If you recall back to our (very recent) review of Dice Throne: Season Two, you’ll recall that we lauded Roxley Games’ latest dice chucker for being a simple, enjoyable head-to-head game that paired the randomness of dice rolling with the satisfaction of putting the player in control. In today’s preview, we’re taking a look at the soon to be released Dice Throne Adventures, which is a fully featured solo and cooperative expansion to either season of the base game.
Now, you may not know this, but in the world of Dice Throne Adventures, there’s an evil mad king who must be taken down, despite the characters’ previously established desire to pummel each other repeatedly into submission. Thankfully, the belligerents of the first and second seasons are able to set aside their differences for just long enough to decide that he can only be taken down if they work together as one united front.
In Street Fighter terms, this bloke is every bit as bad as M. Bison, but it’s actually another famous video game series — Diablo — that inspired Dice Throne Adventures. With any combination of heroes (currently two to four, but I understand that the final game will include solo rules for a single hero) the players will set up a semi-random dungeon based on a set of scenarios included right out of the box.
Each stage is intended to become progressively harder, with the enemy bringing increasingly powerful minions, traps and bosses into each fight, as marked by the level I, II and III cards that make up each dungeon. Every scenario has its own objective which may or may not include tracking down several objectives, and who knows, there may even be unique bosses or other features that haven’t made it into our preview copy.
There are two sample levels in my preview version of the game, and whilst I don’t know what is in store for the full release, each of the levels that I’ve played will likely take about an hour for two players to complete. There are two boss characters included in my preview (the Fallen Gunslinger and the Barbarian) and both are challenging to defeat and have features that scale for player count.
Despite being in a relatively early stage of development, the preview version of Dice Throne Adventures already shows the hallmarks of quality production that Roxley Games has become known for. Each card is bedecked with superb, thematic artwork and the thickness and quality of the pieces is up there with the best. Looking at the Kickstarter page, it appears that miniatures may be available, although our version came with cardboard standees.
One interesting feature of the preview that we received is the two boss characters, who each come with their own fold out boards and deck of cards — much as if they were heroes. While they do share dice (all bad guys use one set of dice, for simplicity) there’s nothing to strictly prohibit or prevent players from using these characters in versus or multiplayer bouts that I can see. I am curious to learn more about whether that’s deliberate, and how the community will use it to further enhance their experience.
We have no printed manual (because there isn’t one yet) but learning the game from a PDF file was very straightforward, and Dice Throne Adventures follows the same turn structure as the base game, meaning that it is simple to teach and easy to remember. Most importantly, there is very little for returning players to learn — it’s really all handled in the setup bar a few monster and scenario specific points.
Once Dice Throne Adventures is actually setup, the flow is very simple to follow. When the players are not engaged in combat they are free to move across any tile that has already been explored. Effects on each tile are only activated once, at the point of being explored, so there’s no need to read the text each time — this keeps the pace high and prevents one player’s turn from taking a gratuitous amount of time.
When a fight starts a minion card will usually be drawn (assuming it’s not a boss encounter) and then the player who is in combat will fight as per the normal rules of Dice Throne, albeit with a few rules about how the enemy behaves. Some enemies, for example, strike first, while others have special rules about what happens when a certain number of tokens are collected.
It’s entirely possible for any, or even all, heroes to fight the same enemy, although — in relative terms — enemies engaged in this way will inflict more damage on the overall party as they attack each player that they are engaged with on each of the players’ turns. This leads to some interesting tactics about whether the party should split up, or forge on together.
Another interesting feature of Dice Throne Adventures is loot. This comes in two varieties; gold and just plain old loot. This, I guess, is the other feature borrowed from Diablo (alongside the partially randomised dungeons) because the players will work together to obtain it, then equip it to their characters (either in hand or on the hero board) in order to expand their skills.
Gold and upgraded equipment can be carried from one mission to the next, allowing players to enjoy the lightest (and yet no less rewarding) of campaign based settings. I took two characters through level one into level two, and I loved the feeling that my decks were being built out to allow the characters to specialise more and more. Over the course of however many missions there are in the final version, this could be a real game changer.
It is early days for Dice Throne Adventures, but it feels like the foundations for an excellent solo or cooperative experience are well and truly laid. It’s neat that Roxley Games decided to lead with their purely player-versus-player versions first, but Dice Throne Adventures already feels much more like a complete product than a simple expansion. If the full campaign lives up to expectations then I’d expect this to become an essential part of every Dice Throne fan’s collection.
You can find out more about Dice Throne Adventures on the project’s Kickstarter page.