In Dice Forge you are participating in a tournament put on by the gods to test heroes, the victor being rewarded with the title of demigod. By using relics and creatures you gain from visiting the gods personal celestial islands as well as dice that you forge as you go, you work towards your victory… or succumb to defeat.
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2-4 players, 40 minutes, ages 10+
2-4 players, 30-60 minutes, ages 8+
I would recommend this as a family or casual game for those who enjoy the randomness of dice. I do not think many seasoned gamers would get much play out of it, unless they really enjoy the dice-building mechanic and rolling dice.
In the Box
- 1 islands board
- 4 hero boards
- 20 resource cubes
- 108 die faces
- 1 temple board & sleeve
- 8 divine dice
- 98 heroic feat cards (4 each of 24 types)
- 8 single-use tokens
- 4 chest tiles
- 4 hammer tokens
- 8 100 victory point tokens
- game insert
The absolute first thing you will notice is the game insert. It is rather impressive. There is a place for every tiny thing that goes into this box, and an exploded diagram to show you how to put it all together in on the rules sheet. If you don’t like spending the time putting each item away in its special little spot, there is room for you to store baggies of items in the box, too. It is a rather wonderful insert.
The components on a whole are all of very good quality, especially at this price point. If looking at only the components, this feels like a more expensive game.
The dice that bestow your divine blessings are sturdy, and switching die faces was an easy task for everyone who played. To remove a die face you simply insert the corner of your new die face under the old one and, using it as a lever, push down until the old die face lifts up.
The cards represent heroic feats, and there are three different types. The ones with the gear have abilities that will trigger on each of your turns. Cards with a lightning bolt (or a tornado, depending on who you are – we haven’t quite figured out what that icon is supposed to be) are resolved immediately. The third type of card does nothing. It simply gives you victory points. All cards have a number of victory points in the corner which score at the end of the game.
The art is beautiful on the islands board and cards. This doesn’t quite carry over onto the temple board or hero boards, but this disparity isn’t obvious enough to detract from the game.
On your turn there are four things you may do, in order.
- Everyone receives a divine blessing (rolling both dice and receiving the resources rolled) at the beginning of everyone’s turn.
- You may call upon reinforcements by triggering your cards with the gear symbol on it, if any.
- You either perform a heroic feat by paying the resource required to take a card from the islands board, or purchase one or more die faces using gold to put on your dice.
- You may pay two sunshard to do step 3 a second time.
Play continues in this manner over nine or ten rounds, depending on the player count.
This game is fast to teach and, because everybody rolls their dice on everyone’s turns, it keeps players engaged. Because of this even my 8-year-old had his attention held throughout. There definitely isn’t time to check Facebook or text between turns.
Learning the game, however, was a bit overwhelming. The iconography is not intuitive and there was a lot of time spent in deciphering. Even after five plays I was having to refer to the player aid to figure out what cards do, and that reference isn’t quick and easy. The cards have names in the player aid, but not on the cards themselves. You have to follow the resource cost and the frustratingly subtle moon and sun shard icons to hunt the card down that you’re trying to decipher. While I appreciate the minimalist art style that they were going for, it really made set-up more difficult and detracted from gameplay.
During the game you are weighing benefits of changing out die faces versus using heroic feats to gain abilities and/or victory points. While you will be strategizing to a point, it all comes down to how you roll the dice. You may spend half the game struggling to get the resources to finally buy a particular die face, only to never have it come up in your rolls. The randomness could be frustrating to some players. That being said, you can definitely stack the rolls in your favor. Without prior knowledge in probability, it will probably take a few games to get a good feel for how best to do it.
The theme is nearly nonexistent. It is there for the art, and that is pretty much it.
Playing 2-player felt far too fast and lacking the ability to get any plan started, let alone an engine running. It just wasn’t satisfying. It is also far too much time spending on set-up and take-down to be worth the 30-minute play time with two players. That being said, my teenage daughter disagreed with me and enjoyed the 2-player version.
For the price, you get a lot of bang for your buck. The components are excellent and the art is beautiful. The dice-forging mechanic is interesting and, if you don’t mind the fiddly bits, pretty fun to play with. Engagement and lightness makes for a good family or casual game, but I wonder if it will keep the attention of more experienced gamers for long.
There are just too few choices. The entire game is roll dice, move cubes, take a card or swap a die face. Rinse. Repeat. This is absolutely fine for a family game, but when you add in the fact that you are at the complete whim of your dice rolls, it simply feels shallow. I really liked the dice-building mechanic, it just wasn’t enough to carry the rest of the game.
If there was more of a connection between the game and the theme, requiring you to truly show your heroic talents during feats, battling the monsters you get, anything like that, it may have given the game enough shape to capture my interest long term. But as it is, I was very disappointed that the story this game was supposedly trying to tell did not shine through at all in game play. If you re-read the first paragraph of this review, that sounds exciting! Unfortunately, unless you read the blurb on the player aid you would’ve never known what you were really doing in game other than the words “divine blessing” and “heroic feat,” and I think a great deal is lost because of that.
I don’t hate the game. The game is fine. The game is actually better than I thought it would be when I first looked into it. It just doesn’t have enough meat to it to keep me coming back and there is a bit of disconnect between components and amount of set-up compared to the depth of play. I will bring this game out sometimes when we need a lighter game that can be quickly taught, and we will certainly be playing it with the kids again. But this won’t be a game I bring to the table for myself very often.
Check out Dice Forge on Amazon.