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Games Workshop have released their first boxed Dungeonbowl game since the 1980s, but how does it play compared with the games of today? After taking a read through the rulebook a few times, I will give an answer to that question.
In Dungeonbowl, setting up with dungeon is the first part of the game. Honestly I would have preferred some pre-defined starting set-ups – perhaps named dungeons, but no. Keeping to a minimum number of each type of dungeon board (corridor, small room, large room) players take turns laying them out however they wish, then add the two End Zone rooms and flip a coin to see who gets to choose which End Zone.
This is where the first inconsistency come in – there’s no rules to state that both End Zones must have the same number of entrances. Both examples show this, as per the image above, but it’s not there. A player could chance their luck and have one End Zone relatively available and hope they win the coin toss and pick the other one. I would have preferred both some sample dungeons to use and that both End Zones must have the same number of entrances.
Other than the corridors, each board has its own special rules. On the surface I’m not a fan of this, I don’t like the thought of having to look up special rules in the middle of moving a player from one room to another. A few games will see if it’s fine or something that slows down the game for not much impact.
Players also deploy six teleportation portals, and six treasure chests – five of which are booby trapped, one of which contains the ball, in various rooms of the dungeon. Neither portal nor chest can be placed in an End Zone or an End Zone-adjacent board.
Games of Dungeonbowl are sudden death – whoever scores first wins. As such there is no turn limit – another surprise to me. The rules suggest players might like to make up a limit that suits them, like two hours, but this is rather thin on detail. I think it would have been better with a hard turn limit, and the option to play an unlimited game if both players wish. As it stands, each league or competition will be coming up with its own version – time limits, turn limits, or whatever.
To deploy at the start of the game, you take six of your players and put them in your End Zone square. In subsequent turns you can teleport players into the dungeon at a rate of one per turn. There’s no limit to the number of players you can bring in, though team rosters are limited to 16, as per Blood Bowl. You can deploy your bigger, slower players to defend your End Zone, or else have your faster players immediately race out into the dungeon to find that ball, or a mix. The choice is yours.
The main rules are the same as for Blood Bowl, which is fine until you run up against things which aren’t a consideration for an open pitch. Line of Sight within the dungeon is defined on page 10, but not mentioned as a requirement for passing the ball. I assume it is, but there’s a nice diagram on page 40 suggesting you can throw the ball over the wall and below the ceiling (apparently these don’t connect!) to a player elsewhere in the dungeon. I know what I reckon, but how this works ruleswise is not clear.
Player advancement is similar to Blood Bowl, and there are new dungeon-specific skills available. The one allowing a player to re-roll thier portal dice result seems very useful. Touchdowns are worth more in Dungeonbowl, presumable since a team can only ever score 1 per match.
The teams are varied and look interesting. I will take a deeper dive into them in future articles. For now the game looks fine, and I want to get a couple of games under my belt to get a feel both them. And also canvas opinions on passing!
In summary, the rules look fine but would have benefitted from some closer editing for clarity and consistency. That grammar snob job appeared for good reason! For a premium-price game this should have already happened. The game leans heavily on the more tested Blood Bowl (a good thing!) and players familiar with that game will have only a few things to learn.