Stats at a glance
Ages: 8 +
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
We know that almost everyone has heard of D&D – Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, not everyone knows what it is or how it’s played, but they have heard of it. Dungeon Mayhem is a much-simplified card game version of D&D. This, however, does not detract from the game; it makes it more accessible to everyone.
Brief Overview of Dungeon Mayhem
If you’re not familiar with D&D, it’s basically a game where people roleplay custom characters and go into dungeons and fight dragons – it’s in the name after all. In this simplified version, 2–4 players will choose between pre-determined characters and try to be the last person standing. Players will have to fight each other and use their character abilities to outsmart each other.
It’s a great game for those people who are interested in D&D but don’t have the willpower to go through the rather lengthy learning period of the full game.
Unboxing Dungeon Mayhem
Looking at the small box, you can definitely see that this is a card game. It’s quite small and compact and the box doesn’t lead you to think that it’s an expansion of the D&D series – you can tell it’s a standalone version. You can also tell that it’s part of the D&D franchise by the artwork.
Once you open the box, you will see the rules pamphlet and cardboard pop-outs on top. Pretty standard quality with a good feel to them. Underneath that are all the playing cards. Inside the box you’ll find the following:
- Rule pamphlet
- Damage tokens
- 4 decks of playing cards
- Hitpoint & damage tokens
- Reference cards
How to Play Dungeon Mayhem
Dungeon Mayhem is a simple game to get ready for play. Depending on the number of players, everyone will choose a character for the game and take the associated deck. Each character is different and has unique powers that are exclusive to them.
Each player will take a hit point tracker, hit point tokens, and the associated reference card. The hit point tracker has 10 spaces on it which indicate the number of hit points each character has. When a player loses all their hit points, they are eliminated from the game.
Everyone will then shuffle their card deck and draw 3 cards. The card deck each player has is exclusively unique to the character that was chosen. Now the game is ready to start.
The youngest player gets to go first and then the player on their left will go next. A player will start their turn by picking up a card and then deciding what they want to do next. Players have to play at least one card but will need to have a “Play Again” action included to then play another card.
Some cards get used immediately and must be discarded, while others will stay face up in front of the player until their action is performed. All the cards will have a little symbol on the top left-hand side, these indicate what actions the player can perform with the card. The reference card indicates what the symbol stands for.
There are five types of symbols that a card can have*. They are classified as:
- Heart – Healing point. Gain the number of hit points back.
- Shield – Defense. These cards stay face up until another player destroys them.
- Lightning – Play again. These allow players to play another card in the same turn.
- Two Swords – Attack. As you can guess, players use them to remove opponents’ hit points.
- Card with a + Symbol – Draw again. This action will allow players to pick up another card.
* There are also combinations of the above symbols leading to a fuller game experience
If a player runs out of cards, they must then pick up two more cards from their deck. If their deck runs out, they must shuffle their discard pile and use it as their drawing deck again. Players can do this as many times as necessary.
Due to the large number of card actions that are possible, game times will vary. Some games might be quick, while others could take a while. It depends on what the players draw and what they do with their cards. The game ends when players are knocked out and only one person is left.
Pros & Cons
- Quick and easy to learn
- A much simpler version of the D&D game
- Compact – makes it easy to take when traveling
Dungeon Mayhem is pretty great. It’s taken the very long and complex D&D game and turned it into an easy and approachable version. It still has all the trademark ideas of its original game without losing its essence.
This is something that is quite hard to do and many other games that have been simplified from their original are not as much fun. They appear to lose something, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Not so with Dungeon Mayhem.
- Won’t live up to the full D&D experience
As I said above, Dungeon Mayhem hasn’t lost the essence of D&D. But it won’t live up to the full experience because it doesn’t have two things – choice autonomy and character building. D&D is famous for players being able to make their own characters in ANY way they want and then make ANY choices they want. That’s what sets D&D apart from many games. However, let’s be fair and realistic here.
If Dungeon Mayhem included those two aspects, the shortened game itself would not be possible. It wouldn’t be quick and easy. And that’s why it’s fine that it doesn’t live up to the full D&D experience – it shouldn’t.
Versions & Expansions
Battle for Baldur’s Gate
This is an expansion for Dungeon Mayhem in which you’ll find two new playable characters: the ranger Minsc with his miniature giant space hamster Boo and the shapeshifting druid Jaheira.
Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness is a standalone board game that can be combined with the original or expansion decks for more epic D&D fun. It adds 6 new, terrifying monsters to the mix, plus all-new ways to play.
As we said before, it’s a shortened version of a very big and complex game that has retained its essence. Not many games fall into that category, and that’s quite impressive.
This game wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but it does open itself up to more people than D&D could and that makes it a fine addition to any game collection. It’s great fun and most people would enjoy it more than they realize. Who wouldn’t want the chance to take down their friends in a dungeon for gold?
We hope you enjoyed our Dungeon Mayhem review! Let us know in the comments what you thought of this fun family card game and what other card games you love!
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Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.
Thursday 30th of June 2022
Sorry, aber die Rechtschreibung/Grammatik (das Deutsch!) macht es echt schwer den/die Artikel zu lesen.
Friday 1st of July 2022
Hi Michael, Thanks for the heads-up about the translation. My apologies for the inconvenience. We use a machine translator to make our site available in dozens of languages so it doesn't always work out properly. We'll look into it! Best wishes and happy gaming, Kendra