Game Review – 5 Minute Dungeon

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Dungeons rarely take five minutes to navigate, but in this speed card game, heroes from all classes must work together to defeat obstacles, people, events, and, ultimately, the evil dungeon master. But quick – you only have five minutes!

Designer: Connor Reid
Publisher:
KOSMOS & Wiggles 3D
Genre: Real-time/Speed Game, Cooperative
Players: 2-5
Play Time: 5 minutes
Number of Logged Plays: 12

Skip ahead to find out:
Game Overview
Game Play
What He Said
What She Said
Our Pros and Cons
The Verdict

IMG_3527Game Overview

Players will choose one of the included ten hero classes (five, double-sided hero mats) each with a special ability to overcome specific dangers in the dungeon. To traverse through the dungeon, players will be playing cards from their hands to match the symbols required to defeat the monster, obstacle, or person standing in their way. Strap on your adventuring boots and see if you and your merry band of heroes have what it takes to defeat the 5-Minute Dungeon.

Game Play

5-Minute Dungeon plays in real-time, so players will have to communicate quickly and effectively because, if a card is played on the table, it cannot be taken back. At the beginning of the game, each player will shuffle up their hero decks and draw the same number of cards as number of players in the game. Once the game starts, a Door Card is flipped face up and players will have to defeat it to continue through the dungeon. There are three ways players can defeat Door Cards:

  1. IMG_3541Playing a card from your hand with a symbol matching one on the Door Card
    Once all symbols are matched, the card is defeated. All players can play card(s) from their hand to help defeat the card. Any cards used to defeat the card are removed from the game and not returned to player’s discard piles.
  2. Using an action card to defeat the card
    Some action cards can be used to defeat specific types of Door Cards. Actions cards used to defeat monsters are removed from the game.
  3. Using a hero’s special ability
    Players can discard three cards from their hand to activate their hero’s special ability and defeat a specific type of Door Card.

Anytime a card is played from a player’s hand, they will draw back up to their maximum hand size. If a player runs out of cards, they cannot do anything unless there is a card that allows them to gain more cards.

Players are also able to eliminate cards in their hand by discarding or playing in the center in order to draw more cards. These don’t necessarily have to contribute to defeating a Door Card. Once players get to the final boss, they are only allowed to play cards that have symbols shown on the boss card. If players run out of time before defeating the final boss, all players run out of cards to play, or your party is unable to defeat a card, the battle is lost. If the last boss is defeated before the 5-minute timer, the dungeon is defeated!

He Said

IMG_3525I’m usually not a fan of cooperative games, but 5-Minute Dungeon has created an enjoyable experience with its quick playtime and frantic gameplay. Usually, the biggest issue I have with cooperative games is that they often suffer from one person dominating the decision process. 5-Minute Dungeon prevents this from happening because it’s all happening in real time under tight time constraints.

With only five minutes to work with, you aren’t able to sit back and figure out what everyone has in their hand. This is where setting up good communication with your team about how to handle situations becomes important. 5-Minute Dungeon encourages great team work, while also giving players the chance to make their own judgment calls.

We’ve found that miscommunication can lead to a lot of wasted symbols. The best strategy that worked for us was to have one person calling out the required symbols so other players can focus on their cards. This seemed to help keep down on the number of cards we wasted since players were able to focus more on declaring if they had the required symbols or not.

IMG_3545One thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of with the base rules was that you could potentially get stuck on a Door Card. The reason for this is because you aren’t supposed to play cards just to draw new cards from your deck.  The rule book says that if you accidentally play a card that doesn’t contribute, you lose it and you draw back up to your max hand size. If you do play by the rules, it could lead to a pretty quick anti-climactic ending to a game.

In our first game, the “playing” a card rule didn’t seem too clear to me so we allowed players to discard cards from their hand to draw more cards. Even with this, the game still seemed pretty challenging, which is why it’ll probably be our preferred way to play. Having to get eliminate a card from your deck to draw new cards is pretty punishing since you’ll run into a lot of situations where no one will have the last symbol(s) to defeat a card.

There’s a lot of replayability in 5-Minute Dungeon because it has seven bosses that progressively get harder and harder. The difficulty of each boss is based mainly on the size of the door deck. Once that deck starts to get bigger, you’ll really start to notice how much more difficult an additional five cards can be. I also enjoyed that each boss has a unique requirement for symbols, which encourages players to swap heroes that have more of those symbols in their deck. With such a large amount of door cards in the game, no two games of 5-Minute Dungeon will play out in the same way.

Overall, I really enjoyed how quick the game plays and how easy it is to pick up. This would be the perfect game to break out at the beginning of a game night to kick-off the night. There is a good variety of characters and each one feels unique, which makes you want to try them all. The only negatives I had were things that can easily be house-ruled and that the setup time could take almost long as the game itself. I’d recommend 5-Minute Dungeon to anyone who is looking for a different kind of cooperative game that will put their reflexes and communication skills to the test.

She Said

IMG_3547In general, I’m not the biggest fan of speed games. The fast pace and intensity stresses me out and makes for an overall negative game experience. However, 5-Minute Dungeon changes my mind on speed games.

This game perfectly blends cooperative-style games (one of my favorites) with speed and agility needed to quickly play cards and sweep them from the play area. You all play together to beat door cards throwing cards out in the play area. And while it is a game that gets my heart pumping from the stress, it balances out because it’s not all on me to win. The cooperative elements are what make me like this speed game. I don’t like the pressure of solo speed games.

In the games we’ve played, it also guarantees some laughs because you’re all just frantically throwing cards out and yelling what you need. Especially if someone has the Holy Hand Grenade – you’ll be yelling that at the end when you only have 10 seconds to beat the last boss. Because this is such a fast-paced game, I recommend that you have someone that shouts out what resources are needed. It really helps keep everyone organized.

The other thing I like about this game is the heroes. Often in games like these, player boards and heroes serve little purpose other than a way to add to the theme. But in 5-Minute Dungeon, each has a special ability that is relevant to the hero’s class. And they also have a male and female version of each class – something my feminist heart loves. Bonus for awesome artwork too!

IMG_3548Overall, 5-Minute Dungeon is a great filler and a good introduction to speed/cooperative games. It’s an easy game for any experience level to play – from super new gamers to more experienced gamers. It’s fun all around! We’ve primarily played this with family, and it’s been a blast to play and has sparked some great memories already. I’d highly recommend this game to someone, especially if you’ve been skeptical of speed games in the past.

Pros and Cons

Pros:
-Easy to teach
-Plays quick
-High level of tension
-Cooperative elements make it less stressful
-Great artwork
-Male and female version of each class

Cons:
-Cleanup and setup of a new dungeon can take almost as long as the game itself
-Game can have an anti-climactic ending

The Verdict

He gives this game out of 8 Baby Barbarians out of 10.

She gives this game 9 Holy Hand Grenades out of 10.

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