I love board games and I love Dungeons & Dragons, but as an adult with a full time job and other responsibilities, I don’t get enough leisure time to play either for as long as I would like, if at all in the case of D&D (though I’ve had some great RPG sessions using minimalist, low-prep rulesets in the last few years). There’s something about dungeon delving that appeals though; slaying monsters, looting and using the skills of each party member to do so has almost limitless appeal.
So thank goodness for 5-Minute Dungeon. Want the dungeon delving but don’t have time? Got 5 minutes? Who doesn’t, right?
Then this is the game for you. Grab a character and deck from the box, choose a dungeon boss, add doors to their deck (using the door number on the boss’s character card, also shuffling in two challenge cards per player) and away you go! Just defeat the boss within 5 minutes to win. Sounds easy, right?
Behind the door cards on the boss’s character card are encounters – these are monsters or obstacles that have certain combinations of symbols on them; play each of those symbols (which you’ll hopefully have on cards in your hand – and in some cases you might have special abilities on cards you’re holding too) to defeat the monster, then get the card – and those used to defeat it – out of the way and turn over the next door as quickly as you can (communication is key here, as players will be working together to defeat the monsters in real time!). Get through all of the doors (some of which are challenges, featuring mini-bosses that are harder to defeat) and you then have to defeat the boss itself.
It’s incredibly fast paced and can be really intense, despite the cartoony fantasy artwork that suggests a more light hearted experience. Gameplay is very simple, but working together to defeat monsters and doing it in the strict, 5 minute window that you have can be really stressful, albeit in an enjoyable way.
It’s simple enough that it can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages – there’s not much text involved, though some cards will require you to be able to read their effects as quickly as you can, and the special ability on your chosen player board will also need to be kept in mind during the proceedings.
Speaking of the player boards, I’m really impressed at the inclusiveness of them – they’re double sided, as each has a male and female variation of each character, which is fantastic. I wish that more games – if not all games – were as inclusive as this, instead of (as is the norm) only featuring one or two female characters to choose from out of the selection of characters on offer.
The rules suggest working your way through the bosses from easiest – the Baby Barbarian – to the most difficult in order to ‘beat’ the game. However, there’s no reason why you can’t tackle the bosses in whatever order you choose to once you’ve got a grasp of the mechanics (I’d still suggest easing yourself in with the Baby Barbarian, who still puts up quite a fight when you’re learning the ropes!).
It’s a really cool game. I like how it’s just about straightforward enough to get up and running in five minutes even on the first playthrough, as well as play a round in five minutes (you can use your own timer or download the 5-Minute Dungeon timer app from your mobile store of choice) – it’s very refreshing to come to the end of a game and realise, regardless of how well you did or didn’t do with your teammates, that you’d really like to play again. And then if you do, that it’ll still only be five minutes, plus a few minutes of set up time (the box has a great insert that makes handing out individual decks and setting up the boss very easy indeed too) for another game.
Working together efficiently and quickly is key to getting through the dungeon before your five minutes are up, making it a highly interactive experience, even if the strict time limit can make things a little fraught at times! Well worth checking out if you can find it.
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