First game of Dungeon Twister ( 2 players)


Played my first game of Dungeon Twister this week with Andy my gaming buddy – its a quick game which takes about 2 hours to play – Dungeon Twister  Prison mk 2 can be played solo as well  as 2 players and that is the version I have . 

Currently i have only played the 2 player version and am plannign to play a solo game later this month – Have fully read the rules and it seems a good as you have to play the system and the Artifiacial intellenge looks advanced with lots of diffrent options for the Game.

I have posted below a quick description of the game but this  is only a 2player game not solo.

Dungeon Twister is a tactical fantasy game by Christophe Boelinger, published by Asmodee Editions.  

Players: 2
Time: 45-90 minutes
Difficulty: 4 (of 10)



The Components


Dungeon Twister comes with a set of very pretty components:  

  • 8 rooms
  • 2 starting lines
  • 2 quick reference screens
  • many portculis markers
  • 28 tokens  for 2 player play – 68 for solo
  • 10 action chits
  • 16 cardboard figures and 16 full unpainted plastic figures
  • 32 cards fro 2 player – 56 for solo play
  • 1 rulebook
  • 1 rulebook for solo play


Map Pieces: The eight square rooms and the two starting lines together form the Dungeon Twister map. Each is printed on glossy, medium-thick cardboard. These maps show basic features of a dungeon: walls, portculises, pits, and rotation gears. The starting lines just sit at one of the edges of the dungeon to mark where you come on (and go off) the map.  

The art on these boards–and really the art throughout this game–is entirely gorgeous. The maps are done in bright, vibrant, and unusual colors that really make them stand out. They also have a sort of organic look to them that’s really nice looking. As I said, this is really true for the art & the graphic design throughout the game; this is one of those games that when I opened it up, I just stared at it, because it was so pretty.  

Quick Reference Screens: Full-color player screens in the two-player colors. They’re printed on the same medium-heavy cardboard as the map which makes them amazingly sturdy for a player screen. The main purpose of these is to hide your setup, but they also contain helpful reminders about what every character and every object does.  

Cardboard Chits: Each player gets 14 circular tokens in his color (orange or blue), eight of them depicting characters and six of them depicting items. He also gets five square action chits in his color which he can (helpfully) use to count off actions as he takes him. Finally, there are some number of portculises, used to mark the onboard portculisses as either broken or open. All of these chits are printed on medium-light cardboard.  

The various player chits are all nice enough. They feature most of the important information about each piece (movement and strength for characters, and some important reminders for the items). I wish they had a bit more (such as reminders on what the Treasure, Armor, and Sword do, and the additional characters icons included on the stand-up characters), but the missing information isn’t going to be an issue once you’ve played the game a bit.  

The portculis pieces are the only items in the game that I don’t actually consider attractive. I find the symbols for the broken and open portculises very hard to read; what they’re trying to show really doesn’t make sense, though I can distinguish between the two.  

Plastic  Figures: Standup figures for each of those characters in the 2 player colors. They show the full (and attractive) artwork for each character, the strength and movement numbers, and also use a couple of icons to remind you of special powers, which is a nice touch.  

Cards: Two player decks of 16 cards each, with the cards printed half-size on medium-light cardstock. This includes 4 action cards, 3 jump cards, and 9 combat cards, all of which are easy to distinguish and use.  

Rulebook: A 16-page full color, glossy rulebook. The rules are a bit hard to read in a couple of places, but generally do the job. They also contain some great pictorial examples which do a good job of explaining tough concepts.The overall organization of the rules is quite well done and includes a bunch of optional rules including “handicap” rules, a great glossary with descriptions of every character, item, and space, and a summary on the back. Overall, these are quite well done.  

solo rulebook

all the rules you need for solo play – with detailed visual pictures which are laid out well and easy to follow.

On the whole component quality of Dungeon Twister is pretty average with some pieces not meeting expectations (the stand-up characters) and some pieces exceeding them (the screens). However the game has above average utility: some real work has been done to make the game more playable based on its components. In addition the artwork and graphic design are all entirely beautiful. On the whole I’ve let the game eke in a “5” out of “5” for Style rating based primarily on that beauty.  

The Gameplay


The object of Dungeon Twister is to kill your opponent’s characters and get your own out of the dungeon.  

Setup: The game begins with the eight Dungeon Twister boards being shuffled and laid face-down in a 4×2 grid. Each player then places his starting line at one of the ends of the map.  

Next each player selects four of his eight characters and puts them face-down on his starting line; they’re his initial force.  

Finally players take turns placing their remaining four characters and their six objects face-down on the map boards. These are items and peoples which will be activated later in the game. There’s a limit to how many chits can be put on any board: two on the outermost boards and three on the innermost. In the end the 20 chits (10 per player) will thus be allocated relatively evenly among the eight boards.  

Characters. These are the heart of the game, because you win victory points by either getting your characters out of the dungeon or killing those belonging to your opponents. Each player has the same set of 8 characters, which each have a special power:  

  • Wizard. Levitates. Can move over pits or past enemies.
  • Mekanork. Can rotate boards in either direction.
  • Goblin. No special powers, but worth 2 Victory Points (VPs) if he escapes.
  • Warrior. Can break portcullises for 1 Action Point (AP).
  • Wall-Walker. Can move through a wall for 1 AP.
  • Cleric.
  • Troll. Regenerates himself for 1 AP.
  • Thief. Can move over pits, and also can hold them for other characters by standing on them. Can also open or close a portcullis for 1 AP.


Each character also has a Speed movement rating (from 2 for the slow troll to 5 for the speedy thief) and a Strength combat rating (from 1 for the Wizard, Goblin, and Wall-Walker to 4 for the troll).  


Objects. Each player also has 6 items which are placed on the board, but can later be recovered for your use. You can use your opponent’s items too, if you happen to grab them. The items are:  

  • Treasure. Worth 1 VP if you carry it out of the dungeon.
  • Speed Potion. Costs 1 AP to use, then that character gets +4 AP. One use.
  • Rope. Allows a character to move over pits or else can be left on a pit to allow free movement.
  • Fireball Wand. Costs 1 AP to use, and may only be used by the Wizard, but kills any one character in Line of Sight. One use.
  • Sword. Gives +1 Strength in combat if you’re attacking.
  • Armor. Gives +1 Strength in combat if you’re defending.


The Map. The map is also a pretty major element in the game. As noted, it’s a 4×2 grid of rooms, each of which is 5×5 spaces. The maps are mostly open spaces with walls. Walls are often aligned in between maps in such a way that you can’t easily move from one to the other. There are a few special features on maps:  

  • Pits. May only be crossed by the Wizard, the Thief, or someone with a rope. Alternatively a rope or a Thief may be left on a pit to allow free crossing.
  • Portcullis. Barriers between squares that can only be opened by a Thief or a Warrior.
  • Rotation Gears. A character on this space can twist the room either 90 degrees clockwise, or counterclockwise, as shown on the map, for 1 AP. In addition all maps come in color-coded pairs, and if you’re standing on one of the pair you can also rotate the linked room. The Mekanork can twist either room in either direction if he’s at the gear, regardless of the depicted arrows.


Order of Play: On a turn a player gets to spend one of his four action cards, which gives him either 2, 3, 4, or 5 Action Points. Once a player has spent one of his cards, it can’t be spent again until all of his cards have been used.  

With APs, a player can have various face-up, revealed chracters take various actions. (Those face-down characters placed at the beginning of the game can’t do anything until their room is revealed.) A player could choose to spend all of his actions on one character, split them up between characters, or some combination thereof. The same character could take different actions or the same action multiple times. The possible uses for action points are:  

  • Reveal a Room
  • Rotate a Room
  • Move One Character
  • Initiate Combat
  • Use a Character’s Special Ability
  • Use an Object
  • Jump


Each action costs 1 AP for one use. A general rule for the game is that you have to complete an action before you start a new one. Thus if, for example, a character does a partial movement, then opens a portculis, his movement action is now done, even though he lost some of his move points, because he began a new action (opening the portculis).  

Reveal a Room. A character may flip up a face-down room that he has line of sight on. The active player then places all characters that were on the room and all of his opponent’s items. His opponent then places all of his items.  

Rotate a Room. A character may rotate his room or the other similarly colored room one-quarter turn in the appropriate direction if he is standing on the rotation gear.  

Move One Character. A character may move up to his movement in spaces. He can’t move over pits or through closed portculises or through unwounded enemy characters. He can’t stop in a space with an enemy character or where he’d increase the total object count in that space to more than two.  

A character can freely pick up and drop items or wounded characters during his turn, but may never carry more than one object at a time.  

Initiate Combat. A character may initiate combat if he is adjacent to an enemy. All characters in the same clump who are adjacent to at least one enemy become involved in the combat. Each player now adds up the combat value of his unwounded characters in the conflict and then secretly adds a combat card (from +0 to +6). Whomever has the higher total wins. All unwounded losing characters are wounded, and wounded losing characters are killed. (Once a character is wounded it can’t move or initiate any actions; it needs the cleric to heal it unless it’s the troll in which case it can heal itself. A wounded character can also be carried around, but doesn’t score any VPs if he’s carried out of the dungeon.)  

Combat cards are lost once used, except for that +0, so they have to be used carefully.  

A character who was wounded on this turn can’t be attacked again in the same turn.  

Use a Character’s Special Ability. Some characters such as the Cleric, Thief, Wall Walker, and Warrior have special abilities that cost an AP to use.  

Use an Object. Some objects, such as the fireball wand and speed potion cost an AP to use.  

Jump. Each player has three Jump cards. One may be expended for one AP to get a character over a pit.  

Winning the Game: The game ends when a player earns 5 Victory Points. They can be earned as follows:  

  • 1 VP per own character that escapes by crossing the dungeon and stepping onto the opponent’s starting line.
  • 1 VP per enemy character that you killed.
  • +1 VP if the goblin escapes.
  • +1VP if someone escapes with a treasure chest.


Relationships to Other Games


I’ve seen a lot of people compare Dungeon Twister to Tom Jolly’s Wiz War. Granted, they are both fantasy board games, involving moving characters around a dungeon made up of 5×5 boards. However, I think the similarity is largely a superficial one.  

Wiz War is a very American game, full of “take that” gameplay, and huge gobs of randomness thanks to card draws. Besides that it’s got only one character to move around, and his powers are based on card draws, not anything intrinsic.  

Conversely, I’d describe Dungeon Twister as a tactical puzzle game. Yes, there is a good thematic basis, but on a round-by-round basis the gameplay really comes down to figuring out how to do something clever (often killing an opponent’s character or getting one of your own out of the way) with a limited set of actions. As such, I think it’s a lot closer in flavor to other action-point based tactical games such as Hansa, Mexica, or Dos Rios, where you’re likewise trying to puzzle out the best move for each turn.  

The Game Design


As already mentioned Dungeon Twister is a deeply tactical game. However, it also has a fair allocation of good strategy as well. Unlike a lot of tactical games, you can set yourself up for future moves, and think about long term issues, not just how to minimax an individual turn. It’s also a relatively speedy tactical game. The full game can last 1-1.5 hours, a fair amount more than the 45 minutes quoted on the box, but the game never seems to suffer from too much downtime, because you’ve only got one opponent, and you’re always interested in what he’s doing. Beyond that it’s got good theming, that really helps make the game come alive. It’s also got some interesting balance, as the more VPs you get by exiting the dungeon, the weaker your on-board position becomes, and thus the more you have to struggle for those last few.  

On the downside, I’d say that Dungeon Twister is slightly complex; by this I largely mean that there are a fair number of fiddly rules that can be a bit of a pain for a first-time player to keep track of, though by a second game I felt very confident with them. I also think that the game can be a little hard on a first time player, as a bad initial setup can really mess up your game.  

Before I close out, one final comment on design-related advertising copy. A lot is made about the fact that there’s no luck in this game, and that’s not really true. Granted, there are no dice and no card draws, but the orientation & placement of the boards can definitely give one player an advantage and another a disadvatage. Likewise there’s a chaotic factor related to who places which pieces on which squares, forming a sort of blind bidding, which isn’t exactly random but isn’t exactly strategic either. I’d agree that the luck factor is relatively low in this game, and I think it’s particularly so for a French design, which tend to use dice more often than most European designs, but don’t go in expecting an entirely luck-free event. (And to be clear, I’m entirely happy with the low randomness level, but I did want to discuss the issue of “luck” since I’ve seen it mentioned a lot.)  

Overall, I’ll have to admit that Dungeon Twister combines some of my favorite elements in a game, including fantasy theming and tactical/puzzle-solving gameplay. However, i also think that it does a superb job of it. This is, bar none, my favorite tactical game that I’ve played in years. I think it remains more interesting and constantly surprising than almost anything else in the genre, and my only real regret is that it only supports two players. (There’s a 3/4 player supplement already out in France, and it’ll be interesting to see if that manages to avoid the downtime issues that often sneak into 3+ player tactical games.) As a result Dungeon Twister earns a full “5” out of “5” Substance rating for me.  



Dungeon Twister is one of the best games released this year. Its sharp tactical play, combined with its colorful fantasy setting, results in a game that just begs for play and replay. If you enjoy tactical games at all, and if you sometimes get to play two-player games, you should rush out and purchase this basic set.


~ by armasheddon on January 9, 2010.

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