The right way to play Dungeon! with a 5 year old.
This is not a complete review of the game, although very useful…
I love D&D, and I’m amazed that my son loves it too. Only difference between him and me is about who are our favorites, inside the many worlds, characters and monsters this game has to offer. I’m going to focus on one particular game, Dungeon!, which I purchased in advanced, forseeing that he could really fall for it (as he had been already spending some time going over my D&D pen and pencil core rulebooks, from first edition to the last one, currently the fifth).
My son is only 5 years old, and when he discovered the game, well, I couldn’t just show it and tell him it was meant for older kids, before hiding it again, right? So we made a few tries, while learning the rules, making our own, and a couple of weeks later I can say we have had half a dozen pretty good matches. He always favours mage, and goes after the Level 6 dragons pretty quickly. I myself like to play either a rogue or a warrior (more of the multiclass melee sphere I’ve always been), and go straight up to the kitchen hall, cleaning everything in my way, hungry as hell.
There are just a few tweeks you must do, if you want to really have fun playing Dungeon! with a 5 year old. First of all, you must start with a decent secret object, of the lowest value available, for each of the characters. We usually give the Secret Door Card to the Rogue (makes a lot of sense lorewise), the ESP Medallion to the Cleric (weakest class I would say, and clearly in need of knowing who is behind the door before getting into a fight), the Magic Sword goes to the Warrior (makes a lot of sense aswell, and you just roll for the bonus as usual), and finally the Crystal Ball would go to the Wizard (for obvious reasons as it works perfectly with his/her spells mechanic).
This is not quite cheating, but having fun in advance! Playing Dungeon! with a 5 year old can be very mean and cruel if the dice don’t go along in your children’s favour. In fact, I would recommend starting this game, even when only teens and adults are involved, always with your secret objects equipped, or else it can turn rather tiresome and you won’t have that much fun either.
Another important thing about playing with your children is that the game must be short in time. Now, Dungeon! is nothing of the sort, it’s probably the lengthiest of all the games that I own (which are not many, but anyway). So, in order to play Dungeon! correctly, preventing you to leave the game unfinished almost every time, you have to choose one single class (same one for both of you), and just play over one or two Levels of your choice (according to class restrictions).
Best fun we ever had by playing this way was when we chose the Warrior class, and limit our hunting for treasures between Levels 2 and 3, covering all the upside part of the dungeon map. We started at diferent halls even, Armory and Pantry, each of us with a Magic Sword +1 in our hands. The game would then finish when either treasures or monsters, from any of the two chosen Levels, would run out of sources. And the winner was that one of us who had collected more valuable treasures at that point (adding up all the golden pieces).
Now, this is, by no means, a bragg or anything, but playing Dungeon! this way, well, it has to be the right way (keep in mind, with a 5 year old child seating next or in front of you).
You can find a more complete review (in fact, too many) in BoardGameGeek.