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Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers – Heroes of Undermountain

Make your way through the dungeon maze, collecting keys, finding treasure, and defeating monsters in this real-time racing game played with markers and dungeon maps.

Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers – Heroes of Undermountain is published by WizKids. It obviously has a highly recognizable theme attached to it, but how does the gameplay hold up?

Gameplay

There are ten different dungeons in the game. Players agree on how many dungeons they will play and in what order, each taking a set of the agreed-upon dungeons. Each dungeon represents a round of the game. The rulebook suggests games of three dungeons, but you are free to choose any number.

Every dungeon map shows the start point, and then a series of interconnected rooms and corridors, each with different types of features. When the round starts, all players play simultaneously. From the start point, you begin drawing a line through the dungeon. It must be one, unbroken line. If your line touches a wall, that is fine, but if you go through a wall you can lose points. If you are still in the same corridor or room, you lose one point. If you are in a completely different room, the rest of your line will be ignored during the scoring phase.

Different elements in the rooms must be interacted with in different ways. For example, you must completely mark out a monster in order to defeat it, while artifact fragments must be connected in ascending order based on the numbers written on them, and treasure must be completely outlined. All of these elements are worth points for completing them, but are worth negative points if you enter a room with them but do not interact with them. If you start to interact with them but fail to complete them (for example leaving a monster only partially marked) they neither gain nor lose points.

There are also advanced elements that do not appear in all dungeons. For example, some dungeons have keys or portals. When you mark a key in the dungeon, you take the matching colored key token (if there is still one in play) and may now go through doors in the dungeon that require that color of key. Portals allow you to end your line at one point and then start it again at the portal’s exit point.

Each player also receives a character at the start of the game. Each character has a unique power. For example, the cleric can connect artifact fragments in any order, while the barbarian only has to cover the heads of regular monsters in order to defeat them.

Most rounds end when the boss monster in the dungeon is defeated by any one player (like regular monsters, you must completely mark it out in order to defeat it). But some dungeons have special rules such as requiring you to defeat two bosses or ending after a certain amount of time. Each player then checks the dungeon of the player on their right and calculates their scores. If you have another dungeon to play, you take it and begin a new round. The player with the highest combined scores from all their dungeons at the end of the game wins.

Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers – Heroes of Undermountain Components

Review

Dungeon Scrawlers is frantic, challenging fun! The dungeons each have great designs that make each one enjoyable to discover and tricky in their own unique ways. You constantly have to keep on the move throughout the game, so you don’t have time to plot out your ideal path as you race against your opponents. You have moments when you freeze, realizing that you’ve missed something and wonder if you should go back, eating up precious time.

The dungeons escalate nicely so that you can easily learn the basics and then slowly have more advanced layouts and elements introduced to you. The different heroes also add a nice touch, since each one has a different strength so that your optimal path through each dungeon keeps changing, even as you grow more familiar with the game.

There are some edge cases when scoring that players just have to agree on, so you won’t want to play with a group that nitpicks every single rule, and with elements like the artifact fragments it can be hard to determine during the scoring phase if you actually connected the stones in the correct order.

Production design is quite nice, with the dungeon boards feeling well made and durable. It’s a really enjoyable theme and there are some fun monsters to recognize if you’re a Dungeons and Dragons fan, but it remains completely accessible as simply a fantasy game if you’re unfamiliar with the RPG.

Dungeon Scrawlers was a thoroughly enjoyable game that we had a lot of fun with. Drawing directly on the dungeons is fun, the mazes are challenging when paired with the real-time mechanics, and the different elements and the different ways in which you have to interact with them are creative and varied.

Pros: Great production design, can be enjoyed without knowing the theme, range of elements, number of dungeons

Cons: Some edge cases can spring up during the scoring phase

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.