GTM #210 - Dice Forge
Reviewed by Marc Aquino

Gamers love dice, of all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns.  However, some of us seem destined to roll a “1” at the worst possible moment, or find a way to fail a roll they should’ve won 35 out of 36 times. If you’ve ever wished you could replace the “1s” on your dice with another number – any other number – then I have a game for you!

In Dice Forge from Asmodee, the gods are holding a tournament for their amusement, with players competing for the ultimate prize of demigodhood. Everyone starts with an identical set of two six-sided dice, but over the course of the game, players will have the chance to improve their dice, swapping out their starting die faces for new, better ones, thus "forging" improved dice and mitigating some of the random luck factor.

~ How the Game Plays ~

Dice Forge is played in ten rounds, with a round consisting of each player taking their turn. The starting dice faces provide four resources: Gold, Sun Shards, Moon Shards, and Glory Points. Play passes counterclockwise.  At the end of 10 rounds, the player with the most Glory Points wins the favor of the gods and becomes a demigod!

Here’s what a turn looks like:

  • During the active player’s turn, ALL players receive a divine blessing: roll both of their dice and collect the appropriate resources
  • The active player may call for reinforcements: activate abilities on any Heroic Feat cards with a reinforcement effect that they have acquired during the course of the game (some benefits of reinforcement cards include receiving a minor blessing); rolling one of your dice and collecting the appropriate resources
  • The active player performs one of the following two actions: Make an offering to the gods - use Gold to purchase as many strictly different die faces as you desire and can afford; those die faces then replace whatever ones you want, even one you may have previously purchased. Perform a Heroic Feat - move your pawn to the Heroic Feat card you wish to acquire and spend the appropriate amount of Sun Shards and/or Moon Shards to purchase it; if another player is already at that Heroic Feat card, that player moves their pawn back to the starting portal and receives a divine blessing for being ousted.
  • The active player may spend two Sun Shards to take another action.

~ Thoughts on the Game ~

Initial set up took a little bit of time, but the instructions were very helpful as far as how to piece together the dice, set up the temple holding the die faces, and place everything back in the box.  The rulebook was very brief, which I appreciated, although I feel that a brief FAQ for possible questions, even if previously explained, would’ve been helpful.  For example, while a player must purchase different die faces on any one turn they make an offering to the gods, there isn’t anything saying that a player can’t then purchase a face they already bought on a previous action, something explicitly addressing that would’ve been helpful.  There also isn’t anything that explicitly states players cannot acquire multiple copies of the same Heroic Feat, although one might feel like that’s the case since the number of each kind of Heroic Feat card is limited to the number of players.

I played Dice Forge with two friends who are not heavy gamers. We only played with the suggested starting Heroic Feat cards. They were initially intimidated by all of the components laid out on the table – the temple with all of the die faces and the island with all of the Heroic Feat cards laid out around it – but once I explained the game and we took a few turns, everything flowed very quickly. It was a definite plus that the game was simple enough for everyone to grasp and start working on strategies even as early as the first few turns of the first game.

Having every player roll dice on each player’s turn and the oust mechanic kept each of us involved even when it wasn’t our turn.  Some of the Heroic Feats allow you to interact with other players by making them lose resources or even affecting their die faces.  Some games of this nature suffer by feeling like group solitaire, with each player doing their own thing – Dice Forge definitely made you remember you were dealing with other players you could impact by your Heroic Feat choices.

The replay value for the game comes from the variety of possible Heroic Feats that can be mixed and matched, and the range of possible strategies.  You can select Heroic Feats that allow you to mess with other players, or perhaps allow for more of a solitaire feel.  Do you focus on Gold right away or choose to generate Sun Shards and Moon Shards initially? If you went with Gold initially, do you focus on Heroic Feats that reward Gold or begin changing those faces to Glory Points for the end game?

Aside from my earlier comments about the rules, the only other part of the game I didn’t like was minor – having to change the die faces during the course of the game and at the end of the game when you have to reset the dice.  And, for those of you who like interesting graphics, the design and art are both beautiful on this game.

With easy-to-grasp rules, an interesting mechanic, high re-playability, sturdy and attractive components, and a great price point of $39.99, Dice Forge is a solid winner.