Dungeons of Mandom VIII is compact bluffing board game. Personally I like it quite a lot, though that may be because I won when I played. It’s designed by Antoine Bauza and I WAS GAME, and published by Oink Games.
The goal of Dungeons of Mandom VIII is to to be either the last adventurer standing, or the first adventurer to complete a dungeon twice. However, this is a bluffing game, not a dungeon crawler.
This is first obvious in hero selection. Instead of each player selecting a character, the group as a whole has a single hero between them. Heroes come with their equipment, but because this is the 8th Dungeon of Mandom, that equipment is likely going to be stripped off, in order to prove how manly you are.
There’s flavor in the equipment. Most of the characters have some form of HP boosting equipment, usually a piece of armor, or a shield. However, for the Princess class, this equipment takes the role of a Suitor and a Chaperone giving the fun implication of them being used as meat shields.
Equipment and hero selection aside though, the meat of the game is building the dungeon! On a player’s turn, they can choose to either pass and drop from the rotation, or to build out the dungeon deck. To build the dungeon deck, they draw a card from a the monster deck, and then make a second choice. They can add it facedown to the dungeon, or they can remove a piece of equipment from the hero, and not add the card they just drew to the dungeon.
The monster deck is made up of a bunch of different monsters, including some special monsters. Monsters each have a number associated with them, which is linked to how much damage they do. There are more copies of the weaker monsters, and only a single copy of some of the stronger monsters, such as the Litch, Demon, and Dragon.
This is core tension of Dungeons of Mandom VIII. “Do I think that with the remaining equipment, based on what I’ve seen my fellow players do, I can beat the dungeon as it currently stands, or do I need to pull back?” I played one game where another player chose to remove the equipment that hero needed to beat the dragon, and I knew that I’d added the dragon to the dungeon, so I chose to pass.
When one player takes an action, and every player after them passes, it’s finally time for that player to venture into the dungeon, and prove their worth! Or more likely, get stabbed in the face by the Litch for 6 damage and then beaten by goblins.
The exploring player reveals cards from the top of the dungeon deck one by one, either defeating them, or taking damage equal to their value if they don’t have some way to defeat them. If they get through card in the deck, they beat the dungeon, and get a treasure card! If they don’t, they take a hit. When a player takes two hits, they lose and can’t play anymore. However, if a player gets two treasure tokens, they win.
If I have any gripes with the game, it’s that I don’t love the elimination component. I get why it has to be there. Without it, there would never be any reason to not push your luck. But it sucks that you can end up in a position where you don’t get to play anymore.
If the game sounds interesting, you can find it from Oink Games here.