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!
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.
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.
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?
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.