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Subject: 7.5 out of 10. A decent co-operative dice game! rss

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Ian K
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I like co-operative games far more than I like competitive games these days. Sure, I still am happy to play competitive but I much prefer working with my friends than against them.

And as my collection of co-operative games grew, I slowly began to realise that they were all either card games or big board games. There were no dice games. So I did a tiny bit of research and bought a co-operative dice game. I won't tell you which one it was because I didn't like it.

But this stoked my curiosity and I started a lazy quest (“lazy” because I'd only bother with it once every few months or so, if that) to find a decent co-operative dice game. I've reviewed them all for this site and the scores have ranged from 3 out of 10 to 6 out of 10.

And then I got Eight Epics. Would this be the co-operative dice game that finally could do better than 6 out of 10??

Well …


Synopsis

I've just re-read the back of the box to remind myself of the setting of the game to write this “synopsis” section and as I put it down and turned back to the keyboard, I realised I'd already forgotten it. Something about “destruction” and “the end of the world”. I think.

Basically, it's a standard set up of big bad creatures being opposed by the players/heroes (8 of them, hence the game's name). If you want a detailed story-led experience, this game does not offer that ...


Gameplay

… what the game does offer, however, is actually rather good.

As well as being 8 Heroes, there are also 8 Villains (not including a special “scenario-only” one). 6 of these Villains are randomly chosen each game and the first enters play and has to be overcome before you move on to the next one. Once you have beaten the first four, the last two enter play at the same time and most be faced together. If you can do that, you win the game.

You start with all 8 Heroes in play, regardless of how many players there are. Each player gets one Hero to use and the others are placed in a common pool. Each turn, you may either select your own Hero or one from this common pool. You then have access to that Hero's special text for your turn. Using this special text, you then try and put as much of a dent into the Villain as you can.

Each Villain has a series of challenges on them that require you to roll specific results on the dice. These challenges can be anything from “roll 2 dice and get a score of 3 or less” to “roll 4 of the same number” or even “use 6 dice to get a run of 1 to 6”. Once all challenges on a Villain are beaten, the Villain is defeated and the next one enters play.

And that's pretty much it! The text on the Heroes and the difference between the various challenges on the Villains are where the variety lies in the base game. And given the unpredictable nature of the dice, this is pretty much all it needs. Each of the challenges sounds very easy in theory – roll one dice and get a 1 or less? Easy! But then you roll a 6. And your free re-rolls don't give you that 1 either. So do you end your turn and let another Hero have a go? But each Hero can only be used once per Villain so what if the next Hero can't do it either? You could lose a life point to get some more re-rolls or to use the ability of the current Hero. And if the current Hero's ability is to flip any dice to it's opposite face and you just rolled 6 … well every good gamer knows that a 1 is opposite a 6, right? So do you spend life points on it?

The manipulation of the dice using the re-rolls and the abilities of the Heroes is where most of the gameplay lies. Without these it would just be “roll some dice and see what happens” but with these you do have some decision making at times and it can occasionally require some serious table talk between you all to decide on the best course of action.

The game is good and plays well but it is obviously limited. Eight Heroes which are in play every game and six of the eight Villains used every game means that there isn't a lot of variety other than that which the dice offers. Given that this is a dice-centric game, this should be enough for several games at least. But just in case you do get bored of the base game, there are two variants included as well. I won't go in to too much detail other than to say that one of them offers a lot more variety by introducing new cards with additional challenges/rewards on them but the other is an oddity that sees you starting with one less Hero and having to “find” her and make her join your team. It's a bit disjointed and doesn't really do much other than introduce a curiosity you might play once or twice. But it's something else to change up the gameplay so no real complaints.


Presentation

You've got some red dice and you've got some black dice. What more do you want? They're dice! (And if you are picky enough to object, you can always substitute in your own six-sided chance cubes from your personal collection!)

Away from the dice, the rules are well written and clearly understood. The artwork on the cards is all grand too.

For me, nothing is ugly and nothing gets in the way of the gameplay so I have no complaints!


Summary

A decent co-operative dice game!

It plays well and the tactical decisions you might have to make after each roll extends the re-playability as the way you deal with four 4s could be quite different from how you deal with four 6s in another game!

7.5 out of 10. A quick but tactical dice game, recommended as a nice way to start an evening's gaming before you break open the table-filling board game.




Note: I have learned from bitter experience with this site that I need to stress that all reviews – including this one – are entirely matters of opinion. I am not claiming that anything I have said in this review is fact, it is all entirely my opinion and I am sure that many others have different opinions. If you wish to reply with yours, I welcome it. I enjoy discussion but will not respond kindly to aggressive replies.
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Katrina
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Could you explain the variants a bit more please, if you think they would apply to a solo game? The Kanai Factory Lim. Ed. rulebook does not include them. (It includes variants to increase or decrease difficulty but no event cards.)
 
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Ian K
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PezKat wrote:
Could you explain the variants a bit more please, if you think they would apply to a solo game? The Kanai Factory Lim. Ed. rulebook does not include them. (It includes variants to increase or decrease difficulty but no event cards.)


Woah, sorry! I have no idea how I have only just seen your question, Katrina, many apologies for not replying sooner!

The first variant is called "Events Variant" and there are 10 Event cards included in the game. Each time a new Threat is revealed, you also reveal a new Event and apply its (negative) effects. Then, when the Threat is defeated you gain the Event and any player may, at a later point, discard it to gain its Reward.
So, for example, the Event called Seeds Of Distrust has the following text: "Effect: Avatars may only use their powers once per turn. Reward: Use the power of the active Avatar at no cost."
So when that Event comes out, then for the entire time you are fighting the Threat its Effect text applies. Once the Threat is defeated, the players take the Event and may, on a future Threat, discard it to get the Reward text.
There are 10 Events in total for normal Event Variant.

The second variant is called "The Lost Witch" and adds to the Event Variant.
During game Set-Up, the Ophinia Avatar is removed from the game and two copies of The Lost Witch Event are shuffled into the Event deck. Play then starts with 7 Avatars as if you were playing a standard Event Variant.
If a copy of The Lost Witch Event is drawn, the current Threat is removed from play and a special Threat called Witch Trials replaces it.
If you defeat Witch Trials (or after the 4th round of the game if none of the first 4 Events drawn are a copy of The Lost Witch), then the Ophinia Avatar comes into play as a common Avatar.
That's it.

As I said in my original review, the Event Variant is fun but I found The Lost Witch Variant to be more of a curiousity that you might try once or twice but doesn't really add much to the game.

Hope that helps and apologies again for taking so long to reply!
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