Hidden Gems - Dungeon Academy by Julian Allain

Hey everyone!  I hope your week is going well?  With the coldest month of the year setting in and rolling power cuts occurring throughout the country, now is as good a time as any to find something fun to play while wrapped up under a blanket by phonelight.  This week’s hidden gem is a great little roll & write by Julian Allain, let’s take a look at Dungeon Academy!

Dungeon Academy is a roll & write dungeon crawler game for 1-6 players.  Players roll 16 dungeon dice and use the results to trace a path through the dungeon within the allotted time.  Points are scored based on treasure they find, denizens they defeat and if they successfully make it out each round.  The game takes place over 4 rounds and has each player take a blank dungeon exploration sheet, a pencil and a unique character. Each player randomly selects their character from several different archetypes familiar to anyone who has played anything even vaguely dungeoney in the past, with each character possessing a special ability that sets them apart from one another. The game is timed and there’s a dedicated Dungeon Academy timer app you can download for free or just use any timer of your own. After the four rounds are completed, players add up their scores to determine the winner.

While the game seems easy enough in the first round you’ll quickly come to realise the way you move through each dungeon will have an impact on your performance in the next one.  Unless a player has passed out in the previous round, in which case their health and mana are reset to their maximums for the next, any health or mana remaining carries over to the following dungeon.  Since players have only a minute or so to move through each dungeon, forward planning is difficult.  After in the second and fourth rounds, players replace a standard dungeon die with the labyrinth and boss die respectively.  These add further challenge to the dungeons in the consecutive rounds.  As each player finishes drawing their paths, they snatch up one of the placement cards, numbered 1-6, so if there are four players, you’ll use cards 1-4. The first player to finish takes the number 1 card, the second, number 2 and so on.  This determines the order in which players get to choose their loot from a selection of treasure cards drawn at the end of each round, so there is a motivation to finish faster than other players.

Dungeon Academy possesses a cartoony charm and a fanciful theme wrapped around solid roll & write mechanics.  The variability comes from several randomly determined factors, from the dice themselves to the selection of characters and treasure cards awarded each round.  The concept of adventurers attending an academy to learn the most efficient way to get through a dungeon is a fun idea and the execution is clean and simple.  The iconography on the dice and sheets is clear and easy to follow and while some of the character or treasure abilities might take a moment to grasp, there’s little here that should prove off putting. Definitely a great choice for a filler game or a family game night.

Thanks for joining me again this week. As usual, if you have any suggestions for games you’d like to see featured here or in any of our other blogs let us know in the comments below or contact me at Brian@gamekings.co.nz.  Until next time, stay warm and have fun!

Hidden gems