Dungeon Dice (Boardgame)

A rollicking series of dice rolls determine your fate as you fight monsters to level up and gain loot in Dungeon Dice. Despite the dice, the players have meaningful decisions such as when to push their luck, when to commit their nonrenewable resources, and when to burn resources just to punish (and/or annoy) the other players.




Dungeon Dice
Publisher: Potluck Games
Ages: 8+
Players: 2-4 (5 w/expansion)
Time: 20-30 minutes
(Review copy provided by Potluck Games)

Unsurprisingly, Dungeon Dice is run almost entirely by dice. Large white dice represent monsters to fight that use black dice for their attack. Players gather resource dice in the form of equipment (blue), one-use potions and scrolls (red), and more powerful artifacts (yellow.) As players increase in power they get to roll level dice (green) and even track their experience points with a tracking die. One a turn, a player picks a monster die out of the bag and rolls it to determine its power. Each side of a monster die shows the type of monster and any special abilities (represented by an icon) except for one side that shows the reward for defeating the monster (potion, equipment, or artifact.) Rolling the “reward” side means you simply found the reward in an unguarded chest. Players are attempting to gain four Fame points to win the game. Fame is granted for defeating the more powerful monsters, gaining artifacts, and reaching sixth level with your character (by gaining 6 experience.)

The side of the monster die rolled at the start of the turn will indicate not only the monster’s abilities but also its power. It will have a power level of one to five (which is crazy powerful.) That is the number of black dice rolled for the monster’s attack. Monster power is indicated by color, with red, black, and gold sides representing the more powerful monsters.

Once the monster die is rolled a player can then decide to fight or to run away (with no penalty.) They may also ask for help from one other player at this time. Everything is negotiable in the game, so a player may assist for free or may require some sort of payment (or perhaps a chance at the loot if the fight is won.) To fight, the monster rolls its black fighting dice and the active player (and an assisting player if there is one) roll their ready equipment and level dice. The higher total wins. A loss means all participating players take a wound (and temporarily lose one of their level dice) and a win grants the active player the reward shown on the monster die while every participant also gains one experience point. The reward on a monster die is tied to its power. More powerful monsters might grant a locked chest while weaker ones only reward a one-use potion. Locked chests require a key (one of the red dice) and if a key is available, a player gains a powerful artifact die. If a player doesn’t have (nor can bargain for one) a key, they are simply awarded a blue equipment die (as if it were a normal chest.)

Combat is not a simple roll, there are a variety of special abilities that work for and against the combatants. Blue equipment dice provide an attack value but may also have special power icons such as armor (reroll opponent dice), swords (reroll your own dice), and still others (most of the monster powers) have even more interesting effects like stealing a die or casting spells. Spells are their own dice and are rolled when cast to see their effects. The fire spell typically, but not always adds fire damage, the healing spell heals wounds, and the frog spell turns an enemy into a level 1 frog! Of course, the extremely powerful “Turn Enemy into a Toad” spell only goes off successfully one time in six. (Only one side rolled would successfully cast the spell.) Only one of each spell can be used in a combat. Monsters with a spell ability are also immune to that ability.

Direct player interaction (other than haggling) happens during combat. Other players can use their red one-use dice at any time either for or against the active player. Devious players may even convince someone to bribe them to participate (or to not interfere.) As mentioned, almost everything is negotiable. One player may assist the fight while others cast spells and potions (or at least threaten to) help or hurt the players and monsters.

As players defeat monsters they gain experience. One of the more useful dice with which to fight are the green Level dice (sides 1,1,2,2,3,4). At level 1 you gain a single die, a second at level 3, and a third at level 6. These dice are rolled in every combat. However, if a character is wounded (from combat or some other reason) one of their green dice is removed from play until they are healed (from potions or healing spells.)

Play continues around the table until someone gains 4 Fame. Reaching level 6 grants players one Fame point. Each artifact owned by a player is worth one point (remember five equipment can be turned in for one artifact at any time.) Finally, defeating the more difficult monsters are worth Fame points. The easiest monsters (green and blue) award no points. Red monsters grant 1 Fame point and are kept on one’s player mat as a reminder (they can even be traded.) Black monsters are worth 2 points, and the golden Dragon die is worth three Fame points. If two players simultaneously gain 4 Fame they have a player vs player round of combat to decide the winner.

At face value, since the entire game is function of die rolls, one might incorrectly think it is completely based on luck. Sure, one lucky die roll can give a big boost at a critical time, but there are enough rolls (and enough dice) involved to smooth out large swings from lady luck. It is important to know when to run away, when to spend your one-use resources, when to ask for help, and when to go it alone. As will all games of this type, trading between players and/or meddling with others when it isn’t your turn, tends to even things out since a particularly lucky roller may find themselves with fewer friends. This type of game is extremely popular for gamers in their tween years. I’m not a huge fan of game that allow for a pick-on-the-leader mentality. However, one-use resources (the primary way players can mess with each other out of turn) are fairly scarce so ganging up on the leader is naturally limited. Another plus is that resources are entirely represented by dice, giving the game a surprisingly small footprint and portability. Dungeon Dice isn’t going to be a huge hit amongst the deeper strategy players, but those looking for a nice little romp that plays quickly will find much to like. (Come on, it’s a pile of DICE, people!)


If you have difficulty finding the game in stores, you can find it online at the Potluck Games web site.  Note that the game has many (big and small) expansions available (and some on the way.) On the one hand, this adds more variety to the game and increases the fun of discovery as players draw new dice from the bags. However, that trade-off does come with some additional rules and even more icons to learn. The sheer number of icons floating around can be overwhelming so I wouldn’t recommend using expansions with new players. Experienced players will enjoy trying out the new options opened up in the expansions.


Kid Factor:
Since all the game components are represented by dice, there is no reading involved at all. However, the game does have a large number of icons to learn. This gives the game a learning curve, but one that is attainable by younger kids – I’d nudge the age range a bit lower than 8 for a more experienced gamer. It is a conflict ridden game (players can help or hurt each other at almost any time) so be aware of any sibling rivalry problems.


Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!