Toy Corner

One Deck Dungeon Review

Jun 21, 2024

one deck dungeon board game

Each hero in One Deck Dungeon comes with unique stats and abilities, making every playthrough feel fresh and strategic. The simplicity of using dice to represent your skills adds a layer of excitement and unpredictability. However, after several games, the deck starts to feel a bit repetitive, like you're stuck in a Groundhog Day loop. Despite this, the game’s charm and challenges have kept me coming back for more, hoping for future expansions to add even more variety.

Overview of One Deck Dungeon

The components that come with One Deck Dungeon are of decent quality. The cards have a matte finish, making them easy to shuffle and less prone to wear and tear. However, if you’re like me and enjoy keeping your games in pristine condition, sleeving the cards might be a worthwhile investment. The dice included are standard fare, six-sided and coloured to match the game's mechanics – pink for agility, blue for magic, and yellow for strength. They're lightweight and balanced well enough, though some might prefer a bit more heft to their dice.

Additionally, the game comes with campaign sheets that allow you to level up your characters over multiple sessions. They’re pretty straightforward to use – you just check off boxes after each game and add those new talents to your character in subsequent sessions. It’s a neat little addition that adds a layer of long-term strategy to the experience.

The gameplay itself is simple yet deeply engaging. At the start, you and a friend – if you choose to play cooperatively – pick characters, each with unique stats in strength, agility, and magic. You spend your time discarding cards from the deck to explore and reveal what’s behind each door.

When you encounter monsters or traps, you roll dice to meet the requirements listed on the card – for instance, rolling a four or higher in agility to overcome an obstacle. Each card has consequences if you fail to meet its challenges, typically costing you health or valuable time. The blend of real-time decision-making with dice-rolling keeps each turn exciting and just a bit unpredictable.

Gameplay of One Deck Dungeon

One Deck Dungeon is a streamlined yet challenging game where every decision counts. Each turn, I discard a few cards which act like a timer ticking down very fast. Then, I've got a choice: explore new locations or face off against monsters from previous turns. It's a tug-of-war between advancing deeper into the dungeon and dealing with immediate threats. To defeat monsters, you roll dice representing Strength, Agility, and Magic and match those dice to the monster's stats. If you're successful, the monster's defeated, and you gain loot or experience to level up. The clever blend of time management and dice-rolling makes each playthrough unique and tense.

As you dive lower into the dungeon, challenges ramp up. Each floor brings tougher monsters and trickier situations, so planning is key. The randomness of the dice adds a bit of luck to the strategy, keeping me engaged. And oh, the campaign sheets let you progress your character over multiple sessions. Tracking growth and checking off boxes after each game is immensely satisfying. It’s like having an adventure in your back pocket.

How Is The Solo Play?

One Deck Dungeon shines when played solo. Designed with solo play in mind, each adventurer has a dedicated solo mode side. The core gameplay loop of exploring, fighting monsters, and gaining loot remains intact. Playing solo offers a quick, portable dungeon-crawling experience that's ideal for sneaking into a game on a lazy afternoon. The thrill of rolling dice to determine your fate adds a tense, yet exciting element to the solo experience.

However, the game depends heavily on luck, so a few bad dice rolls can really mess up your run. At times, solo play also feels repetitive since the entire dungeon is represented by a single deck of cards. Seeing the same cards and enemies over and over again can get a bit monotonous.

one deck dungeon board game components

Pros of One Deck Dungeon

When it comes to One Deck Dungeon, several advantages make it stand out in the crowded tabletop gaming space. First off, the game’s clever design using a single deck of cards to represent the entire dungeon crawl experience—locations, monsters, loot, skills, and all—is truly innovative. This compact format allows for a game that’s both portable and quick to set up and play, which is a huge plus for those of us with limited time or space.

Another significant advantage is the simplicity of the rules. Don’t get me wrong; simplicity doesn’t mean the gameplay lacks depth. On the contrary, the roguelike gameplay loop is deeply engaging. As you explore, fight monsters, and gain loot and abilities, it develops into a satisfying progression system where you feel your character truly powering up. It’s a fantastic feeling seeing your adventurer improve with new skills and upgrades after each playthrough.

Character progression is where One Deck Dungeon really shines. The system for gaining new skills, dice, and upgrades is both straightforward and rewarding. Every battle and every loot card contribute to your adventurer's growth, providing a tangible sense of advancement. This progression keeps me coming back for more, eager to see just how powerful my hero can get.

Different character abilities and playstyles ensure a variety of gaming experiences. With multiple characters to choose from, each with unique strengths, the game stays fresh even after numerous playthroughs. It’s fun to experiment with different combinations and strategies, keeping the gameplay exciting.

The escalating difficulty as you descend through the dungeon levels provides a good challenge. Each new level presents tougher monsters and more complex situations, meaning you can’t just coast along—you’ve got to stay on your toes and plan your moves carefully. This increasing complexity means the game remains engaging and avoids becoming too predictable.

Furthermore, the art and components capture the dungeon crawl theme beautifully. From the atmospheric card illustrations to the well-designed components, the game does a great job of immersing you in its world. The visual appeal enhances the overall experience, making each session more enjoyable.

Cons of One Deck Dungeon

When diving into One Deck Dungeon, there are several notable disadvantages to consider. First off, the gameplay heavily depends on luck and dice rolling. The combat resolution relies on chucking dice from your character’s dice pool and placing them on coloured squares in the challenge at hand. If you don’t cover all the boxes, you’ll lose time or hit points, inching closer to defeat. Bad dice rolls can easily turn the tide against you, feeling like your fate is out of your hands.

Another downside is the lack of meaningful decisions beyond upgrading. Most choices boil down to picking upgrades, and the dice placement often revolves around maximising numbers rather than making interesting tactical decisions. This can make the game feel somewhat shallow in terms of strategy.

The game's single deck implementation can also lead to repetitive gameplay. With just one deck, you’ll frequently encounter the same enemies, obstacles and loot. After a while, this can make sessions feel a bit grind-y, especially during extended play.

Additionally, the game has a fiddly nature with lots of small bits to track, including various cards, tokens and dice. The graphic design doesn't help either, making it easy to miss important rules and exceptions printed in tiny text.

The steep difficulty curve is another issue. The game is challenging, particularly in the early stages before you’ve gained any meaningful upgrades. Some players feel this difficulty is more due to luck than actual player skill, which can be frustrating.

Last but not least, the game length can sometimes overstay its welcome. Despite being portable, some players find the sessions dragging on a bit too long for the depth offered, impacting their overall enjoyment.

Final Verdict on One Deck Dungeon

One Deck Dungeon stands out with its innovative design and engaging character progression. The dice mechanics and unique hero abilities add layers of excitement to each session. Despite its reliance on luck and potential for repetitive gameplay the art and components keep players invested.

While the game has its flaws like fiddly components and a steep difficulty curve its charm and challenge ensure it remains a favourite among dungeon crawl enthusiasts. If you can overlook the generic fantasy theme and occasional long sessions you'll find a deep and rewarding tabletop experience. If you are interested in this game or are looking for a new board game then why not take a look at our selection at Zippigames.