Everyone loves a classic trope from a fantasy theme game. It's unavoidable. Dwarves are greedy, elves are wise, orcs are evil and bards will always fail an initiative roll. These tropes follow through into the fantasy universe's enemies, flora and fauna and it's a widely agreed theme that dragons will burn you alive should you touch their gold, eggs or exist at an inconvenient time. Dicey Goblins by Renegade Game Studios is a game following those tropes.
Goblins are greedy. There is no reason for it, they're just a created fictional species designed to have that spiteful, selfish nature you'd associate with unwanted pests. Not to paint all goblins with the same brush here, but Dicey Goblins does no favours for the reputation of these individuals. This is a push your luck game where who dares wins, or the opportunist cashes in. It's a short, filler game without a tonne of rules to complicate it but it's thoroughly enjoyable.
Dicey Goblins, designed by Steve Ellis and Tyler Tinsley, is oriented around players choosing whether to enter a dragon's lair to search for eggs, or whether to grab what they can and run. The results for eggs are produced by dice rolls drafted from a bag and each dice has a different value set on it based on its colour, tiered from bronze to gold with a red die to spice things up. Players take turns to be the one to draft the dice from the bag, and players simultaneously reveal whether they'll be nabbing eggs and running or delving deeper into the dragon's lair.
Each turn the main player takes one dice at random and places it on the Dragon's Lair section of the board, on its lowest egg value. This lets players know how much loot is available already. The main player then chooses two more dice and plays them in the Explore section to show which dice will be resolved this turn. Now, players can decide whether to stick around or grab the visible eggs.
All players reveal their Goblin tokens simultaneously to show whether they're going to stay to raid and look at the outcome of the roll or run away and grab the eggs. Sometimes, grabbing the immediately visible eggs can be best as it'll mean you'll at least get something, but if another player tries for it too you both get no eggs! (You do get a coin for your troubles).
Dicey Goblins is big on push your luck, and players will want to stick around as long as possible. The hope is that the competition will turn tail and run, as the last player in can take two dice instead of just one. As mentioned, if more than one goblin runs then you've got less chance of getting rewards; if two goblins run, they must both take the exact same number of eggs or, if that's not possible, they both get just one coin and no eggs are taken.
The dice results will determine who is brave, cowardly, wise or just outright stupid (I will admit, I do fall into the latter when it comes to risk taking in this game). The dragon head result is placed in the Doom section and indicates the dragon is stirring, three of these and the round ends with any players who haven't run leaving with nothing! No amount of greed can outweigh the dragon's wrath. The footprint goes in the Explore section, these are rolled again in the next turn of that round. Dragon Egg results go in the Dragon's Lair section and are what you're aiming to get.
At the end of a round, all dice taken from the Dragon's Lair are traded for an equivalent of coins; two eggs would be two coins. The red die works differently to the others however and adds a little bit of take that into the game. Any coins collected from the red die are taken from the player with the most coins, meaning a big result on the red die can be very dangerous to the standing order of players.
Once all is resolved and the dice are returned to the bag, the bag is passed to the next player who becomes the main player for the next round and therefore drafts the dice. The aim is to have 18 coins to win or to manage to get through six rounds and be the highest scoring Goblin.
How You'll Play It
Dicey Goblins was a game we'd seen in a shop a fair few times and never picked up. I always joked to my partner that she should get it as the goblins looked like her and I think that deterred her somewhat (no clue why). Eventually we did grab it and proceeded to play it the same day. To our surprise, we loved it. We were shocked and overjoyed.
The game took all of 15 minutes to learn and 15 to play, and we played a good few games straight off the bat. There were no complications and it was surprising how much we spoke during the game, mostly oriented around putting each other off or egging each other on (no pun intended). Once you've established the risk/reward for the round at hand you can then begin trying to mess with the others' heads. Of course, this can bite you on the bottom should you choose to go out, push someone to go hard or go home and have them pull two gold dice with four eggs on each. The rounds flew by and there was little room for error beyond players not concentrating on the board, but we put that down to human error.
The main focus for communication in this game is the simultaneous reveal. How others react to the current situation determines how many eggs you'll cash in on. As mentioned, clash with someone over one die and you'll get nothing, cash in too early and others will get the big bucks (eggs)! It's not specifically designed to be a social game, but it's a game you'll talk about throughout! There is little scope to not be engaged in the game, but it doesn't require a heavy amount of focus; so long as you're able to seek out the best opportunities or you can brave several rolls of dice, you'll do fine!
My favourite thing about this game is that a loss is down to player choice over the dice rolls. As much as the game is centred on rolling a dice and hoping for specific results, you choose whether to stick around for that roll and, to me, that puts fault on the player.
What Makes It
The game does not have an extensive number of components, you've got the dice, the board, coins, and player tokens. The dice are the most beautiful element of this game - naturally for a game called DICEy goblins. They are all custom and the emblems on them are clear and reflect what they're supposed to, and their containing bag is a good solid quality (that was a lovely little surprise we hadn't anticipated!).
The coins are of a good, solid cardboard and hold the same symbol as the eggs they're cashed in for. The board is a solid piece of artwork with the logos in the corners to reflect where dice are placed once resolved, and the player tokens are easily identifiable by both their colour and their artwork; no discrepancies as to who is raiding and running!
Final Thoughts on Dicey Goblins
Dicey Goblins is a nice competitive game. There is no better way to describe it. You could push it to say it's the perfect push your luck game for children! It's engaging, fun, easy to pick up and you won't be bitter about losing. With the fault being down to the player, it makes knowing when to push your luck or cut your losses more of a skill, and a skill is something you can learn.
There will always be that incredulous roll where you get two Doom results, and that's just the way dice work, but if you cashed out before that I can guarantee you wouldn't be complaining.
We love Dicey Goblins as a speedy filler, a game to play when we've got to fill the game cravings without getting too deep into a session. It's not a necessity to have on one's shelf, but it's one that keeps hitting our table!