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Dungeon Party

What is it about RPG-style fantasy adventuring and drinking games? They don't seem on the face of it to be the most natural companions but we've come across several D&D/drinking game mashups over the past few years. Forbidden Games' Dungeon Party is the latest addition to this sub-genre.

Like Drunkgeon (Flaming Troll), which we featured on Board's Eye View in 1 BCE (Before Covid Epidemic), Dungeon Party is played using tiles that look like beer mats. These are gloss coated so are happily less absorbent than conventional beer coasters. Open up the heavy box and you'll find tons of beer mats representing locations (dungeon rooms), Monsters, Treasures and characters. The Monsters and Rooms are all distinguished by levels (from 1 - 5, plus a 'Boss level'). There's also a bunch of scenarios with suggested set ups (ie: mix of tiles to be taken from each level). This is a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek game, so, as you might expect, the design team of Jason Kapalka, Glenn Drover and Dan Vujovic have had some fun playing off dungeon crawler tropes, as have the artists Matt Holmberg, Augie Pagan and Rich Werner. There's a bit of silliness, and that includes 'curses' that essentially apply forfeits to players. If you're playing in public - in a bar, perhaps - you may find you need to house rule ignoring these if they makes some players feel awkward.

The Dungeon Party title is a pun because this is essentially a party game for a party of up to six adventurers (tho' you can play solitaire, controlling more than one character, and you could up the player count beyond six; albeit that that would probably make the party overly powerful). It's also primarily a dexterity game. You turn over a Room tile - some of which have a special effect - and then reveal a Monster. To hit a Monster you have to take the 25c/10p-sized coin and bounce it off the table so that it lands on the Monster tile (if it overhangs, at least 50% of the coin has to be on the tile). It may sound silly but bouncing a coin to land on a card or tile feels more physical and a more visceral representation of sword wielding or spellcasting than merely rolling dice. It's exciting!

Successfully land a bounce and the Monster takes the damage your character dishes out - possibly enhanced by your character's extra strength against particular creature types or by Treasure artifacts you've previously collected. Miss and you take damage from the Monster. Characters only have 5 or 6 hit points, so it's possibly, even likely, that party members will have these reduced to zero in an encounter. Don't worry: you're not dead. You're just knocked out. Tho' the Dungeon Party box includes several glow-in-the-dark six sided dice and one d20, these aren't for making saving or survival rolls: they're just a convenient way of keeping track of each character's and the Monster's remaining hit points during an encounter. Characters' hit points all reset to their starting number when the Monster is killed - unless, of course, the entire party is downed, in which case it's game over.

Players are fighting together against each Monster as a party but, be in no illusion, Dungeon Party isn't a cooperative game. Party members are competing with each other to have the most points at the end the game (either when all the Rooms in the scenario have been cleared or when the party are all knocked out). You get 1 or more points (crystal symbols) for most Treasures, so you want to be the player who collects the Treasure tile, which means being the character who delivers the killing blow. No matter that other party members have done far more than you to reduce a Monster's hit points; if you're the one whose coin bounce actually finishes off the Monster, you're the one who pockets the loot. Some of the Treasures represent weapons or armour that adds bonuses or protection in combat, and some can only be used by certain characters, so you can find yourself trading Treasures within the party but you won't want to trade away more than you get...

We described Dungeon Party as a drinking game. It needn't be. You can certainly play it as a family game where children can compete with adults on equal terms, and with no alcohol involved at all. On the other hand, and with the usual disclaimers about the need for sensible alcohol consumption, a section of drinking rules are included. Play with these and you should drink when you are hit, drink even more to revive you when knocked down, and 'make a toast' when you kill a Monster. You'd better not Dungeon Party and drive!

(Review by Selwyn Ward)

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