In June of last year, Ares Games had a successful Kickstarter campaign for Dungeon Time with a final funding of 650% of their initial goal. The final shipments of the game went out in February of this year and I was lucky enough to have Ares shoot me a copy of the game.
Dungeon Time is a real-time, cooperative game of gathering treasure without breaking your backpack. The game can be played solo or with up to 5 players in one-off games or a campaign.
First, the backpack is placed in the middle of all the players and the reward tokens are put off to the side. Then the mission deck is put together based off the scenario the players are going to attempt and shuffled. Take 2 and set them aside. Then the item cards are shuffled. Draw off the number of item cards for the number of players (noted in the rules), shuffle them with the 2 mission cards that were set aside, and deal the cards out to each player. Now the remaining item deck and mission cards are shuffled together to create a draw pile. Once everyone is ready, the sand timer is flipped and the 5 minute game of Dungeon Time is on its way!
Dungeon Time is played in two phases: the Story Phase and the Resolution Phase. The Story Phase is the meat of the game and is the portion played in real time. Here players will play items from their hands to try and complete missions. Cards are played face up to the center of the backpack. If a player thinks the right items are in the story deck to complete a mission they can place a mission card onto the deck. Play is simultaneous and players always draw back up to the hand limit after cards are played.
Once time is up the game moves into the Resolution Phase. The Story pile is flipped over and cards are played one by one around the backpack. Items of the same type can stack up to 3 times. If a mission card comes up and the appropriate items are on the board then the mission is completed, the items discarded, and the reward tile is placed around the backpack following the same stacking rules. This continues until one of the following happens:
- The goal amount of missions has been completed
- The backpack runs out of space for items to be placed
- A stack of more than 3 items is created
- The Story pile runs out of cards
Players lose the game if anything happens other than the goal amount of missions are completed.
There are also Hero Cards, Adventure Cards, and Scrolls that can be incorporated into the game for more of a thematic feel. These can help players, provide more challenging play, and generally expand the game past the basic gameplay. For info on these, check out the full rules.
Dungeon Time contains mostly cards, but also cardboard reward tiles and a small board. Everything is what you’d expect from a publisher such as Ares. Cards are sturdy stock and the reward tiles and board are a thick cardboard. The box the game comes in contains an insert where everything fits into nicely without wasting a lot of space.
As a filler Dungeon Time provides a lot of fun in a very quick package when playing with the basic rules and a one-shot scenario. As a longer game playing the campaign, with Heroes, and/or Adventure Cards, the game evolves into something a bit larger and more in-depth. You can easily play the campaign over the course of a couple of gaming sessions and alter the way you play by adding in the extras and playing the bonus scenarios. Combine that with a solid solo experience and playing the game over with only 7 backpack slots and you’ve got a lot of game in a $30 package.
I first played Dungeon Time with my 7-year-old and we failed the starter scenario horribly. We took another crack at it and were successful on our second go, giving us the confidence we needed to move on to bigger and better things. We found that adding in Heroes is a great way to ease into things before starting the main campaign or even attempting using Adventure Cards. We’re now at the point where we’re enjoying the challenge and not getting trashed about every time we play.
The biggest tip I can give you when playing? Talk to each other. Make sure that every moment of your five minutes has every player knowing who has what cards and what can be played. It’s very important to make sure you’re completing missions as efficiently as possible, taking into consideration what rewards each completed mission gives you. Even a small slip-up can break your backpack and lose you the game!
Dungeon Time provides and amazing experience with many different layers. It’s challenging, entertaining, and a lot of fun to play with the kids. As I stated before, it’s well worth the $30 investment for what you get.
A copy of Dungeon Time was provided free for review by Ares Games.
Media personality Rob “Devar-TTY” Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of Devar-TTY’s Pawns Perspective, Dev now focuses mostly on video games and TTRPGs. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.