I’ve talked quite a bit on here about my love for tabletop roleplaying, and old school Dungeons & Dragons in particular. Though not an RPG itself, Dungeon Mayhem is a card game ostensibly set in the D&D universe, albeit with a much more cartoony look than players may be used to – along with very simple gameplay.
Contained in the base game are four unique characters, each representing a class that’ll be familiar to D&D players (Barbarian, Wizard, Rogue & Paladin). Each character has their own deck of 28 cards, along with a reference card and hit point tracker in their own colour. Life tokens and a character portrait token (used on the hit point tracker card) complete the contents.
The object of the game is to be the last character with any health; players take turns to draw a card, then play a card each turn. Each card has one or more symbols on it, which are used when the card is played. In some cases, these are character-specific powers – but most cards use the basic symbols that are common to all decks.
All cards except shields are played and then moved to the discard pile. Shelds are placed in front of the player who played the card; if that character is attacked (when another player plays a card showing sword tokens), the shield card takes that damage instead, until it has no ‘health’ left – at which point it is discarded and the character then takes any further damage that’s left over.
If a player runs out of cards, they can draw another two. If their deck runs out, their discard pile can be reshuffled to create a new draw pile. Play ends when only one character remains with health above zero.
It’s incredibly straightforward and very fast-paced. The symbols are clear and knowing what each one does becomes second nature almost immediately, with only the character specific powers needing a little more time to sink in.
It’s a very fun game,if a little chaotic – and, at times, more based on the luck of the draw than skill – with three or more players, but playing with two players removes what little decision making there is in the game, making it an awful lot less fun. The reference cards are a welcome touch though, even though the game is very simple to grasp – the cardboard tokens are a little flimsy, however.
There’s an expansion pack available too – Battle for Baldur’s Gate, with two new character decks – to add to the fun. Though not essential, it’s good to be able to mix up the characters a bit; like the base game, the expansion is also very reasonably priced. You certainly won’t be breaking the bank by investing in a copy of Dungeon Mayhem and its expansion (plus, the Baldur’s Gate themed expansion contains ranger Minsc and his Space Hamster companion Boo, which makes it near enough essential!). Excitingly, another expansion is on the way too, in which you can play as one of six famous D&D monsters.
It’s a great game for beginners or younger players, especially as it has a wonderfully colourful and witty aesthetic. It’s very quick too; often, even a four player game is likely to take no longer than fifteen minutes or so. The only issue is that the two player game is very underwhelming, but if you’re looking for a reasonably priced game for more than two players that’s very fast to learn and play, Dungeon Mayhem is a great choice.
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