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Subject: Experiential Review of Dungeon Dice rss

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David Di Muro
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This review is about what makes this game great and what makes it weak. It looks at the best modes of play and what to avoid. I have been playing this game for almost two years now, on and off every week. So that says something in itself - but it has also allowed me to notice when it works well and when it doesn't.

I will not talk in depth about components, mechanics or strategy. That is covered extensively on the KS page, game rules and the forums.

Here goes.

This game is a rip roaring great time when played with 3 or 5 players.

The reason I say it works well with 3 or 5 players is the dynamics with those numbers create enough imbalance to ensure you always get support from one of the other players when trying to negotiate help facing a monster.

With two players if one of the players gets a really lucky draw or two, they will tear away with the lead and unless luck alone decides to even it out, you will not catch up.

With three players there is always two people willing to join forces to catch up to the leader. So any luck which sways the lead one way or another is mitigated by table politics.

With four players, about half way through the game, the "loser" falls so far behind that the second and third place players see them as purely a liability and will not help. So it effectively becomes a three player game with a fourth player just trailing along for the show. Baring a very lucky draw.

With five players the fourth and fifth player always team up to catch up so the issues with the four player game go away. Having said that it does become a 2 hour game with five players.

This game is complicated.

You have to play with rules reference and have a final rules adjudicator. If you have rules lawyers in your group, make it clear the call you make stands and for them to note it as the way the rule is played going forward. This game can lead to arguments if the players take winning very seriously because it is easy to make a mistake when interpreting rules. Especially the negotiations. We don't need to write agreements down, but I can imagine certain tables disagreeing on what was agreed upon during negotiations.

To be honest, I think you can only play this game with light hearted players who like having fun and not with players who play to win and want every play to be precise and error free. And not take things personal or get angry when the dice did not go in their favor.

Classic scenario: you are two points from winning. You draw a black monster (worth two points). You are strong enough to take it on your own. So you do and you are beating the monster's attack level. The other two players start throwing everything they have at you to stop you from winning. As a smart player you have accounted for this and have plenty of potions, spells and familiars to counteract their interference. You fend off every single thing they can throw at you. They only have one spell left and decide to try and toad you which is a 17% chance of succeeding. They roll and succeed and you lose the fight and then the rest of the game.

Sometimes the dice will hate you and that is ok. If you don't like that kind of mechanic then you are too strategic for this kind of game. This game is tactical, not strategic. You have to respond to the randomness, you can't plan for the bigger picture - because you just don't know what is going to happen.

This game is great value.

Sure it is not cheap in dollar value, but no other game in my collection gets as much table time as this. Why? It plays in an hour (perfect for work lunch breaks), there is zero downtime, and it encourages jovial politics and psychological warfare. And every game is different from the last due to the variety and randomness.

I own deep strategy games, ccgs, kids games, war games etc and I love those games too - but they don't get as much play because or set-up/tear-down, time and niche appeal - whereas Dungeon Dice seems to appeal to a very broad group - nearly everyone who has played it, bar the few who hate the negotiating and randomness, absolutely loves playing it again. And since it's just dice you can play it anywhere without fear of cardboard getting wet or beer spilled on it. (btw it's a great drinking game - when you play the 7 fame point version - you take a shot every time you get a fame point - LOL)

As a father of two this game teaches kids politics, negotiating and tactical resource management. I'm sure it also helps with memory retention since it's all iconography and you have to be able to link that abstraction to actual rules.

I hope my experiential review gives you an idea of what it is like to play this game. You should have a pretty clear picture by now if it sounds like the type of game you would want to buy.

Personally I love this game.
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