Brave the Danger of the ‘Deadly Doodles’ Dungeon

Gaming Reviews Tabletop Games

What Is Deadly Doodles?

Rather than a “roll-and-draw,” Deadly Doodles is described as a “draw-and-draw” game for 1-4 players ages 8 and up. It takes about 20-30 minutes to play and has a retail price of $19.95. It’s easy to learn and family-friendly, with illustrations by Katie Cook.

Deadly Doodles Components

The game comes with:

  • 4 identical dry-erase map boards
  • 4 dry-erase markers
  • 36 cards of three types: Path Segments, Traps, and Draw 2

How to Play Deadly Doodles

You can download a copy of the rulebook here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to draw the highest-scoring path through the dungeon.


Couldn’t be much simpler: Give everyone a map and a pen and shuffle the 36 cards into a face-down deck. (Playing solo? Take the Trap cards out of the deck.)


Each round, you take the top four cards and reveal them, placing them where everyone can see. Anytime a Draw 2 is revealed, you reveal two more cards, and then discard the Draw 2. (So yes, it’s possible that if the two Draw 2s are close in the deck, you could have a round featuring six cards.)

Now you’re going to draw your path(s) through the dungeon on the map, using the specific patterns on the cards you’ve revealed. There are five distinct path segments in the deck—a straight line, a “T” intersection, a “corner,” a cross, and a dead-end—along with traps.

The three rules for drawing your paths are:

  • Only one path segment may be drawn within a room, and you may not draw a path segment within a room that contains one of your Traps.
  • All ends of a path segment (except for the dead-end) must link to the diamond-shaped “passageways” symbols. (Not against walls.)
  • You may rotate the path segments as needed. The orientation of the cards does not matter.

At the start of the game, your first path segment must link to an entryway. After that, all new path segments must either link to a previously drawn path segment or at another entryway. If you find that you can’t draw one of the revealed path segments on your map, put a tally mark next to item 6 in the scoring section of your map card. This is what the Steve Jackson crew calls a “poor planning” penalty, and it will cost you.

If one of the revealed cards is a Trap, you place an X in any empty room on your map—and unused entryways are fair game. (Every time I played Deadly Doodles, everyone started the game with their maps casually in full view on the table. At the first trap, though, everyone picks up their map because you want to keep your trap placement secret. Point being that you should keep things hidden from the start: I saw a kid deliberately place one of her traps where she knew it would hit her dad because she’d been keeping an eye on his map.)

When you draw your segments and traps, use the small square within the room to write the number of the current round. This helps ensure that you draw all the required segments each round.

Where do you draw your paths and why? That’s best explained by looking at how the scores will eventually be tallied:

So, drawing your path through Loot earns points; drawing it through the Dragon earns more. Collecting Weapons is a good idea, but killing Monsters by drawing your path through a Monster AND its matching-numbered Weapon is way better. (Monster met, but without the right weapon? Ouch. Sorry.)

After seven rounds, the first thing you’ll do is reveal where everyone placed their traps. One player at a time reveals the coordinates of the Traps they drew on their board, and anyone else whose path goes through those coordinates is hit by the trap, and should place a tally mark to the right of scoring item number seven. If it turns out that two (or more) players have Traps in the same coordinates, they are each hit by their own trap, and nobody else suffers any damage.

Friend of GeekDad (and Eye of the Beholder filmmaker) Brian Stillman pondering his Deadly Doodle path. Photo by John Booth

Then it’s on to scoring using the chart above: Highest score wins! (Solo play is just trying to beat your previous best score.)

Game End

The game ends after seven rounds.

Why You Should Play Deadly Doodles

Deadly Doodles was well-received during this year’s Gaming with GeekDad event, and it’s easy to see why; Katie Cook’s art is its usual adorable self, the game’s easy to learn and quick to play once you get into the rhythm, and its complexity level means kids and adults can compete on pretty even terms.

The expansion, Deadly Doodles 2successfully funded on Kickstarter and promises to add twists in the form of more complex maps and new scoring possibilities, and it’s on pre-order at BackerKit.

Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of Deadly Doodles to play and give away at Gen Con.

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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