Review: Dig Down Dwarf by Grey Gnome Games

Dig Down Dwarf by Grey Gnome Games, (2014) is a fast-paced dice game in which each player takes on the role of a dwarf chieftain in line for the throne. In the game, you roll dice to obtain gems from the mine. Gain the most valuable collection of gems, and you’ll be crowned the new dwarf king!

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After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Dig Down Dwarf is finally getting into backer’s hands and soon (hopefully), into your FLGS.  Designed by Jason Glover, Dig Down Dwarf enters a competitive arena with other fast-playing dice games like Dungeon Roll from TMG and Age of War from FFG.  How does it fare?

Gameplay: Each player takes a card representing one of the potential heirs to the Dwarven throne.  4 random gems are drawn from bag, adding two more gems each turn, as players attempt to roll poker hands (2 of a kind, 3 of a kind, straight, 4 of a kind, etc.) on 4d6, each die has a different color.  Rolling a 1 on a die locks it and it can’t be rerolled, but the others can be rolled up to two more times, Yahtzee-style.  Each turn can garner the player gemstones which represent victory points but can also be spent for more powerful actions like re-rolling the dice or gaining a 5th die to roll to help gain more gems on future turns.  If you roll a 6 on your favored die color (depicted on your card), you can use a special power on your card.

Most of the game is simply rolling the dice and making the best decisions you can with what you’ve got, with some options for special actions at times.  The game is over once the last gem is drawn from the bag and all players have had a turn.  Add up the points for gems, plus bonuses and high score wins.

While everything comes down to dice rolls and whatever gems are randomly drawn and available, there are still a number of choices to make in your turn, particularly how/if you spend gems you own to gain more gems, additional powers or just get a chance to reroll.

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What do I think of Dig Down Dwarf?

The good:  Straight away, I think this game is a lot of fun and is very easy to teach.  It hits the sweet spot for a filler game very well and the rules are clean and play fast.  The game is light, but I always felt like I had choices to make, and they were not always easy ones.  No one is likely to get analysis paralysis from what this games offers, but it is not mindless either.

The entire game fits in a 5”x5”x1.5” box.  Considering the game includes 45 plastic gems in a cool drawstring bag, 5 large dice and 12 linen finish cards (as well as a large plastic gem to indicate current player – Kickstarter exclusive), this game offers the highest quality components for a minimal price.

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The Not So Good:  The game doesn’t offer much player interaction. Yes, there is an opportunity for one player can swap gems with another player, but it doesn’t occur often. Most of the game is players waiting for their turn, doing the best they can on their turn and passing to the next player. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, but there isn’t a lot in the game to engage players during the down-time between turns.

The high quality of the components really contrasted with the art on the cards, which is downright amateur.  I’m not trying to be mean, but I didn’t think the art added anything to the game and, if anything, it detracted.

What is the judgment call on Dig Down Dwarf?

RETRY

Dig Down Dwarf holds its own within the light-game genre, and bests many. It is a solid filler game and I will play it regularly for a while.  I’m really glad I backed this Kickstarter, and hope to see it in stores soon. For more info, see Grey Gnome Games website.

Viceroy board Game on Kickstarter now until Dec. 27

Viceroy is a bidding and resource management table top game from Russia.  It premiered at Essen Germany at Spiel 2014 and sold out before NOON on the first day.  It hit the HOTNESS on Boardgamegeek.com immediately and demand was clearly present to bring Viceroy to the USA, Canada and Europe.

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Mayday Games answered that challenge, putting the game on Kickstarter.  It sailed past the $10k funding goal in the first 8 hours and has continued to reach stretch goal after stretch goal (increasing component quality or adding new ones).  In short, it’s already a huge success and it still has 18 days to go on KS (as of this writing).

Viceroy Game

 

On Kickstarter, a single copy of the game (plus stretch goals) is $22 plus $5 shipping in US.  That is the full game, shipped for $27, when it will hit MSRP for $35 in stores later in 2015.  The Kickstarter campaign closes December 27, 2014, so if you want in on it, back this one now.

Check out the KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN, HERE.  Don’t miss the gameplay videos or the reviews, which are stellar.

Yes, it is the Cult of the New, but this game has promise, stunning artwork and very interesting gameplay I have not seen in another game. 

Game Review: Car Wars, 4th Edition is a Missed Opportunity for SJG

I just got my copy of the 2014 release of Car Wars and can testify that the quality of the components is as weak as shown in the unboxing video by Gamer Goggles, here.

This is for Car Wars, 4th Edition, 2nd printing, 2014 $19.99 from Steve Jackson Games, which released in November.

Originally published in 1981, Car Wars is a game where players build vehicles complete with weapons, armor and so on, and then they duel with each other.  There are many reviews out there of previous versions  that tell you about the game play of Car Wars, so I will focus on what Car Wars, 4th Edition brings to the table.

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Different from the previous version, this version has  thicker cardboard counters than the original, but they came pre-punched in a plastic bag, so I can’t verify if the set is complete, other than count 103 pieces an hope they put all the right pieces in the bag.  I dislike this presentation and much prefer to be given the sheet of counters.

The ‘turning key’ is thin cardstock, like the original, and that is disappointing because it is such a useful tool and would benefit from being printed on chipboard or at least, thicker card stock.

The rule book is 64 pages, black and white on printer paper, and the map is of course, black and white printing on paper stock, folded up.

The game included four, 6-sided dice, but even they are low grade and I won’t be using them.

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With so much opportunity for improvement over previous versions, SJG phoned this one in.  I dig Car Wars, but all my old stuff from the 1980’s is as good as this version, the sole exception being thicker counters and a new box.

Scott Haring (Line Editor for Car Wars) was quoted as saying this is a “Classic” version of the game (YouTube link here), but I am disappointed to see so little work going into this release.

By “Classic,” I guess they mean that the quality is as crumby as it was in the 80’s.  I can understand making a classic version of the game, not doing a rewrite of the rules with new, color artwork, but this is on printer paper.  At least print the rulebook on gloss.  Print the maps on cardstock that pieces together, puzzle style, rather than a big piece of folded-up paper.  And those lousy 12mm dice… nobody wants the dice in this box.

After seeing what was done in OGRE Designer Edition, maybe my expectations were too high.  Still, I only expected some degree of concern over appearance.  I will forever refer to this release of Car Wars as CAR WARS – the Neglected Version, because that is exactly what I thought when I opened the box – this looks like nobody cared.

What a missed opportunity for SJG to introduce new players to this very fun game.  I expect that most new players will open the box, see the lack of effort put into the product, and pass.  The ones that actually play it will likely be die-hard fans of the game like myself, but then, I would play it anyway, and I will, but it won’t be this version.   It’s just too… sad.

ARIF Rating: ABORT unless you are an old school Car Wars player who no longer has a copy and is jonesing to play.

Review of Hipster Dice. Yes, it is a Thing.

Note: I’m doing a straight review of Hipster Dice, though a review of something so silly begs for arrogant hipster ad-libbing. I know I’m being boring, mainstream and commercial, Mr. Obvious. Duh.

Ok, the review is not completely straight.  Whatever.

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Hipster Dice by Steve Jackson Games retails for $4.99 and consists of a single, custom, faux vintage 19mm die and faux vintage instruction sheet in a blister package.

The game is agnostically rebelling with the title itself – dice is plural, and there is only one. Calling it “Hipster Die” has an entirely different meaning, so I understand the misnomer, but Hipster Die sounds infinitely more fun to me. This is Hipster Dice (with one die and no hipsters dying). So mote it be.

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The package says, “Hipster Dice is a party game, if you are into that sort of thing.”

I like party games and I like Steve Jackson Games. $5 was burning a hole in my pocket so I picked up Hipster Dice. I’m here as a PSA and living warning to save you $5, but I’ll tell you what this thing is all about.

To play Hipster Dice, you will need these things:

  1. Tokens, pen and paper, or some way of keeping score (not included)
  2. A device connected to the internet (not included)
  3. Other people who are willing to participate (not likely)

The 6-sided die has an icon for each of the following categories:

  • Music your friends have not heard
  • Fashion that isn’t too commercial
  • Drinks your friends have not tried
  • Movies your friends have not seen
  • Literature your friends haven’t read
  • Food that is not mainstream and the places you find it.

Each turn, a player rolls the die and says something about the category rolled in the most over-entitled, self-centered way possible.

Example: “Have you seen Terry Gilliam’s latest movie? It’s not in theaters. He only does personal screenings at his winter home in Cannes for his closest friends. The movie is an absolute hoot and stars his kids playing volleyball for four hours. Best. Thing. Ever.”

It doesn’t have to be true, just on topic for the category rolled.

If the others buy it, then you get one hipster cred (point).

If everyone has heard of it, you don’t get any hipster cred.

If any player calls you a Poseur, you are challenged. You have two minutes to search the internet and find proof that what you said is true, getting two hipster cred if you succeed, or if you fail, giving the challenger one of your hipster cred.

The game ends when one person has 5 or more hipster cred.

That’s it.

So, who is Hipster Dice for?

True, arrogant hipsters who will participate as if it were any other banal activity. Whatever.

Or

People who really want to spend 30 minutes or so making fun of arrogant hipsters.

If you are not in one of those categories, you probably won’t care for Hipster Dice.

Yes, I get the joke. It’s smile-worthy at best and numbingly pretentious at worst. I will say that the die is a quality engraved 19mm die, and comes in different color combinations, if colors are your thing. If you want it, get it now, since Hipster Dice has been published, it’s so out of vogue.

ARIF Rating:  Fail.  It may be collectable and cool in 10 or 20 years, but as of now, it is so yesterday.