Every once in a while, we have a guest writer come along to contribute to the site.

This time we have the wonderfully talented Nugget Humanperson, who has come to lend her expertise to Dungeon Drafters. Go and follow her over on Twitter @gamergrrrly!

Thank you so much for this great review, and to the publishers for the review code.

Dungeon Drafters is a roguelite, deck building, dungeon crawling, loot collecting, action point based dungeon crawler, tactical strategy  RPG (seriously though, did I forget anything?) developed by Manalith Studios and published by DANGEN Entertainment.  It is another videogame that reinforces the idea of never getting on a ship because there will be a storm that results in you waking up on an unknown beach and subsequently ending up on some wild adventure that will lead to your eventual and repeated death.


You have six characters to choose from.  They are different, each with their own starter deck,but you can pretty much go with whichever one you want to spend your time looking at while they bounce around the tile based dungeons and town.  It won’t take long to be able to customize your deck the way you want. So don’t lose too much sleep over what character you select. The game is ultimately about the cards you collect.

Cards are sorted by color themes, similar to Magic: The Gathering. Unlike M:TG there is no mana system.  Each spell costs an action point. You can wield more powerful spells based on a limited amount of  runes that you can carry. The game definitely “encourages” you to focus on one or two rune colors, because otherwise you have a deck full of weaker spells that will make it harder to manage some of the stronger enemies and bosses.

So, what is the game loop?  You pick a dungeon, and go in.  Pick carefully because some dungeons offer a way out much quicker than others, and if you die in the dungeon you lose all your loot, and you will die; at least at the beginning.  The dungeons are made up of tile based rooms. You wander room to room in search of the out to either the way out or the way to the next level. Some rooms have treasures, puzzles, health boosts and refills, deck reshuffle and even a fishing mini-game that consists of  catching groups of moving fish in a box, kind of like a net.  Most rooms have a variety of enemies, or a boss, that are based on the dungeon you are in. 

Combat with these enemies is turn based.  You get action points to move and use your cards with.  You can analyze the field to see enemy information and what potential movements may likely be, so you can plan and act accordingly. When you use up your action points, any minions in your control move (based on their own AI) and then the enemies make their moves. This is my major complaint with the game.  You have the ability to move between menus to play your cards and scrolling through the battlefield by pressing a button and then the direction to scroll.  If you think you are in a menu and then press the direction you will move, which takes an action point.  Sometimes this is not a big deal, but way too often it is.  This can be a significant and very frustrating problem in harder battles, and there will be harder battles. 

The difficulty spikes hard once you get past the opening stage of a dungeon.  You will definitely need some of those cards that you looted and lost on your last run because you got arrogant and thought it was a good idea to keep going instead of heading back to the town when you had a chance.


In roguelite fashion, if you die, you gain nothing, but if you return safely to “Adventurer’s Town” you get to keep the  gold and cards that you looted from fallen enemies and chests.  You can now use the cards, assuming you stack your runes properly, and you can use the gold to buy copies of the cards you have in your library, as well as some other items around town.  You can also chat with townsfolk, pick up a sidequest, and get in some fishing time as well while you are there.

You also can, and often should rebuild/tune your deck in between runs.  This can be tricky at first while you get used to synergies, but with the right runes, cards and items you can construct a fairly solid deck that will be a lot of fun to play with.  Just be ready for that deck to offer some feedback at the worst times. For instance, a deck that was completely handling standard enemies gave me an entire hand of useless cards against a boss.  Needless to say, I lost everything I worked so hard to gain that round and it though it was technically my fault due to the deck I built, and thought it was unstoppable, it did not feel great watching it fail as I tried not to die.  I did get the boss to it’s third and final health bar though.



  • Unusual fishing mini-game

  • Card pack based loot system

  • Combat with a well constructed deck is a lot of fun

  • Generally cute aesthetic

  • Easy to “pick up and play”


  • Accidental movement can be costly, especially in harder levels

  • Boss battles with a full hand of cards that you can’t use

  • Difficulty spikes

  • Support minions have the worst AI and will move right into the path of oncoming death


Dungeon Drafters  currently retails for $24.99 (US) and as of this writing has had an all time low discount of $19.99.  The dollar per gameplay value ratio will very much depend on what you expect from this genre.  If you are seasoned and looking for a new challenge there is some solid challenge that could make it worth the retail price.  If you are new to the genre, it may be better to wait for a deeper discount; maybe around the $15 mark or so.

While having a lot going for it, that may appeal to veterans of the  deck building, turn based, dungeon crawling RPG genre niche players, it can be a cumbersome and frustrating grind for players not familiar with the finer mechanics of the genre;  To be fair, though, the Switch may not be the best place to play Dungeon Drafters because some of the functionality would be much more user friendly playing with a mouse.