Dungeon Lords is a game for 2 to 4 players. You take the role of a young aspiring dungeon lord (just 15 to 20 decades old) who is trying to get a dungeon lord license. The Ministry of Dungeons gives you a trial period during which you attempt to build a high-quality dungeon and protect it from adventurers. At the end of two years, your dungeon is visited by Ministry officials who give you points for your engineering and tactical achievement.

Dungeon Lords card samples

"They meet in a tavern. They quaff a few ales. Before the night is over, the strong warrior, the wily wizard, the committed priest and the sneaky thief form an inseparable party of adventurers, ready to rid the world of evil. And wouldn’t you know it? There just happens to be some evil within easy walking distance. A dark lord has filled a nearby hill with tunnels, traps, treasure, and trolls.

And so the next morning (or the next afternoon if too many ales were quaffed) the heroes set out to fight for Right, conquer the dungeon, and punish the wicked lord (by taking all his treasure, of course). It’s a classic scenario, and any veteran dungeon crawler will tell you that’s the way things ought to be.

But what about that dark lord? Does anyone ever think about his feelings? Those adventurers, who have never done an honest day’s work in their lives, can not begin to imagine how much effort goes into building a respectable dungeon. They have no idea how hard it is to tunnel through granite, how expensive good traps are these days, how difficult it is to find qualified imps, or how much food it takes to feed a troll. And the bureaucracy! Dungeons must meet rigid safety specifications, gold mining is subject to strict regulations, and taxes are due whenever the Ministry of Dungeons feels like it. And as soon as the dungeon is built, some band of do-gooders comes along and hacks everything up. Life is not easy for a dungeon lord."

Dungeon Lords board
images © Z-Man Games

User Reviews (12)

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6
Norway
I play yellow
Asmodee fan
Count / Countess
9
89 of 96 gamers found this helpful
“Smack your imp up”

“This is not for heroes” it is stated on the box. Actually, I would say it is, because the game is quite heavy, and not for newcomers. However, the game comes with two versions: beginner and advanced!

The rulebook is pure fun to read. Almost everything that is needed to know is told by an imp in a funny manner, and it’s written in such a way that makes it easy to remember. An example of this is how the food purchase works. The first player sends an imp to buy food. That costs 1 gold and the player gets 2 food. The next player wants food, but they say they have none. But you take it anyway. For free. The third player comes. No more food? Lies! They take the rest of the food, get a bit more evil, and takes the gold that the first player paid.

If you’re still with me, you would probably understand that this is a worker placement game with an element of reverse dungeoncrawling. As you buy monsters and do evil deeds, your evil-meter rises. And heroes loves to smite evil. Each year, heroes gather to smite you. The more evil you are, the stronger your enemy will be. Each player fights his own hero party. If you’re very evil, the paladin will come your way, and that’s not good. Usually.

I like the theme. It reminds me of Dungeon Keeper for the PC a while back, and it captures the same essense. Your imps do your bidding and digging, while your monsters fight in the dungeon rooms against the enemy. And as in the PC-game, you have to provide upkeep and payday for all the monsters. Or they’ll leave.

As a boon for those advanced players out there, you can download the “expansion” rules from the games’ website. The expansion requires some new tokens. Luckily, they are already in the game box. You just don’t have those rules. The advanced rules are not in the game for a reason: it would be too much for a first game.

If you like worker placement, hidden actions and a great deal of fun and schadenfreuden, then this is a game right up your alley. Great game experience with a great theme. I recommend playing 4 players, and 3 is o k. But not with 2.

 
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6
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Greater Than Games fan
The Gold Heart
10
90 of 99 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Simply the Best”

While Dungeon Lords has generally received positive reviews I do not believe that it has received the recognition it truly deserves. While this is purely my opinion, I will strive to justly and thoroughly back it up in this review.

Vlaada Chvatil has created many excellent and well-received games and has acquired a significant fanbase, yet even among those who can be considered his fans, this game seems to be considered second tier. Games like Through the Ages, Galaxy Trucker, Space Alert, and, most recently, Mage Knight are all highly regarded and, more importantly, highly recommended.

Dungeon Lords, on the other hand, seems to be recommended less often. Though it shares many of the same characteristics as these other games – well-integrated and fun theme, great artwork and production values, innovative mechanics, steep learning curve, and fairly unforgiving system – it seems like this game has missed the mark in many people’s estimations.

The following review seeks to address both the complaints that some players have with the game as well as to highlight what the game does extremely well because, make no mistake, this game is a masterpiece.

Theme

For those who are a fan of well-integrated themes in board games, you would be hard-pressed to find a better example than this. Every single rule has a thematic explanation that is clearly (and humorously) explained in the rulebook. Additionally, these thematic explanations make the fairly large amount of rules easier to remember.

Based on the Dungeon Keeper PC game, players take on the role of a Dungeon Lord who is preparing his dungeon to defend against an imminent attack from a party of do-good adventurers. Simply put, it is a reverse Dungeons & Dragons. This could quickly turn off two groups of people – those who don’t like fantasy themes and those who don’t like RPGs. For those who dislike fantasy themes, this game may not work for you. Though if you can look past it, you will find a great game. For those who don’t like RPGs, fear not. While this game shares some thematic characteristics with many RPGs, it is far different from a mechanical point of view.

Dungeon Lords takes the fantasy world and puts a new twist on it, putting you in the place of the Dungeon Lord. It also introduces a significant amount of humor that adds to the overall enjoyment of the game.

Mechanics

I could go into depth about how the mechanics work, but that has been done in many other reviews. I will touch on several of them later on however. I would, instead, like to comment on the mechanics as a whole.

One of my favorite elements of Vlaada’s games is his use of innovative mechanics. However, he is no one-trick pony. As with many of his other games, Dungeon Lords introduces several new mechanics or new spins on familiar mechanics without making those mechanics the focus of the game. Because of how well-integrated the theme is, you do not really think of the game in terms of mechanics and how you can manipulate the mechanics to achieve your goal. Instead, you are immersed in the gameplay and simply try to be the best Dungeon Lord you can be.

Tightness

One of the great parts of this game and what, in my opinion, sets it apart from Vlaada’s other designs is the incredible sense of tightness. This tightness shows itself in a number of different areas.

Actions: Each turn you are only allowed 3 actions, and you will almost certainly want 4 or 5. Additionally, two of the actions that you choose will be unavailable to you on the next turn. This forces players not only to carefully consider what actions to choose on each turn, but also to plan ahead at least one turn (if not more). Some reviews have considered the relatively small amount of choices to be a flaw. However, once you grasp the importance of each of these choices, you may see that it adds to the game rather than detracting from it.

The order of actions is also important. This is perhaps my favorite part of the game. A player must carefully consider his opponents. You must look at their needs, what is available to them, and where they fall in turn order. Each player will always have two actions unavailable to them. They will also, more than likely, have a few glaring needs. The order in which a player places their action cards could have a number of far-reaching effects. You could prevent another player from using that action entirely (if two other players also choose that action before the 4th player). You could force another player to pay a cost they are unwilling to, unable to, or are upset about paying. Maybe you force them to pay evil for food which bumps them up on the Evilometer so they get a nastier adventurer (or even a Paladin). You could buy the monster your opponent had their eye on. You could buy the only monster that your opponent could afford which leaves them with a wasted action. The far reaching consequences of nearly every action you take make this portion of the game a tremendous battle of minds as you try to outwit your opponents.

There is a second way in which the actions are limited. There are only 8 actions to choose from. These 8 actions are perfectly intertwined so that you would be hard-pressed to play a game where you didn’t use all 8 of them, but it is also difficult to imagine there being any additional choices. Digging tunnels is essential for both mining gold and building rooms. Mining Gold is essential for buying rooms and traps. Buying food and monsters can cost evil, so it’s essential that you have an action to offset it and make you less evil. The 8 actions and the costs associated with each are one of several areas where Vlaada exhibits not only his mastery of game design but also his brilliant mathematical skill.

Monsters and Rooms: In each year, there are only 12 monsters and 8 rooms. These are the same in every single game; only the order in which they appear is different. I have seen some people hope for additional monsters in an expansion (and that may well happen), but I think that it’s perfect the way it is. Each of the monsters has a perfect balance of cost vs. effectiveness. Additionally, I have a tough time imagining a monster that is significantly different from those already included. Each monster has a very unique skill set, and each different attack has a number of instances where it is the perfect attack. The rooms are similar in that they cover every need you could possibly want from a room (within reason).

In addition, I find it essential that you are able to “card count” the monsters and rooms. What I mean is this: If you are hoping to get a Dragon in the second year, you know there will only be two of them. Therefore, if they both show up on the first turn, you know you need to get one right away or you will be out of luck. If only one shows up in the first three turns and you didn’t get it, you better make sure you have your Hire Monster action available on the last turn.

This tightness in the monsters and rooms adds to the tremendously fun mind game you play with your opponents as you choose your 3 actions each turn. Do you know your opponent has their sights set on getting a Vampire? The order in which you put down your Hire Monster action could have a devastating effect on whether or not they are able to get their Vampire.

The Evilometer

This element of the game is the one I see most overlooked by newcomers to the game. Everyone seems to understand that if you get too evil you will be graced by a visit from the Paladin. However, the power and fun of the Evilometer go way beyond the Paladin. In the last 3 turns of each round, you will be assigned an adventurer based on your position on the Evilometer.

The adventurers you are assigned significantly impact how effective your traps and monsters will be during combat. Sure, you were excited when you got that Poisoned Meal trap, but what good is it against a party of 3 thieves?

There are primarily 3 ways that you can maneuver on the Evilometer. Buying food (with the exception of the first space), hiring certain monsters, and improving your reputation. However, these 3 actions will be used by some or all players on nearly every turn. You constantly have to be considering whether a player is looking to move up or down the Evilometer. It is not always the best idea to be the nicest. Sometimes, it even pays to be the most evil.

This adds still another layer to the mind game that you play with your opponents as you choose your actions. If you are looking to get the second easiest adventurer, then you need to remain at the second lowest position on the Evilometer. Is the nicest player going to get more evil this turn? Is the player right above you on the Evilometer going to use an action to move down?

Some of these decisions are not made during the Choosing Actions phase but rather immediately afterwards. Do you want to hire a vampire knowing that it will make you the most evil? What if it’s the only monster you can afford? Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay for it again at Pay Day. That may bump you up to Paladin level, if you don’t use an action to improve your reputation. Each and every decision you make has the potential to have far-reaching consequences.

Combat

Once you’re done playing 4 turns’ worth of mind games, you have to worry about combat. Combat (with a few exceptions) is a solitary activity. You have spent 4 turns battling with your opponents to bring the best stuff into your dungeon, and now you are going to use it to do some serious damage to the pesky little adventurers that have made their way into your dungeon.

Combat is, at its roots, a brilliantly designed math puzzle with a number of variables. If you are able, you can choose to fight in a room or a tunnel, which affects the number of traps and monsters you can use. Then you have to choose which traps and monsters to use each turn. Finally, there are the Spell cards. If you were lucky, you got a chance to look at one or two of the Spell cards when you used the Improve Reputation action, otherwise you’ll be going into it blind. The Spell cards themselves have two variables to consider – the spell itself and the amount of fatigue. You must take all of these factors into account to determine how to efficiently and effectively demolish your unique party of adventurers.

Some reviews have knocked this system of combat claiming it is anything from a mini-game that just doesn’t fit to a nuisance to a flaw. Here is the way I look at it. When you are going into battle, there are two things that are important – strength and skill. If you are weak (you have few or no monsters or traps), it doesn’t matter how skillful you are; you are going to lose. If you are overwhelmingly strong (you have a large amount of traps and monsters), you can probably win no matter your level of skill. However, more than likely you will be somewhere in the middle. You will have an adequate amount of strength. Therefore, it is up to your skill (in this case it is mathematical skill) to determine how you will fare in Combat. While this may not work for some players, I find it a far more satisfying means of combat then the more common dice-rolling methods.

The Un-Tightness

I know what you’re thinking, I just raved about how incredibly tight this game is. Am I now going to tell you that it isn’t? Well…not exactly. The truth is that if the entire game was tight with no amounts of randomness, it would get dull after a rather small number of plays. Luckily, there are a few elements that keep things fresh from game to game.

The order in which monsters and rooms appear: Monsters and rooms are shuffled, and 3 and 2 (respectively) are turned face up each turn. Completely random. Therefore, while you know what the possible options will be, you do not know when they will show up (except for the last turn). This prevents anyone from planning too far ahead, and forces you to make adjustments to your plan each turn as you see what options you are presented with. Did both demons show up on the first turn? Better get one now or you’ll miss out. Did the trap-making room show up this turn? Well you better make sure you dig tunnels so that you have a good place to put it.

Spell cards: As touched on above, Spell cards throw two variables into Combat – the spell itself, and the amount of fatigue. Therefore, you cannot have your entire combat planned out ahead of time. Rather, you must make adjustments as each Spell card is turned up.

Special Event cards: Here is where each game can become drastically different. Maybe you just get Rats, and you lose some food. That’s not the end of the world. But what if you get Earthquake? Your dungeon just got drastically smaller. Sure there are only 9 different cards, but since you only use 2 each game, they make each game feel very different.

Summary and Closing Thoughts

So what makes Dungeon Lords a masterpiece? It’s more than just a fun new take on the fantasy adventure. It’s more than just a new way of doing worker placement or resource management. I find it funny that some people complain about the level of player interaction in some of Vlaada’s designs (this one included) because that is precisely what makes this game amazing. Vlaada has whittled this game down and made it incredibly tight and mathematically perfect so that what you are left with is your opponents. Each game is made fun, exciting, engaging, and different by your opponents. You may only have 8 turns, but those 8 turns are each an enormously fun mind game where you try desperately to outwit your opponents as they are trying desperately to do the exact same thing. It’s like Chess, Go, or Poker, but far less abstract.

That said, there are a few things to be aware of heading into this game. It is best played with 4 players. It is clear that that is how the game was meant to be played. Additionally, it is helpful if all 4 players have some familiarity with the game. The game has a steep learning curve, so newcomers are at a severe disadvantage. Not only that, but if a newcomer doesn’t fully grasp how the game works, it can negatively affect the other players. For example, if, when choosing your orders, you see that your opponent has a certain need (e.g. food or gold), you would account for that and play your cards accordingly. However, a newcomer who doesn’t fully understand the game may fail to identify the need that you have identified and, therefore, may play different actions entirely. While this may seem like a small thing, if it happens many times over the course of a game, it can throw everything off and have an impact on your enjoyment. My best experiences with Dungeon Lords have come with 3 other players who are not only familiar with the game, but also with each other’s playing styles. When you know your opponents, it makes the mind game even more fun.

So there you have it. Dungeon Lords is a masterfully crafted, mathematically brilliant, thematically engaging, battle of minds, but, most importantly, it’s just plain fun.

 
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5
Vanguard
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
I Play This One a LOT
Strategist
8
89 of 98 gamers found this helpful
“So difficult, it will make you want more!”

Dungeon Lords is a fun and humorous look into the life of a villainous mastermind. The object of the game is to compete against other Dungeon Lords over resources in order to build a strong and defensible dungeon while fending off roving heroes who will come to loot it for treasure. I don’t think any game ever created has such an exciting description!

The game play is rather complicated, and learning the rules can be somewhat of a challenge. If you know someone who is already familiar with the rules it may be easier to have them teach your through game play, rather than trying to decipher it by reading the rule book. If this isn’t the case, fighting your way through your first few games to get the hang of it is still worth it with Dungeon Lords, because once you know how, playing is very addicting.

Mechanics wise, the game is very challenging. While you are competing against your fellow players for victory, the game itself puts the screws to the players by taxing their resources at every step. You’ll need to be thinking several turns in advance in order to be successful as a Dungeon Lord. The rules actually provide a simplified version to play for your first few games that basically take away a few of the mechanics that are designed to specifically hinder the players in their quest for glory. I highly suggest using this rule set when playing for the first time, as it will make a significant difference in enjoyability. Often times, my group will still play using the simplified rules, as it makes for a faster and more light hearted game.

As far as components go, you get a lot of bang for your buck with Dungeon Lords. Each of up to four players has their own personal game board with which to construct their dungeon. The central board holds a multitude of pieces from food and gold, to imps you’ll force into labor in your mines. Even in a 4 player game, I’ve never experienced a scenario where we ever came even close to running out of any resource token. All the components are well constructed and, even though my copy sees frequent use,it shows no signs of wear.

My only real complaint is, as I stated earlier in the review, the complexity of the rules. This is a true “boardgamers” game. But if you are not someone who has vast experience with complicated rule systems, I still feel this is a game worth trying. Many of the rules in this game, such as events and taxes, can be completely removed without destroying the game play. My suggestion is to play around with the rules and see how you feel. Keep what you like, and trim away the parts the “feel” wrong to you. This game is too much fun to pass up because of a comprehensive and challenging set of rules.

Overall, a great buy for any board gaming enthusiast. Take your time a learning, and you”ll be a Dungeon Lord in no time!

 
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3
Amateur Reviewer
9
91 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“A 2 player perspective (hint: we love it!)”

I should state at the start that my gaming experience is almost exclusively 2 player. All of the games we cannot play with my boyfriend’s daughter, we play together as we do not belong to a larger gaming group. So bear in mind that I have not played this game with 3+ people.

The next thing to state, is that we are not the biggest fans of worker placement games like Agricola; my boyfriend in particular. So the fact that we enjoy this game so much, is testament to it’s clever mechanics and brilliant theme.

Gameplay for 2
First off, this game is designed as a 4 player game and the 2 player version is essentially a variant which uses dummy boards to simulate the additional players. Each player is responsible for managing one of the dummy boards. Now, most people lose interest at this point, but I think that the variant has been so well thought out that it doesn’t feel like a second prize version of the game and is definitely worth a second look.
The main difference to the main game is how the minion orders are managed. Before the start of each order round, each player randomly draws two order cards for their dummy board. The third order for each dummy board is chosen by each player from the remaining cards. The first two orders of each dummy player are then placed before any of the ‘real’ player orders are revealed. The third and final dummy orders are revealed and assigned before the ‘real’ players reveal their own final orders.
What this essentially means is that there is an additional layer of strategy to the game as you have more information about which order spots will and won’t be available than you would in a 4 player game. You can also partially control the dummy boards to either help yourself or hinder your opponent more directly. For some people, this may detract from the game. However, for us, this is exactly what attracts us to the game and keeps us coming back for more.

Complexity
As other reviewers have mentioned, the rules are a little complex but once you’ve played through the game, they come together and make sense a lot quicker than you would think. Perhaps the most complex part of this game is the combat and included in the rule book is a set of tutorial scenarios that take you through the more complicated aspects step-by-step. I found this very helpful.
As a non-Euro gamer, what appeals to me about this game is that fact that it’s not worker placement for worker placement sake … there is always the combat round to look forward to which is very much like solving a puzzle. And using your ghosts and trolls to fend off a bunch of pompous adventurers is always a blast! 😀

Conclusion
All in all, my boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoy Dungeon Lords. The theme is fantastic and you really do become quite attached to your dark dungeon tunnels and hardworking little imps. The rules are complex and the variant does take some getting used to, so this may not be the game to spring on someone who is new to boardgames. But if you are are getting into the swing of things and want to try something meatier that still has a fantastic theme with a little more to it than simply collecting victory points, then Dungeon Lords is definitely worth your time.
(Tip: pay your taxes! :D)

 
Player Avatar
6
I'm Completely Obsessed
Viscount / Viscountess
Champion
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
7
109 of 121 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“It's not easy being ... "misunderstood".”

Dungeon Lords is a fantastic game thick with theme and some very fun mechanics. As a “misunderstood” Dungeon Lord, you have to breed an army of imps, hire creatures and purchase traps to defend your home from those pesky wandering adventurers.

The game is split into two years, which are played out over four seasons and a series of combat each. Each season you can send your three minions into the nearby village to acquire resources or various defenses for your cozy little home. What order you choose to do things in is important, as your second and third actions will not be available to you in the following season, and order of placement determines costs and availability on a number of options, making a 4-player game extremely cut-throat.

For instance, the first player each season to send a minion out to the farms can buy two food for a gold. The second minion that arrives, however, finds the farmers unwilling to sell any more because they’re now low on supplies, so they have to scare the farmers into releasing their precious wares, resulting in your “Evil Level” going up, which attracts stronger adventurers to your lair. The third minion who arrives now finds the farmers hiding, their shelves bare, and is thus forced to burn the farm down, taking whatever food is left lying around (including, possibly, some of the farmers?) and the gold that the first minion paid.

As the year progresses, the adventurers which will come knocking down your doors are revealed, with the stronger ones lining up outside the home of the most Evil player. Fortunately, you can assign your minions to work PR for you, helping the villagers realize that you’re not really evil, you’re just trying to make a living like they are, and really, what’s a little blood shed between friends?

With dungeon building (laying tiles), worker placement, rounds of combat where you plan what traps to use and monsters to send after the adventurers, gold and food stores to manage, taxes to pay (Yes, even the Evil Overlords, Inc. requires their taxes to be paid on time, in full), and more, there’s a lot going on in this game. It can have a fairly steep learning curve, and it does take a bit of set-up to play.

Once you get it set up, though, and everyone understands how combat will work (seriously, teach this early, as every other action you take in the game will be based on surviving combat each year), it’s a blast to play. (Sometimes literally, with exploding imps.)

 
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4
I play orange
Intermediate Grader
6
58 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“Needs more rounds and simpler combat”

It feels at the end of the game like you didn’t get enough chances to actually expand your dungeon. The game is fun, however. It is similar to Agricola in many ways, except that instead of being played over 14 rounds, it is played over only 8. And instead of a farm, you build a dungeon(obviously).

The combat system – involving monsters, traps and magic – is interesting, but a little too convoluted. Maybe with more plays, this will become quicker and less of an issue.

One important point to mention about this game is how much effort has gone into the artwork and the rulebook. Reading the rulebook is funny enough to make it not be a chore. The gameboards for each player are quite cool too.

 
Player Avatar
9
USA
I play blue
El Dorado
Guardian Angel
9
50 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“The Other Side of the Table Is Fun!”

INTRODUCTION
Dungeon Lords takes place in a generic fantasy world. You’ve played the hero in a party exploring a dungeon in many dungeon crawls. Now it’s time to turn the tables and build a dungeon to defeat the heroic party! Dungeon Lords has a cute and humorous theme that is well represented in the game. Players take on the role of a young evil lord who is attempting to build a dungeon in order to get his dungeon license. Players order their minions to dig tunnels, construct rooms, recruit monsters and set traps in order to build a dungeon that can stop a heroic party in its’s tracks. The player with the most victory points (VPs) will be the winner. Dungeon Lords is for 2 to 4 players ages 13 and up and plays in about 2 hours. This game plays best with 4 players. Games with less than four players use a dummy player(s).

COMPONENTS
The component quality is excellent. The main boards and player boards are mounted and very colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens, wood & plastic playing pieces and somewhat durable small size cards. The artwork on the boards and cards, and in the rulebook is a bit cartoonish but colorful and well done. The rulebook has 23 pages, is well written and organized, and has many examples of play. Included in the rules is a Training Dungeon which runs through the combat portion of the game – very helpful! My one and only complaint with the components is the box insert. It is completely worthless and should be thrown away.

SET UP
Set-up for Dungeon Lords takes a moment or two. Each player takes his playing pieces, scoring reference cards and Dungeon Board of his chosen color. Each player places the starting amount of gold, food, imps, and tunnels along with his three minions in their respective spot on their Dungeon Board. The first and second year Combat Card decks are shuffled; four cards are drawn from each deck and placed face down on the Distant Lands Board. The Special Event Cards are shuffled and then set aside face down. The first and second year monsters are separated, shuffled and stacked into two piles placed face down on the Distant Lands Board. The rooms and adventurers are handled in the same manner as the monsters. The trap deck is shuffled and placed on the Central Board. If there are less than 4 players then some minor adjustments to the set-up must be made. Players pick a starting player and then begin.

GAME MECHANICS
Dungeon Lords is played over 2 years with each year including Building and Combat. During Building, each season of the year or Round consists of several phases which are tracked on the Progress Board. The phases are:
1. New Round
2. Orders
3. Production & Orders Retrieval
4. Event (Spring, Summer & Fall seasons only)
5. Adventurers (Spring, Summer & Fall seasons only)
6. End of Round

NEW ROUND
The available monsters to recruit and rooms to construct for the season are revealed. The event and the adventurers for next Round are revealed.

ORDERS
Each player secretly selects three orders for his minions to carry out. After players select their orders they are revealed in clockwise turn order. The first player reveals his first order then the second player reveals his first order and so on until all orders are revealed. I’m not going to get into descriptions of each order, however; orders include getting food, improving reputation, dig tunnels, mine gold, recruit imps, buy trap, hire monster and build room. Players place one of their minions on the Central Board in the first empty slot corresponding to their revealed order. There are only three slots for each order. Each order is then executed from the top left order (Get Food) to the bottom right order (Build Room). Each individual order is carried out from first slot to third slot. It is important to note the sequence in which orders are executed because players can collect food and gold in early actions to spend later in the Round.

PRODUCTION & ORDERS RETRIEVAL
Any unused imps may be put to work in any of the production rooms a player has constructed. Production rooms can produce gold, food, traps, imps or improve reputation. In the Second Year, rooms can produce double if the player has enough imps available.

Players take the previous round inaccessible orders and their first order back to their hand. The second and third orders become inaccessible for the next round.

EVENT
The event for the Round is resolved. Events include Pay Day, Taxes, or a Special Event. On Pay Day, players pay the hiring cost for each of their monsters. When taxes are due, each player pays 1 gold for every 2 dungeon tiles in his dungeon. For Special Events, a card is draw from the Special Event deck and resolved.

ADVENTURERS
An adventurer is assigned to each player. The more evil a player is, the tougher the adventurer he receives. Players could receive a warrior, thief, priest or wizard.

END OF ROUND
The First Player Token moves to the player on the left and all imps return to their respective player’s Imp Den.

Once Building is completed, the Progress Board is flipped to the Combat side and the Combat Cards placed in their respective space. There are four rounds of combat consisting of three phases, which are planning, reveal combat card and battle. I’m not going to get into the specifics of battle. Suffice to say that four adventurers enter each player’s dungeon and players use traps and monsters to capture the heroes and minimize damage to their dungeon.

Once the Second Year Combat is completed, Ministry officials evaluate each player’s dungeon. VPs are awarded for a host of items listed on the Overview Card and for any title, listed on the Titles Card, a player exclusively holds or shares with another player. The Underlord and winner of the game is the player with the most VPs. All players with 1 or more VPs obtain their dungeon lord license from the Ministry of Dungeons!

THOUGHTS
Dungeon Lords has a steep learning curve and will take a few plays to develop some strategies. In addition to the steep learning curve, this game is very unforgiving. It is very difficult to recover if two or more actions are wasted or if your dungeon suffers heavy damage in the first year combat phase. Its unforgiving nature makes Dungeon Lords a brain burner planning game. You WILL be mentally exhausted at game end. For these reasons, I would only recommend Dungeon Lords for seasoned avid and power gamers.

Dungeon Lords is a hybrid type of game which contains elements of Euro and American style games. The worker placement mechanic gives this game the classic Euro feel. On the other hand, this game also features an American style theme and a stereo typical American style combat sequence. One might even consider the combat phase to be a bit fiddly like American style games. Dungeon Lords can bridge the gap between players in a gaming group because of its hybrid characteristics.

Dungeon Lords is really two games in one. The first part consists of worker placement where players place their minions to collect resources and other items to build a dungeon. In the second part players test their dungeon building skills in combat with a heroic party which enters their dungeon. The mechanics are solid, incorporate the theme and can be exciting. The placement of the minions can be tense since you usually don’t know when you’ll get to execute an order or if you get locked out of a particular order all together! Every player anticipates combat with the heroic party with a bit of excitement mixed with anxiety. Defeating the heroic party with minimal damage to your dungeon is a great feeling!

Despite its hybrid traits, Dungeon Lords lacks significant player interaction. Another player can select an action and execute it before you can or grab the monster/room that you had your eye on. There are some special event cards which force some minor player interaction. However, that’s it for interaction. The Magic Items expansion, which is included with the game, creates some player interaction during the combat phase but also makes a challenging game more difficult.

Dungeon Lords is a big hit with my gaming group despite its challenging and unforgiving nature. Get ready to ride a roller coaster of emotion when you play this game. Dungeons Lords is a great game, but it’s not for everyone. Give it a try before you buy.

 
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5
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7
91 of 105 gamers found this helpful
“Being an Evil Overlord is harder than you think”

My friends and I first played this two years ago at Gamestorm. It definitely has a bit of a learning curve and having someone teach it to you is very beneficial. However, we had so much fun playing it, that my friends bought it only a few days after getting home.

Once you have the basics to the game down, it’s great fun to play. There is a strong balancing act between maintaining the proper resources and being able to wipe out nasty do-gooders. After all, monsters don’t work for free. You have to ensure that you’ve enough resources to build your dungeon, make traps, have monsters to guard the dungeon, and earn some bonus points along the way. However, you also have to be careful not to be too evil, else the paladin comes out…and he’s one tough cookie.

The quality of the game is very good and looks as if it would last for a long time. the board has some great art, the cards are…well, cards. There are also dungeon tiles that are of decent quality and little plastic imps and blood cubes (to record damage).

The flavor of the game is outstanding and the rules are fun to read.

I’d recommend this game if you have a small group (limit is 4 players) and you want a game that will require you to actually think, but at the same time enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor.

 
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7
Paladin
Herald
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7
101 of 117 gamers found this helpful
“Is it good to... overdo?”

There’s no wonder that “Dungeon Lords” is a good game.

* It has an interesting theme based on a wonderful computer game from 1990s – “Dungeon Keeper”. The player is a ruler of underworld and tries to expand his domain and defend against adventurers.

* It has a good-looking, functional and well thought components. Cards, cardboard tokens, plastic imp figurines, minion meeples – everything!

* It has a clever mechanics that combines together:
– secret worker placement with a lot of psychological trickery included (order phase);
– resource management within very strict constraints (all the time);
– planning ahead within an ever-changing environment (adventurer assignment, random events);
– logical puzzles (combat).

So, yes, it has almost everything a perfect game could have. So why it’s not so perfect? Probably because it has that all. This game seems to be overdone, oversophisticated.

For the theme: it’s pretty hard to enjoy it and at the same time to think as hard as many of top level abstract strategies require players to do. For example the order phase require thinking similarly to the way of thinking used in Bridge. One needs to imagine possible combinations of orders played by the opponents and then to choose their own path? Maybe a safer path, maybe a risker and more rewarding one – who knows? Attempts to think straighter during the order phase usually end with a common conclusion that this phase is too chaotic to be predictable.

Ditto with the necessity of playing ahead. It also requires to solve pretty big if/then/else decision trees covering several steps in advance. It is important to maintain general flexibility of the dungeon development to be able to react to emerging threats as they appear. Where to find some spare time to enjoy the theme and the components simultaneously?… An example: in theory the stronger adventurers come to attack the most evil dungeon lord. But in practice the strongest adventurers are not necessarily the most dangerous ones. Subtle manipulations of one’s own evil level are the key to victory here.

The combat phase is in fact a series of solitaire games. Each player fights against a few heroes and other players may only watch the process. They could become bored especially if the current player thinks too long.

For the multitude of components the one thing lacking is probably a computer to keep them organized and letting the players focus on the flow of the game. (This is probably a feature shared by most board games based on computer ones.)

And one more thing: it’s a 2-4 player game but in fact it does not scale well. It’s designed for 4 players and the 2- and 3-player scaling look and feel artificial.

Yet again – it’s a good game! But who is it aimed towards? I can see two target groups of players:
– Casual ones who think: “Let’s play this or that card and see what will happen!”.
– Strategy/Power gamers, possibly four good Bridge players who want to play something else than Bridge from time to time.
All other gamers may feel disappointed.

 
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Went to Gen Con 2012
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5
91 of 124 gamers found this helpful
“My First Impression.. My Last Impression”

I did not really care for this game, and usually I will play a game a few times before I write a review, but I don’t care to play this game again so I’m going to write this up now before its lost in the memory box of “Never Again Please”.

Game Overview:
Dungeon Lords is a worker placement game where you are the lord of a dungeon. The idea is you are building your dungeon as a young dungeon lord. You have imps in your dungeon to mine for gold and hopefully make you rich. But the more you build your dungeon the more evil you become and of course the heroes of the land want to come to the best dungeons with the most evil prestige and best loot so you have to hire creatures to come and protect your dungeon as well as build traps to keep them out. The player who can build the best dungeon, capture the most heroes, and a number of other things win the game.

Components:
The components are really the best part of this game. They are pretty good components. The imps are small, but you need a lot of them. The rest of the pieces are cardboard and three wooden minions for each player. The art on these pieces is very good.

Overall:
I played this game with some very experienced gamers, one was a prof at Notre Dame and now owns the game shop I played at to give some background, so I’m sure they explained everything right, but the whole time there was a general feeling that something was missing.

For instance , goals to win the game were not the most clear. The winner may be the person with the most points at the end of the game, but how do you get those points? There were so many options to score points it was a lot to keep track of.

Combat, which at first I was excited to hear about, was just a series of checks. Your creatures would fight until they were tired? No fool! In my dungeon you fight until you’re dead! Now get back out there! In a way the mechanics didn’t match the theme I guess. Where with many games the mechanic would make sense and go with a theme, here they did not always compliment one another as in other games.

There were a lot of different aspects to keep track of such as your food, gold, creatures, heroes and so on. This is a game where you will have to play through a few times to get a good handle on everything. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like the fun level warranted another play through.

In the end one of the other players said it best. The investment of time is not worth the return of fun you get back. Its just not there.

 
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5
Critic - Level 2
Gamer - Level 5
10
81 of 132 gamers found this helpful
“A personal favorite”

I will warn you first that I am really big into worker placement games such as this and Agricola.

This game is at the top of my list, and has been since it was released. It is quite possibly one of the best themed games on the market, even starting with the way the instructions are presented.

The components are all of the highest quality, you’re definitely not scared to handle the game too much.

The game plays out different each time and there are a number of strategies that are all equally effective (being completely evil, being completely good, focusing on rooms, building light) I’ve tried them all and they can all work…depending on what your opponents are up to.

My only “complaint” is that I wish it was for more than 4 players, but I know these types of games are extremely difficult to balance.

 
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Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
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75 of 156 gamers found this helpful
“Not worth the learning curve”

I will keep this short. Sometimes games get so involved and complicated that you eventually realize that this game is more work than it is fun. A began to get a flavor of that with my 3+ hour initial run of Dungeon Lords. My experience may be isolated and more rare than not, but it did indeed happen. I just can’t see myself pulling this off the shelf to play again unless it is someone’s favorite, and I can’t see this being anyone’s favorite game.

 

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