When Theo Peters, co-designer of Dungeon Bounty, sent us a mail the other day suggesting that we give his game a try, I thought about it for a split second before accepting. If you follow our site, perhaps you remember that I have played and enjoyed Regicide as a solitaire filler. It turns out that Dungeon Bounty was inspired by Regicide, and offers a different, but equally fun, version of the standard card deck dungeon crawl.
In Dungeon Bounty, you play as a monster hunter. Your services have been requested by a King who needs his mines cleared out before the kingdom loses its main source of wealth. Jacks, Queens and Kings in the deck represent said monsters, and you can select the level of difficulty you prefer. I first started at easy, but quickly jumped into intermediate, and then to advanced.
You can print out the two nice mats provided by Noble Pig Games to arrange your cards, if you like, but they are not necessary. Before you start, you must remove the hearts numbers 1-10 from the deck. These will act as your strength: you stack 5 to 1 at the top, followed by 10 to 6. As you level up, you take the 6 from the bottom and cover the 5, and so on. When you defeat an enemy your strength goes up, and when the enemy deals damage, and you don't have or don't want to sacrifice any loot, it goes down.
To begin the game, you draw a hand of 5 cards, select two to go to the bottom of the draw deck, and one to keep. The other two will become the first things you find in the dungeon. On each turn, you reveal two cards, keep one and discard the other. If it is an enemy, you have to fight them. If it is a Merchant (the Joker), you can purchase cards from the discard pile by paying the Merchant in Diamonds. Clubs are weapons. Spades are spell scrolls. And Diamonds are gems. You can only equip two weapons, and each weapon's value cannot exceed your current strength. You may keep any number of scrolls and gems, but when a scroll is used, it has to be discarded.
Your attacks can be boosted by making sets of the same number: if, for example, you place a 7 of spades on a 7 of clubs, the spades value is doubled and the weapon deals 21 points of damage. If you combine the 7 of clubs with a 7 of diamonds, the attack value becomes 14. And if you manage to match three 7's together, you have a Volatile Relic that deals a whopping 42 damage, but it's one-time use. When you cannot defeat an enemy, instead of bringing your strength down, you may choose to discard a gem, a weapon or a spell.
To finish the game, you have to go through the deck twice. Enemies in the second round have double health, and the more of them you take out, the stronger the remaining ones become. If you play on any level of difficulty other than easy, you also have to deal with enemy abilities depending on their suit.
The game is a breeze to play, turns go by very fast, and getting a good score in the end isn't too hard (I didn't try the 'blood lust' level). Unlike Regicide, Dungeon Bounty doesn't have a win condition and it is much more forgiving. You go through the deck twice, then calculate the monsters you killed and the gems you gathered. Regicide is more challenging, and if you don't like losing, it may frustrate you a little. Here, the enemies gladly take a piece of your loot and leave you unharmed.
I generally prefer to lose by falling to my untimely death when I go dungeon crawling, but if your tastes align more with JW's than mine, then beating your own score should feel equally satisfactory. I am very glad to see more games in this niche genre, and eager to see the bigger game that Theo and Aaron are working on and will eventually Kickstart.
Download the rules and the playmats by subscribing here. And watch Aaron explain and go through the game in this video: