22nd April 2021
Lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease here in the UK and people can now meet up outside, so for the first time since I can't remember I'm meeting up with friends in real life! It's a Thursday evening and we're at a pub; The Cricketers in Horsell, Woking.
The air got a mild chill as the sun went down and between all the chat we managed to play a game of Sushi Go. Read my thoughts about it here.
4th April 2021
It's Sunday and I'm logged on to Board Game Arena for some gaming.
The first game of the day was Dice Forge, a game about errr forging dice in a mythically themed way! Also about the hunt for glory to impress the gods, which can in part be earned by rolling dice, which may not seem a glorious undertaking, but who am I to judge.
Caveat: This game was played digitally, but the physical version had been played previously.
What's in a game?
There are quite a few components to Dice Forge, so let's get started with the most important.
This could easily have proven a real problem but it's not the case. These components are very well made. A little tool is used to remove faces and new faces fit firmly into the dice with a satisfying click, none of the process of changing faces feels flimsy or too fiddly and its doesn't seem like these components would break under normal usage. Finally, the dice always roll smoothly.
It's important that this element of the game always functions correctly and it does.
The remainder of the components as would be expected are of a good quality.
The quality of the art direction on the cards is good and in particular the art on the game boards is quite eye catching, depicting the card spaces as islands the player must visit, which fits the game's mythic quest theme suitably well.
Player boards have the space for a single piece of colourful artwork but most of the board is taken up by the various tracks, however, they are bright and colourfully highlighted.
Overall, Dice Forge is very nice aesthetically, it does a lot to present it's theme of mythic forging.
How's it play?
At the start of every player's turn, all players roll their dice and acquire whatever resources are shown on the result, this can be gold, red or blue gems or glory points, these are immediately added to the player's board, any resources earned that exceed the player's space limit is lost.
Even though all player's have rolled their dice, only the active player can act and they have a couple options.
Once all players have had their turn, the round is completed.
Once 9 or 10 rounds have been completed - dependant on the number of players, then the game has ended.
Players tally the glory on their player boards with the glory accumulated on the cards they've acquired.
Highest score wins.
Dice forge is a bit of a strange beast - sort of an deck building game that uses dice in place of cards - mostly!
Building up dice is unsurprisingly at the core of the game and is very important early in the game as they provide the games currencies and it presents players with options and choices to make. Not only do they have to decide which of gold, gems or glory to upgrade each time, they must decide how to distribute those upgrades.
For example; a player could choose to load 1 die with their first 6 upgrades - this guarantees that 1 die will get a good result, but they will only get 1 good result per roll, spreading the upgrades over 2 dice lessens the chances of upgraded results coming up but increases the chances of getting 2 upgraded results. This can be more important than it initially seems because they're 3 different currencies to consider as well as acquiring glory points.
It could have been a gimmick but instead it's an interesting proposition.
Acquiring cards may give a player several advantages, cards always give players glory points, the most expensive cards normally confer the player a lot of glory points. The bonuses that cards give the player don't seem particularly useful but they tend to tip things in a player's favour in other areas of the game. The are some once-per-turn abilities that can prove useful if acquired early enough in the game.
Of course red gems have an additional use and can be spent to gain additional actions, this can prove very useful considering that usually, players only get 9-10 actions per game.
It's hard to sum up how I feel about Dice Forge, modifying dice forces players into making significant choices, which is a good thing and rolling the the dice was undeniably fun but somehow, it all felt a little unengaging? It's possible that an upgraded die face never gets rolled in a game and maybe that's it, devising a strategy that's at the mercy of luck to succeed will never entirely satisfactory? Or maybe I'm just over thinking it?
It's easy to learn and play Dice Forge, however, I feel that in the long-term, the game is a little shallow and repetitive, the available selection of die faces never changes from game to game and the sets of cards all feel samey and interchangeable.
By no means do I think it's a bad game, if you want a mostly straightforward, light, easy-to-play, undemanding and somewhat luck-based game about optimizing dice rolls, then Dice Forge might be a good choice.
2nd April 2021
It was a Friday and I was logged into Board Game Arena on my PC.
As the name suggests, Stone Age is a game about the trials and tribulation faced by the inhabitants of prehistoric communities.
Caveat: The digital version of this game was played at this time, but we had played the physical version on previous occasions.
What's in a game?
Stone Age is a worker placement game and at its core takes place on a central game board which is divided into various different locations, into which workers can be placed to activate the associated action. Some locations may contain any amount of workers, others are limited by numbers.
The game board has a bright and colourful depiction of a stone age community on the edge of the wilderness that's quite eye-catching. The player boards have similar, if plainer artwork, again this is fine since most of the time they'll be covered in components.
The civilisation cards essentially all use the same piece of artwork with elaborate game iconography providing some variation and the same is true of the building tiles. It's nothing to write home about (Or blog about I suppose?) but is perfectly acceptable.
For the most part, the art is good.
How's it play?
Gameplay is broken up into 3 phases, place workers, resolve workers and end of round.
Again starting with the first player, they must remove all of their workers from one location at a time from every location they've placed workers and immediately resolve the associated actions as they do so, returning the meeple to the player's board. Players are free to remove their meeples in whatever order they see fit (This can have significant impact on game play.). The following actions are available:
There are 2 conditions that can trigger the endgame.
If any of the building tile stacks have all 7 of their tiles purchased, it triggers the endgame, the current round is concluded and the game goes to the end game and then scoring.
At the end of a round, if there aren't enough civilisation cards to fill a 4 spots on the board, then the game immediately ends and goes to scoring.
In both instances, tribes must be fed for a final time.
Final scores are tallied by adding the score from the victory point track, points that come from sets of civilisation cards and 1 point for each (Non food) resource the player possesses.
Highest score wins.
If I have one criticism of Stone Age, it's that the first 3 opening moves in any given round are generally always no-brainers, that's because the tool maker, hut & field locations are such a high priority because they confer very good rewards that would usually be stupid for players to pass up. If you're the 4th player, you won't get a look in unless another player is really desperate for something else or doesn't know what they're doing.
I'm not sold on the resource gathering mechanic either, yes it's quite nice but it can leave you at the mercy of the dice rolls that makes low rolls feel frustrating but somehow high rolls not feel satisfying.
Otherwise Stone Age is a mid-to-light worker placement game that is fairly easy to learn but feels perhaps a little generic, however, it does provide a fair level of depth.
The game manages to generally provide a choice or two too many for players to cover with workers, forcing them to prioritise their actions and making meaningful decisions. An extra worker is good, so is the agriculture required to feed them, the tools can help with gathering resources which are useful to buy cards and tiles and so on.
So if you want to play a worker placement game that isn't too taxing on the grey matter, you could do a lot worse than Stone Age.
I play, I paint.