5 Minute Dungeon – Spinmaster Games – Review

5 Minute Dungeon - Spinmaster Games - Review 1

"Your family will escape the living room and become warriors, ninjas, and wizards on a quest for fun."

Guest Writer: David Jespersen Tweet
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Theme and What is it?

5 Minute Dungeon is a card based role-playing game where players have to work together quickly to defeat monsters and bosses to clear a dungeon. Each player chooses a hero from one of 10 different classes each with different strengths and special abilities.  The game feels very much like a classic dungeon crawling role-playing game with familiar heroes and monsters.  Your team will need to break down doors, use spells and weapons, and heal each other to make it from one dungeon to the next.  But you’ll have to hurry, each dungeon is set to a 5 minute timer, adding a layer of urgency and stress to the cooperative gameplay.

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Gameplay Mechanics

Players choose the role of one of ten heroes, each with special cards and abilities. Once the five-minute timer starts, the race is on to defeat all the monsters, obstacles, or people inside the dungeon. Players use their cards to defeat each challenge by matching symbols from their hand with ones on the monster’s card. At the end of each dungeon is a powerful dungeon boss and after the first boss is defeated, the campaign continues to the second boss. Each boss, and each randomized dungeon, gets harder until players reach the fifth and final boss.
To begin your adventure each player selects which hero they want to play and places that hero mat in front of them. Each Hero mat has a draw and discard space. Next, grab the deck that’s the same color as your Hero, shuffle it, and place it on the “Draw Pile” space on your Hero Mat, face down.
Draw a starting hand from your deck. The number of cards you draw depends on how many people are playing: 5 cards each for 2 players, 4 cards each for 3 players, and 3 cards each for 3-6 players.
Next you need to prepare the dungeon by placing the Boss Mat for the dungeon you are attempting in the center of the table. Then set a timer to 5 minutes. The game recommends using their timer app and so do I.  It’s hilarious and is almost as fun as playing the game itself. Now you are ready to begin.  Start the timer when you turn over the first card in the dungeon. 
Some cards in the dungeon are Event Cards that tell you to do. If you encounter an Event Card, you do what it says, sweep it away, and move on to the next card in the dungeon.
However, most Dungeon Cards are monsters, people, or obstacles and have resource symbols on them. There are three ways to defeat cards with symbols. The first is to play resource cards from your hand until all the symbols are matched.  Remember, this is a cooperative game, so not all of the cards need to come from the same player. You can also use action cards from your hand to defeat a card with symbols. The third way to defeat a card with symbols is to use a Special ability. Each hero has a special ability that they can use to help the team. The ability for each hero is described on the bottom of their Hero Mat. To use your ability, discard 3 cards face up to the Discard Pile space on your Hero Mat, announce your ability to the team, and perform the action on your Hero Mat.  Once your team has defeated a Dungeon Card, sweep it away, along with any cards played to defeat it, and turn over a new Dungeon Card to continue your adventure.
Anytime you play or discard cards, refill your hand back to the starting hand size. If you play a card or ability that makes you draw cards, draw those first, then refill your hand if you still need to. If you ever have more cards in your hand than the starting hand size, do not refill again until you have fewer cards than your starting hand size.
If you run out of cards in your hand and draw pile, you can’t do anything until another player helps you out with a card like Heal, Donation, or Confusion, so be careful not to waste your cards.
Once you defeat all of the cards in the dungeon you will face the Dungeon Boss. If you defeat the Boss and all of his cards, you conquer the dungeon. You’ll have to fight through seven dungeons and ultimately defeat the Dungeon Master Final Form to win the game. Each dungeon restarts the 5 minute timer.
If all players run out of cards, or if time runs out before you and your team defeats the Dungeon Boss (or if you get stuck on it and have no way to defeat it) your team has died in the dungeon. Reset the timer, rebuild the Dungeon Deck, and try again.

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Initial Impressions


This is one of the best cooperative board games I have played.  The gameplay is simple to pick up and anyone can start playing right away. The theme is familiar and fun but the gameplay adds a unique twist that really sets it apart from similar games.  The age suggestion is 8 and up, which I think is just about right.  It can be a little stressful with the timer and takes younger players some time to get used to how to play.  Overall this game is one that kept me coming back to try to get farther along.

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Game Build Quality

The game construction is high quality.  The hero and boss mats are very thick and durable.  The cards are pretty standard to a classic deck of cards and won’t tear easily.  The artwork is really fun although due to the high paced play you can miss the silly and clever titles.  I recommend taking some time to enjoy the creativty put into the cards.

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Artistic Direction

The design of the artwork is simple and colorful but does not distract from the gameplay.  I found the mats to be creative but simple, and the cards were fun but easy to use.  The color coding works really well to help the gameplay to move quickly.  The style of the artwork is very whimsical and well done.  The light-hearted drawings are both creative and add to the overall enjoyment of the game. The oddly shaped box and cover art of the game really does a good job of capturing the quirky essence of the experience. Your family will escape the living room and become warriors, ninjas, and wizards on a quest for fun. 

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Fun Factor

This game is an absolute blast to play with a group of friends or with your family.  The cooperative nature helps promote teamwork and ensures everyone has fun without any of the potential hard feelings competition can create. It’s one of the few board games my two sons want to play again and again without any fights.  The pace of play can lead to some tension and stress but also a lot of laughs.  There is a great sense of team accomplishment when you pass a dungeon.  

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Age Range & Weight

This game is simple to play but difficult to win.  It is for 2-5 players but it is considerably easier with more players.  The age suggestion is 8 and up and I think that is just about right.  The only skills necessary are the ability to read and match symbols and the ability to communicate and cooperate with a team.  The gameplay creates a randomized dungeon with each game making multiple plays possible.

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Conclusions

5 Minute Dungeon is a great family game and a great game for a group of friends.  There are so few cooperative games on the mass market that this is a refreshing change for a game night.  It can be difficult to progress or beat a dungeon until group members learn the strategies and game dynamics so it can be frustrating for younger players.  Overall, 5 Minute Dungeon is a fun and quick game that lives up to its name and its slogan of “The most fun you can have in 5 minutes.