Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dave Reviews: The Slowest Fastest Dungeon

5-Minute Dungeon

Five minute games are great. You can play multiple rounds at a sitting, learn the game and evolve new strategies in a very brief time, and...

It doesn't matter. This isn't one of those games.

To be clear, the rules of 5-Minute Dungeon are set up so that it takes five minutes to play. There is a five minute timer that ticks down until you finish the dungeon or time runs out and you lose. The title isn't a lie.

You start with a dungeon deck, put together with a boss and a number of cards as stated on the boss board. Cards require a certain number of symbols to defeat—shields, swords, arrows, sprints, or scrolls. Non-boss or mini-boss cards are either obstacles, people, or monsters, and there are special cards which automatically defeat each of these enemy types.

Each player chooses a class and the corresponding colored deck of cards. Each deck has its own strengths in terms of symbols available, special cards, and so on. When the round starts, players take cards from their hands (hand size determined by player count) and play them as fast as possible to beat the monster. If you play a card, you draw a card, up to your initial hand limit; some effects make you draw extra, at which point you would just play down to your initial hand limit (you can hold as many as you want).

You have five minutes to get through all the enemies and beat the boss. If time runs out, or everyone is out of cards, you lose. So it's a five minute dungeon, right?

Yes. Technically.

Each dungeon is five minutes, barring a special effect like a divine shield that lets you stop the clock (which is usually a welcome extension). The idea, though, is that you'll beat all the dungeons back to back. It's a board game roguelike. If you lose, you can always just restart at the level you lost on, but "beating" the game means blowing through them all back to back. Even if you do it in different sittings, you're supposed to beat all five dungeons without losing, and it's pretty unlikely many people will do that one five-minute game at a time.

The game itself is pretty fun if you like chaos. There isn't a ton of strategy until you've played several times, with other people who have played several times, to the point where you know when and how to communicate your hands to each other fast enough to be useful. Think of it like hyper-speed Hanabi—if you can't find a way to work together beyond what normal-length explanations and planning can accomplish, you're not going to beat it.

There's nothing wrong with Hanabi, though, and there's nothing wrong with this. It's for gamers who want to lock in hard for a short time, breathe, then do it again. If that's you, pick it up.

Score: Five minutes out of the six you friggin' need.

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