Rumble in the Dungeon is a fast paced, simple, light game of bluffing and deduction, and picking fights, which fits with its dungeon theme quite nicely.
In Rumble in the Dungeon, by Flatlined Games, players take it in turns moving characters around a dungeon, getting into scraps, trying to grab the treasure chest, all with the aim of being the last one standing - the twist being that players can move any characters around, and score with two characters which only they know the identity of.
The game is played out over three short rounds, after which the player with the highest score wins.
What’s in the Box?
I’ll admit, I bought this game simply because of the back of the box! The game consists of 12 double-sided dungeon room tiles, 12 character standees (ranging from heroes like the elf, knight and dwarf, to dungeon dwellers like the orc, zombie, and lich), 12 character tokens, a score tracker, player markers and a neat little wooden treasure chest.
The artwork is consistently good across the room tiles, with lots of little details to keep you interested, and across the standees, which are all super-cute - our favourite has to be Gertie the gelatinous cube, we’re always reluctant to kick her out of the dungeon!
Let’s get ready to Rumble...
Set-up of Rumble in the Dungeon is really easy, and starts with constructing the dungeon from the 12 room tiles, which for me is a big part of the fun of the game. As the room tiles are double-sided, with exits on all four sides, dungeon design can be done in any way you choose - want a torture chamber with en-suite lava pit, you got it, need handy sewer next to your library, no problem.
The only stipulation is that the treasure room and the exit tiles should be quite far apart, but other than this any overall shape is valid, so it is unlikely the dungeon will be the same shape very often. Finish the dungeon off by placing the lovely little wooden treasure chest in the treasure room.
Next, the adventurers enter the dungeon - place each of the 12 character standees in random rooms, so that each room, including the exit and treasure room, have a character in them (then take a look at what you’ve created, this game does look great on the table!).
Each player is then given two character tokens to look at in secret. These are the two characters that each player can score with this round, so take a look at the dungeon and locate your characters, but don’t be too obvious about it!
Each player then takes two score markers in their colour, places one next to the scoreboard and one in front of them. Choose a start player, and you’re ready to go.
Move or Fight?
Each turn, players must do one of two things:
- Move - Any character (not limited to the two that a player can score with) that is alone in a room can be moved to any adjacent room. The exception being that if a character is in a room with the treasure chest, they can grab this and move to an adjacent room, even if they are not alone. If a character is on the exit room tile with the treasure chest, they can escape the dungeon with it and win the round (play still continues on as normal though).
- Fight - If there are two or more characters in any room, players can pick a fight between them, and choose one of the characters to remove (the victim). This character is placed next to the dungeon, and subsequent victims are placed in a line behind the first victim - the order is important as it determines what each character scores.
It’s as simple as that! But the fun comes from not knowing which characters other players can score from, and trying to work that out, whilst keeping the identity of your own characters secret. Any body language can give you away, so you have to be careful not to react to things, especially when one of your characters is the first one removed from the dungeon! (luckily, you have two, and only the highest scoring one gives you any points, so you can afford to lose one).
Watching what other players do is key to the game; have you noticed that every time the barbarian is in a fight, player X chooses a different character to be the victim, hmmm, or what about player Y who keeps moving the goblin out of harm’s way, very suspicious, or player Z charging towards the dungeon exit with the thief and the treasure chest, a dead give away!
Acting out some of the fights with the character standees can be fun, and also a handy subterfuge. It normally goes something like this; The cleric wades in and separates the zombie’s head from its body with his mighty warhammer * knocks zombie over with a quick flick of the cleric *, I mean, after all, why wouldn’t he - but was that done just for fun, or might the cleric in fact be one of that player’s scoring characters?!
End of the Round
As the number of characters in the dungeon dwindles, fights are harder to set-up, and sometimes the end of the round can become a drawn out affair. This mainly happens when the two characters left in the dungeon are scoring characters for players, and neither wants to sacrifice themselves, so they end up chasing each other around the dungeon, and no matter what other players do, they can’t force a fight situation to happen. At this point, someone just has to give in, it is only the difference between nine and 10 points after all.
Once there is just one character left in the dungeon the round ends, players reveal their secret character tokens, and then they can score.
It is usually at this point though, straight after revealing characters and before scoring begins, that players chat about what happened during the round:
- “I knew you were the dwarf dammit!”
- “My orc was in the treasure chamber right at the start, I can’t believe he stayed in the game so long!”
- “You took my elf out in the first fight so there was no way I was going to let you get away with that!”
Scoring in Rumble in the Dungeon is based on the order the characters left the dungeon - the character still in the dungeon scores 10, the last one out scores nine, the one before them eight and so one. This way, only the last 10 characters score at all, so if you were out first or second hard luck. Players also only score for their highest scoring character, their other character doesn’t score for them, but is still counted when working out the character scores for other players.
If a player managed to get a character out of the dungeon with the treasure chest, this character goes to the head of the queue and scores 10, with the character who was last in the dungeon scoring nine and so on. Getting the treasure chest out is no mean feat. I don’t think I can recall it ever happening, although I’m sure it is possible, but it becomes very obvious who your characters are the closer you get to the exit.
Once players have scored, to set-up the next round, simply put all of the characters back in the dungeon, make sure the wooden chest is in the treasure room, shuffle and deal out two character tokens to players, and start again.
The rules don’t specify it, but as set-up is so quick, we like to redesign the dungeon between rounds to really mix things up. After three rounds, the player with the highest score wins.
Summing up Rumble in the Dungeon
Rumble in the Dungeon is very, very light, but it is also a blast, as rounds go by pretty quickly and it often plays faster than the 20 minutes on the box, even with higher player counts.
Players remain engaged throughout, as turns are quick, and it is important to watch other player’s actions to deduce who their characters are. Even if both of your characters are knocked out early on, you will no doubt want revenge!
Player interaction is hard to measure, as you’re never entirely sure who you are interacting with, unless you notice a pained expression or hear a stifled groan as you knock a character out of the dungeon!
Components are of a good enough quality, not particularly thick or heavy weight card but it works. The art is great and full of dungeony goodness, and once set up it does look great on the table.
A bonus is that Rumble in the Dungeon can be combined with its predecessor, Rumble in the House, and with its successor, Cthulhu in the House, to make enormous playing areas with a ludicrous number of characters!