Dungeon rush is a quick and light card game for 3-5 players, published by Lautapelit.fi and designed by Rustan & Eli Håkansson. A review copy was provided by Lautapelit.fi for this review.
The game depicts a quick dungeon crawler in card format, where every player controls two heroes (one for each of their hands). The goal is to gather the most money (ie points) by taking down enemies and upgrading your abilities during nine rounds of the game. The rounds are divided into three separate stages, numbered I – III, where the difficulty of the enemies gets harder.
The box is a small one and has a deck of 110 cards and 10 bigger cards to represent the heroes. The hero cards are Tarot-sized and have nice artwork on them and they are actually double-sided, so you can be a female or male as you wish of the same character. The main deck has 34 cards for each stage of game and 4 dragons and 4 dungeon lords to represent the final bosses. Artwork is nice and cartoony and has many easter eggs, such as things from Eclipse etc. Enemies also contain pretty much every cliché from fantasy settings and they just work in a cool b-movie kind of way.
Image by user : RustanR (the designer)
One nitpick is perhaps that the symbols are sometimes not easy enough to distinguish and the wild-symbol can easily be misinterpreted as the stealth symbol. However, as the game is meant to be a quick and chaotic game, this might actually be intentional, since it promotes player errors and adds unpredictability.
Setup has you simply pick your 2 characters with the first player picking first, then going around and back again so that the first player gets first and last pick. The 3 stage-decks are shuffled and one random dragon and dungeon lord is set on the table face up for everyone to see. Now each player sets their heroes in front of them with the other represented by their left hand the other by their right hand.
Each character has one or two of the four different abilities (Melee, Ranged attack, Magic and Stealth) as symbols on the different edges of the card. If the symbol is dark, the hero has no ability in that type. The colorful ones are active abilities and the number of those symbols means how high your skill is in that type.
Image by user : RustanR (the designer)
The enemy cards also have some or many of the abilities listed in a box, which means those abilities are needed to beat that enemy. The enemy card might also have a coin value to depict their worth in points and one or many of the ability-symbols at the edges of the card.
Gameplay is very simple. Every player is dealt two enemies from the deck of the current stage facedown and the players reveal them simultaneously so that the other players see them first. After the reveal it’s down to first come first serve to pick an enemy to fight with your left-hand and right hand, although you can join them to attack one enemy. after you set your hand on an enemy it’s locked in and that hero has to fight that enemy this round. This process is chaotic and fast and sometimes you just can’t fight any of them.
After everyone has picked their enemies, it’s time to resolve the battles. You just compare the abilities of your chosen hero to the requirements on the enemy card. If you match or exceed the requirements, you beat the enemy and gain it as a trophy. If the enemy has abilities on the edge, your hero gains that ability and you put it under your hero’s card so that just the ability is showing. This way your hero becomes better the more he or she kills. Some enemies have no abilities but just list a number of coins, those are set aside face up to be counted in the end.
If you can’t beat an enemy you chose, because you miscalculated or chose the wrong hand for example, you have to take that enemy face down, which means -1 point in the end.
This whole process is done nine times total with three rounds on each stage. After the 9 rounds all players have the chance to fight either the dragon or the dungeon lord (multiple players can fight the same card) by comparing their heroes total ability against the requirements of the dragon/dungeon lord. If they match or exceed the requirements, they score the coins on the card also. Each player can only fight either the dungeon lord or the dragon, not both.
After the final battle is done, each player takes all their face up enemies, including those set under the hero card and count the total amount of coins on them deducting 1 point for every face down enemy they have for their final score.
Dungeon Rush is a very light and quick game. One game takes about 10-15 minutes. The artwork is nice and thematic and the theme is fun. This can easily be played with pretty small children, since the game is basically matching symbols and the artwork isn’t grotesque, but cartoony. The game is also basically a dexterity game, but there are some decisions on which abilities you want to be able to take on the final bosses etc. The negative point with children might be some hurt feelings if the ability level isn’t on par, so beware of that. The theme can also be a factor especially for children, since they can pretend it is the Lord of the Rings or whatever fantasy setting they like for example.
It’s fun to wrap your head around the idea that “My right hand-hero is a melee guy, so I have to look for that kind of enemies”. Then when the enemies are revealed and you frantically look for something to kill, you can easily end up hitting your melee target with your left hand instead.
All in all, it’s a very basic and chaotic game which is meant as maybe a quick filler for gamers, but mostly for light family game nights and non-gamers. The game really isn’t my type, since I generally dislike too much chaos and time-based board games such as Galaxy Trucker. So if you’re looking for tough decisions and roleplaying, you won’t find them here. But if you don’t mind lightness and chaos, Dungeon Rush is a cheap and little game to get and play pretty much anywhere. Although I would recommend a bit smaller table rather than a larger, since it’s hard to reach all around with ten hands flailing around the table looking for prey!