DUNGEON DRAFT is an original game from Justin Gary and published by Upper Deck. It is for 2-5 players aged 14+ . The Rules in the booklet take up just 6 of its 8 pages and many of those have artwork and examples of play as well as the actual Game Rules.
The components are colourfully illustrated cards, 25 for Quests and 173 Draft cards, plus Coin and XP tokens, all being made of good quality stock that from our experience stands up to relentless use.
The box inner is divided into 5 sections, 4 being card size (and deep enough so that the cards once used do not prevent the lid from closing properly, with a fifth section, a long narrow partition where the counters sit safely.
You should be able to buy DUNGEON DRAFT at your local game store for between £18.00 - £25.00
This is a card drafting game but with some neat subtle differences to those already on game stores across the UK, Europe and North America.
The Start of the Game's first sentence begins "Shuffle the Quest and Draft cards and put them into two separate decks." From the Quest deck each player is dealt five cards and from these they select only three, returning the other two to the bottom of the Quest deck. Players also begin with 9 Gold in coins and seven Draft cards which are dealt face down, starting with the declared (you choose how to determine) First Player. Each player looks secretly at their cards and then the game of "musical chairs" (only with cards, begins, as each player now passes the cards to the next player alternating between passing Left and Right until all players have a hand of 7 cards. Each card has several symbols, the meaning of which will be obvious to regular Card Draft game players but for new or inexperienced players there is a visual reference for both Hero and Weapon cards on page 3 of the rules booklet.
DUNGEON DRAFT is played over four Rounds each of which is made up of three phases which should be played in the given order:
Draft Phase; Play Phase, End Phase.
The Draft Phase is when the players are dealt 7 cards as mentioned above.
The Play Phase is where the players take turns playing cards from their hand. They may play any number of cards as long as they have the resources (Gold). When paid for and played the Hero and Equipment cards remain face up in front of you sparking off any special abilities as they are played, lasting for the entire Round. Icons (symbols) on the bottom left of the card, XP, Attack and Gold Production are in play during each of your Turns.
Some effects require not coins but other cards of the same Class to be already in play in front of you. For example if you wish to play Cedric, The People's Champion (Green Druid card) it will cost you 4 Gold. If you already gave at least 2 other Green cards in your personal area you can Gain 1XP for each card you control that costs 3 or less Gold. If you read the Cedric card it shows you require "3" Green cards to get the XP effect but as Cedric is a Green card it counts when played thus making the necessary third Green card for the effect.
There are five classes of card, colour coded and genre named, these are: Green Druid, Red Warrior, Blue Mage, Purple Rogue and Black Monster. If you have bought the Limited Edition box there is a Promo Monster card - the Jackalope - in addition to the other cards (I am doing the assuming thing here because I have no knowledge of there being any different Promo cards in other boxes (ie I do not know if the Jackalope is unique or simply a Promo card of which there are several available).
You play Quest and Monster cards from your hand as long as you have the necessary cards required to defeat or complete it. Defeating Monsters or completing Quests may give you XP or Gold or perhaps both if you are lucky. Quest cards may also have abilities that last longer than just one Round.It does not cost you any Coinage or other cards to bring out Monsters, you simply need to have the correct number of Attack in your personal area to defeat their Target Number (this being the number in the red and orange flash in the top left corner of the Monster card. Heroes Attack is shown on the card ar Crossed White Axes in a Red Circle. On all cards except the Red Warrior cards this is clear under regular house lighting, on the Warrior cards the Red Circle fades into the Red of the card's colour coded edge.
I should repeat that not all cards have immediate effects but those that do are activated when played, so if a card allows you to draw new cards and play a number of them you are "playing" them and thus any effect they have when "played" counts. The rules are pretty brief, as I have said already, and when authors produce rules of such brevity there is generally an amount of commonsense required for the game to flow as it does for the author and his/her playtesting buddies. Rules are hard to write in brief and get your exact point across, I know this from experience. The Rules for DUNGEON DRAFT require you to read them through first before playing and then again as you play each section until it all comes together.One read through and one play through and flow it doth like the lady's gown at the Castle Ball.
The Round ends when all players have finished playing all the cards they wish to play (or at least all of those they have the resources to be able to play). All Draft cards (not Quest cards) remaining in player's hands are then discarded to the Draft Deck Discard pile. Cards played into your personal area remain there. Play then continues clockwise by beginning again from step one - which is why it is better to play with either 2 or 4 players as each will get a go at being first player.
To be fair I wouldn't really call this a "Card Draft" game, and it certainly isn't to be compared to a Deck Building game. To me Card Drafting is when you "draft" (collect) cards into your hand from a supply (such as a display of face-up cards next to the main deck) and build up to being able to release various numbers of them at the same time to complete an objective. The objectives here being the Quests and the Monsters. The only drafting here is the selecting a card and passing the remainder on until all players have a Hand of 7 cards that is similar to but different from the one they were dealt at the start of each Round.
Playable in 20-30 minutes this is an excellent and fun game. It is ideal to introduce new players to both the artwork that can be found on games of this genre as well as the type of game mechanic they are unlikely to have come across if they have been mainly players of regular card games - Whist, Texas Hold 'Em, Rummy, Twenty-One (Blackjack) etc - or have played board games where the numbers or colours of cards allow movement or Actions but have no resource or cost value and give nothing as reward or use in later parts of the game.
DUNGEON DRAFT is well manufactured, nicely presented, has appealing artwork and an easy to remember name. It is comparatively inexpensive thus making it very good value for money; one play with 3 friends (4 players in total) and you have your money's worth in kind; every other game is a bonus and I believe there will be many other game sessions where DUNGEON DRAFT is among the first games played.