Rise up to become a demigod in a celestial challenge of the divine in Asmodee’s Dice Forge. Choose from one of 4 of the mightiest heroes and make offerings to the gods to forge more powerful dice or perform heroic deeds to obtain cards that will boost your power and chance to victory.
Before you can even think about playing Dice Forge there’s a bit of setup involved. There are cards to be sorted, tokens to separate, default die faces to setup, and a tray to be filled with all the available die faces that can be purchased in the game. Thankfully the game comes with an amazing insert and envelope to store everything and keep it all in place while both playing and storing the game.
To start, each player takes a Hero Board, set of colored cubes to track resources, and two dice. The dice in Dice Forge are unique in that the faces can be swapped out on them to create better dice throughout the game. The board is setup adjacent to the box with varying level cards placed in specific notches setup around it. Each player then sets their player pawn in the portal on the board and the round token is placed on the “1” next to the portal. Players each set their gold counter to a specific number depending on play order, the first player takes the First Player Token, then the game can begin.
Dice Forge is played over 9-10 rounds, depending on the numbers of players. The goal of the game is to have the most Victory Points when the game ends. These can be earned through die rolls and purchased cards. Cards can be purchased for Sun or Moon Shards, which are earned by upgrading your die faces to provide those resources on rolls. New die faces can be purchased for gold earned with your initial die rolls.
At the start of each player’s turn, all players roll their dice and gather the resources rolled. The starting faces on the die mostly provide 1 gold each, but one of each die can provide 1 Sun or Moon Shard, and 1 face provides 2 Victory Points. Players are limited to collecting resources by the number of spaces available on their Hero Board for each type. Extensions to the board can be purchased by acquiring certain cards, the process of which is described below. There’s also a separate track that can be purchased to convert gold into Victory Points.
Once everyone rolls, the active player may then purchase a new die face using their gold, or purchase a card using shards. New die faces are forged onto the dice as soon as they’re purchased, while cards are placed face down in one of 3 stacks (instant, passive, blank) in front of the purchasing player. Some cards are only worth Victory Points, but others have an instant effect when purchased, while others have a passive effect that’s always in play and resolves after the initial die roll. Powers from cards vary, and there are two different sets of cards that can be mixed and matched to vary play. When claiming a card the player moves their token to the front of the pile purchased from. If another player is there they’re displaced back to the portal and can make a resource roll.
Once the active player is done with this phase, they may make a 1-time payment of 2 Sun Shards to take another turn, without making another roll.
When a player has completed their turn the next player then takes their turn, and so on. Once the turn returns to the player with the First Player Token the round token is moved up. Play continues until the end of the 9th or 10th round, again depending on the number of players, and Victory Points are calculated.
One of the areas Dice Forge really shines is in the overall production of the game. Everything from the box to the components is of the highest quality. Colorful artwork adorns just about every piece of the game and, as mentioned earlier, the box insert is one of the best seen in recent titles. The dice have a great feel to them, and the process of taking off faces and replacing them with new ones is incredibly satisfying. The included tray/envelope for the extra die faces makes sorting and storing the faces a breeze and keeps them all in place once the game is packed up to be put away.
There are few games this year that have felt as put together and solid as Dice Forge does. The forging mechanic actually works extremely well and doesn’t just feel like a tacked on gimmick. The game ramps up very quickly so there’s no feeling of having to grind to obtain the cards you’re looking to buy which works perfectly with the built-in timer of a set number of rounds. A full 4 player game only takes around 30 minutes, but that 30 minutes is packed full of exciting gameplay and meaningful choices.
The ability to mix different sets of cards during the game’s setup keeps things fresh and opens up different strategies towards victory that can be explored. The plethora of different die faces, and the different combinations they can be used to create on each player’s dice, also add to the depth of choices and play.
Dice Forge is simple enough to learn and plays quickly with plenty of variety to keep players coming back for more. It’s excellent production quality just escalates the game even higher, while the $40 price tag doesn’t break the bank. There’s plenty of value to be had with the game.
The only downside and this is nitpicking, is the initial setup time before your first game. However, once that’s out of the way you really never need to worry about it again.
Dice Forge may be one of the top titles of 2017, and will most certainly be in my top 10 games from this year.
A copy of Dice Forge was provided free for review by Dice Forge