- For ages 9 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 2 players
- Approximately 15 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Semi-Cooperative Play
- Hand/Resource Management
- Bluffing and Misdirection
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Explore the depths of a dark and dangerous dungeon with a reluctant ally
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
What is it about a deep and dark dungeon full of nasty monsters that appeals to a hero? Is it the promise of treasure? The thrill of action? The glory to be gained? Or do heroes explore a dungeon’s depth simply because “it’s there”? Whatever the reason, heroes have been venturing into dungeons since the first tales were told. What is not told by the storytellers is that a hero’s best ally could also be their worst foe. Watch your back in the darkness…
Of Dungeons Deep, designed by Jason Glover and published by Grey Gnome Games via the Game Crafter, is comprised of 18 Dungeon cards, 12 “Gnome” Character cards, 12 “Centaur” Character cards, 4 “12 mm” standard six-sided dice (2 blue, 2 green), 2 “16 mm” standard six-sided dice (1 blue, 1 green), and 10 Power Crystals (also referred to as “Energy Crystals” in the game – apparently, Mr. Glover couldn’t make up his mind – *smirk*). It’s worth noting that this game was a finalist in the Micro Game Challenge hosted by the Game Crafter and sponsored by All Us Geeks and Father Geek.
Game Set Up
To set up the game, first separate the cards into 3 different decks. There should be 1 Dungeon deck, 1 “Gnome” Character deck, and 1 “Centaur” Character deck. Shuffle the Dungeon deck and remove from play the first 3 cards. Do not let any player see these cards. Place the Dungeon deck, face-down, in the middle of the playing area. Draw the next 3 cards and place them, face-up, in a row next to the Dungeon deck. The row should separate the 2 players from each other.
Second, give 1 player the Centaur deck and another player the Gnome deck. Give t the player with the Centaur deck all the green dice and give the player with the Gnome deck all the blue dice.
Third, each player now shuffles their Character deck, places it face-down in front of them, and draws the first 6 cards. Leave room next to the Character deck for a discard pile. The cards drawn are the player’s starting hand. Players should look at their cards, but keep them hidden from their opponents at all times. Players should set the large six-sided die to “6” and place it next to their deck. This indicates their character’s starting hit points. This die is referred to as the Hit Point die for the duration of the game. The two remaining smaller dice are set aside for the moment and will be used later in the game.
Fourth, each player is given 5 Power Crystals. These should be set by their Hit Point die. When completed, the game playing area should look something like the following.
This concludes the game set up. Time to explore the dungeon!
Enemies and Treasure!
The dangers of the dungeon are known to the players. The Dungeon cards will either represent an enemy or a treasure. The goal is to claim as many enemies and treasures as possible, while at the same time surviving.
Monsters and nightmares lurk in the darkness. They call the dungeon their home and they do not take kindly to trespassers. Each “Enemy” Dungeon card lists health of the enemy, the amount of damage it will inflict if not defeated, the amount of Glory Points it will be worth at the end of the game (if the player’s character survives), and any inherent weakness the enemy has. If the enemy does have a weakness listed, any damage that is of the same type does double its normal amount.
“Enemy” Dungeon cards also drop equipment and items that can be used by the players during the game. When the player collects the defeated “Enemy” Dungeon card, the bottom of the card will list a weapon, armor, or special item. These cards can be used during the game (selected as 1 of the 2 cards played per dungeon level) to improve a character’s odds of survival!
Hidden in the dark are large chests of treasure guarded by the creatures that walk the passageways of the dungeon. A “Treasure” Dungeon card must be defeated in the same manner as an “Enemy” Dungeon card, but a treasure chest does not inflict damage on those who attempt to open it. If a player has a “key”, they will find that opening the large treasure chests is a simple task.
Character Cards and Abilities
By and large, what players will be most focused on is the amount of damage a character inflicts. However, some of the cards also provide special abilities the player can take advantage of to get the upper hand or deftly deflect an enemy’s wrath. Special abilities include special attacks that might do more damage to certain enemies and random damage (determined by rolling 1 of the 2 smaller six-sided die).
Note that the two different characters (the Centaur and the Gnome) are not evenly matched. The Centaur is a stronger and more capable physical warrior, but has no magic. The Gnome has special powers to attack an enemy and uses their weaknesses against them, but is a poor physical warrior. Individually, the Gnome and the Centaur will not survive the dungeons on their own. Weapons, armor, and useful items can be found in the dungeon’s depth to offset a character’s perceived weakness, but the players will have to work together if they want to survive.
Of course, how much assistance they should give each other is a point of some debate. Only one player can win the game, but neither player can win the game alone. At least, not without great risk. Until the players make their way out of the dungeon, they must be allied against a common foe and begrudgingly work together for their mutual survival.
Dungeons Deep and Dark
Of Dungeons Deep is played in rounds and turns. There are a total of 5 dungeon levels (represented by a spread of 3 cards each) to explore. Each dungeon level consists of 4 phases. A typical dungeon level and its phases are summarized here.
Phase 1: Select First Cards
Each player selects 3 cards from their hand. These are placed face-down, one per Dungeon card. Each player has their own side to play their cards on. When completed, both players should have 1 card each next to each of the 3 face-up Dungeons cards. Then both players flip over to reveal their cards. Any card that has an immediate action that needs to be taken should be resolved at this time.
Phase 2: Select Second cards
Each player now selects 3 more cards from their hand and repeats the same steps completed in the first phase. Before the cards are revealed, players can place Power Crystals next to their cards. Each Power Crystal gives the player a +1 to the total damage dealt. Once both players are ready, the second cards are flipped over and revealed.
Phase 3: Calculate Damage
Players now calculate the total damage they did to each Dungeon card, one Dungeon card at a time.
- If the total damage inflicted by both players is EQUAL TO or HIGHER THAN the “Enemy” Dungeon card’s Health Points, the enemy is destroyed! The “Enemy” Dungeon card is given to the player who did the MOST damage (or to the player with the highest valued card in case of a tie). The “Enemy” Dungeon card is placed, face-down, in the player’s discard pile next to their Character deck.
- If the total damage inflicted by both players is LESS THAN the “Enemy” Dungeon card’s Health Points, the player who did the LEAST damage reduces their Hit Point die value equal to the amount of damage the enemy inflicts. In case of a tie, both players reduce their character’s Hit Point die.
Note: “Treasure” Dungeon cards do not inflict damage if the total number of damage inflicted is LESS THAN the treasure’s Hit Points.
Phase 4: Clean Up
The players now take all their played cards and place them, face-down, in their discard pile. Any “Enemy” or “Treasure” cards not claimed are discarded for the duration of the game. All spent Power Crystals are also removed for the duration of the game.
Three new Dungeon cards are now drawn and placed, face-up. This is the next level of the dungeon any surviving character get to explore.
Finally, each player draws 6 new cards from their Character deck. If they cannot draw a total of 6, they should shuffle their discard pile to create a new Character deck.
Ending the Game
The game continues as described above until one of the two following conditions are met.
- If both player’s characters expire in the dungeon before completing the 5th level, both players lose the game. Better luck next time, adventurers.
- If only one player completes the 5th level of the dungeon, they are the winner by default.
- If both players complete the 5th level of the dungeon, each player adds up the Glory Points earned from their collected “Enemy” and “Treasure” cards. Any remaining unspent Power Crystals award an additional +1 Glory Point per crystal. Additionally, every Hit Point the character has is equal to +1 Glory Point. The player with the most Glory Points wins the game! If there is a tie, the player with the highest value “Enemy” card wins the game.
To learn more about Of Dungeons Deep, visit the game’s web page on the Game Crafter.
I’m a HUGE fan of the semi-cooperative card game, Cutthroat Caverns. The game requires players to (begrudgingly) work together, but not fully. The monsters players encounter simply cannot be defeated without the help of others, but only one player can be the winner when the game comes to an end. As such, players have a very loose alliance with each other that is based on mutual need to survive, but that’s about as far as it goes. Greed almost always wins out and players turn on each other in the darkness to gain the advantage. A bit like cannibalism (survival of the fittest), I suppose, but it works and is a lot of fun to play. Of Dungeons Deep appears to have this same type of game play, but with only 2 players. Right off the bat you know that only one of you is going to win, but both of you cannot possibly hope to survive all 5 levels of the dungeon on your own.
I predict the Gamer Geeks will enjoy this game very much with possibly mixed results from the Parent Geeks if the Child Geeks flat-out reject it. If the Child Geeks enjoy the game, the Parent Geeks are going to, too. Parents are funny that way…
Teaching Of Dungeons Deep is best done by example. I suggest you play through a single dungeon level before you play the game to demonstrate how cards interact. It’s also very important that all the players know how to read, as the cards included in a player’s hand must be kept secret until revealed.
After teaching the game to my oldest little geek, I asked him his thoughts on Of Dungeons Deep so far.
“I like how we have to kind of, not really, sort of work together to win!” ~ Liam (age 9)
We’ll said! Semi-cooperative games tend to throw a lot of emotional curve balls at players. I’ve had mixed levels of success with the Child Geeks in any game where a player blatantly targets another in hopes of harming their game play. Many times, the Child Geeks feel picked on. But that was then, and according to my little geek, he’s 9-years-old now and a man. Let’s play the game and see if it provide deep and entertaining game play or is ultimately a shallow experience.
Of Dungeons Deep is not as back-stabby as I originally predicted, but there is a lot of bluffing and misdirection. For the Child Geeks, they rather enjoyed themselves, and even became rather disgusted with their Parent Geeks when they didn’t play their cards right. The way the Child Geek went about playing the game was a reflection of their personality. The Child Geeks who liked to play in teams did all they could to help slay the monsters, but failed to get the majority of points as a result. Nevertheless, these Child Geeks always explored all 5 levels of the dungeon, which is a major victory in its own right. The Child Geeks who were more competitive – and let’s face it – sneaky, played with a surprising level of guile! I was fooled by several Child Geeks and their sweet smiles. Serves me right. These Child Geeks won many points, but their aggressive trickery more times than not left them alone, in the dark, without any opportunity to finish the dungeon alive. Regardless of the Child Geeks’ play style, they all enjoyed themselves and really liked playing Of Dungeons Deep. According to one Child Geek, “I really like how you have to work together and all the neat things you find. I also like that you don’t have to share the treasure!” All the Child Geeks voted to approve Of Dungeons Deep.
The Parent Geeks, as predicted, very much enjoyed Of Dungeons Deep and gave it their approval, too. What I did not predict was how much fun the non-gamers would have! According to one non-gamer Parent Geek, “I have no idea what a centaur is, but I know they kick butt. I really like this game!” Yes, at it turns out, Of Dungeons Deep is easy enough for players who know nothing about classic fantasy! Enjoyed with their peers, their family, and their terribly sad friends who don’t know what a Dracolich is, all the Parent Geeks voted to approve Of Dungeons Deep.
The Gamer Geeks enjoyed Of Dungeons Deep right from the start, but were left feeling disappointed with it after several games. Let me restate that a bit slower. After….several….games. The Gamer Geeks played Of Dungeons Deep, and then immediately played it again, and then again. They very much enjoyed the competitive semi-cooperative element of the game play and the light deck-building mechanism that is just below the game’s surface. The game was found to have a surprisingly deep level of strategy and tactics, despite being playable in less than 10 minutes if the players pushed it. What they didn’t care for, however, was the repetitive cards. According to one Gamer Geek, “After you play this game about 5 times, it doesn’t offer you anything new. I want different characters, different monsters, and more treasure!” All the Gamer Geeks agreed on two very important points. First, they thought that Of Dungeons Deeps needed more cards. Second, they loved the game. All the Gamer Geeks voted to approve Of Dungeons Deep.
Of Dungeons Deep is a lot of fun, but feels somewhat incomplete, as the Gamer Geeks suggested. I, too, wanted more enemies and more treasure. I also wanted to dig down deeper into the dungeon. However, we must keep in mind that this game was specifically designed to be a “micro game”, which means its lack of game play length and game components was intentional. I can think of no greater compliment to give a game than saying you “wish you could spend more time with it.” I have very much enjoyed my time with Of Dungeons Deep and look forward to exploring it again. I can always make my own cards, but I’m not sure the game world is ready for Sir Patsy the Pink Paladin.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.
Thanks Cyrus and Co.! I am glad you guys enjoyed your time with ODD. I fully plan on adding an expansion or 2 in the future. I agree that more enemies and new characters would give the game more replay value!
Pingback: Today in Board Games Issue #114 - Today in Board Games