GAME REVIEW: Dungeon Busters

This little push-your-luck game was released in Japan a few years ago, and is finally getting its American release from Mayday games.  It looked cute.  But does being cute make it a good game?  Let’s find out!

DUNGEON BUSTERS (2016; U.S. Retail Release) Designed by Tomohiro Enoki; Published by Mayday Games – For 3-5 players and takes about 15 minutes to play. 

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The game plays in 3 quick rounds.  Players will be taking on the role of Japanese Anime-looking adventurers, going through a dungeon and fighting monsters, collecting treasure along the way.

Each player will get a set of 6 battle cards in the colored character they selected.(either 1-6 or 2-7, depending on player count).  Each player will also take three gems, one of each color (red, blue, yellow).  One player will choose to be the leader of the expedition.  They will be the leader throughout the game.

There will be 3 decks of dungeon cards that the players must go through.  1 deck for each round.  There are 5 cards in each deck, with one removed before the start of every round.  So only 4 monsters will be fought each round.  There is also a spoils card that is placed in the middle of the table.  The game is ready to begin.

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Here is how a game turn plays out.  The leader will reveal the top card of the current dungeon deck.  They will announce the monster type, and it’s health points.  Sometimes they have low health (like 4), and sometimes they have really high health (like 14).

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There will also be one or more treasure chests listed on the bottom of the card.  Those are the rewards.

Players will try to defeat the monster together.  However, they’re not necessarily working together, as they want to be the first one to get the treasure listed on the card.

Simultaneously, players will play one of their battle cards face down.  Once everyone has a battle card in front of them, the leader says, “Bust it!” and everyone reveals their cards to see if they defeated the monster.

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If any players played the same card as someone else, then BOTH of those cards are ignored.  After that, add up the numbers on all battle cards.

If the number is equal to or higher than the monster’s health, they are victorious.  The player with the lowest numbered card gets the first treasure chest listed, and will take the gems listed on it.  If there are more than 2 chests, then the player with the next lowest number takes the next chest, and so on.  Also, if there are any gems on the spoils card, they will be collected starting with the player who played the lowest card.

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If the number is lower than the monster’s health, then the players are defeated. The player with the lowest card will lose all of one gem color, the one they have the most of, and place them on the spoils card.

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After the third dungeon, the game is over.  Players will add up their gems.  There is a set collection element here too.

  • Score 1 point for each gem.
  • 3 points for each complete color set
  • and 3 points for having the most gems of a single color (most yellow, most red, etc.)

And that’s it!  Player with the most points is the winner.

This game is very quick. It says 15-30 minutes, but you can even play this in 10 minutes.  For sure you can play 2 games in 30 minutes.

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The production is decent.  I enjoyed the cute artwork.  The monsters look cool and the heroes are adorable, especially the Cat Priest.  Soooooo cute!

The game this reminded of a bit was Bloodborne: The Card Game.  Now, it’s not as complex as that game, but the way you simultaneously play cards and reveal them, and going through a dungeon battling large monsters, definitely made me think of it.

This might sound crazy, but I think I may enjoy this one a little more.  I normally like more complex games, but I like how light this is.  But you still have to make hard decisions.  Which card do you play?  You can play the lowest card and hope that other players play high to defeat the monster, but what if they play identical cards, then the monster will defeat you, then you’re stuck with the lowest card and have to get rid of some gems.

That’s about all there is to the game, but that’s okay.  Because the game is so quick, it doesn’t have to do anything else.  It’s fun to try to negotiate which cards to play, but then backstab your group and play a totally different card than you told them you were going to. But that strategy can backfire too, because what if everyone has the same idea as you?

There’s not much more I can say about this one.  If you like quick push your luck games, with a hint of take-that  and backstabbing, you should check this one out.  I think this would be a great gift for middle school kids.  I played this with my group and it’s quickly becoming a favorite.  In fact, a few of my students played this straight for 2 hours!  They were just laughing and talking smack to each other, having a blast.

Honestly, this isn’t my style of game normally, but for what this game is, and what it was going for, it’s terrific.  I actually liked playing this with my students, and was less convoluted and frustrating as Bloodborne.  A solid push-your-luck dungeon crawl.

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