This is a standalone expansion released for the previously reviewed Welcome to the Dungeon. The rules and monsters are the same, but there are some MONSTROUS changes when it comes to heroes and special monsters.
Note: This review covers an expansion. It will only focus on what’s been added to the game, and how it effects the game play. For a more complete view on how the game is played, please read the review for the base game.
Designers: Masato Uesugi & Antoine Bauza
In Welcome to the Dungeon, being the last to pass and being forced into the dungeon allows for one, maybe two decisions if any. Making it deterministic as to whether or not you’ll make it through before you’ve drawn the first card. Meaning all the decision making is front-loaded on the bluffing and bravado phase.
Welcome Back to the Dungeon mixes this up.
First by adding four new adventurers: Princess, Ninja, Bard, and Necromancer. Each adventurer has a unique arsenal of items, more power than the items found in the original game. For example, the Ninja’s Smoke Bomb allows you to defeat any monster, but then requires you to discard another item. Or The Bard’s Lucky Coin allowing you to defeat an even-strength Monster, and the next monster if they have even strength as well.
These items provide you more agency in the dungeon phase, turning if from just flipping through the cards, to a more considered approach. Should I use my item now or wait until the next one? The difference between pounding your chest in victory, and throwing your cards across the table in defeat can be determined by how and when you use your items.
Trying to factor this in to your decision of playing, or passing gets tough. It’s not made any easier with all of the items in this expansion are significantly more complex than those in Welcome to the Dungeon. While still a light game, this complexity pushes the difficulty beyond a gateway game for new players.
Special monsters are the second major way Welcome Back to the Dungeon changes the game.
These monsters all have special abilities, which are either helpful, or devastating. Powerful enough that picking one up in the pass or play phase creates a massive imbalance of information. As while others are adding strength to the dungeon, you’re adding chaos. For instance, The Ally allows you to defeat the next monster in the dungeon. Being the one to put that in the dungeon gives you a massive advantage, as everyone else will assume it’s an extra monster.
Other special monsters include the Gelatinous Cube which destroys an item, The Count who gets stronger if the person in the dungeon has already had a successful run.
These new monsters are fun to play with, as they change the landscape of the question – can I go into the dungeon? However, when I tried to play competitive I found the new adventures were already hard enough to get my head around, that I didn’t need the extra complications. I’m sure this opinion will change once I’m more comfortable with these new adventures.
Component wise they’ve included new card art for all of the monsters from the original game, as well as a health tracker and marker. A welcome addition, making calculating the remaining health of the adventurer easier.
When it comes to which I prefer between Welcome Back to the Dungeon and Welcome to the Dungeon. Welcome to the Dungeon takes the crown, but just barely. This is absolutely personal preference, as I enjoy the simplicity, and deterministic nature of the original that never fails to creates edge of the knife moments. However, Welcome Back to the Dungeon is like having a new chef at your favourite restaurant. The food is the same but there’s a different flavour to it, and in this case that flavour is chaotic fun!
Thanks for reading, I’m currently ranking all my board games in a best to worst list. You can see this games’ initial ranking below.