Dice Throne. I’ve known this game existed since Season 1 was first released a little over a year ago. I had heard good things, but even as Season 2 started making its way into prerelease events I somehow never had a chance to play until recently. I was invited to The Boardgame Bash of Blood XIII in Calgary, Alberta, and while I was there I decided I was going to go blindly into a Dice Throne tournament. (I made a video about it for The Watch, that you can check out HERE, You can also read my review of Battle 2 HERE, and Battle 3 HERE)
Every Character in Dice Throne is unique, with their own powers, abilities, and components. At the same time, they have many similarities as well. Each of the custom six-sided dice has different symbols and colours, but have the same distribution of symbols. Three of something (usually a signature weapon), two of something else, and a single special icon. Each side is also numbered allowing for players to roll a four or five dice straight, as well as sub in a standard die if something gets lost. Each player card also has nine potential actions that specific character can take. (I’ll look at those more in a minute.)
The first player to reduce their opponent from 50 Health down to 0 Health wins.
BATTLE 1: Gunslinger vs Samurai
The first battle of Season 2 is basically the marquee event of the season. Inside the box things remain fairly standardized. The Gunslinger’s biography blurb is nothing special:
“Driven by the ruin brought to her family, the Gunslinger now spends her life pursuing all those who are vile and corrupt within the world. Each time she deftly reloads her twin pistols, she takes one step closer to vengeance.”
The Kickstarter video was focused primarily on her and her story. (I’m including it at the end of this review because it was just incredibly well done.) Co-creator Manny Trembly was developing a graphic novel called The Way of The Gun, that was planned to be just one of a series of graphic novels. Sadly that project has been put to the side, but hopefully, we’ll see it in the future. This isn’t the first fighting tournament game to connect into other mediums. But quite frankly, even with the small amount done as specific marketing for this game, Dice Throne has the potential to do it better than all of them.
In the game, The Gunslinger is an interesting character. On first glance, her offense seems weak, but when you start to look into her Status Effect tokens and abilities, things get interesting. She has a Passive Ability (that just happens, without needing to activate it) that gives her a Reload token each turn. If she ends her Offensive Roll Phase with an attack, she can spend it to add 1-3 more damage to that attack. She also has the potential to inflict a Bounty or Knockdown token on her opponent. Bounty gives her attacks +1 damage and she gains +1 CP (Combat Points are used to play cards from a player’s hand). Knockdown forces a player to spend 2 CP to remove the token or skip their Offensive Roll Phase for the turn.
Of course, when you think about the word “gunslinger” most people are going to envision a one on one standoff. This is beautifully integrated into both her small straight and defensive abilities. A small straight is any four sequential numbers rolled on the dice, while a large straight is any five numbers. When the Gunslinger rolls a small straight, she activates Showdown. Both players roll a die, if she rolls higher she deals 7 damage, if not she only deals 5 damage. Likewise, her defensive ability, Duel, has both players roll a die. If she wins the roll she can choose to deal 3 damage or prevent half the damage from her opponent, if not she still deals 1 damage back.
The Samurai, one the other hand, is more powerful up front but has less powerful Status Tokens. His basic weapon attack, Katana Slice, does between 5-7 damage (compared to the Gunslinger’s 3-5). He also has a Passive Ability, that automatically gives him an Honor Token if he uses less than his full three rolls during his Offensive Roll Phase. He can spend a single Honor Token to increase his attack damage by +1 or spend two honor tokens to increase it by +3.
His defensive ability, Stand Tall, has the interesting potential to be a double-edged sword, which is a neat trick for a katana. (Sorry, that joke had to be made.) When attacked he gets to roll three dice, for every Katana icon he rolls (1-3 on the die) he deals 1 damage. For each Kabuto icon (a samurai’s helmet, 4-5 on the die) he prevents 1 damage to himself. For each Rising Sun icon (6 on the die) he prevents 2 damage. BUT, if he does not roll any Rising Sun or Kabuto icon he gains 1 Shame Token. Normally he inflicts Shame tokens on his opponents, to a limit of two, and they are removed when the afflicted player makes an attack, reducing the damage of that attack by -1.
These two fighters make for a fun battle, and even though they play very differently they balance each other well. Obviously, that is part of the point in releasing Season 2 as stand-alone battles, while still keeping the characters cross-compatible with the other characters from Season 1, the rest of Season 2, and already announces Season 3.
Dice Throne now has their own website now, you can visit DiceThrone.com to order and see some cool sneak peeks at Season 3.