Dice Throne! The name rolls off the tongue and it’s indeed a mouthful – at first. But this is a game of no intricacies, and yet – a game of true depth. While there is a Vegas quality to your roll of the dice (and even a card called Vegas, baby!), the chucking bonanza is all about picking the coolest character from the box and bringing them to battle up against an equally cool opponent.
Dice Throne is basically a bunch of boxes containing two characters each (or eight if you go for the Battle Chests), where every hero crafted stands out by virtue of its uniqueness and interesting mechanics that make this game so compelling and memorable. In fact, I think that there is no way that Dice Throne can ever be “one of those games you vaguely remember,” but why is this?
Dice Throne: A Few Words about the Game
Season 1 and Season 2 Rerolled are the foundations upon which the Dice Throne world is built. The term “rerolled” is simply used to differentiate between the first iteration of the game, which made its debut to an overwhelmingly warm reception, but still needed some polishing, and the rerolled version of the game when designers Nate Chatellier Manny Trembley decided to sexy it up.
The Season 1 and Season 2 come in multiple options, whether you go for a Battle Chest containing each of the eight characters available in a season, or the far better (in my opinion) piecemeal approach where you grab a box at a time and figure out whether you enjoy it.
Each box of Dice Throne contains two characters that have been optimized for balance, introduce you to different mechanics of the game, and generally have you wonder if you couldn’t have played your turn a bit better (most of the time you could have).
Your character is represented by a high-quality, thick cardboard that is laid out on the table and features gorgeous art. On this board, all of your skills will be available, whether you are looking to stun your enemy, inflict damage, or defend yourself from an oncoming attack. Even though the character boards are static, the dice-rolling action truly is not.
There is a suspense in each of the three Yahtzee-inspired rolls where both the special symbols on the dice and their numbers will count towards releasing a new and devasting attack on your opponent.
The logic here is simple. Collect a X number of a given symbol or number and complete an ability that you want to throw at your opponent. Plus, you get to benefit from special status effect tokens that help you boost your own performance or cripple your opponent’s in some minor but persistently annoying ways.
But watch out, because each roll of the dice, or rather the outcome, can be just as easily broken by a card that your opponents may have been holding in their hand. Yes, Dice Throne is what a casino game of Craps would be if you could play a secret card from your sleeve – and not get thrown out of the casino. There is a true chocolate-cake layer showing through the glazing of creamy randomness and this is precisely what we love about this game.
Dice Throne Gameplay, Balance, and Replayability
This is a lot to unpack in a single headline, but we have already covered some of the basics. Dice Throne is essentially about rolling your dice – up to three times. You may or may not roll them the allowed number of times as some of the characters and heroes do get a few extra benefits if they decide to roll fewer times (for example Samurai will get Honor tokens, which boost his damage).
Oftentimes, you have a card in your hand (or sadly your opponent does) that forces a reroll of the dice. Sometimes, this can be a token you have generated in a previous turn that you can now spend to influence something about your attack or the attack of your opponent. There is a good degree of luck, I agree, but you can also do what you can to set yourself up for future success in Dice Throne.
Then again, each roll must be weighed against what your opponent’s hand is and this is where the tactical element in the game comes from. You are essentially trying to figure out if you can punish them outright or have to bid your time and crown yourself with success in an intense and nerve-wrecking showdown where final health points are being sacrificed for maximum efficiency.
More often than not, you want to push through with a good roll, but perhaps never hinge your entire future success on it. A few bad decisions could significantly diminish the fun you are having. It’s better to inflict smaller amount of damage and live to fight another round then miss your attack entirely!
As far as balance is concerned, we believe this is one of the places where Dice Throne truly shines. It’s almost uncanny how close individual games can be even though this is simply a game of dice rolling. I have hardly had a game in my 300+ playthroughs where an opponent would steamroll me, or I them. Like I said, pushing your luck is definitely fun – for as long as it works, but strategizing about your optimal move is often better. Balance, though, is up to par in Dice Throne no matter how you mix up Season 1 and Season 2 characters.
In terms of replayability, there is no denying Dice Throne’s appeal. While loaded with chance, the game seems to be an inexhaustible source of fun. We had a year during which the Meeples Herald team just kept coming back to Dice Throne, and while it has been sitting on our shelves for the past several months, we know that it will return to our table before long.
Multiple Gameplay Formats and Scalability
Now, Dice Throne is a game where we will be talking formats of which there are many. You can go for a King of a Hill which is a three-way fight where everyone is fighting everyone or go straight for a player versus player. The two-versus-two format is not bad, but it is one of the slower ones, which will see you only play a few times a game, and account that some heroes in the game need more time to develop their true potential – something that is usually easier in a one-versus-one version.
Some characters, such as Artificer and Treant, and even good old Vampire or Tactician, do need some time to build their defense and to start ticking – especially the first two. This means that the balance of the game will then shift towards strategic choice of characters, and players would have to be at peace with the fact that they will get to roll and influence their team’s good fortunes fewer times per game.
If this is okay with you though, then you will find the two-versus-two format to be equally rewarding and fun, especially when you are in a good company and have twice as many cards to account for!
Errata, Errata, ERRATA!
Alright, one thing you need to note about Dice Throne is that the rules change – ALL THE BLOODY TIME. This may earn me a bit of scoff from the creators, but errata are part of life with Dice Throne. If you are wondering why the rulebook with Season 3 is telling you a small detail about the rules that is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND in the rulebooks of Season 1 and Season 2, this is because there is an errata online which is frankly – frustrating.
But this is not (an entirely) bad thing as you can see a game and a community that are evolving together. The designers could have left it at where it is and not have ever bothered to elaborate on the rules, but they have nurtured a community to help resolve any inconsistencies with the latest rules available online and implemented in the newest boxes.
Sure, you can have a few maddening “where did that come from” moments, but all in all the errata are a good thing, argh. It pains me so much to say this.
Is Dice Throne for You?
This is the question. Dice Throne is lighthearted, but it can be competitive and deep. You may take your dice rolling without giving it a second thought or can do the mental arithmetic to calculate the chances of your next dice being a success.
Whichever way you choose, Dice Throne is a fun and beautifully-illustrated game of excellent component quality where you compete but often has to rely on luck and some basic prudence to win a few games of your own.
There is a competitive quality, for sure, but a defeat never leaves you smarting. There is always something new to try, and always a unique character to explore in Dice Throne, so a loss is fast forgotten as new opportunities loom.
A well-balanced game, Dice Throne is for those of you who love games that can be played as fillers, but they also have depth to them, and not least – are mighty entertaining regardless of how much you care about winning.
Score & Game Details
- Components Quality: 8/10
- Replayability: 8/10
- Value for Its Money: 10/10
- Designer(s): Nate Chatellier, Manny Trembley
- Artist(s): Gavan Brown, Manny Trembley
- Publishers: Roxley
- Player Count: 2-4+
- Age Range: 8+
- Time Range: 20-40 Min