Dungeon Mayhem pits 2-4 players against each other to be the last adventurer standing in a Dungeons & Dragons-themed, fast-playing card game of mutual annihilation. Each player gets a unique 28-card deck and takes on the role of a particular character – Sutha the Skullcrusher (barbarian), Azzan the Mystic (wizard), Lia the Radiant (paladin), or Oriax the Clever (rogue).
Each player starts with 10 life and the last person standing wins. On each player’s turn they draw a card, and play a card, fortifying themself or damaging others. Except for a handful of specials in each deck, cards are very straightforward – deal damage, heal damage, get an extra action, draw a card, set up a defensive shield.
The different characters have different options. Sutha the barbarian tends to have higher damage cards. Lia has the most healing. Oriax is the most likely to get extra actions. Some of these cards have generic fantasy flavor (Sutha’s “Big Axe is Best Axe” or Oriax’s series of one dagger, two daggers, all the daggers cards). Others are more iconic D&D terms – especially in the wizard deck, because it gets standby spells such Magic Missile, Burning Hands, and Fireball.
The slightly more complicated (but still pretty straightforward) specials take the D&D flavor further. For example, the wizard’s Fireball doesn’t just do damage to one player, it does damage to everyone in the room (including the wizard).
Dungeon Mayhem is not a game of subtle strategy – it’s a game of smashing whatever player seems most vulnerable, who won last game, who most recently attacked you, who was slightly irritating in the last 30 seconds, etc. I received Dungeon Mayhem as a holiday gift from Wizards of the Coast, and played it while traveling with various combinations of kids from ages 8 to 15. It was wildly successful with them, and I left the game with the family we spent Christmas with, because the kids were begging to keep it, in their incredibly polite way (my eight-year-old enjoyed the game, but surprisingly did not object to letting someone else keep it; perhaps this is a sign of oncoming maturity, or perhaps it is a sign that we have too many games).