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kickstarter game preview: DungeonCraft

Posted by Jim {Power Gamer} | 22-Nov-12 | 6 comments

DungeonCraft preview

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DungeonCraft pits one player against another in a unique dungeon crawl experience where one player, as the Guardian, creates a dungeon using 16 tile locations and challenges the opposing Hero player to survive and find the treasure room. The Guardian has extra dungeon cards to help rearrange and restock the catacombs. The Hero can recruit new adventurers in the Tavern and pick up some nifty items at the Market. The Guardian scores points by capturing unsuccessful Heroes. The Hero player scores by successfully mapping rooms and hopeful finding the treasure room. Who ever scores the most points at game’s end wins!



The Guardian player gets to “craft’ the dungeon any way they see fit. Using 16 of the 38 available dungeon cards. Obviously creating the most peril for the Hero player and protecting the Treasure Room (worth 8 Victory points). That player also begins the game with two Dungeon cards for their starting hand.

The Hero Player draws 3 cards from a shuffled Adventurer deck and places them in front of them. This is the Hero player’s starting Adventuring party. That player then draws three more cards and places them next to the Adventurer deck. This represents the Tavern where new Adventurers can be recruited. Next, the Hero player shuffles and draws three cards from a Treasure deck, placing them next to its draw pile. This becomes the Market where new items and spells can be drawn.

Finally, the Guardian player takes two (2) action tokens and the Hero player takes six (6). Let the danger begin!

DungeonCraft card game in play


Each player, beginning with the Hero player, may spend action points on their turn to execute a specific action. Hero actions include drawing a card from the Market, drawing an adventurer card from the Tavern and adding it to their party, Scouting a location, Venturing a location and playing a card from their hand. The ultimate goal for the Hero player is of course finding the Treasure Room, and this is done through Scouting and Venturing.

To Scout a room the Hero player places order tokens on their Adventurer cards in the order they wish to scout the room. The Guardian flips the room dungeon cards at that location revealing for the first time to the Hero player the type of room and what is in it. There are 4 types of rooms (Traps, Magic, Evil, and Brute) and Adventurer cards each have skill modifiers that relate to them. Rogues have a high modifier for Trap rooms, Mages for Magic rooms, Clerics for Evil rooms and so forth. Then each adventurer in the order chosen will roll a d6 attempting to roll a 5 or higher (figuring in modifiers from items and their own adventurer card) to successfully scout the room. If successful, a token is placed on that location. The Hero player now knows the obstacles and requirements in order to “map” that location.

The real risk (and reward) comes when the Hero player must Venture a location attempting to “map” it and score points. The same procedure is followed for Venturing, as for Scouting, except that the Hero player must roll a six (before modifiers) and more importantly, if an adventurer fails a roll, the Guardian captures that adventurer card and any items, adding its victory points to their total. Venturing a location however is the only way to move through the dungeon, the Hero player can only scout new rooms from a “mapped” location.

The guardian player has several action choices too that can ruin the Hero player’s day. Besides drawing a card, the Guardian can play a dungeon card onto an unscouted, unventured location, effectively creating two “challenges” or dungeon cards for the Hero player to overcome at that location. There are also Dungeon Effect cards that provide those unexpected dangers one tends to find while exploring dungeons. The guardian may also rearrange half the unmapped dungeon cards in any way they see fit, tailoring their design to meet those pesky adventurers’ advance. Each of these actions cost action points of course, but the Guardian player seems to get more bang for their buck – or action points – with more far reaching game changing affects.

Once all the action points are used by both players, or they opt to pass, both get their allotted number of action points and a new turn begins. This continues until either the Hero player finds the treasure room and maps it, or until the Guardian goes to draw a Dungeon card and cannot do so. Players count their captured / mapped cards and the highest victory point total is declared the winner.


One distinguishing feature of DungeonCraft is the artwork. Designer and artist of the game, Aaron Kreader, has real flair for humor in his depiction of some common (and not so common) characters and themes in the game. His art lends levity and enjoyment to the gameplay. We highly recommend checking out more of the game’s art on the kickstarter page! Go now >

DungeonCraft cards

Learning Curve

DungeonCraft is unique as it has two learning curves due to the different player roles. The game uses an action-point based system and once you have the possible moves in a turn, all that’s left is deciding how best to use them. This makes the game an intermediate learning curve since each turn may be spent analyzing several courses of action – especially for the Guardian player. Learning the best dungeon card combinations to thwart the adventurers will take some time and game experience.

Who should Kickstart this?

Family Gamer {Kickstart}
If your family loves to explore dungeons and face danger at every turn, this simple, and less than serious dungeon crawl will provide hours of fun. Children may have more fun being the Hero than the Guardian player. But if they are brave, let them craft the dungeon for the adults to explore!

Social Gamer {Pass}
With limited multi-player rules, DungeonCraft is primarily a two-player game and not a social or party experience.

Strategy Gamer {Pass}
The Guardian player has a fair amount of strategy in crafting the dungeon. But there are many random elements that can nullify even the best thought out strategy.

Casual Gamer {Kickstart}
Casual gamers will enjoy the humor, dice rolling and adventuring fun in this light dungeon crawl. Playing the Guardian will also test the average casual gamer’s dungeon design capabilities. Casual fun!

Avid Gamer {Consider}
Although DungeonCraft offers a unique take on the dungeon exploration theme, it doesn’t provide the serious gameplay experience many Avid gamers look for. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lighter dungeon crawl experience, this might be one to consider.

Power Gamer {Pass}
For the serious power gamer this game is a bit too light and unpredictable to really enjoy.

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{Backing ends on December 23, 2012}
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Final Thoughts

DungeonCraft offers a creative take on the dungeon crawl theme. The ability for one player to act as Guardian and personally craft the game experience (rather than following a programmed scenario) provides a feeling of control, strategy and sinister delight. The modular dungeon layout provides ample replayability, especially since locations can contain, at times, two Dungeon cards. Paired together, some Dungeon card combinations can be devastating to the advancing adventurers. Unexpected Dungeon effect cards can also help the Guardian keep the Hero player off balance.

For the Hero player, there is a good variety of adventurers, powers, items and spells with which to explore the dungeon. The adventurers do seem a bit disposable though, as they must rely mostly on the fate of a die roll for success or failure. And although creatively rendered, they are but unnamed character classes such as Rogue, Mage, Cleric, etc. It is however, the crucial decision as to the adventurer order when scouting and venturing locations often proves the biggest risk the Hero player must take – choose the wrong scouting or venturing order and things will go poorly… guaranteed.

The game offers a good resource management challenge; especially for the Guardian who only receives 2 action points per round. The Hero player must also plan carefully when using action points. It is very risky to scout a location (2 action points) and venture allocation (3 action points) in the same turn, but it can be done with lucky card draws and dice rolls. This aspect may appeal to more courageous players, but get too cocky and the Guardian will make you pay! On the other hand, these risks can turn the tide for the Hero player. All this said, after many 2-player games, the point differential between players averaged between 3-6 points –indicating a very balanced game.

Multi-player rules also exist that turns DungeonCraft into a co-op game. In the three and four player game variants, one Guardian player must face all the other players as Heroes, who take successive turns to successfully map the dungeon and capture the treasure room. In the prototype version supplied for this overview, these multi-player rules were not fleshed out as much as they could have been, but the prospect of a lighter “Descent-esque” game is promising.

Even after multiple plays, the ability for the Guardian to rearrange the dungeon cards creates an environment of continual guesswork that will be appealing and challenging to some, and may take away from the game’s appeal for others. With die rolls being so prevalent for success or failure, this game is probably a light filler. If a fast and funny dungeon crawl game is the sort of thing that lights your torch, back DungeonCraft.

Quick Links:

Who should kickstart this game? >
DungeonCraft game page on >
DungeonCraft kickstarter page >

images © Studio 9 Games

Comments (6)

Gamer Avatar
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer

This looks like it could be a fun game for our family, but with the crippling international postage I’ll just have to wait and hope this becomes available on this side of the Atlantic. (Not blaming the creator for the costs — it is what it is.)

Gamer Avatar
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
Video Game Fan
Miniature Painter
The Gold Heart

@Phlimm, I realize based on your comments that our “who should kickstart this game” might need some tweaking or maybe a disclaimer because though this might not be a “power game,” it doesn’t mean power gamers wouldn’t enjoy it if they’re looking for this type of game 🙂 Thanks for voicing your thoughts!

Gamer Avatar
Weasel - Level 1

Going to check out Kickstarter but I am not likely to fork over the money.

Gamer Avatar

I’m always looking for 2 player games and I’m definitely gonna back this one;)

Gamer Avatar
I play purple
Baron / Baroness

Meh, just because I am a power gamer does not mean I don’t like a goofy light game once in a while! This looks pretty cool.

Gamer Avatar
Miniature Painter

This looks to be loads of fun, can’t wait! Wonder if there is a solo variant for this game….

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