5 Minute Dungeon, review: simple, immediate and frenetic

5 Minute Dungeon, review: simple, immediate and frenetic

5 Minute Dungeon, review

5 minute dungeon , published in Italy by dVGames , is a collaborative game for 2-5 people , from 8 years old , where, taking on the role of iconic fantasy adventurers, we will have to go through mysterious dungeons until we defeat the boss who is hidden there. And if traps, unexpected events and dark creatures are not enough, know that you will have to succeed in the enterprise by respecting the dictates of a ruthless master: time!

5 Minute Dungeon: the materials

As per usual, before going into the details of 5 minute dungeon let's take a quick look at the components that make up the product. The box, with very captivating graphics, is medium in size and light in weight, which will allow us to easily take the game with us if we want to play away from home or with friends. It is interesting to see that the game does not hide itself and presents itself right away, written well in evidence, as " cooperative, frenetic and without turns ". We'll go and see if that's really the case.

First of all, by opening the container, we'll find the mini-booklet of the rules: 22 pages in all, it explains the game system in a clear and effective way. In fact, just one reading will be enough to have a clear understanding of how to play. If desired, for those who prefer, a QR-code is also included which allows you to watch an explanation video (available only in English).

Going further we find the game material which can be summarized in two main types: planks and cards. At first, divided into bosses and Characters, we can say that they convey a good feeling of solidity and that the graphic aspect is very pleasant. We point out that all are double-sided. In the case of the characters, five in all, depending on the side chosen we will play a specific subvariant (for example if we choose to be the one who uses magic we will be able to play as a sorceress or as a sorcerer). Each sub-variant is associated with a specific skill (not always unique).

The Boss ones, three, instead report a different opponent on each side, thus bringing the effective total to six. As far as the papers are concerned, from a qualitative point of view we point out that by mixing them they tend to scratch slightly. Our advice is to use protective sleeves, above all considering that the available space is abundant: in the plastic insert there are higher paper clip slots, both in number and size, than necessary. This translates into the possibility of being able to bag the cards or, if there are any, to be able to put any future expansions in a single box without any space management problems.

From the graphical point of view of the cards we must instead make a clear division between the Hero cards and the Dungeon/Challenge cards. The former are very simple, one could almost say austere: in fact, with a few exceptions, only the game symbols are present. However, what in other situations would be an unwelcome if not negative element, here is instead something intentional and ergonomically well thought out: 5 minute dungeon is a fast and immediate game, where an elaborate graphic component of the cards would not only be practically not noticed but it could even be counterproductive.

The D ungeon and Challenge cards, on the other hand, are all richly designed while managing to keep the icons clearly legible. Slightly different speech for the (really) few writings present on ten of the seventy Dungeon cards: considering the speed of the game they could be a bit difficult to read.

Let's immediately anticipate that in our experience this thing has no created no problem: the amount of information to read is so small that it has practically no impact on the progress of the game.


Starting a game of 5 minute dungeon is a quick and easy process. First each player receives the deck corresponding to his character (according to a chromatic combination) and after shuffling it he takes from 3 to 5 cards depending on the number of participants. Once this is done, take the first of the six bosses and place him face up on the table: on his dashboard we will find the number of Dungeon cards to take, to which two Challenge cards will be added for each player: once everything has been mixed, we will put the newly formed Dungeon deck on the appropriate space of the Boss board. Lastly, we will have to set a timer to 5 minutes (we point out that, if you wish, you can download the game's official app).

One or two minutes of "work" in all.

How to play 5 Minute Dungeon

The mechanics behind 5 minute dungeon is simple, immediate and…frantic. Once the timer has started, we will be able to start the challenge by turning over the top card of the Dungeon deck. Each shows a series of symbols (two or three depending on the case) and a type of monster, obstacle, person (for Dungeon cards), event and miniboss (for Challenge cards). To be able to overcome it, and therefore turn over the next card, we will have three ways at our disposal:

cards must be played on the table that bear, on the whole, the required symbols; exploit, if possible, the special ability of the our character to play a special card that allows us to immediately overcome that specific type of obstacle

Let's take a simple example, and let's say that the card turned over is “ Collapsed Ceiling “. This is an Obstacle card, which bears the Scroll, Scroll and Sword symbols.

The players can then decide to throw enough cards onto the table to have, in any order, the three required symbols (any symbols in excess or unnecessary ones will be discarded).

Alternatively, assuming someone is using the right character, it will be possible to activate the appropriate special ability, discard the required cards, and move on. Even if this option isn't available, there's still the possibility of using, as long as you have it in your hand, a special card designed for obstacles: for example, we can use Momentum, perfect in this case, or Holy Grenade (one of the few cards which allows you to pass any type of test). It is fair to specify that every time we play one or more cards we will have to draw from the deck at our disposal until our hand is replenished. It follows that if we want, we can discard useless cards in the hope of drawing one that suits us.

Simple, immediate, almost trivial. If it weren't for some diabolical little details. The first, quite intuitive, is that we will have to overcome all the dungeon cards and the boss before the time available to us runs out. And, believe us, 5 minutes flies by extremely fast. The second is that each card played cannot be taken back until the end of the dungeon (the rule literally says "card played, card lost"). And you will soon realize how easy it is for two or more players to decide to use a card at the same time. Or how the deck runs out quickly if we were to get caught up in the urge to discard to get "that" card.

But also how managing to have some order in the chaos is less simple than expected. Salvo, take a moment to agree…always remembering the 5 minutes above. Again, along the way, as anticipated, we will meet the Challenge cards. These introduce particularly difficult creatures (minibosses) or Events whose requests must be immediately satisfied. For example, we may find ourselves facing "The dreaded 3-cereal bread", or draw a card that forces us to discard the hand or, again, to pass it to another player. Once the boss on duty has been defeated, we will have to move on to the next one, "resetting" the game and re-setting the timer to five minutes.

But 5 minute dungeon doesn't end there. Faithful to the idea of ​​a party of adventurers, each adventurer has some means to help (or help himself) out of trouble. Without listing all the possibilities, let's give some examples.

As the thief/ninja we will be able, among other things, to steal another player's hand of cards and add it to ours (although it may seem like a bad thing, and sometimes it is, it's perfect in case you can't draw cards anymore) or donate ours to someone else. Playing as a Valkyrie / Paladin we will instead have the possibility to temporarily stop the timer and, at the same time, have everyone draw a card or play the aforementioned sacred grenade The Sorceress / Sorcerer and can cancel an Event or use wild cards; The Barbarian / Gladiator can cause himself or others to draw additional cards. The Huntress / Ranger can cause others to draw additional cards and, similarly to the wizard, many jokers at her disposal. It is fair to point out that the composition of the decks and the quantity of special cards is different for each of the five characters: for example the Magician will have a greater quantity of parchment cards, while in the Barbarian's deck there will be more swords and cards with two different symbols.


There are not many things to consider in 5 Minute Dungeon. The first is to understand if he lives up to that promise written on the box. And let us tell you, our answer is a clear yes. Initially chaos will dominate, but it won't be long before the group learns to self-manage, collaborate and communicate. Always knowing that you have little time available, and that you have to deal with everything quickly and that every choice made will be definitive.

Another element to evaluate is replayability: in all honesty, the first impression could be that of having a game that, after a couple of games, will be put aside. In reality, the combination of characters, associated with the randomness of the cards and the speed of learning and execution make it perfect to be played whenever we want to start something that is not too demanding but which is at the same time a harbinger of fun.

The last aspect to take into consideration is the scalability of 5 minute dungeons. In our experience we have a game here that makes the most of the more players. This is for the obvious reason that, as the number of participants increases, so will the frenzy, chaos and fun. A small separate note for the official app: although , stripped down to the bone, it is a simple timer  (present on practically any tablet or smartphone) in reality it manages to be a discreet added value . This is because its main function is accompanied by a series of sound effects and music which give that little touch of personalization and involvement to the whole.

Suitable for….

On the basis of the mechanics, and the little text present, we believe the indication on the box is correct: 5 Minute Dungeon is perfectly comparable starting from the eight years indicated. Entering the type of player we have here a product that finds its ideal target in those who want a fast, fun, always engaging and chaotic game at the right point. The simplicity of the rules, the speed of execution and the continuous involvement of all the participants make it perfect as a "Trojan horse" to present to those who are unfamiliar with board games or do not want to face something too demanding. In short, if you are looking for something that can give you some healthy moments of fun, 5 minute dungeon could be for you.


5 Minute Dungeon keeps faith with that “ cooperative, fast-paced, and turnless” that soars atop the box. We will most likely start by facing everything with a certain air of superiority, intimately convinced that we are facing a game that we can easily "defeat". And if this can, perhaps, be true for the first boss, playing it we will instead discover that we will have to be able to coordinate as much and as best as possible, trying to minimize missteps and managing our resources as best as possible. But the real strong point of 5 minute dungeon is elsewhere: here we have a product that manages to involve everyone present in a constant way, generating a slight playful tension accompanied by a pleasant hubbub and plenty of fun.

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