things will inevitably get hairy and you’re going to have to make some tough choices. Do you risk going one more level in hopes of padding out your score? Or would sticking around later than you should have cost everyone their lives? As a quick warm-up before getting into to meat of this game night, Dungeon Roll fits perfectly.
Ages 8 and up
Dungeon! is literally a introductory version of Dungeons & Dragons. It features the same character classes and monsters from the source material and translates that action into a board game. You don’t have to worry about having a Dungeon Master, as one isn’t required here, and much of the complexity has been boiled down to a simpler game where you fight monsters to earn loot. For a newbie like me, this is definitely more up my alley. In fact, I think this is straightforward enough to be an introductory D&D-style experience for casual board game players or even kids. If you want to kick things up a notch, the Wizard class provides a challenge that more seasoned gamers will appreciate.
Ages 10 and up
Munchkin is a humourous and light-hearted take on the dungeon crawl. Players raid a dungeon in search of loot and monsters to slay. If things get hairy, you can even cut deals with fellow players to help you take down a big monster in exchange for treasure or levels. The first player to reach level 10 wins the game.
While the monsters in this dungeon can be intimidating, the real enemies are the players you’re questing with. Sure, they can help you, but they’re far more likely to screw you over. This holds especially true once you’re close to reaching level 10. Once the jokes on each card wear off, it’s the drama and hilarity between players that naturally occurs as the game progresses that will keep you coming back for more.