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Dungeon Drop: A Whole New Type of Dungeon Crawl!

Dungeon Drop Box

Dungeon Drop
(Image courtesy of Jason Miceli and Phase Shift Games)

Most of the newer dungeon crawlers that come to mind tend to be really elaborate, but what about a game for those who enjoy the theme, but don’t have that kind of time or space? Allow me to introduce you to a new game from Phase Shift Games called Dungeon Drop! Dungeon Drop is a 2-4 player game designed by Scott R. Smith and illustrated by Marília Nascimento. Smith is not only a game designer, but also a comic artist, writer, and teacher. Smith’s other upcoming games include House Ninjas (2-6 players) and All Part of the Master Plan (4-6 players). Nascimento’s art style is very colorful, cute, and chibi-esque, which has not only been wonderfully adapted to fit the theme of Dungeon Drop but adds to its charm and appeal! Though currently live on Kickstarter, an earlier incarnation of Dungeon Drop was the recipient of the 2018 Game Pieces Only Challenge held by The Game Crafter. The game has evolved a bit between then and now – including the development of a really awesome, attention-grabbing box!

Dungeon Drop Dungeon

An example of a 2-player game of Dungeon Drop after having “dropped the dungeon”
(All photos of Phase Shift Games products were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise stated)

Using the fact that Dungeon Drop won the Game Pieces Only Challenge as a hint about the included components, the game is very unique in regards to both setup and gameplay. Within the current version of the game, there are 6 Races, 6 Classes, and 6 Quest cards. It is important to note that this may change depending on what stretch goals are reached during the current Kickstarter campaign. The first step in setting up the game is for each player to receive their Hero. Each player is dealt a Class and a Race card face up and at random. The Race card not only determines the character race being played, but also denotes a player’s initiative, health, and special Race Ability. Once initiative order has been determined (beginning with the lowest number), each player also receives a Turn Order Marker. Players additionally receive a random, face down Quest card. These Quest cards are meant to be kept a secret from other players, but may otherwise be looked at any time and as often as needed. Also included in the box are a number of large and small cubes (this does include the small dice). Before each game, all of the cubes need to be separated out based on size. Once this is done, players will place the larger cubes back in the box with the exception of the large, red “Dragon” cube, which is placed with the smaller cubes. All of the smaller cubes (and the dragon) are then gathered up and literally dropped down onto the table to form the dungeon. It is recommended to drop the cubes from a height of about 1.5 ft. (18 inches) so that the resulting dungeon lands in more of an even spread. Once dropped, the game is ready to begin!

Dungeon Drop Room

An example of a “room” full of loot!

Each game of Dungeon Drop is played over 3 rounds with each player taking only 1 turn per round. A player’s turn consists of 3 parts: Explore, Act, and Loot. When exploring, a player reaches blindly into the box and draws out a number of cubes determined by the number of players (6 cubes for 2-players, 4 in a 3-player game, 3 in a 4-player game). These cubes are then added to the dungeon by dropping them in the same manner as when the dungeon was being set up. The active player then chooses between either their Race Ability or their Class Ability. Some of these abilities include re-dropping certain types of cubes, removing cubes from the game, collecting extra cubes, or even flicking cubes! Once a player has activated their chosen ability, they then are able to loot a “room.” A “room” is formed by selecting 3 (white) Pillar cubes that do not include any other Pillars inside it and would not cause a player’s HP to be reduced to zero or below. After making their selection, the player then collects all of the cubes inside the “room” as loot. This does include the monsters! All collected monsters are placed on the hearts on the player’s Race card to signify lost health (Goblins = 1 damage, Trolls = 2 damage, etc.), but any other collected treasure cubes are placed in a player’s Stash.

Dungeon Drop Hero

My Half Orc Rogue hero after a somewhat successful delve!

Once all players have had their turn, they each count the total number of cubes they have in their stash. The player with the fewest cubes becomes the new first player and all turn-order markers are redistributed in this manner (the player with the most number of cubes goes last). It is then time to start a new round. At the end of 3 rounds, the game ends, the box should be empty of large cubes, and it is time to tally up the points. To score loot, players reveal their Quest cards, unlock any chests that can be paired with key cubes (roll the chest dice to learn its value), and compare all remaining loot to their player aid and Quest cards. The player with the highest score wins.

In an era where most dungeon delving games are chock full of miniatures, complex maps, or pre-planned scenarios, Dungeon Drop is none of those and yet holds its own in comparison. With the actual dropping of the components, each game is guaranteed to be completely different from the last! All in all, Dungeon Drop is a great game! The aforementioned artwork, the creative use of the components and the simplicity of the mechanics all tie together for a very unique experience – and one that I can’t wait to enjoy again. After multiple plays, I feel it still hits the table pretty often when we are looking for something to play that will be quick, light, and fun with any of my game groups. Some of these groups a little more competitive than others, however, so to determine the validity of a room we pulled out one of my favorite accessories that I picked up for my X-Wing collection: my horizontal laser pointer! That thing is awesome! With it, we were able to place a straight line of light to determine where the walls of the room would be by lining up the pillars under the laser. It eliminated any possible cheating, helped our younger players to visualize where physical walls would be, and answered the questions of “is this touching that pillar or not?” when trying to make larger rooms. When playing at smaller player counts, we found that the game is incredibly quick! Though the box claims the game is played in 20 minutes, our smaller games were over in less than 10. While I don’t think this is a bad thing, it did leave me hungry for more so we just played again. We also had an issue in a few of our smaller games with certain abilities not really working well without additional players. To deal with this, we chose to simply swap them out for new cards. Overall, I really can’t recommend this enough for gamers who, like me, are looking for something new and unique. Check it out today!

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2 Comments

  1. This sounds like a fun, approachable game and I don’t think I’d mind how quick it is. Wow, they’re doing really well on Kickstarter too. Thanks for writing it!

    • KristaG

      I’m excited to try out the other game modes that weren’t part of the prototype. I’m all in on this one!

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