Review: Puzzle Dungeon

Updated: May 29, 2019

puzzle dungeon

Publisher: Brian Garber

Designer: Brian Garber

Artist: Brain Garber

Player Count: 1

Age Appropriateness: 13+

Playtime: 10-20 Minutes

** This review is for the base game, not the deluxe version**

Thematic Overview

Pick from a large array of heroes and jump into this dungeon puzzle! Puzzle Dungeon has a fun 8 bit theme to it and reminded me of a lot of my Alternate Reality adventures on the Atari. Puzzle Dungeon brought forth some nostalgic moments to make up for the lack of story behind the dungeon. With it being a simple puzzle game though it is not too surprising that the game does not have a deep story line, and it has no negative effect for me on the fun gameplay.

Gameplay summary

"Puzzle Dungeon is a solitaire hand management, modular board, set collection game in which you control a monster hunter making their way through a dungeon filled with several types of monsters and their kings. In Puzzle Dungeon, the player uses the limited cards in their hand and cards they deal into play from a deck to defeat enemies which are dealt randomly each game to form a unique board. Players are limited by the order in which their cards are dealt and the order of the monsters in the dungeon, so a strong strategy is required to win."

What We Think

Gameplay & Rules

Puzzle Dungeon is a simple puzzle game with a fantasy theme that features twenty double-faced monster cards. The hero cards are double faced as well in order to provide an added hard mode difficulty to the game which is quite challenging until you learn the game and each monster card thoroughly. The core concepts of the game are simple, but there is a good bit of strategy involved in this game. You choose one hero from an abundance of different heroes to face these monsters in the dungeon. Each hero has their own win condition underneath their artwork. The win conditions require you to kill a number of certain types of monsters on your hero card. The front of each monster card features a monster while the back of each monster card depicts the same monster but as a monster king. The different types of monsters are include: Construct, Cookie, Humanoid, Magical, Monster King, Terror, and Undead. When the third monster of any type is defeated, the fourth of the same type is flipped over to the monster king side. Monster kings have punishing abilities and a strong effect on the game. Therefore, heroes whose win conditions require multiple 4 kills of a certain type will prove to be more difficult, but may have a strong ability. Heroes each have a unique ability and a trophy ability to help them combat these monsters. The trophy ability triggers when a monster type not listed in your win conditions is killed. The rulebook in the game is a small folded up piece of paper which was slightly difficult to follow at first, but with a few attempts of reading through everything it started to make more sense. They main hiccup dealt with understanding the combat system so let's discuss that now.

You are dealt six arsenal cards in the beginning which will be your hand for the entirety of the game, and cannot be refilled except by triggering certain abilities in the game. The "arsenal" is the main area where you will be using arsenal cards to attack monsters which begins with six cards as well. You can refill this area with cards from the deck until you are able to attack. However, you can only attack with cards out of the arsenal using the card in the "front" or furthest to right. So when you draw from the deck you will be placing that arsenal card to the far right of the arsenal area. This is why your cards in your hand are very important and should be used sparingly. There are abilities though that can change the order of the arsenal, and you have no minimum or maximum to worry about for the arsenal area. Now in order to kill a monster you must match the icons on the arsenal cards, which are called suits, with the four icons on the monster cards. For example, the Minotaur requires a wand, two hands, and a helmet to be defeated. When you begin using cards for a monster you must continue using cards only on that monster until it is defeated. Not being able to use cards on multiple monsters stops you from cycling through the arsenal cards, making your choices of which monsters to kill and when to kill monsters much more strategic. Once you kill a monster you gain its loot ability and then put the monster in you tableau of monster cards. Monster cards have suit(s) on the top left corner, and if use the monsters in your tableau you can use that suit denoted in order to defeat other monsters. Monster cards are exhausted once used, which means they cannot be used again unless refreshed through a triggered ability. Lastly the monsters are placed in four columns, and the monster at the bottom of the column must be defeated first before moving on the next monsters. This is where the similarities to solitaire shine through. So now all you have to do is kill all the monsters types required on your hero and you win the game! This is a very simple but clever game. Pay close attention to all of the different abilities because you will need them in order to win. Having a finite hand and arsenal that is limited by only being able to use the card on the "front" is what makes this seemingly easy game more of a brain burner. The hard mode is quite difficult but I really appreciate the challenge it presents. Very impressed with Brian Garber who designed and self published the game! Will be looking forward to expansion with the hope for more monsters to destroy!

Components & Art

The game consist of only cards, but I'm a fan of all the artwork displayed on them that was done by Brian Garber as well! The pixelated art always catches my attention and reminds me of all the games I have played in the past and essentially reliving my childhood memories. The quality of the cards are great and are of good size being almost the same size of normal playing cards. The rule book could use some upgrading, but that is about the only negative aspect of the game for me. The arsenal cards have numbers on them which seem at first having no point to the game, but some abilities do use the numbers when triggered for certain effects. This maybe could be touched on in the rulebook in the arsenal section. Loooove how compact the game is as it all fits in a small tuckbox especially with it being a solo board game. Super impressed with this game overall and with Brian Garber.

Final Thoughts

Here at Green Akers Games we love games. It sometimes can be difficult to be a reviewer since almost every game has at least something to love about it! So what we like to do is simply let our readers/viewers know if we think this game is a game we’d choose to pay for, play, and recommend to others without hesitation. A 3 out of 3 is a perfect score while anything less means the game has missed the mark somewhere in our eyes! Please keep in mind, our perception of or feelings about any game should not trump your feelings about that game. We believe that if a game interests you that you should at least give it a shot! Utilize your local FLGS or local gaming group to test out games before you decide to go all in!

Puzzle Dungeon gets a 3/3 from us. I would recommend this game to others, especially to my solo gamer friends. The insane replayability created due to so many heroes included in the game is one of the main selling points for me along with it's small size which makes it an awesome traveling game. You will not play the same game with the almost endless combinations.The Deluxe version price point is a little too high in my opinion even with all of the included heroes and massive replayability. If I had created one of the heroes during the Kickstarter I may be more inclined to purchase the deluxe at the current cost of $45. That being said, I believe Brian Garber has made a great solo game and was very creative by allowing so many backers to create their own heroes to put in the game. Not sure if there is another Kickstarter board game with this amount custom content implemented into the game. I bring this game with me to work and have a small little dungeon adventure on my lunch break. I'm trying to learn all of the monster abilites so I do better in the hard mode which I have yet to beat. Please remember, just because we like the game does not mean YOU will since not every game is not for everyone. However, this fantasy solitaire puzzle game will be a great addition to your collection if you are searching for a solo board game!

Below are links to buy Puzzle Dungeon as well as a link to BGG to see more reviews and content. We’d also love you to join us in the comments section with your thoughts. Create a member profile and let us know what you think!

BoardGameGeek Link

Puzzle Dungeon Ebay

Puzzle Dungeon Deluxe Ebay

Puzzle Dungeon Etsy

Puzzle Dungeon Deluxe Etsy

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