Dice Throne: Season Two has exceeded absolutely all expectations.
Designer: Nate Chatellier, Manny Trembley
Artist: Gavan Brown, Manny Trembley
Game Type: Dice Rolling, Take That, Variable Player Powers
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Age Range: 8+
Expected Playtime: 20-40
Number of Players: 2-6
Theme and What is it?
Dice Throne has a mortal combat like theme. The Mad King has sat atop his high throne for a millennia. Each year, he hosts a tournament of champions. Whoever wins the tournament earns the right to challenge the Mad King himself for the ultimate prize: the throne itself. The Mad King has never lost. Heroes come from all over the globe seeking supreme power. Will this be the year? Will your hero be the one bold enough to take the throne?
Each hero has a unique player board, a reference board, deck of cards, and custom dice. At the start of a turn, players resolve any lingering status effects or upkeep abilities then they draw a card and gain a Combat Point (CP). Players have a main phase where they can play card powers that are restricted to main phase only. These powers usually cost CP so using the limited resources wisely is a big part of the game. Players can always sell a card by discarding it to gain 1 CP, potentially affording better cards early.
After the main phase, players will enter the main feature of dice throne: the offensive roll phase. This is where players will use a Yahtzee like system attempting to get their dice to match a powerful ability from their player card. If an attack dealing damage to the opponent is selected, there is a defensive roll phase based on the character being attacked. This is where the game is won and lost and careful use of cards that can manipulate the dice might dictate when an undefendable ultimate ability (5x 6’s) goes off to devastate the opponent. Play continues until enough players are eliminated by reaching 0 on their health dial for a victor to be crowned.
Dice Throne has a great rule for playing multiplayer. There is a target selection roll phase. During this phase the player will usually be assigned a target for their attack. This keeps players from colluding with each other or feeling like that person singled them out. The die picked the target and that always feels fair.
Dice throwing combat sounds to me like a lot of random luck! But since there are two reroll attempts and players choose which dice to keep there are some elements of skill. The use of CP to buy cards that offer new combat abilities, manipulate status effects, or manipulate the dice to require less random luck is a strong element to the game. In the end, luck matters but does not feel like an overwhelming force in the game.
The battle chest is packed full of new characters to play and each one has unique abilities, status effects, custom dice, and all sorts of cool strategies to explore. The battle chest itself is a very commanding box on the shelf and the game trayz make setup and tear down a pleasant experience.
Game Build Quality
Build quality in Dice Throne: Season Two? YES! It has ALL the quality. Game trayz for each character come with wonderful slots for dice, tokens, decks of cards, and nested health wheels/combat point dials. The box itself has labeled zones to store each character. Opening a given character you find the fold out main player board with all the attack abilities displayed. There is also a companion sheet with each character to show how the symbols are distributed over the dice and detailed explanations of each status effect the character can use. This is a kickstarter product and it came out way above my build quality expectations. Dice Throne: S2 might actually be the highest quality game I own despite not having any minis.
Each character has art dedicated to their own theme. The Vampire has a lot of dark colors and blood overtones to everything. The Seraph has bright colors, wings, sun rays, and anything else that can help convey the heavenly nature of the character. The overall artistic direction is towards detailed cartoons leaving a tone more light than serious but still making sure there is enough attention to detail to catch the eye and entertain.
There is something about throwing dice. It is a very physical act. Watching them tumble and seeing the value you need flash as it balances on an edge before finally coming to a rest… There is just something about throwing dice. It works and never will stop working. This game offers fun strategic choices in what abilities you upgrade, when you use your CP to play cards, and which dice do you reroll on each attempt. The multitude of heroes to play with and being completely compatible with the original Dice Throne: Season One characters gives a lot of replay value. Everyone has enjoyed this game and it has hit the table far more than I expected it to when I invested in it.
Age Range & Weight
8+ is a perfect rating. The hand management part of the game will be the hardest thing for a younger audience to do. But the actual rolling and choosing abilities is very easy to get into. Parents should look over the characters and encourage younger players to work with characters that have less status effects to control. Each character rates its difficulty to make it easy to pick appropriately. For example, the Artificer claims to be complex and has by far the most decisions and status effects to manage and time during a match. The samurai on the other hand is very straight forward.
Dice Throne: Season One impressed us already. Dice Throne: Season Two has exceeded absolutely all expectations. The build quality gives it exceptional shelf and table presence while not having a single let down when unpacking and playing a character. The gameplay itself can be very quick and simple or can ramp up the tension with an absolutely critical decision to make before the final reroll.
With so many characters available in the Battle Chest, it is unlikely we ever get to where any given matchup feels overdone. We can keep rotating characters and go dozens of games before we hit a repeat matchup. If you get the chance to pick up your own battle chest, do it!