Review by C.J. Bunce
This week the Wizards of the Coast roleplaying game team introduces a third way to enter its family friendly world of Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying fun in a card game format with Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness. Along with the barbarian Sutha the Skullcrusher, the wizard Azzan the Mystic, the paladin Lia the Radiant, and the rogue Oriax the Clever from 2018’s Dungeon Mayhem base card game, and ranger Minsc with his miniature-giant space hamster, Boo, and the shapeshifting druid Jaheira from the Battle for Baldur’s Gate expansion pack, players now have six new monsters to add to the mix, and a stylized deluxe box that allows for all 12 character card decks to be housed in one place and played as a single game for up to six players.
In Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness, you play as one of six D&D monsters, each with their own way to charm, crush, disintegrate, and devour their foes. They include the beholder Delilah Deathray, the mind flayer Dr. Tentaculous, Blorp the gelatinous cube, the killer lounge chair mimic Mimi Lechaise, the red dragon Lord Cinderpuff, and the owlbear Hoots McGoots. Select a character from the core deck and one from the six monsters or combine decks from any past edition you have–each player chooses a character and corresponding deck of cards and all prepare for mayhem.
If you enjoyed the previously released six characters, you’re going to love mixing them up with the new six. Their personalities are smartly coordinated with their individual powers, and players will soon find their own favorites. Kids of all ages will love attacks like crushing hugs from an owlbear, or defending an attack from a rogue using “all the daggers.” Whether prompted by an evil sneer from a wizard or an eviler sneer from a dragon, everyone will have fun with the now complete set of Dungeon Mayhem characters.
Players proceed via simple rules to draw, play, and/or discard hands as they battle each other, giving hits to their opponents while trying to minimize their own damage. Each character deck is unique, with attack cards, healing cards, and further action cards shuffled in. The last character standing wins–after all other characters have received 10 hit points. If you change characters each game, you’ll likely find you’d need to play far more than 100 games before finding any overlap (and it has a low likelihood of getting “stale”).
The attacks are the equivalent of draw two or draw four cards in the popular card game UNO. It’s also just as simple to play as UNO, with the benefit of character personality and unique actions to bring a fresh approach to each game dealt.
Design-wise, the box allows you to carry all 12 decks easily in a nice file drawer-inspired box, with all twelve character dividers (including the six characters found only in the earlier sets). Just stow your other deck boxes elsewhere. It also includes a box for storing tokens. As with other zany fantasy card games, expect good, goofy fun with cleverly written cards and bright, good-humored character artwork. You’ll probably find the rules even easier than comparable fantasy card deck games (we found it quicker to learn and more fun to play than the similar concept game Munchkin).
Card illustrator Cam Kendall joins Jake Parker (Missile Mouse, Mouse Guard) and Kyle Ferrin, artists on the prior decks, with similar cartoon fantasy antics. A quick how-to summary of the rules can be found on YouTube here at the Geek & Sundry page.
Good fun for kids of all ages and recommended for 8 and older, Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness is now available for the first time this week here at Amazon (also available in game shops). And don’t forget the Dungeon Mayhem base core deck set, available here, and the supplemental Battle for Baldur’s Gate expansion pack, available here.