Dopey68 Gerty Wouters
Let’s start at the very beginning; deck-building games. This mechanism in table-top games was first brought in to a wider audience through Dominion (but don’t forget great deck-building games like Eminent Domain or Ascension). They are all about making your deck of cards stronger by buying new cards and trashing those cards that might slow your deck down.
After deck-building games, cube-building games were introduced. Almost the same principle, but instead of cards, coloured cubes are used (Automobiles from publisher AEG is one of my favourite). The German publisher DLP surprised us a couple of years ago with the game Orleans in which pool-building was the core-mechanism. In this game tokens are being used. AEG was really on track by inventing the mechanism of Card Crafting in the game Mystic Vale, whereby you create your own card, step-by-step, by sleeving them up with stronger and better abilities. Three abilities will fill one sleeve.
Now it is 2017 and the designers from Lillibelud surprised us with (almost) something new: Dice Crafting in their latest game Dice Forge
(I say almost new because in 2014 the game Rattlebones was published with a similar mechanism, I have not played this so I can’t really compare them with each other).
In Dice Forge, you have to upgrade your dice by replacing the sides of your two dice with improved sides. Though there are more games in which you can adjust your dice (Castles of Burgundy or Alien Frontiers to name two of my favourite ones), these adjustments are for a single use only. In Dice Forge you can upgrade your dice permanently. By upgrading your dice, it will be easier to earn points, gold or resources.
In Dice Forge the goal of the game is very simple and straightforward: the player with the highest score wins the game. But how do you acquire that highest score? Ok, let’s go find out.
Dice Forge is played over 10 very short and quick rounds (9 rounds when playing with 2 players). During a round all players roll their 2 dice simultaneously. The dice you start the game with are all equal to each other: one of the dice has 5 sides which earn you 1 gold (money) and 1 side which gains you 1 red resource (representing the power of the sun). The other die has 4 sides with gold, 1 green for 2 victory points and 1 with a blue resource (representing the strength of the moonlight).
Though green will earn you in-game points, this one is not shown on the basic die. You have to gain green-sides during the game. Thus, take my advice: don’t wait too long; the game ends before it even starts.
Oh btw., forget about the sun and moon stuff, there are just there for the theme given to this game, which I won’t point out to you. You can do that for yourself if you feel the urge to.
Besides the 2 dice every player receives a personal player board which shows 4 tracks on which you keep track of the resources, the gold, and the points you earn during the game. The green track is divided in “single numbers” and “ten folds”. All players put one of the cubes of their chosen colour on the zero spot of each track. These tracks run from 0 to 12. If during the game you gain more resources than you can place, you only gain that as much resources as you can move your marker by. There is a workaround though by extending these tracks!
Furthermore, there is a central board which shows the round marker, a starting place for the players token (which in this game come not as meeples or mini’s but as good old fashioned wooden tokens!) and along the side 15 spots for the cards which can be gained. Cards are placed face-up, there will be as many cards available as there are players and it is allowed to obtain duplicate cards and by doing so, its benefits.
Those benefits are either victory points at the end of the game, special abilities, or a way to obtain one of the stronger sides to upgrade your dice with.
How is Dice Forge played?
As already mentioned, all players roll their dice simultaneously. After rolling the dice every player adjusts their resources, gold or vp track equal to the outcome of the throw. After adjusting the tracks only the active player is allowed to take 1 other action. There are 2 actions to choose from:
Either you go the market place and buy as many new sides for you dice as possible. New sides can only be paid with gold and it is not allowed to buy 2 same (new) sides in 1 turn. Or you take an action on the general board, by choosing this one the active player moves its token to one of the 15 spots, pays the resources (blue and/or red) and takes the card adjacent to that spot. The card can be either played directly (at the moment you bought it), or only once at a moment that suites you best or multiple times depending of the symbol on the card.
Some of the abilities are: “roll your dice a second time”, “when you gain 1 gold, gain another one”, “go to the market and buy (if possible) a new side for one of your dice”. The costs of the cards all depends of the strength of the shown ability.
When a player chooses a spot that’s already taken by one of the other players that player will be bumped back to the players ensemble spot, that player by the way is granted a consolation price: it will be allowed to throw its dice again and by doing so be able to gain some more resources, gold or victory points.
Players don’t have to move: so if in the previous round the active player choose to buy a card and decides to buy the same card again he can do so without moving (only if he was not bumped of-course) .
End of the game:
When the marker went back from 10 to 0 the game ends. Now all players count their victory points on the green track, on their cards and if any, adjust their end-of-game victory points through the abilities on the cards.
Dice Forge might be a simple game to play, meaning the rules are pretty easy and clear: you throw your dice, adjust the track and if you are the active player choose 1 of the actions.
But don’t be mistaken by its simplicity. Just like a game as Dominion you will ask yourself over and over again: are my two dice well balanced enough?
And besides that: it is you who decides of you would like to gain a lot of gold, or that you aim for maybe a large victory by upgrading your dice with a lot of green!
But don’t hesitate too long about what strategy you will use, cause (as already mentioned) the games lasts only for 10 quick short rounds. And in the shortness of the actual game-play lies a bit of a negative issue: the time to set-up (and ‘breakdown’) the game is almost equal to the gameplay and that is a pity cause Dice Forge can be a fine filler-game (well that’s what I experienced while playing it only with 2 players).
Dice Forge is truly an amazing enjoyable game (the market is truly beautiful designed) and might be even more enjoyable by adding new cards (cause after a couple of plays you might get a bit bored by playing the same cards over and over again). So yes, new cards please in a very near future. Dice Forge is certainly a keeper in our collection. Oh, and if the fiddling with the sides of the dice might have kept you away from it: I was also not so keen when I saw people fiddling around with the dice but believe me if even I can handle it you certainly will.
I would like to end my review with a quote form Richard ‘Radho’ Ham which catches the essence of this game perfect:
“ It’s fun to roll, re-roll and re-roll these dice, they are my dice! I crafted and forged these dice!
May the Dice-Forge be with you!
- Last edited Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:43 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:13 am
I believe the basic die with the moon on it also has a 2VP face on it. The other die has just one sun face on it...so I believe you have an error in your description of the starting faces.
- Last edited Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:38 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:36 pm
Dopey68 Gerty Wouters
Read it all once, twice etc. but still an error overlooked. Corrected. Thanks!!