SNAP Review – Dungeon Academy
Learn to master a dungeon before time’s up!
Dungeon Academy is a real-time path-finding game for 1-6 players. Designed by Julian Allain, illustrated by Régis Torres, it’s published by Matagot (and in the U.S. by The OP). It’s a blast for ages 10+, and playable by younger kids as well.
We’ll tell you about it in 7 minutes. Listen to the audio, or read on below.
How to Play
First, set up the dungeon – a cardboard tray that holds 16 dice. Each die represents a “room” that you can explore on your quest through the dungeon.
Every player gets a Hero card and an Adventure sheet. Your Hero card has some sort of special ability, and also determines how much mana (blue) and health (red) you have available to use on your dungeon crawl.
Decide how much time you want to allow for your dungeon crawl: 1 minute for a relatively easy challenge, down to 30 seconds for the hard difficulty.
Roll the 16 dice into the roof of the Dungeon. Than cover the roof with the floor and flip it over, placing it on the table. When everyone is ready, start the timer and lift the roof!
Exit the Dungeon
As soon as the dungeon layout is revealed, start drawing the path you’ll take on your Adventure sheet. You’ll start on an outer wall, pass through as many rooms as you can, and finish on an outer wall. Don’t go diagonally or pass through a room twice!
Each room holds either a monster or a potion. Red monsters will reduce your health (-1 for a “blob” and -2 for a “colossus”). Blue monsters will reduce your mana (-1 for a “ghost” and -2 for a “reaper”). Potions are also colored red or blue and will add +1 to the appropriate pool.
You want to maximize the number of monsters you encounter, without running out of health and mana. As soon as you’ve completed drawing your path, grab the top “Exit” card (numbered 1-6). This shows what order everyone exited the dungeon.
Once everyone has exited (or time has run out), it’s time for the teacher to grade your attempt!
Resolve the Level
One at a time, players help each other resolve the drawn path, using the Teacher figure included with the game. When you fight a monster, take the corresponding token(s) from your Hero card and place a token on that type of monster on your Adventure sheet. Any time you drink a potion, place an energy token onto your Hero card. Keep tracing your path through the dungeon and moving tokens until you’ve exited.
Did you successfully exit the dungeon this time? Then you’ll get one point for each monster you fought, no matter the size. You may get bonuses based on your Hero card or Loot (more on this later). You also get to choose a “quest” from the bottom of your adventure sheet. Each quest can be completed only once per game, and gives you a bonus for all the monsters of a certain type you fought in a level. (Quests are: red monsters, blue monsters, small monsters, big monsters)
After everyone’s path has been checked, the Heroes who completed the dungeon get Loot. Draw as many Loot cards as there are players and place them face up. The successful players then each choose a Loot card, in the order they exited the dungeon.
If you didn’t get out of the level before time was up, or you broke a rule (went through a room twice, etc), OR if your Health or Mana ever drop below zero, you fail the level. You get zero points and no Loot or Quests. However, you reset your Health and Mana to their full values before the next level.
To the Next Level
Discard the Energy tokens on your Adventure sheet. Unless you have Loot or a Hero power that says so, successful adventurers do not restore their Health & Mana before the next level.
Once you’re accustomed to Dungeon Academy, you can add the Labyrinth die before starting Level 2, and the Boss die before starting Level 4.
After the fourth level, each player adds up their points (points from each level, quests, and bonuses); the player with the most points wins!
Dungeon Academy is easy to teach and fast moving. Each level is over in a minute (with about 5 minutes to resolve everyone’s individual paths), and the entire game takes about 20 minutes.
Although the box says 10+, we’ve included our five-year-old successfully in our games (he draws a line straight through the dungeon). We wouldn’t recommend it for other kids that young unless they are already “gamers”, but most older kids (8+) should be fine.
Dungeon Academy uses dice in an usual way, creating a randomized dungeon layout each time. We’ve played dungeons overflowing with points, and dungeons that are best to leave quickly because there are too many monsters and no potions. The Labyrinth die and the Boss die add more randomness to the challenge. You never know if you’ll get a Boss monster that requires lots of energy (for a large reward), an obstacle you must pass through (or must avoid), or maybe just a chest that will give you points for nothing.
The Heroes and Loot cards also make a difference. Some Heroes have a very unbalanced distribution of health to mana, but make up for it with special powers. The Loot cards are the major way that players interact (through drafting) and are useful in different situations (and some are never useful at all – like the “Rubber Ducky”).
Dungeon Academy is very accessible and easy to get into. It requires very little reading and can be explained to non-readers. The time factor could be a source of stress, but you can eliminate the outside timer and only keep the “race” against the other players.
Find it for under $30 on Amazon or at your local game store.
For the cross-generational appeal, the great art, the fantastic randomization, and the unique twist on the roll-and-write genre, we rate Dungeon Academy 4.5 out of 5 defeated monsters.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Dungeon Academy from The OP for this review.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Number of Players: 1-6
Age Range: 10+ (we’d say 8+ or younger)
Playtime: 20 minutes