Crusaders Games

Dungeon (cards)

An alternative list of fantasy dungeon games, which are less reliant on a long campaign or painting miniatures, and are largely card play based, being competitive or co-operative. These provide a dungeon crawl adventure experience with less group related time investment :

1. Thunderstone Advance  / Quest – Alderac (2012 / 2018)

A competitive deckbuilding game initially, where players each turn will work from a hand of six drawn cards to build a short strategy for the round. Gradually improve your deck by obtaining or upgrading heroes, and buying new weapons, equipment and spells from the village to enter the dungeon and defeat monsters. This game has great theme and artwork, and has many choices for game set up using different monsters or equipment. It is easy to learn and play, but working out some killer move combinations does take more strategic thought. Setting up themed dungeons is immensely enjoyable, and I adapted the Advance solo rules to my own version to make it more enjoyable and tactical > Thunderstone Solo. The game was relaunched as Quest in 2018 with fresh looking artwork and adding in new village options, dungeon room tiles, wounds and making the gameplay more interesting and engaging, with more choices to make each turn, and a dungeon that feels a little more real. Given the huge amount of expansion content available, it is not really a compact box game or a quick play, and whilst miniatures are included they are generic player tokens rather than specific characters. In 2019 a new solo and co-operative expansion was added called ‘barricades’ which really adds to its playable options, and makes it the best dungeon deckbuilding game that has seen off all the others i have tried > Quest v Advance

2. Dungeon Alliance – Quixotic (2018)

This is a strategic card drafting game, where you take four heroes from a large pool to explore and plunder a dungeon within a time limited four to six rounds. Each hero has 3 specific ability cards to use, and experience gained from killing monsters allows you draft new cards which also be playable by specific character types, and you will likely draft different cards each game. Each round your available cards will be used to activate each hero once in the most effective way, and each card can only be used once too. Whilst dungeon themed, this is more of a puzzle than an exploratory crawl, and the game constantly requires you to make choices on which cards to draft and play and who to activate. The component quality is generally good, but hero cards have better artwork than the enemies, although this was improved in later expansions, and models are small and unlikely to be the reason to buy the game. Tactical card playing is the core of this game, and it can be quite addictive with so many great upgrade cards to choose from, and combining them to activate your heroes is great fun. This game seems at its best solo, and has a good intelligence deck for the monsters activation, and the game was improved with the quests and adventure pack releases which added extra theme and story elements. This game gives me the Mage Knight card play feel i really like, but without quite so much brain fatigue from the combat rules.

3. Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game / Heroes of Terrinoth – Fantasy Flights (2015 / 2018)

This small box co-operative card and dice game has the Warhammer Quest dungeon crawling theme and brand at its heart, and sets up a neat character and player interaction, as your heroes interact and support each other to complete quests. In line with the original miniatures game, monsters will come thick and fast from the shadows, and your characters each have a set of 4 actions to use to combat the dungeon, and combining them with each other is critical. There is a light but specific storyline being told by each of the quest cards, and the mechanic of using your card actions and dice rolling works beautifully. This game works really well for solo play, controlling two heroes and offering up tactical choices, story development, and skill upgrades. It is a relatively quick dungeon experience, and mostly about combat, and its strength is in the hero interaction. It needed more content to keep it fresh, which sadly ended due to licencing issues, however a new version of the game Heroes of Terrinoth was released in 2018 which replicates the game in the Descent and Runebound fantasy setting. I enjoyed the game so much i wrote four custom scenarios for the original game, which have become popular with game fans > Warhammer Quest Adventures


4. Ravage : Dungeons of Plunder – Beardy Brothers (2018)

A smaller box dungeon crawl and a reasonably quick game for its type, offering solo, co-operative and competitive options, and featuring Orc characters as the main heroes. This is standee based and uses standard size cards as dungeon tiles, making it a more compact, cheaper game. The usual dungeon exploring aspects are all here, with varied locations, enemies, some boss monsters with more intelligence, a goblin to sell you new equipment, and skills leveling. What stands out most is the excellent artwork and illustrations, together with some neat ideas such as hatching spider eggs and varied boss attacks. This is lovely game providing a dungeon crawl experience on a slightly smaller scale, and offers enough depth within the hero player boards, with varied skills with four heroes that play quite differently. It may eventually need some new enemies and locations to add extra variety, but fortunately this is something being worked on for the next swamp based expansion, and new app based scenarios have already been made available. This is dungeon crawling without high expense, modelling and painting, working well for solo play too, and is a bit of a hidden gem that with some minor improvements such as a deeper encounter deck, could become a real star.

5. Dungeonquest – Fantasy Flights (2014)

This dungeon adventure game has been around since 1985, originally produced by games workshop it is updated with improved artwork and components by fantasy flights. This is a push your luck style adventure where you gradually lay small tiles on a board as you progress towards the central treasure chamber where a dragon in sleeping. If you manage to get there, you must try to steal treasure before he awakens. This game is largely about unfortunate events and survival, and once you know this, it becomes a fun game, as you laugh at terrible things that happen to your heroes. The combat mechanic has always been a weaker point, and largely remains so, but it is quicker now in the newer version and isn’t quite such a dominant game feature. There is a new deeper catacombs level idea which works pretty well providing underground short cuts but with greater risk attached, and a new torchlight rule too. With a time track counting down before the dungeon traps you all in, the play time is consistent and not overly long. This game is extremely luck based, but is a fun and dangerous adventure where the chances of survival are very low indeed.


6. Legends Untold – Inspiring Games (2019)

This card and dice game is a roleplaying style dungeon adventure condensed into a small box. Your party of reluctant heroes start with basic weapon and talents, and journey through revealed map locations to achieve a scenario objective. Modified dice rolls of 3d6 resolve most tests for skills or combat, and there are party stances a hero can take such as the scout or guard position. The map tiles you reveal are nicely illustrated and show you whether the room has foes or obstacles to deal with, or extra barriers to overcome to reveal secret areas and treasure. As an rpg game it is slightly fiddly in terms of knowing symbols and when to modify rolls, so needs some investment to learn, but it is not that complicated to play and really does distill a dungeon adventure into a card based format. You will experience an adventure story as you explore, and whilst imagination is important, this is more visual on the table and simpler to set up and digest than rpg handbooks and monster manuals. The game works well as a solo or two player game, and unlike many dungeon crawls the traps and obstacles you face feel just as eventful as fighting, and play a greater role in the game than usual.  There are two starter sets, the weeping caves and great sewers, with more expansions coming to give new storylines, and I am really pleased with what this game manages to achieve as a quick to play an adventure and a bargain at the low price.

Previously Owned Alternative Card Based Fantasy & Dungeon Games…

Due to space and funding restrictions i regularly trade out games to fund and try newer ones, producing an ever changing favourites list, but one of these games may be right for you.

Pathfinder ACG / Dragonfire / Arkham Horror LCG – all are good co-operative survival deck builders, but were replaced by my desire to expand my preferred games in Thunderstone Quest & Lord of the Rings LCG

One Deck Dungeon – dungeon adventures with dice rolling manipulation