Bag of Dungeon is an indie table top game which allows players to create their own dungeons using random tiles. The object of the game is to find the Ring of Creation and kill the Dragon guarding the exit. Simple… right? But what is a dungeon crawling game without dozens of terrifying monsters? Battle them to the death and if victorious you are rewarded with awesome weapons and armour or you can run for your life, the choice is yours.
This game began its journey on Kickstarter; the project earned almost four times its pledge goal with approximately 932 backers. The game was released in 2018 by Gunpower Studios who are based in London, England.
I originally purchased the game on Amazon as a birthday present for my teenage brother. I feel that I should put in this disclaimer before I start. This is purely my opinion and this is from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played any dungeon crawling games before. Therefore, some of my criticism might be more down to naivety rather than a fault with the game itself. This review looks at what it is like for a newbie to this game genre, how easy it is to learn and overall experience. Now that that’s out of the way let’s begin!
The first thing is, I love the look of this game! The imagery used is minimalistic yet striking, nicely tying into the dungeon role-playing aspects of the game. This theme continues in the interior of the box with it mimicking a dungeon corridor. Furthermore, the colours used for the tiles are also fitting. The monster tiles are intense red evoking the idea of blood and danger contrasting with the white and bright item tiles which are positive and helpful. The designers have opted for silhouettes for character design. The reason why this is effective is because it makes you study each character and you notice the subtle details of each one.
The next thing that gets the thumbs up from me: the characters themselves. Firstly, each character has a male and female version making it appealing and inclusive to whoever is interested in playing. But they are pretty much your common fantasy characters – dwarf, fighter, healer and elf – but I do feel they are unique. To elaborate, each character has different abilities which can be advantageous while playing against your friends and family. Plus, certain items make them more powerful. For me this adds to the immersiveness of the game as I battle monsters hoping they’ll “drop” that one item that will enhance my character and bring me one step closer to killing the Dragon.
Another way to play which I haven’t come across before is playing solo. The board games in my collection involve having at least two players for the game to function properly. But as we all know it’s not always possible to play with others and sometimes you want a break from electronic devices. I found Bag of Dungeon a great way to kill time whilst I was home alone. This allowed me to get better acquainted with the characters which came in handy when I had the chance to dungeon crawl with friends again.
My final positive point, which might be common for these types of games, is the use of little coloured cubes that help players keep track of their action points (how many moves you can make), number of lives left, health points, and the health of the monsters you are battling.
I’ll start with my biggest gripe. The choice of fonts. I understand that they wanted something that resembled medieval handwriting to tie into the theme of the game but I feel that aesthetics overruled practicality in this case. In the example below my brother and I still don’t know what the circled section means and found no explanation in the game’s instructions. But a game definitely loses some of its inclusivity when players can’t read or understand the text. Together we decided that the elf gets two dice then we add one to the total on the dice (if we’re wrong, please feel free to correct us).
The second criticism is the use of jargon. Some of it is pretty simple liked dmg meaning damage (hopefully!) but others such as CBT we have no clue what that means or if the T is even a T for that matter. Again, this is not explained in the game’s instructions. I even tried googling “CBT meaning game” and “game abbreviation CBT” but the results were things like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Computer Based Teaching. Perhaps seasoned dungeon crawlers are laughing at my ignorance, so take this point with a grain of salt.
Also, I have to admit despite playing it fairly regularly I’m still not 100% sure of the rules. Usually reading through the instructions is enough for me to get to grips with everything and begin to play. With this game however, the instructions alone were not enough. Luckily there is a very helpful video on YouTube that kinda taught me how to play. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am still armed with the instructions every time I play and look up rules regularly. My brother and I are learning as we go and I think this game requires persistence. This isn’t an issue for me but it does make the game unsuitable for those who prefer games they can pick up quickly.
Now was it worth it?
I have to say absolutely! My brother really enjoys it which is what I hoped for when I brought it. I think it is something experienced dungeon crawlers would like and it’s – for the most part – a good introduction game for newbies to the genre. Playing solo is just as good as playing with others therefore, it is quite versatile. In the process of researching, I have found Gunpowder Studios has other games that look equally cool. I am actually hoping to get 7 Moons for Christmas this year.