Wizards of the Coast has recently released an updated version of Dungeon!, a fantasy adventure board game designed by Gary Gygax. Dungeon! has many similarities to Dungeons and Dragons, but plays like a traditional board game.
Dungeon! originally came out in 1975 and since then has gone through a number of minor rules changes. This version, as far as I can tell, is identical to the original game with the exception of renaming the four types of heroes.
Physically, however, the game is much changed from all earlier versions. All of the components have been transformed into the high quality pieces you see in other board games produced today. The artwork is vastly improved. The Parcheesi style playing pieces have been replaced with cardboard stand-ups with artwork depicting the heroes. The cards have evolved from plain paper stock to sturdy laminated cards (similar to playing cards).
While other board games with such high quality components are typically priced around $50, Dungeon! has a list price of $20 and can be readily found for less on Amazon.
The game is designed for two to eight players (although there are also rules for solo play). There are four types of heroes: Fighters, Wizards, Rogues, and Clerics. The goal is to obtain and escape the dungeon with a certain amount of treasure (the exact amount needed varies by class). Players take turns moving about the board, which is broken up into various sections representing dungeon levels one through six. If a player encounters a monster, combat is resolved. If the monster is slain, the player gains treasure commensurate with the level of the monster. Failure usually means that the player loses one or more treasure cards, which are then assigned to the monster and may be regained by killing the monster on a subsequent turn. There is also a slim chance that the player may be killed, in which case all treasure is lost (and assigned to the monster) and the character must start over from the dungeon entrance.
The game incorporates traps, secret doors, spells, and magic swords. Gary really did a wonderful job capturing the feel of D&D within a board game. If you have friends who you are hesitant to invite to a D&D game, I think this would be an excellent way to introduce them to a fantasy adventure without jumping directly into a full-blown RPG.
Even though Dungeon! has been released numerous times in the past, I had never actually played it let alone acquired a copy for myself so I am particularly happy to see it reproduced. For $20 I think it is a wonderful addition to my gaming collection.