Each player starts with a monster lord on their side of the field. Players roll dice to see if they can summon a monster of the level of dice used. If the player gets two summon crest on their roll, they can summon the monster equal to the dice level if used. In addition, players can build up crest, which has a number of uses from movement to attacking, defending or using abilities, which can be stored in a pool to a maximum of ten each.
The crests are as follow:
- Summon crest: Used for summoning a monster. If a player rolls two summon crest in the span of a single roll, they can summon a monster that is the same level as the dice used. Unlike other crests, excess summon crests don't get stored in the crest pool.
- Movement crest: Used for movement.
- Attack crest: Used for declaring attacks.
- Defense crest: Used for defending against attacks.
- Magic crest: Used for abilities when specified on the monster.
- Trap crest: Used for abilities when specified on the monster.
Monsters have an HP total, an ATK total and a DEF total. This works mostly like it does in the card game. A monster who manages to whittle down the HP total of the monster they're attacking destroys the monster. However, defense crests can be used to have the monster being attacked to defend. If the defending monsters defense is higher than the attacking monsters ATK, the difference is subtracted from the attacking monsters HP.
Monsters can also either be flying or tunnel. These monsters require twice the amount of movement crests in order to get around the board.
Upon summon, the player can choose from a multiple of dungeon tiles that they can rotate to fit into the arena. Monsters are locked into certain positions on the dungeon tiles though, so clever placement is key.
There are two ways to win; if the player is unable to summon any more monsters or if the opponents monster lord is attacked three times.
There are also two formats; traditional and advanced format.
In traditional format, both players select six monsters/item cards from a deck, with each player only getting one roll per turn.
In advanced format, the players have ten monsters/item cards to choose from their deck and can roll twice per turn, speeding up considerably. There is also a triple summon rule; if the player manages to roll three summon crests in one roll, they can summon a monster one level higher than the dice used.
Despite initial positive reception, the spin-off was doomed for a multiple of reasons. Firstly, the dungeon tiles themselves were rather flimsy and easy to tear by accident, in addition to being difficult to keep from sliding around on the game mat. Secondly, the monster figures were considerably more expensive than cards were. Lastly, the initial release was prone to "Blind Idiot" Translation, with several cards listing needed crest for abilities using the GBA symbols for certain crest, leading to a lot of Guide Dangit moments over which crest was needed for which ability.
Ultimately, the series was canceled after a few sets. Despite this, Dungeon Dice Monsters still retains a small but loyal fanbase who are rather bummed that series was canned so quickly, with many fan-made cards/monsters still being created for the game to today.
- Adaptational Badass: Certain monsters that were originally very weak in the card game have much better stats in this game, even outclassing other monsters that were much more powerful than them in Duel Monsters. Probably the greatest example is Battle Warrior who was originally a pathetically weak 700 ATK / 1000 DEF card whos crowning moment in the anime was helping Joey beat Bonz's 0 ATK zombie cards with a little help from Sword and Shield. In DDM Battle Warrior is considered to be one of, if not the most OP monsters in the game with stats and abilities comparable to a level 2 or even level 3 monster while being an extremely easy to summon level 1. However, there is also...
- Adaptational Wimp: Some monsters have comparatively lost much of their power and usefulness in the translation from Duel Monsters to DDM. Some of these creatures, like Vorse Raider, are given abilities or powers they didn't have in the card game to help offset this... while others got the shaft and are now borderline unplayable Cannon Fodder.
- Barrier Warrior: Gearfried The Iron Knight is a level 2 monster specializing in defense and protection. All of his stats are mediocre except for his DEF stat which is much more comparable to level 3 and 4 monsters at 30. He also has the ability to defend without a Defense Crest and can sacrifice himself to absorb an attack meant for the Monster Lord.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The initial release is an odd case; while most of the text itself translated over well with little Loop Hole Abuse involving Exact Words, the crest symbols needed for certain abilities ended up using the symbols from the GBA game. This caused a lot of confusion over what crest was needed for which ability, which is one of the factors in the games downfall.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: A die's color refers to what type of creature is contained inside it, but only in the Japanese and GBA versions of the game. The English version sadly uses a generic set of 3 dice per each of the 4 levels that both players must share to make rolls instead. The colors and types are:
- Decapitated Army: It doesn't matter many how many monsters are in the enemy dungeon or what levels they are, once their Monster Lord goes down its game over.
- Disc-One Nuke: Extremely risky, but entirely possible. Players can summon their level 4 ace monster on their first turn with a lucky enough roll. However, the early game is usually better spent building up a dungeon path so they don't get boxed in by a bunch of weak Cannon Fodder summons. As such, most players stick to playing level 1 and 2 monsters during the first couple rounds and usually don't try for the big guys until about turn five or six when they can afford to miss a few rolls.
- Fragile Speedster: The Strike Ninja. He has pretty low stats for a level 3 (20 HP and ATK and only 10 DEF) but makes up for it with his fantastic speed and evasion abilities. In addition to moving 3 spaces for a single Movement Crest he can also temporarily avoid being targeted by enemies for 3 Trap Crests. This gives him some decent survivability in bad situations and makes him great at rushing in to deliver the final blow to a weakened opponent.
- Land Mine Goes "Click!": One of the few Item dice included in the English release of the game was the Exploding Disc, a level 3 trap that dealt 20 damage to whatever monster passed through it first.
- Mighty Glacier: The Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon makes a triumphant return from Duel Monsters and is just as strong as it was in the card game with a massive health pool of 60 HP on top of attack and defense scores that allow it to one shot virtually anything in the game while tanking any attempts at reprisal. The only catch? It's a level 4 monster and can only move a single space per turn regardless of movement crests, making it highly situational unless its controller has a good strategy for negating its pathetically low speed.
- No-Sell: Certain monsters have complete immunity to certain types of attacks and effects. Buster Blader, for example, has invulnerability to Dragon class monsters and Exodia The Forbidden One can't be hit by any monster attacks save for those that have either the Flying or Tunneling ability.
- Zerg Rush: A very valid tactic is to use a bunch of level 1 monsters (the easiest to summon) to build a path quickly to the opponents monster lord and then attempt to summon a level 3/4 monster next to it for a quick kill.