Saturday Morning Gaming: Throwing Dice
I love getting the opportunity to play new board games and I played a new one last week that would be perfect for family night if you’ve got young kids (let’s say around 6 or so). The game is called “Dice Forge“.
It’s a deck-building game, but it’s a deck building game with dice.
The basic theme is that you are an aspiring hero in a setting similar to that of Ancient Greek Mythology. You are going to try to accomplish something similar to the tasks of Hercules and you’re going to do this by rolling dice.
The best part is that everybody rolls dice every turn. On your turn you can SPEND what you’ve rolled… but you roll stuff and accumulate what you’ve rolled every single turn. (So if you are the person who goes last in any given round in a game with four players, you’ve got four rolls’ worth of stuff to spend. This is a game that rewards not going first and that’s an interesting mechanic to watch kids try to wrap their heads around.)
Each die has six faces, one die has five 1 gold faces and 1 “sun” point. The other die has four 1 gold faces and 1 “moon” point and 1 face with 2 victory points.
You use the gold to buy stuff and you use the sun and/or moon points to commit feats and, at the end of the game, you count up victory points and the person with the most victory points is the winner.
What’s kinda cool is that the stuff you can buy primarily includes dice faces. So, if you have enough gold, you can swap out a 1 gold dice face with a face that has something else. Like, maybe a 4 gold face (or a 6 gold face). A face that gives sun points. A face that gives moon points. A face that gives you a choice between sun points, moon points, and gold.
So you roll your die and add what you get to your pool. When it’s your turn within the round, you can spend what you’ve got and either buy something with your gold OR you can spend sun/moon points on committing a feat. Feats are cool… some of them give victory points alone, some of them give you a couple more dice rolls to add stuff to your bank, some of them have especially strong dice faces (for example, a 3X dice face that gives you 3X whatever you roll on the other die). One of them gives you an extension for your banks so that you’ve got a higher cap on what you can accumulate. One of them has your opponents roll their dice and they REMOVE what they roll from their own banks.
Now this is the part where it gets tricky. There are only 10 rounds. You can only spend what you’ve rolled 10 times. And victory is decided by victory points… not by the amount of gold you have (nor does the amount of gold you have at the end of the game give you victory points). So you’ve got to buy the stuff that will give you the stuff that will give you the most victory points and figuring that out is a lot of fun.
The store with the dice faces has a ton of different ones (and many of the more expensive ones are unique… so if you get a particular one, it’ll prevent someone else from getting it too) which means that each game you play is going to be different (I mean, unless you all roll the exact same things and buy the exact same things every time) and that gives the game some serious replay value.
When I played for the first time, I made the mistake of over-valuing gold and under-valuing sun and moon points. So the game teaches that you need to have long-term goals in addition to short-term goals and that can be fun to watch the kiddos wrap their heads around too.
And, hey, you’re going to roll dice 30 times (at least!) if you’re playing with 3 players. If you play with 4 players, you’re going to roll your dice 40 times. If you’ve got kids who love to roll dice, this will be a game that will make dice-rolling even more exciting for them because they will get to build the dice that they’re rolling themselves (and the game teaches basic probability better than anything short of a malicious D&D session).
The downside: I wouldn’t play it with adults. I played it once and I thought “this is the most clever game I’ve played in a long time… I can’t wait to see what their sophomore effort looks like because, seriously, I never need to play this one again.” (But I wouldn’t mind playing it again if I were looking for a game to teach to some kids who were only familiar with the Unos and the Monopolies.) The other downside is that there are approximately one jillion pieces and they are very, very likely to fly around while playing the game. (When changing out the dice faces in my game, for example, I ended up with a face falling on the floor twice.) If you’ve got a family that bumps the table hard at least one game session, reconcile yourself to spending ten minutes putting everything back in its place.
But the upside is that you’re going to roll dice a LOT and you’re going to be counting a LOT and, as such, it’s an educational game without feeling, for a second, like something that is making you think and learn.
So… what are you playing?
(Featured image is Dice Forge promotional art.)