Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Dice Forge


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G@mebox publisher Frank Schulte-Kulkmann writes about the game:

A game which I took along on last year's SPIEL mostly for its marvelous looks is Dice Forge from LIBELLUD. Ahead of the SPIEL I have read a devastating review in the German games magazine Spielbox, downgrading the game especially for the fact that the reviewer considered the rulebook faulty and unreadable. However, I nonetheless really liked the game's artwork when I saw it in the news showroom, and so I decided to take it along to see whether it was really a washout, or whether something special could be found here.

As it turned out, Dice Forge really was a lucky find!!!

Let me begin right with the rulebook. The only thing which could have been carved out a bit more carefully was the first setup of the game, but otherwise the rules have been written quite well and understandable. I had no real problems to get into the game, and it was my impression that this would have been possible even if I had not read the Spielbox review in advance.

But now let's turn to the game itself. As I have written in today's intro, Dice Forge is a strategical dice game which brings together elements of luck and strategy. In a rough summary, players have to generate resources like gold, Sunstones and Moonstones by rolling their dice, and these resources can be spent on a large range of Mission cards which will provide victory points and in-game benefits. Looking at the background story, at least part of these mission cards originate in Greek mythology, so that the players can board the ship Argo, obtain Pandora's box or defeat monsters like the Minotaur or the Hydra.


The graphics on the cards and the design of all other components of the game is really nice, so it's quite an eyecatcher when setup is finished. But considering the fact that the main engine of the game can be summarized in one sentence, you may ask yourself what exactly is special about this game. Well, the specialty are the dice themselves, because Dice Forge actually is a dice crafting game. This unusual term means that the players will not add or remove dice from their dice pool during the course of the game, but they will actually manipulate the dice themselves.

Indeed, each player receives a permanent outfit of two dice at the beginning of the game, and the number of dice will never be increased. From afar these dice may look like normal D6, but when you examine them more closely you will discover that the faces of the dice are removable, making it possible to upgrade the dice with a large variety of new, improved faces. The faces are just clicked off and on, giving the players a possibility to customize their dice in order to suit their general strategy.


At the beginning of the game the two dice of each player offer just some meagre income in gold, Sunstones and Moonstones. However, the gold earned can be invested to purchase new faces, and the pool of improved faces contains a really broad choice of new faces, with their price increasing with their powers. So, there are faces which allow the players to harvest larger quantities of resources, whereas other faces may offer a choice or combination of different resources. Some faces offer plain victory points, whereas even others give a multiplication factor, meaning that the result rolled on the player's other dice will be multiplied accordingly. Some faces even can be used to steal the resources of other players, and so each of the players will quickly generate their very own pair of dice in the course of the game.

Played over a duration of 9 or 10 rounds, the players have very few time to build up their production engines based on improving their dice. Income is generated at the beginning of each player's turn, because all players roll their dice and gather resources at each turn. However, at the beginning the dice are not really powerful, and so the players have to chose carefully which faces they want to purchase during their turns. In addition, many of the advanced faces available for purchase are unique, so that the players have to compete for getting the desired new faces in time. This confronts them with the dilemma whether they go for one expensive new face, or several cheaper (albeit less powerful) faces.


The concept of clicking faces on a dice is not fully new - I have seen a similar type of dice in LEGO games. However, until now there has not been a game which actually focuses on constantly improving the powers (and faces) of a player's dice, and this fresh new approach has been implemented rather well in Dice Forge. From a player's perspective it's a rather interesting tactical task to think how the dice can be improved best, because it's not simply purchasing new faces to replace old (weaker) faces. Instead, the players also have to think on which of their dice they want to place new faces, because some of the advanced faces (like the multiplier) actually interact with the results shown on the player's other dice. In addition, some of the Mission cards can be completed with Moonstones, whereas other need Sunstones, and Sunstones can also be spent to play an additional turn. For these reasons it really matters where a player puts new faces, because the probabilities of specific combinations can be influenced by changing the dice in the right way.


Don't be afraid at this point - the weighting of probabilities doesn't go too deep, because a dice pool of constantly two dice can be monitored rather smoothly. However, it's the process of applying strategic thoughts to dice crafting which makes the game highly attractive, because the whole approach is very fresh and takes a new angle on strategic dice games.

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany