I read a lot of blogs. It helps me feel like I’m staying up to date on pop culture, and also helps me find out about interesting things happening in my city, in the country and around the world. One of my “geeky” blogs I read is the aptly named Geek and Sundry – home of my fave D&D show Critical Role, and also Tabletop, which got me back into board games in a crazy way. They like to post about new games frequently, and last fall there was one that piqued my interest. They were sharing information about a Kickstarter for a game that hit a lot of my interests. It was called 5 Minute Dungeon, and I was so intrigued that I became a backer.
The idea is simple – choose a hero with a special skill, pair up with a friend or more, and then use your deck of cards to help defeat the threats you encounter in a dungeon crawl that all leads up to a final boss. You can play with 2-5 players, and everyone contributes towards success or failure. And the most nerve-wracking part is that there is a time limit of – you guessed it – 5 minutes. There are a few racier cards if you really take the time to look closely at the artwork (Jacked-o-Lanterns anyone?), but the game moves so quickly that any of the more scandalous jokes are ignored.
Because this is a game of speed. When I first received my game in the mail in late February, I had a pretty good idea of how the game worked after watching the Kickstarter video. I failed to explain the game very well to the Boy on our first go-round, so he was frustrated, and I suppose thought he should look at the name and artwork of each card. I had to yell, “No time!” and sweep cards away, which was an exercise in frustration for the both of us. An unfortunate beginning. Luckily, once he knew what he was supposed to do, and we both figured out how to combine using our cards and our special abilities, things started to pick up. It’s still not the easiest thing to do, defeating a boss with a party of two, but I think we did it eventually, and it was thrilling. Much better than the times when we would get to that final fight and realize we didn’t have the cards in our hand available, nor did we have a way to get more cards, so you just sat out the remaining time going, “ARGH!!!”
Luckily, the game picks up and becomes super fun when you have a larger party – we’ve never played with a full complement of five, but our four-player games have been pretty great. Which is to say that we’ve played the game with H and E, and they LOVE it. It has become a frequently requested game in the house, which is totally fine except for the part where I’m the only one who knows how to shuffle cards well, so setting up and re-setting after a round can take a while, with most of the work on me. But it’s a terrific game to play together because it’s cooperative, and no one has turns, so you have to learn to communicate appropriately. Because each player also has their own special skills, you learn to appreciate what other people can do, and you have to look out for other players so that you aren’t leaving them depleted at the end of the round when you might need their help the most.
Gameplay is simple: create a deck of “doors” and stack it on top of the boss mat. Flip over the first door and defeat the challenge that lies beneath using either your resources, an action card or your special skill. Sweep away cards, and flip the next door. You’ve got 5 minutes to get to the bottom of the door deck and to defeat the boss at hand. There’s a timer app that is available with narration and reminders as time passes, but you could just as easily set a 5-minute timer on your phone and just go until the alarm goes off.
It’s definitely a lot of fun. I love how there are male and female options for each realm of character (pictured above). I love how fast-paced it is, and how easy it was to pick up. I wish there were a clear way for me to tell you how to get this game. I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be in stores at some point, but the publisher website still says “Only on Kickstarter”. So who knows. I hope they make it more widely available, because it’s a fun game that deserves to be played by everyone – not just those who happened to get in on the Kickstarter. In the meantime, if you want to come play with me and see what the game is like, I’m totally down with that.