(This is one of my favorite posts from years ago right after I bought Fantasy Flight’s DungeonQuest, posted here for consolidation)
My daughter saw me come home with Dungeonquest about a week ago and has been asking me about it every day when I come home from work. It’s hard for me to explain to my 4-yr-old daughter that its not really a game for her age. I’m not worried about the theme scaring her or ruining her life – she knows what monsters are, and I would say she is the best monster-finder this side of the Mississippi. In fact, we make a great team, she points em out, and I “get” them.
So, I figured, maybe she could handle it. She understands the concepts of Treasure, Monsters, Dragons, and Traps, this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for my little gamer in training.
I pull the game out, which I’ve only played this verson about 5 times so far (I owned the GW version back in the day) and give her a quick rundown saying, “the object of this game is to sneak past the dragon in his treasure room to get gold and then escape the dungeon.”
In our house we bend rules a little bit here and there to max out the fun, and I really enjoy the different variants that are suggested in the back of the rulebook. My friends agree that the best way to play Dungeonquest is with the No Guts No Glory Variant. (You need at least one Treasure from the Dragon’s Lair to Escape)
We randomly pick characters, and I get Challara, and she ends up with Hugo. I see the look on her face as she looks at Challara, with the pet dragon and I ask her, “Do you want to trade guys?” She happily agrees and then spends the next couple of minutes with me trying to pronounce “Challara” perfectly.
Now at this point, I know I am committing to essentially playing 2 solo games but I will do my best to hide that fact from her. Combat will probably be weird, and rolling dice may take a while, but it’s worth it.
The first thing that happens to me is a Cave-In. I now need to roll under my agility (base 4 for Hugo) in order to move on. For every dice roll in the game, I would say “I need to roll equal to or under X” and then roll, ask her what I got, she counts the pips on the dice, and then I ask her if that number is more than or less than the number I needed. This added a long time to the game, but again, worth it. It took me 5 turns to get through this initial cave-in.
She runs right through a handful of rooms, drawing empty cards all over the place, until she gets one with a Skeleton Corpse in it. This feeling of dread comes over me as I think “oh…crap…I can’t ask my 4-yr-old daughter to search a dead body…” So I say, “Oh! you found a skeleton, do you want to talk to him?” She says yes and I give her the corpse card, and I announce that she got a potion. She pronounces Potion back to me with perfection and I beam with pride at her dominance over the complicated “shh” sound in the middle of a word. I respond, “Yeah! The skeleton gave you a potion!” She got a huge smile on her face and said, “The skeleton likes me, so he gave me a potion!”
The game moves on, with me fighting a couple of monsters in the catacombs as she trudges through a handful of normal rooms along with a giant web room and a trap room. For Combat, I would just choose my card, then ask her to pick one card out of her hand with a high number on it, while making sure to not let me see her cards. I had to take a few minutes to teach her this trick, as I realize that the concept of spatial eyesight was foreign to her, but she figured it out quickly, hiding her hand from my “prying eyes”. Again, a skill worth cultivating and the time spent is worth it. Combat actually went pretty well in this system, and later on she faced a skeleton monster and she took him out pretty easily.
Sidebar – People have said they hate the combat system in this new version of Dungeonquest but I love it. It looks complicated, but a 4-yr-old can do it, I got proof. It’s a good RPS system with some nice tweaks.
She gets to the Dragons lair before I do and I shuffle the 8 cards, fan them out in front of her and ask her to pick one…. I tell her she is trying to be sneaky…I say, “Does it look like the dragon woke up?” She nods yes and I look at her life, she only has 4 life yet, no treasure. She rolls two dice and I instantly see she rolls 8. As she is totaling up the dice dread overcomes me again…”How do I explain she just died?” And then I remember the Death can Wait Variant. I tell her that she runs out of the lair from the dragon, reset her life to half and her turn ends. Now, she can handle losing games, but historically has a hard time with being knocked out of a game midstream. And Frankly, I can totally see her position. You kind of need a healthy sense of defeat and loss before you can really enjoy getting your butt kicked by the Dungeon in this game. She’ll get it one day, just not today.
She stays for two rounds of looting and steps out of the Dragon’s Lair a few turns before I take a shot at it. I take two turns myself, and then step out because it is getting late. I had a Treasure chest, so although she had more loot than me at the time, there was a chance that with a solid roll I could still have more than she does if we both escape.
She gets stuck in a cave-in for a few turns and I blaze a path with a few lucky corridors to a corner tower, with her right behind me. On the way, she gets a crypt and she then draws a treasure chest herself. We both escape the dungeon before nightfall and tally up our loot after making our chest rolls:
My Daughter – 5290 gold
Me – 3630 gold
Right as we finish my wife comes in to hear the recap from my daughter. This is the gist of what she said:
“I was in the dungeon and crawled through a spider web. Then a skeleton that is nice gave me a potion cause he liked me! The dragon woke up when I tried to take his treasure and I ran away, and then I went behind him and got some treasure and then I escaped!” With arms raised up in victory.
What a fun time with my girl. I’m happy that she found this quick game to be so much fun, even if it did take about 90 minutes.