Designed by Aureliano Buonfino, Lorenzo Silva, Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino
Release Year: 2021 Complexity: Medium
👥 1-6 Players ⏰ 45-60 min 💸 ~$45 🔗 Buy
Dungeon Fighter has your team traveling through a dungeon where you will be fighting monsters by physically bouncing dice onto a target. Each round, you will select between two possible rooms, forcing you to make tradeoffs between speed through the dungeon, collection of loot, and the challenge of enemies you face. If you can make it through the three levels of the dungeon, you will battle a final boss for an opportunity to win the game.
The central mechanism of bouncing dice onto a target, which is often modified into various trick shots by monster, room, and weapon abilities, makes Dungeon Fighter an inherently light and funny game. Despite the dungeon-crawling theme complete with elements such as character abilities and equipment, the game retains more of a party game feel as players are laughing at their performance across a variety of situations. The art and theming reinforce the comical feel with a heavy dose of wackiness.
But underneath the silly facade is a cooperative game that still rewards skillful play and informed decisions. While bouncing dice has a certain level of unpredictability, you will find yourself getting better at it, and a more experienced group will feel like it is them, not randomness, that is controlling their destiny.
When battling each monster, the team has three colored dice and must decide how to allocate them among the next three players. Each player has a character with different abilities for each colored die, and these abilities will trigger if the dice land with the symbol side up. This means that in each new room, the team will immediately collaborate, discussing how it makes sense to split up the dice to maximize the abilities of those three players.
Each throw carries a certain amount of pressure, as missing the target entirely will cause the enemy to attack you, and the team only has three free throws to try to defeat the enemy. If all the colored dice have been used, the team must decide to either use white dice, which are discarded after use and would need to be purchased at a shop, or everyone must take damage equal to the monster’s level to get the three colored dice back again. Managing the party’s health is important because if all players are knocked out during a fight, you lose the game.
Player Counts - The party feel of Dungeon Fighter tends to make for a “the more the merrier” experience, though lower counts work great too as the group has a little more control and you each get to take more turns. While it supports solo, we can’t recommend it for a game where the fun is so reliant on sharing the experience with friends. The game technically caps at 6 players, but we have had great games at 7 players since there is nothing that prevents you from throwing in another character.
Abstract vs. Thematic - The funny, satiric dungeon-crawling theme is great here and gives the game a lot of flavor, but it is mashed with a dexterity game that really abstracts a lot of the thematic connections, so don’t expect it to feel as thematic as many other dungeon crawlers.
Luck vs. Skill - A completely new group might feel the game is really random, but the reality is that dexterity elements tend to be mostly skill-based. Our group has played this game a ton, and we can assure you, you can get really good at it.
Predictable Opposition vs. Unpredictable Opposition - Some of the unpredictability comes from the random dungeon and monster cards that can put you in tough situations, but it is all input randomness where the actual outcomes are resolved using your own dice-throwing skill.
Short Setup vs. Long Setup - The game takes a little time to set up as you get everyone their characters and set up the board and decks, but not too bad and it is generally fun to assign everyone’s goofy adventuring personas.
Easy to Teach vs. Hard to Teach - For a dexterity game that is quite funny, there are actually a surprising amount of rules and structure stemming from the dungeon crawling theme. That said, the fact that the game is cooperative means you can just explain the bare basics and help new players out along the way.
Low Setup Variability vs. High Setup Variability - The ceiling of variability here will really depend on how many of the sets you own, but the game has tons of variable setup baked into its DNA: randomized characters, randomized dungeon rooms, randomized monsters, etc., etc.
Things to Like
✅ Core Dice-Throwing Is Just Fun - All of Dungeon Fighter is built around the core activity of trying to bounce dice off the table and land them on a target. And, fortunately, that is just a fun thing to do! Even without all of the special shot effects, it is entertaining taking turns trying to land the best hits on the enemy.
✅ Tons of Abilities to Mix Things Up - But it is all of the variation on that core fun mechanism that really gives the game longevity and keeps things fresh play after play. Every room is a surprise in what new challenge awaits your team, and it is fun to be presented with new shot combinations that have you wondering if you will survive.
✅ Potential for Amazing Moments - And it is in those dire circumstances that some of the most memorable moments can emerge. Every crazy challenge sets the stage for beating the odds and doing something amazing, and when it happens, the entire table erupts in excitement. And given that a symbol on the bullseye is always an instant kill regardless of the monster’s health, the game ensures that the team can always hold out hope until the very end.
✅ Nice Balance of Light Fun and Depth - In a lot of ways, Dungeon Fighter is a strange combination of a goofy dexterity game and dungeon-crawling mechanisms that you would expect from a more serious game. But that combination really ends up hitting a nice sweet spot of providing light, casual fun within a framework that has a lot of variety and interest.
Things to Dislike
❌ Some Trick Shots Can Be Game-Enders - Most of the difficulty of the game rides on the team’s dextrous skill, and there are definitely shot conditions that can feel insurmountable if the team encounters them. Our group has always struggled with the “bounce the die over a card” shot (bounce over the flame in the second edition), and sometimes it can be a bummer for a shot like that to come up and feel like it will probably end the session.
❌ Some Players Might Struggle - The other implication of a game that relies on dexterity is that some players might just not be very good at it. And if a player really struggles with the core mechanism of landing dice on the target, something you might not know until you are all committed to playing, they are much less likely to have a good time.
Ryan (92 Plays) - 8 Daniel (55 Plays) - 8.5
Is It For You?
If you don’t enjoy dexterity games or are averse to goofy elements in games like rolling a die off of your nose, then it is going to be hard to recommend Dungeon Fighter. 👎
But if you want a cooperative dexterity game with a fun theme, enjoy the idea of attempting various trick shots, and like games that have the potential to create amazing moments, then Dungeon Fighter is a game that is definitely worth checking out. 👍