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[Review] Monster Dice

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  • Tom Vasel
    I ve always been fond of dice, which is why even though I have thousands of them spread throughout the many games I own I still find it useful to have a drawer
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2006
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      I've always been fond of dice, which is why even though I have
      thousands of them spread throughout the many games I own I still find
      it useful to have a drawer with many hundreds more stored up. I like
      having different sizes and shapes - and convince myself that the dice
      are useful for teaching, RPGs, and replacements for other board games.
      Monster Dice (Three Sages Games, 2006 - Steve Ong) is a game that
      provides players a chance to use all of these dice in a pseudo-war
      game, using the dice themselves as both miniatures and as their own
      battle randomizers.

      As a small product that simply allows a player to utilize existing
      dice they already own, I suppose that Monster Dice is an interesting
      and fun idea. Sadly for me, however, the execution just didn't really
      live up to my initial impressions. The armies certainly don't seem
      tremendously balanced, there's a huge dollop of luck involved, and the
      rules, while being mercifully short, were probably too vague. The
      company itself does admit that Monster Dice is really simply a silly
      game - and I can accept it for that - but it may be just a bit too
      silly for me. I had visions of glory moving around armies of dice,
      and that just didn't come to fruition here.

      Each player chooses an army card that tells a little about their
      forces on it, as well as which dice they use, and any special
      abilities that they might have. For example, the Pink-Eye army uses
      one D20, one D8, and two D6. (The number following the "D" is the
      number of faces on that die.) Two or more of the unused army cards
      are flipped and placed on the table to form a map - made up of many
      hexes. Most of the hexes on this map are clear, but some represent
      different types of terrain (woods, etc.) Players place their units on
      the row of hexes closest to them; dice are rolled - with the higher
      rolling player going first.

      On a player's turn, they simply move their units then attack, if they
      can. On the army card, the movement of each unit is shown, between
      two and four hexes. Units can move across the board, but some terrain
      hexes subtract from the total number of hexes that can be moved. At
      the same time, a few units can ignore certain terrain restrictions.
      If a unit is adjacent to another unit, they may attack. Both units
      roll their dice; and if the attacker's die roll is higher, they have
      struck the defender. The attacker rolls again, inflicting that much
      damage on the defender. If a die receives damage equal to or
      exceeding their hit points (which are equal to the amount of faces on
      the die), it is killed and removed from the board.

      Units can assist others when they attack, and others have special
      abilities - such as healing or ranged attacks. When any player has
      all of their units eliminated, they lose the game, giving the victory
      to the other!

      Some comments on the gameā€¦

      1.) Components: The main component of the game is dice, which are
      usually plentiful in the collection of any gamer. The actual
      components of Monster Dice are the cards with the armies on them.
      Each card is laminated and of good quality, showing the armies
      statistics in a nice, formatted way. The maps on the back are less
      impressive, showing an interlocking grid of hexes. Unfortunately, the
      hexes can only connect the cards on two sides, limiting the amount of
      ways terrain can be made. The graphics are also rather lackluster,
      showing a few black and white symbols, with a negative modifier
      listed. Still, considering the price of the game, the components are
      decent enough - I just wish some more time had been spent with the
      maps. One more problem came from tracking hit points on the dice.
      The rules suggest paper or counters, both which are tremendously
      fiddly. We attempted to use the dice themselves, keeping their
      current hit points on their top facing - but even that was a bit
      confusing. Fortunately, there aren't too many different units, so
      it's not too hard to keep track.

      2.) Rules: I was very disappointed with the rules, which are only
      listed on one side of one of the cards. While one can pretty much
      deduce the game from them, there are a tremendous amount of unanswered
      questions left by them? How many players can play? How do dice
      assist in an attack? Which terrain symbol stands for what? These and
      other questions can be decided by the players in the game, but they
      shouldn't have to be - the rules should have covered it. The game
      isn't difficult to learn or teach, but vague rules such as are
      included can often be worse than detailed, overdone rules like in some
      miniature games.

      3.) Armies: I really don't think that the armies are balanced, or
      that any real effort was taken to playtest this point. Now, I
      understand that the game is supposed to be a lighthearted affair; but
      when one army, notably the Four Fangs Goblin Tribe, simply rolls over
      the opponent time and time again, it's simply too powerful. Some
      effort was put into a background story for each army, but it's still
      hard to avoid the fact that the units are simply dice.

      4.) Dice and Fun Factor: Where there are dice, there is luck. That is
      most certainly true in Monster Dice, where an eight-sided die can get
      extremely lucky and impale a twenty-sided die. For a light hearted
      romp, this type of luck is acceptable, but it made strategy and
      tactics basically worthless. Move dice, roll them. Move dice, roll
      them. I don't mind this silliness, but I didn't enjoy it much either.
      The special abilities of the dice come into play occasionally, but
      only a few of them really matter (such as those of the Four Fangs
      Goblin Tribe).

      I feel bad saying much negative towards Monster Dice, because it
      really does accomplish its goal - allowing a player to use their extra
      dice for a silly, time-consuming battle. My problem is that I've
      played so many better games that can take place in the same amount of
      time, and this one is so based on luck that I just have a hard time
      enjoying it. It may be a fun, light-hearted romp for some, and I
      would not detract from their fun. They just won't enjoy the game with
      me.

      Tom Vasel
      "Real men play board games"
      www.tomvasel.com
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