One Board Family: Dice Forge Review
Your heroic feats have been noticed and you’ve been invited to a tournament in a divine realm. Only the most worthy mortal can win this tournament and become a demigod. You’ll forge dice that will give you riches and divine blessings and perform heroic feats to impress the gods…
I could keep going, but that just means it will take me longer to get to the meat of this fantastic game. The theme and backstory of Dice Forge is absurd and pointless and I’m grateful that it doesn’t stand in the way of the original mechanics that make this game so good. All you need to know going into this game is that 2 to 4 players are building dice, defeating beasts and earning Glory Points to win the game. The mechanics and presentation of this game stand so strong on their own that the “story” seems to be an after thought. Now, let me convince you why this game belongs on your game shelf.
Dice with a Twist
We’ve talked before on the fact that dice games can be tricky. Some people hate the randomness of dice while others appreciate the challenge and just have fun with it. Dice Forge puts each player in control of two dice that can be broken down and rebuilt in so many ways. I would put this game into the category of “dice crafting” games along with something like Rattlebones which Ric reviewed last year. It’s an incredibly unique mechanic and one that allows dice to become less random as you change the faces on the dice.
Each player rolls their two dice at the beginning of the round. Many times you’ll end up with some gold to spend or maybe Sun or Moon Shards to spend when performing “Heroic Feats”. Players accumulate gold to spend in the temple where the different die faces can be purchased. Libellud Games did a fantastic job of putting the control into the players hands as they save up money and spend to modify their dice. There are some genuinely tough choices and as you look at this market and decide what will give you the biggest bang for your gold.
When you purchase a new die face, you pry off the one you want to replace and snap the new one on. The quality of these dice are fantastic and feel really good. The dice are chunky and really fun to toss across the table.
Maybe you want to spend some Sun or Moon Shards that you saved up on performing Heroic Feats? This happens on the board in the middle of the table. By spending shards, you defeat different animals and creatures that give you a “reinforcement effect”. This can may allow you to roll a die again for a bonus, give you a specialty die face or let you trade gold for Glory Points. There are lots of options on the board and saving up for just the right card is really rewarding.
Players will find that having good rolls will only take you so far. Every player has a player board where they are keeping track of their progress. You can get add-ons to the board to earn points in new ways with the Blacksmith’s Hammer or extend your board with the Blacksmith’s Chest. I love that Dice Forge doesn’t force the player to play the same way each time. There is room to try new strategies each time you bring the game to the table.
SIMPLE GAMEPLAY, DEEPER STRATEGY
I’ve taught Dice Forge to both gamers and non-gamers and had a blast playing. The game has a gameplay loop that is easy to understand but there are deeper strategies that can be understood with a couple games under your belt.
When players perform Heroic Feats on the board, they place their token on a portal near that feat. If another player wants to perform this same Heroic Feat, they have to boot the other player from their spot and send them back to the starting portal. This gives the booted player a bonus that could be huge for that player. Players can sit on valuable portals for a turn or two while the rest of the players fear giving them bonus rolls of their dice. The various Heroic Feats are also limited so it means that sometimes players will have to be quick to grab the best on the board.
The more I played Dice Forge, the more I realized that this light strategy game keeps players really engaged. I love how easy the game is to teach new players because there are only a handful of actions. You’ll spend 5 minutes teaching and answering questions then you’re ready. Not to mention the fact that everyone rolls on every turn so there is no downtime.
Those Dice Forge Components. Wow!
The components in Dice Forge are absolutely amazing. I smile every time I open this box because the presentation of this game is incredible. The dice and die faces are beautifully made and you can tell they will hold up with a lot of play. The game board and cards are illustrated to slide into place and create a gorgeous layout in the middle of the table. Everything in this game fits together so well and it has a table presence that draws people in. They immediately want to know what you’re playing.
If you’ve ever played games with me, you know I’m a big fan of inserts that keep the game box organized. Dice Forge has one of the best inserts I’ve ever seen and it keeps every item in place as you store the game. The only knock I can make about the quality of the game is the fact that the player tokens are just generic wooden pawns. They look like they were borrowed from Forbidden Island and put in the box. That’s really not a huge deal.
Honestly, every time I see the price of this game and think of the quality, I’m blown away that this game is 30-something dollars.
Dice Forge is really a special game. The first time you play you’ll reference the rule book a dozen times to remind yourself what a specific symbol means. After that, everything will start to click and become second nature. I really enjoy that Dice Forge is a game that is both simple and has some hidden depth to it. This is a fantastic family game for the right age kids. Our youngest two (10 and 12) have played a couple times and really enjoyed it. It can be fun sharing strategy ideas with them and seeing them grow into this game.
The mechanics of “dice crafting” are still unique enough that Dice Forge doesn’t feel like a copy of something else in the market. The game has a style and charm to it that will ensure that it says in our game collection for a long time.
- Everything in this box is incredibly well made
- Simple gameplay with some depth
- “Dice crafting” is a really cool and unique mechanic
- Excellent family game (suggested 9+ yrs old)
- Not a game for younger kids that might lose pieces
- Lots of symbols could be overwhelming your first game or two
- Bad rolls still happen