So, at GenCon last year, I saw some friends playing this game in the hotel. After trying it, I decided to pick it up as well.
First impression: Being a fan of dice games, I was quickly interested in this game, especially one as simple and quick as this. The components looked good, if not great, and effective at what they were there for. I was also surprised at the ease of learning to play.
Time required: I have a tendency to gravitate towards larger and longer games, so a faster game like this is something I don't do much. In about an hour, you can play a few smaller games of God Dice.
God Dice can be adjusted to whatever time you want to put into it. There are a total of 12 character cards (2 each of 6 different characters). These can be divided however you wish. We have played 3 player games with one card each that took about 8 minutes, and then played 2 player games where we each have one of each character. This took about 30-45 minutes. This is probably one of the only games in my closet that we can bust out for a few minute game, and then play it the next day for over an hour.
Components: While the components aren't the greatest thing you will ever see, they definitely don't fall into the worthless category. The character cards are on Ok stock and the dice are pretty solid, but the life markers and symbol markers leave a little bit to be desired, being little cardboard circles with images on them. They are also small enough to worry about small children or animals getting hold of them, at which point, you will probably never seem the marker again.
Layout: This is really only about the cards, the dice and markers get laid out however you wanna set them. The cards are set up in a straightforward manner. Players who are all about the art will be rather disappointed, as the art is facedown until the character dies, at which point, you are probably too mad to care. The side of the card with the game play information is set up neatly and is very organized and easy to read. It is clear what symbols are required and what happens when those symbols come up. The only complaint I have here is that when 5 wilds are rolled, some people don't realize that they can only choose one of the solid color attacks, and not the special one, but that is very minor.
Game play: This is the meat of the game. First, players choose how many characters each person will get. Then dice are rolled to determine order (each player rolls the pile once and the player with the most yellow symbols goes first). The first player picks one character, then the next, and so on, until each player has the correct number of characters.
Now for actual combat. It starts with the player attacking the player to their left (this can change, and often does). The attacker picks the attacking character, while the defender picks the character to take the damage (hopefully). The "God Dice" are rolled, to see if either character is favored. This mechanic is a good idea, but maybe wasn't implemented in the best way possible. There are 7 different things that could happen, assuming that the attacking and defending characters are different, otherwise, these dice have very little meaning, but some.
1. Dice are rolled and both are showing the defending character. Attacker loses their turn. This works, unlucky, but it works.
2. Dice both show attacking character. This is my only complaint. This is too overpowered. It is rare, but it's caused games to last 5 seconds before. I'm not kidding, 1 vs 1 game and the other guy didn't even have his character set up yet.
3. Dice both show a dead character the attacker controls. The attacker may give up his attacking turn to bring back the character from the dead at full health. This mechanic works sometimes. When the cleric or hero come back at full, it's rather annoying for everyone, but if it's the assassin, the attacker often doesn't even bother losing the turn. It does allow players to come back at a critical time if they are lucky though.
4. Both dice show one character not involved. Play reverses. I like this part. It often gets annoying attacking the same player over and over. It also allows you to get revenge on the person who was beating your guy to death.
5. One die shows attacker, none show defender. Attacker may re-roll the combat dice once at the beginning. In the little time this comes up, probably only a few times per game, it has only helped the game feel fun. The player may not like the original roll, but then re-roll and get stuck with something worse.
6. Reverse of #5. Defender may force the attacker to re-roll the combat dice after the initial roll. This part works beautifully. I have seen throws where the defender just smiles and tells the attacker to keep the roll, and I have seem times where the attacker just happened to roll maximum damage with his first roll and be told that he has to roll again.
7. Dice show different characters, but neither are involved. Nothing happens.
These "God Dice" are actually a very small part of the game, but often have a very large impact. Personally, I think these help make the game more varied and enjoyable.
Next is the main dice rolling. I won't go into as much detail about these. Players roll the 9 combat dice to try and attack. Characters each have 5 different attacks. 3 of which require 5 of the same attack symbols, wild, red, blue or yellow. They also have a basic attack and a special attack. Specials always require 5 dice of specific symbols, while basic attacks vary from 1 to 4 specific dice. Each six-sided die shows each attack symbol once and the number 5 twice. The 5's represent the amount of damage the attack will do. A basic attack, for example, will deal damage equal to the number of 5s showing. Others will deal that damage with special things added, such as healing or attacking extra characters, or they can add to the damage or multiply it.
Once the dice have been roll, or re-rolled if the "God Dice" decree, the attacker may re-roll each symbol once. The goal is to have dice showing to allow an attack of some kind. The balance is to try and decide if you want the easier basic attack, or the harder to hit attack that will hurt the other guys worse.
Characters (Balance): This is where God Dice starts to fall apart. The characters are creative, but with enough play, it is easy to see that some characters are far better than others. From our play, the six characters fall into 3 tiers. Top tier is the Cleric and Hero, middle is the Bowman and Monk, bottom is the Assassin and Sage.
Hero: Probably the most broken of the characters. First, he has the most HP in the game. Unless he's getting hit by a really lucky player, he isn't going down anytime soon. Also, he is the only character with a basic attack requiring only 1 die. He can roll dice all he wants and as long as at least one of the 9 dice is showing blue, he hits. This also allows him to keep rolling the other 8 dice to get 5s and have high damage output.
Cleric: Cleric has a large amount of HP, making it an absolute pain to kill. The Cleric also has two abilities to heal the party, making it happen a bit more often than it should. The only downside to the cleric is that he does not have a very high damage output. Although his basic attack is only 2 dice, making it pretty easy to hit.
Monk: This character is good, but not great. He has HP comparable to the Cleric, only a bit lower, and has healing abilities. However, these heals can only work on himself. Since he can't be used to keep the Hero alive, his usefulness drops. He does have a bit better damage output than the Cleric though.
Bowman: This is my personally favorite. She has lower HP than the 3 above, but it's not to the point of getting killed in one hit. The attacks are average in terms of damage, but the Bowman is able to attack multiple characters at once. In multi-player games or 2-player games where each person has 3 or more characters, her attacks can really throw someone off. Her basic attack requires 3 dice, so it can be hard to get as a last ditch effort, but not impossible.
Sage: The Sage is almost at the bottom. Her HP is dangerously low, with the very real chance of getting taken out in one hit. Her attacks are brutal, one attack dealing x3 damage, and her special hitting all opponents. However, since attacks are often hard to pull off, you would expect to have the basic attack as a backup plan, but with a basic attack requiring 4 dice, that is often not an option. The Sage hits hard if she hits... IF she hits.
Assassin: This is pretty much bottom of the barrel. Just about anyone can drop him in one hit. Monk and Hero easily, the rest with Ok rolls. He has insane damage output, with a x4 special and other attacks with the ability to pick the target, but like the Sage, the attacks often do not hit. He also has the basic attack of 4 dice, so if it doesn't hit, there is likely no damage being done.
Result: Games usually end up with people going for the Clerics and Heros first, then based on preference, usually the Monks and Bowmen next. 2 player games are usually Cleric, Hero and something vs. Cleric, Hero and something else.
Conclusion: God Dice is a great game if you like dice rolling and are looking for something short and simple. The mechanics do work great, the only issue is the balance. And even that usually isn't a problem in the games, it just leaves little variety in the games played. The flexibility in the time also helps this game make it on to our table a lot.
Note: This is my first review, so please let me know if I can improve on this anywhere.
Hey you guys should check out the defense variant that's posted as it adds value to the lower tier characters. A defending Assassin has a good shot at shuting down all the power characters especially a Bowman. Granted these side rules add time to gameplay but do add a new layer. Also, the Necromancer changes the game A LOT! It's great to kill someones Cleric with their own dead Hero....sweet...