Published in 1989, Dungeonbowl was an expansion for Blood Bowl 2nd Edition which included two new teams of plastic miniatures (Elf and Dwarf) and a game variant for playing matches inside a dungeon.
With the massive popularity of the most recent edition of Blood Bowl (which hasn’t significantly changed in mechanics since the second edition) Dungeonbowl is starting to make a regular appearance at the club as a lighthearted group game to play after the other games have finished for the day , particularly as by combining two sets of the game it can be played as a four player game.
This afternoon we played a four player game with me taking Orcs, Rohan Humans, Dave Wood Elves and Jesse High Elves. For our games, we use the all the most recent Bloodbowl stats and rules except where Dungeonbowl’s special rules take precedence. The key differences in mechanics are that long passes are not allowed, there are no team re-rolls, all armour save rolls get +1 due the hard floor and that push-backs into walls result in a armour save and potential injury. Otherwise movement, blocks, blitzes, passes, injuries, etc. all work the same as they do in Blood Bowl.
The pitch consists of twelve randomly placed dungeon tiles which include a variety of walls and columns and four home tiles, the back of which contain a scoring endzone. At the start the game, each coach takes a turn to place a treasure chest in an empty tile and when all twelve have been placed, players take turns to place a teleport marker (numbered 1-12) in each tile. Each coach then deploys six players in their home tile and keeps five in reserve – there’s no ball on the table at the start of the game.
At the start of their turn, each coach may first bring on one of their reserves by rolling a d12 and placing them on the corresponding teleport square, this is the equivalent of moving one square and the player may then continue to move normally, except that a player can never teleport twice in the same move. Players entering teleport squares during their normal movement must roll and move to the corresponding teleport square but if you roll the number of the teleport square you are already on it vaporises the player, causing a turnover (amazingly this didn’t happen once in our game) Teleporting onto an occupied teleport square will ‘bump’ the occupying miniature who must teleport themselves, potentially causing a chain reaction (with the same risk of vaporisation)
Once per turn, each team may attempt to open a chest with a player adjacent to it and then a token is drawn two determine whether the chest contains the ball (two out of twelve) or is trapped and explodes (the remaining ten). Exploding chests knock all adjacent players to the ground and cause armour / injury rolls and result in a turnover. If the chest contains a ball then the player picks it up automatically and may continue to move normally. Once both balls are in play, the remaining chests are removed from the pitch. As soon as one ball is in play, any team can win the game by scoring a touchdown in any endzone apart from the one in their home tile.
Between the teleports, exploding chests, multiple balls and four teams on the pitch, the game is somewhat chaotic as everyone scrambles to get the single score needed to win the game. In our game the first ball was found quickly and changed hands back and forth between the Human and two Elf teams. Meanwhile, the second ball was found in the last remaining chest by the Orc team who manged to blitz their way to a score in a surprise victory in the High Elf team’s endzone.
Dungeonbowl is long out of print but well worth tracking down as a fun alternative to the normal game and you can make the game ever more chaotic by introducing random dungeon monsters! The tiles in the boxed set are based on 25mm squares so aren’t suited to the newer models on larger bases but it wouldn’t be too difficult to design and print your own tiles. As a long-term project I’m working on 3D printing a set using the downloadable designs from Printable Scenery.