If you have kids and a love of the legendary Dungeons & Dragons games, you owe it to yourself to at least take a peak at Dungeon Mayhem, the latest, unexpected addition to the long list of products carrying this famous license. Dungeon Mayhem might sound like a somewhat tongue-in-cheek title considering the usually serious content matter — and that’s because it is. If the sound of trading lightning bolts, daggers and throwing axes at each other over the course of about ten to fifteen frantic minutes sounds like fun, you should keep reading.
- Dungeon Mayhem is a card game for two to four players. It comes in a very small box and carries artwork by Kyle Ferrin, which will be instantly recognisable to anyone who played B3’s twenty-third best game of 2018, Root. The subject of Ferrin’s art are four decks of cards, each of which depicts of one D&D’s classic combinations of race, sex and class. There’s a female orc barbarian, a female elvish paladin, a male devilkin rogue and a male human sorcerer.
- This motley bunch of characters will do battle to the death, with each player taking a unique deck, shuffling it and placing it face down on the table. Each player draws a starting hand of three cards, then places a life counter onto their character’s player card. On your turn, you simply draw a card, then play a card, with various effects. Cards may deal damage to another player, place a defence token in front of the current player, allow more cards to be drawn or enable a player to gain health.
- The real trick to Dungeon Mayhem is in manipulating your hand to a position where you can play one card after another — if you ever use up all your cards, you get to draw two more, potentially being able to play one or both of those as well. There’s a lot of randomness to Dungeon Mayhem, but it’s also just incredibly good fun. The four characters are well imagined and nicely realised through Ferrin’s art and whilst many of the cards do the same thing from deck to deck, each character does have their own unique skills and traits that let them do things that break the normal rules.
A game of Dungeon Mayhem lasts about ten minutes on average, but playing with four players introduces a chaotic element that can result in even more imbalanced play. Whether that means that one player is targeted and eliminated early or that the players behave fairly and give each other breathing room will depend entirely on your friends. Either way, Dungeon Mayhem makes for an excellent filler — it’s light, quick, fun and never too serious, regardless of what happens.
- The ideal entry-level card game for younger players who want to begin their journey into tabletop gaming, or as an ideal filler, drinking or travel game, Dungeon Mayhem is cheap and small, but it punches well above its weight and size. It’s unlikely to make it onto any game-of-the-year lists simply because it’s so light, but it’s the kind of game that I absolutely cannot wait to play with my own children, and I reckon it’s good for anyone from about six years and upwards thanks to large, simple symbology and a very clear rule structure. Recommended.