Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 5 October 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Dice Forge

GameDice Forge

Publisher: Libellud

Designer: Régis Bonnessée

Dice Forge made a big impression when it was released due to the unique-ness of its dice building mechanics, but apparently it has very quickly faded out of popularity. It hasn't been played by any groups that we take part in, so we decided to pick up our own copy. As big LEGO fans, the idea of building your own dice is quite a familiar one that I haven't seem implemented before in hobby board games, although I understand that Rattlebones did something similar. Dice City also used the concept of customising the powers of different dice faces, but without the tactile nature of actually adding new face to a die.

In Dice Forge, each player starts the game with two six-sided dice with custom, removable faces. The faces you start with are very basic, giving you one or two of the game's basic resources. On every player's turn you roll your dice to obtain resources and keep track of these on your player board. When it gets to your turn you can use these resources to either purchase new dice faces or to purchase a card from the game board, most of which give a combination of a special ability and end game points. The game has a limited number of turns where you will continue to roll your ever-improving dice and purchase cards to try and have the most victory points at the end of the game.

The game seems to work well for both two and four players. In a two player game you roll the dice twice every turn to make sure you get a similar number of resources to what you would in a four-player game. We have no played with three players, but I imagine that a 3-player game is lower scroing because fewer resources are rolled throughout the game.

The dice-building design. The intent is that you use a dice face as a tool to remove other faces, but this can be very fiddly with dice faces flying across the room!
I really like the mechanics of Dice Forge, partly because they're so tactile and also because they are similar to deck-building, one of my favourite board game mechanisms. However, where I feel slightly less positive about the game is that it's over too quickly to enjoy the benefits of what you've created. Unlike a card based deck-builder where you will pretty much always draw a card you purchase, in Dice Forge, there's a good chance you just won't roll the faces you've bought and there's nowhere near enough turns in the game to balance out this luck. The opportunity in Dice Forge is that you have two dice and with a lot of thought I can see that there's a possibility to create synergies between your two dice, but you're still at the mercy of luck. I'm more likely to buy die faces to try and play the odds rather than to create cool combos on my dice.
There's no denying this game is well presented. Unfortunately with two players you do have to remove half of the dice faces from the tray, which makes setup slightly fiddly and doesn't make the best of a great insert.
The theme of the game is largely irrelevant. If nothing else it does make for really beautiful and whimsical artwork. Add to this the amazing production quality of the board, the dice faces and an incredibly well thought out insert and Dice Forge is definitely value for money in terms of component quality. On the other hand this game is probably over produced for its actual content and I hope that an expansion comes along to make this more of a gamer's game, even though fitting an expansion into the main box might destroy the wonderful storage solution.

Dice Forge is a great example of how far board games have developed and I imagine it's a great game for a board game cafe setting as a spectacle that draws people in. It also has completely accessible mechanics whilst still providing multiple points of decision making. For me though, the decisions just aren't quite meaningful enough to make this a game that we'll be playing frequently. There's some variability in the cards, with almost two full sets, but they aren't a game changer and I think we'll quickly develop favourites and play a similar way each time. I want to love Dice Forge, but I'm just left feeling that it's OK and nothing more. Nevertheless I hope it finds an audience with families and gets a new audience excited about modern board games. For The Yellow Meeple, Dice Forge is a 6/10.

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