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Subject: My initial review of Dungeon Dice rss

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I happened to find the game, "Dungeon Dice" through various links on BGG. I spent a couple weeks researching the game, watching the few videos there was, and reading everything I could find on the game. Including every update on the kickstarter page. I noticed that artfully Potluck games campaigned for a LOT of money. The kickstarter campaign was very intelligently run. Smartly written, and always tempting backers to spend just a little more. ...Anyone who can grab nearly $140,000.00 from the hands of gamers who already have thousands of choices for their dollar deserved a look.

So, albeit after the kickstarter campaign ended, I dove in and bought it all. I just came back from my first game at the local game store with 3 other never-played-it players.

FIT AND FINISH OF PRODUCT: B

There is bad and good. I'll get the bad out of the way first as it's not all that bad to begin with. The bags. Now, these are not cheap tyvek bags. And they will stand up to multiple playings. But I'd rather pay two or three dollars more to at least have the storage bag a better quality. First impressions are huge, and though the dice bags are adequate, the big black storage bag feels a bit cheap. They do offer an upgrade for 10.00. I wish they would somehow get the price down and just make the upgraded storage bag standard. Presentation is almost always underrated.

That being said, the rest of the components were top quality. As far as dice go, these dice were fantastic. Clean, colorful, deliberately and thoughtfully colored so they are easy to segregate.

The instruction book was EXCELLENT! Whoever did the work on this needs a raise. The four of us sat down with a remedial knowledge of the game and were able to successfully play a game with just the rule book. Another vastly underrated aspect of independent games is the rule book. I loathe going to forums to have basic rules clarified. That was not an issue with Dungeon Dice. My one complaint was that there were two rule books. One for the newer dice. It would be more efficient if both books were lumped into one. Especially since you need both of them throughout the game. I'd rather have one rule book containing information that wasn't relevant to my game if I didn't have certain expansions than needing both. Again, this is a small gripe.


GAME MECHANICS: A

The meat and potatoes of the game is the game itself. Right? Well I had a blast. I do have one complaint, but it's unavoidable due to the nature of the game. That complaint is that the dice are all so varied in their ability, powers, uses, symbols, etc. that you need to reference the rule book every single time you get a monster, artifact, spell, creature, etc. This is because they all are unique. If this was a card game there would be text on the card. But it's not so you need a crib sheet. I'm sure a few repeated playings will allow one to commit most, if not all, of these things to memory. So although it did slow down out first playthrough, it was necessary. It's these many variances that give the game a richness and depth...so we happily read the rules with anticipation and eagerness each and every roll.

Though the game is "just dice" there is a lot behind these dice (not just literally pages of accompanying text). The battle phase is a LOT of fun. It's not yahtzee...it's not just a matter of rolling and comparing numbers. There are lots of modifiers to the battle. Potions, curses, re-rolls, abilities, artifacts. It sounds complicated, but it's very simple. This process allows for a very high replay value. The same scenario, with the same dice, will play out many different ways each time you were to play it through.

The victory conditions are varied which again, keeps players watching many aspects of their opponent's game. As that old saying goes, "there's a lot of different ways to get the ball into the end zone" applies here.

Without going into detail, the game's rules are simple, it's the different dice and their effects on the game that add complexity.

One aspect of the game that really ramps up the action is the social interaction between players. If you've ever played simple games like "RISK" or "MONOPOLY" you might remember some heated arguments in those games. Backstabbing, favoritism, bargaining and bartering. Alliances are made, real life friendships are tested...over a game. If you like that attribute of a game you'll love Dungeon Dice. Dungeon Dice encourages bartering, assistance, and player interference. Not just with rules, but even with specific dice. There are no hard-set rules. It's very much "if you help me I'll do this." It can be anything from "get me a Coke" to "We'll roll a die, 1-4 you get the treasure, 5-6 I get it." And then you can bicker over why your odds are more favorable. Etc. Unlike RISK, deals are binding. This will save a lot of real life friendships.

FUN FACTOR: A

Is this game for everyone? No. But neither is Magic, Dominion, Warhammer, Monopoly, Battleship...all these games are time tested favorites destined to have their own chapter in the big book of gaming. But I don't play any of them. In spite of that, if this is the kind of game that interests you, then it's an A for sure. Much in the way all of the above games are an A for their respective fans.

POST MORTEM

Our game ended and all four of us had a blast. The game is ready for expansions and I see there are three on their way. Introducing not just new monsters, spells, etc. but new dice with new mechanics. This is great news.

I look back now on that kickstarter page and it's a sincere pleasure for me to report that this game is a home run. My 12 year old son picked it right up. My wife, who would rather bask in the sun than play a game, can be coaxed into this game. The game has a beginning, a middle, and an end and each phase is enjoyable.

The game is dice - all dice, but there is a subtle strategy to it that, at first glance, might not even be noticeable. There are enough critical decisions in a game that the player who makes the most correct decisions has a decided advantage over the player that does not. That is to say that luck, although never a bad thing, is not the biggest determining factor in victory.

My one last note on this game is that, though it plays fine as a two player game, it really does work better with more players. 4 to 5 is optimal. Specifically because of the social aspect of the game.

CONCLUSION:

I'm all in. I love the game. It's very easy to get people playing - most people love dice. And to see a bunch of dice that have a purpose beyond just a number is pretty cool. I recently bought the luxury bags as I'm in this for the long haul. Bring on the expansions! How do I get to be a playtester?

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Martin Gallo
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I agree that it is a fun game and that having to "constantly" reference the rule book to play is a nuisance. My one complaint is that the game did not come with any sort of player aids (one for monsters, one for equipment, etc.). I am thinking about trying to throw together some cards for each die so that new players are not inundated with information.
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martimer wrote:
I agree that it is a fun game and that having to "constantly" reference the rule book to play is a nuisance. My one complaint is that the game did not come with any sort of player aids (one for monsters, one for equipment, etc.). I am thinking about trying to throw together some cards for each die so that new players are not inundated with information.


Brilliant! That's a great idea. There should be a quick reference sheet for the dice. And one sheet with every new expansion. Great idea and this almost seems like an oversight on Potluck's behalf. It is in the rulebook(s), but a sheet would be great. Though a public PDF would probably be more than adequate.
 
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Vincent White
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I too also love the game and think they did a great job. The dice are very well made.

One issue is starting out, some may feel like they get a bad draw (2 shields or gray equipment) when starting, but the expansion is said to offer a mulligan for everyone.
Set aside the equipment dice or die you don't want then draw again for the final time. After everyone had their mulligan if they wanted one then all set aside equipment goes back in the bag...That should fix the issue of anyone feeling they were set up for failure.

Now I can't wait for some EPIC die in the expansion...I want to fight some large BOSSES!!!

Great game.
 
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vinniebrasco wrote:
I too also love the game and think they did a great job. The dice are very well made.

One issue is starting out, some may feel like they get a bad draw (2 shields or gray equipment) when starting, but the expansion is said to offer a mulligan for everyone.
Set aside the equipment dice or die you don't want then draw again for the final time. After everyone had their mulligan if they wanted one then all set aside equipment goes back in the bag...That should fix the issue of anyone feeling they were set up for failure.

Now I can't wait for some EPIC die in the expansion...I want to fight some large BOSSES!!!

Great game.


"Mulligan" would be a great rule for the game's beginning. There is still that chance that you're stunted in the beginning, but it's a good start. In fact, from here on out we will use that mulligan rule for starting items. Since we have only played a few games we have still yet to see most of the artifacts or items. Just haven't played it enough to see what is best.

My son, who I generally get to play a game at least once a night, loves this game. I do notice that with a two player game it is mathematically impossible to get to level six as someone would have 4 fame by then on trophies alone.

Two player games are fun, heck you could even play solo just try to get some game experience, but with a two player game the social component of the game is obviously reduced considerably. In a 4 or 5 player game the social part of the game is huge. Games can be won or lost on good deals between players. The two player game plays the same, but that large component of trying to balance other opponents out is absent.

In one recent game we had one guy at three fame rather quickly. So the game turned into a "we all win if player X loses!" So it became 3 on 1. A race for one of the three of us to get 4 fame before Captain Blowhard could win. ....Alas, Captain Blowhard won, pumped his chest, and we all had a big laugh. ...That's what makes the multi-player games so much fun. The strategies, winning conditions, and interaction between players is big. ...I'm tempted to say the game might even be more fun with 6 or more players. Would have to playtest it, but with say 6 or 7 players you might raise the fame needed for a win and go from there. Lot of players would make level 6.
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Skaak
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Maddest Hatter wrote:
There should be a quick reference sheet for the dice.


I thought so, too:

Icon quick reference (by timing)

Maddest Hatter wrote:
with a two player game the social component of the game is obviously reduced considerably. In a 4 or 5 player game the social part of the game is huge. Games can be won or lost on good deals between players. The two player game plays the same, but that large component of trying to balance other opponents out is absent.


We've found the same thing in my household. Three player games have all been a blast because even if your starting draw is terrible, someone who is also behind will team up with you to defeat the bad monsters. Our two player games, though, have devolved basically down to luck only because neither of us is willing to help the other since a single die can make such a big difference. Because it's so luck based, some of the equipment thus becomes vastly overpowered (my first game I started with a bow, then lucked into drawing the bow artifact; basically no contest). This also results in a lot of fleeing and healing, which is boring to play.

I like the idea of a mulligan. That would help a bit to get everyone on the same footing initially.
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Donn Hardy
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The latest update had two different versions of the quick reference sheet. Skaak's was one of the two.

Also, Potluck has revealed that there will be a Mulligan rule in the expansion. Essentially, you may set aside any of your starter blue dice and then replace them. All of the set aside dice are returned to the bag after everyone has drawn their replacements.
 
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donnbobhardy wrote:
The latest update had two different versions of the quick reference sheet. Skaak's was one of the two.

Also, Potluck has revealed that there will be a Mulligan rule in the expansion. Essentially, you may set aside any of your starter blue dice and then replace them. All of the set aside dice are returned to the bag after everyone has drawn their replacements.


We have implemented the Mulligan rule already. In hindsight this seems like a common sense solution to a the problem.
 
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Have had many more playings since writing this review. Having become familiar with the rules and some of the strategies I'll post a second review in a few days.

I can say that, after only a handful of plays, most of the icons/abilities are easily memorized.

More to come...
 
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Nick Hughes
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There is also the Quick Symbol guide on Potluck Games' website that may be of help once you have played a few times and just need a gentle reminder.

Jsut got my KS Package today (being downunder delivery lags a little) looking forward to cracking thisopen with my son.

Great review.
 
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Brian Cherry
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I got mine in the mail yesterday.

My first thought was, "wow, this is a terrible instruction manual", so I was surprised you liked it so much. To each their own, I suppose. I Thought they relied too heavily on examples, and not enough on rules and timing.

The dice-rolling is fun, but monotonous. There is little sense of adventure. You pick out a dice, and usually run away the first few times. There is no penalty, so the first person to score a point is usually the one draws the low monster first. I think 2-player is (borderline) broken, for that reason.

The game could have been more exciting with some sense of dungeon exploring. A party of adventurers faces a party of monsters. Or if the game had been designed so you didn't need to run away so much.

I think the dice are great, but all in all, this feels like a do-it-yourself kit, as in "here are some dice, go figure out how to have fun with them". So I think the components are great, but the game not-so-much.

Cthulu was a nice throw in, but couldn't he have some rules? Or enough Monster power dice to play with him? For that matter, I was disappointed with my "random" potion die - it turned out to be another key.


Its an early impression, but so far not a great one.
 
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Skaak
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the1jugg wrote:
The game could have been more exciting with some sense of dungeon exploring. A party of adventurers faces a party of monsters. Or if the game had been designed so you didn't need to run away so much.


This is, I think, intentional. Frankly, I'm starting to consider this game as requiring 3+ players; yes, you can play it with two, but it really cuts down on the inter-player diplomacy which is where Dungeon Dice really shines.

Things that I love:

- Now that I know the icons (and there are quick references available), teaching the game to new players is a snap. You practically don't have to explain anything other than how equipment works (the handedness + armor thing really throws people off; it's a shame that the armor symbol is a type of armor that requires an arm in real life), because you can just play a turn and then they get what's going on.

- The game is super portable thanks to being stored in bags (makes it a pain to store on the shelf, though; guess we can't have it both ways).

- The theme is almost incidental once you get into the game; the real fun of the game is making deals and backstabbing people. An element of party-based dungeon crawling would make this a completely different game, and very dependent on theme (and thus a turn-off for people who like fantasy less than me; the current balance between goofy fantasy that's basically mocking common fantasy gaming tropes and diplomacy-oriented gameplay is really accessible because it allows people who don't like fantasy to mock it, and the rest of us to secretly enjoy fighting off slimes and goblins)
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Peter Mr
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Maybe the more appropriate name would be "Fantasy Arena Dice".

But I'm still reading the rules and memorizing the effects. The manual is horrible, the worst manual I've ever read (sorry Potluck). But some people have said here in the forum that once you understand the game well, then it's just fun and joy. I hope so!
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Brian Cherry
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I think it could have been as simple as.... run away, and lose a die (eg. dropped something)



 
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Jonathan Franklin
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Do you think the handedness could be resolved with little player mats that have a figure with squares that can hold dice such as weapons and armor? Might also bring out the theme without taking up too much space (could be the size of the manual).
 
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grandslam wrote:
Do you think the handedness could be resolved with little player mats that have a figure with squares that can hold dice such as weapons and armor? Might also bring out the theme without taking up too much space (could be the size of the manual).


I've been thinking about making a printable playmat, because I think you're right that it would make things easier; need to just find the time and do it.
 
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Maddest Hatter wrote:

I do notice that with a two player game it is mathematically impossible to get to level six as someone would have 4 fame by then on trophies alone.


Not quite true. We've played several two player games where the win included a fame point from being level 6, and usually another one or two points from artifacts.
 
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Donn Hardy
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tale wrote:
Maddest Hatter wrote:

I do notice that with a two player game it is mathematically impossible to get to level six as someone would have 4 fame by then on trophies alone.


Not quite true. We've played several two player games where the win included a fame point from being level 6, and usually another one or two points from artifacts.


I very rarely get trophies when I play. I just don't roll them very often.
 
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