[Review] Monster Dice
- 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
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 game…
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
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
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
"Real men play board games"