Dungeon Twister by Asmodee Editions has been called a dungeon crawl game in the past, but its not really a dungeon crawl at all. There is far more strategy involved in a game of Dungeon Twister than any dungeon crawl I have played. I have only recently started playing the game, but it has jumped straight up into my top ten games mainly because of the devious way that it is played.
Opening the box there are a number of cardboard sheets that need to be punched out. This provides you with the 8 dungeon tiles, the character tokens and object tokens. There are some other tokens but these are mainly to mark things on the boards such as open portcullises. There are two screens, one for each player and a deck of cards for each player. Finally a rulebook and some plastic stands to put your character tokens in. Everything is very well presented, the artwork is slightly cartoon style but it works well.
The aim of the game is to be the first person to get to 5 victory points. Victory points can be won by either getting one of your characters out of the dungeon. This is done by working your way through the dungeon to your opponent’s starting line. Or by killing an opponent’s character. The box reckons that a game will take 45 minutes, but from my experiences it is nearer to an hour and a half. Maybe because we are still working out the game, but probably as we are trying to think about our turns to much.
Setting up the game the 8 dungeon tiles are placed in a 4 x 2 grid between the 2 players and a starting line piece of board caps of the line at each end. Now the players need to decide which 4 of the 7 characters they are going to place on the starting line. The 8 characters are your usual fantast fare, there is a warrior who is good in combat and can break closed portcullises. A cleric who can heal, a thief who can open locked portcullises and dodge pit traps, a troll who hits hard but has slow movement. A wizard who can levitate over traps, a goblin who is by far the weakest character but because of this he is worth 2 victory points if he escapes, the meckanork allows you to control how the dungeons are rotated. The last character is a wall walker who can walk through walls.
Once your chosen characters are placed on the starting line you take turns placing your other characters and the equipment tokens upside down on the dungeon squares. The objects are sword, armour, fireball wand, speed potion, rope and treasure. These are only revealed when your characters enter the rooms. Once all of the tokens have been placed its time to start the game.
As the dungeon is explored the tiles are revealed. Any tokens on that tile are now placed. The revealer places all of the tiles, except for his object counters. These are placed by your opponent. This bring more choices to the game, did you leave your combat based characters on the starting line or place them further into the dungeon? Do you reveal the tiles as soon as you can so that you can place your opponents pieces in really hard to get places?
Each player has 4 action cards, which depict the number of action points for that round. This is a number from 2 to 5. The action points allow the characters to move, fight, use an ability, jump over a trap or rotate a room. Playing the right number of actions a round is important, you may need 5 points to get your warrior to dash out of the dungeon, or you may only need to play 2 actions to setup the rooms for a later round. Once all of your action cards have been played they are returned to your hand ready for another round.
You also have a hand of combat cards, these are 9 cards with values from 0 to 6and are played whenever a character initiates combat. Combat is resolved by both players choosing a combat card from there hand and placing it face down. The cards are then turned over and the value shown on the card is added to the combat value of the character. The looser is then wounded and cannot move or do anything until they are healed by the cleric. The important thing to note hear is that once a combat card is played it’s removed from the game. The only exception here is the 0 value card which will always go back to your hand. This makes combat very tense, do you use up a high value combat card to ensure a win or play a lower one and hope that your opponent is also doing the same thing?
As the name suggests there is a twisting element to the game, this doesn't involve you putting your left hand on a red square or your right leg on a green. Each of the 8 dungeon tiles has a rotation cog symbol on it. If a character is on this square they can rotate the tile in the direction of the arrow. Each tile has its partner and that is also rotated if it has been revealed. This can cause havoc as you rotate the tiles to better your position and to hinder your opponent. On several occasions characters who have made a break for freedom have found themselves rotated back into the dungeon to become face to face with an angry troll.
Although the initial game is only for 2 players, there are expansions that allow you to increase this to 4 players. In addition there are other expansions which give you more characters to choose from as well as new rooms and objects. The support for this game is very good, expansions are being produced every 6 month’s or so and there are a number of fan based scenarios which allow you to play the game in slightly different ways, either in teams or with different dungeon placement mechanics. All in a good game which will hurt your brain at times.
Everything is very well presented, the artwork is nice and the theme follows through the game. The counters and board are made from thick cardboard and the cards are a good size. My only slight wish would be for the characters to be nice plastic miniatures, but this is something that you can buy separately. 8/10
Clarity of Rules
The rules are good, and the rulebook has several examples but it could be better. The geek has plenty of rules questions and the Dungeon Twister site has a FAQ. Not a good sign but at least there are people who have asked the questions and the answers are there. 6/10
The box says 45 minutes; I say an hour and a half. But that’s an hour and a half of enjoyment of a great game. It probably gets faster after a few plays but if you have an opponent who suffers from analysis paralysis it could take longer 8/10
For the money its a good game, the expansions add more and increase the game experience but are not required for a basic 2 player game. Replay ability is high, there are so many combinations and strategies to try you will want to keep playing it. 8/10
I really like this game, I thought it was going to another dungeon crawl but it is much more than that. The amount of strategy in the game is good, the more you play it the more things you discover. It can be frustrating at times, but when you win you feel like you have earned it. 8/10 (Not an average)