A seat in heaven is up for grabs. All you need to do is defeat your rivals by performing Heroic Feats and performing offerings to the Gods.
Dice Forge is an innovate game with customisable dice faces. All players begin the game with the same faces on their dice and use them to gather gold, victory points, sun shards or moon shards. Throughout the game the players can use these resources to craft their own dice and customise them to their own specific requirements. The forging of the dice is a satisfying experience and offers a nice twist to the dice rolling resource gathering genre.
The game comes with one of the best inserts that I have seen in games. Everything has its place and it all fits neatly in to the box. The box itself becomes part of the game with the Temple Board (which holds all the dice faces) sitting on the base of the box (called the Foundations).
The dice are chunky and the removable dice faces feel solid and robust. The artwork on the heroic feat cards, which are added to the main board, compete the artwork displayed on the main board. All the other cardboard components are solid and thick and feel like they will stand up to repeated plays.
The game is pretty easy to set-up and play, assuming that the set down was done correctly (more on that later). Each player is given a player board and player cubes for tracking resources, a light die, a dark die and a player pawn. The main island board is laid out and placed next to the bottom of the box/Foundations. The Heroic Feat cards (15 used per game) are placed in their respective places on the board based on their cost. The Temple board is removed from its storage sleeve and placed on top of the Foundations.
This is probably more involved and more important than the set-up. The key to ensuring that this game is easy to set-up is the set down at the end of the game. All the die faces must be reset to their original configuration. The Temple board must be repopulated with all the die faces, in their correct location, that were purchased and crafted on to the players die. All the Heroic Feat cards should be sorted and stored in their correct location ready for easy use next time.
If the set down is done correctly then the set-up is simple and quick and can be on the table and ready to be played in minutes. The set down is more important and involved than the set-up but it is worth spending the time to do it correctly to ensure that the set up for the next play is quick and easy.
Turns are simple and quick. The turn structure consists of four steps:
All players roll their dice (even if they are not the active player) and collect the resources depicted by moving their corresponding markers on their player board. Resources are abundant in Dice Forge due to all players receiving their divine blessing even if they are not the active player.
Call For Reinforcements
If a player has purchased any Heroic Feat cards that have the reinforcement symbol (looks like a cog or gear) then the active player may activate these cards. The grant bonuses like rolling a single die again (called a minor blessing) or resources.
The active player may perform one of the following two actions:
- Offering to the Gods - The active player may "purchase" one or more different die faces from the Temple board. Once a die face is purchased it must immediately be crafted on to one of the players die by removing an already existing face. The die face removed is stored on the players board.
- Perform a Heroic Feat - The active player may choose to perform one of the many Heroic Feats located around the main board. To do this they move their player marker to the relevant space and spend the required resources. If there is already a player occupying the space the active player ousts that player. The other player automatically receives a divine blessing. The Heroic Feat cards offer either one time bonus. once per round "reinforcement" bonus or straight victory points. Heroic Feat cards like the blacksmith's hammer and the blacksmith's chest provide the player with extension to their player board offering more opportunities to gain victory points and more space to store resources.
The active player can spend two sun shards to perform one of the actions above (Offering to the Gods or Heroic Feat).
At the end of a player turn the active player marker is passed clockwise. Once all players have had their turn the round marker is progressed one step. Play continues this way for nine rounds for a four and two-player game and 10 rounds for a three-player game.
Crafty Dice Crafting
Dice Forge is a quick and easy game to play. Some of the iconography takes a bit to get to grips with for new players but once explained it is easy to understand and follow. Dice Forge is a gorgeous looking game and the way the artwork on the box, main board, Temple board and Heroic Feat cards all tie is a nice touch. The dice are chunky and tactile.
The gameplay is smooth and easy to follow and I have taught this to a number of people from gamers to non-gamers. It is simple enough and inviting that almost anyone can pick this up and be playing it well in a matter of minutes. The Blacksmith's Hammer is a card that allows players to convert gold in to victory points and is purchased by most players in every game. This card feels like it is a must for every player. The Blacksmith's Chest is an extension to the gold, sun shard and moon shard tracks on the player board. This also seems like an essential card. Resources are abundant in Dice Forge and can easily be maxed out. Having the Blacksmith's Chest helps players store more resources and limits the amount that is wasted.
The straight victory point cards, especially the 26 victory point Hydra costing five sun shards and five moon shards can really swing the scoring. In the games I have played it does feel there is a race to get this card before your opponent due to high number of points it is worth. If a player can get the majority on these it is hard for the other players to catch up.
Crafting your die is, obviously, essential in the game, but spending too much time on crafting and not enough on acquiring the Heroic Feat cards can set a player back so careful balance is required.
Dice Forge doesn't outstay its welcome. The turns are quick and the decisions are not overly complex. The main decision each turn is whether to make an offering to the gods or perform a Heroic Feat. This decision will mainly be based on the resources a player has. It is quick, it is fun and it looks lovely. It has inviting artwork that draws people in and the removable dice faces offers something a lot of people have not seen before.