Roll Your Way To Join the Gods
by Derek Funkhouser
July 21, 2017, 11:55am
Publisher: Asterion Press
Designer: Regis Bonnessee
Players: 2 – 4
Time: 40 min
Dice Forge brings to the table customizable dice in a fantasy world.
In The Box
The first thing you will notice is the insert and WOW, what an insert this is. Few games include an insert as carefully crafted and planned as Dice Forge. The rulebook describes the layout and setup/tear down instructions for each component in the game and is the only redeeming factor of the rulebook (I will explain more in my Final Thoughts).
The game includes 4 thick cardboard player boards with recessed holes for the resource cubes, 20 colored resource markers (5 of each color), 1 Island Board, 1 Sanctuary Board, 108 customizable die faces, 8 Divine Die, 4 hero pawns, 4 Hammer Tokens, 1 round and 1st player token, and 4 chest tiles.
There are a lot of components packed into this box but it stores incredibly well. Setup and tear down are a bit difficult the first few games, but the more you play, the easier it becomes; practice makes perfect!
4th Wall Break: I usually do one of two things with games I own: Pitch the insert or upgrade it. Having gone through set-up/tear-down multiple times, I can safely say that I will not be doing either of those and will keep the game as it’s packaged!
I didn’t know a lot about Dice Forge prior to seeing it on Fun Again’s weekly live-stream game night (which airs every Wednesday night from their Facebook page) but after watching them play, I was intrigued. The customize your dice mechanic is something I’ve never seen and I was interested in trying. Is this new mechanic a novelty/gimmick or is there a game hiding behind one of 2017s most creative and ambitious games? Let’s find out!
How To Play
Dice Forge is a simple game at its core. The game consists of rounds, 9 with 2 and 4 players and 10 with 3 players. During each round, each player will take 1 turn as the active player.
Here’s a breakdown of a turn:
- All players receive Divine Blessings.
- The active player may call for reinforcements
- The active player may perform an action.
- The active player may perform an extra action.
- End of the active player’s turn.
4th Wall Break: You know, keeping players invested in a game is difficult. Player’s take out their phones to text, Tweet or check Facebook. It’s hard to hold player’s attention when it’s not their turn. One of the aspects of Dice Forge I LOVED is that every player rolls their dice on everyone’s turns. This keeps players actively engaged, with very minimal downtime and subsequently no time for their handheld mistresses.
Receive Divine Blessing
Each player rolls both of their dice and places them back on their player boards. They apply the effects of their dice in the order of their choice.
Call for Reinforcements
If the active player owns a card with the cog icon, they may apply each effect once in the order of their choice.
In the picture below, on your turn, you could pay 3 Gold to gain 4 Victory Points.
Perform an Action
The active player may perform 1 of 2 actions:
1. Make an offering to the Gods
The active player takes one or more different die faces from the Sanctuary, spending the required gold for each face acquired. That player must then immediately forge any new die faces in the order of their choice.
To forge a die face, remove a die face you want to replace. Then attach the new face to the empty side of the die.
4th Wall Break: This isn't very clear in the rules but players do not move their pawns when forging die. Your pawn will never leave the Island Board. If you forge a die face, you simple pay and forge.
2. Perform a Heroic Feat
The active player chooses a heroic feat he wants to perform, moves their pawn to the corresponding portal and spends the resources indicated next to the card.
If the active player moves their hero to a portal that is occupied by another player, the other player is moved back to their starting portal and immediately receives a divine blessing; this is called ousting.
When a player performs a Heroic Feat, there are 3 different types of cards they may perform. After completing a feat, the card is placed face down into 1 of 3 piles:
- Reinforcement effects that remain active throughout the game and are activated during a player’s turn.
- Feat’s that earn victory points at the end of the game or give you a one-time use ability.
- Permanent effects that are activated throughout the game based on game conditions.
Perform an Extra Action
Once per turn, the active player may spend 2 Sun to perform an additional action, either forging a new die face or performing another heroic feat.
4th Wall Break: This is a very important strategy in the game. To maximize the efficiency of your turn, it’s important to take additional actions sometimes. It’s especially true if a player wants to forge the same die face twice on their turn. This is only possible if the player pays 2 Sun for an extra action!
End of the Active Player’s Turn
This is self-explanatory; it’s time to move to the next player! When all players have taken a turn as the active player, the round ends and a new round begins!
How To Win
At the end of the final round, the game ends. Each player adds all the laurels (victory points) from his Heroic Feat cards and his Hero Inventory together. The player with the most victory points is the winner and earns a place among the gods!
Positives and Negatives
- An insert that is well designed and carefully planned to include the base game (and hopefully future expansions).
- Engaging gameplay with minimal downtime. Players remain engaged every turn as their options for their next turn shifts with every roll of the dice.
- For its complexity, Dice Forge offers players fun decisions.
- Components are well made and the illustrations are whimsically beautiful.
- Scales well at all player counts.
- A nice mix of player interaction keeps the game exciting and interactive.
- Quick Reference sheet is a nice addition.
- The Rulebook is poorly formatted. It's a double sided, one fold sheet. It’s cluttered and can be confusing, especially for new players.
- A little short for an engine builder; players really gain momentum with a couple rounds left.
- Box cover doesn’t convey what the game is about – it’s a shame this may lead to consumers overlooking the game.
Dice Forge is a fun, light weight family game. It checks all the blocks for me when choosing a game for casual and family game nights. It plays as fluidly as one of my all time favorites, 7 Wonders while being a bit easier for new players to grasp. The illustrations are beautiful and the theme is whimsical. Dice Forge is a wonderful game that I’m happy to have in my collection and is only marred by its abstract and cluttered rulebook.
4th Wall Break: A rulebook is like a handshake; it’s the first impression you give to others and Dice Forge gives a shaky handshake at best.
Overall, the dice crafting system is hardly a gimmick. This is a game with legs to stand on and it’s an expansion away from being a truly remarkable experience. If you are looking for a fun way to spice up family game night, or to get non-gamers and casuals hooked on the hobby, you can’t do much better than Dice Forge.