It’s been a couple of weeks, but I’m back again with more Tainted Grail. Last time I had said that I was considering playing ahead to the point where I had lost last time, but I decided that I was going to take more time…
Back into Dungeons and Dragons settings with Dragonlance. This one is probably best known for the D&D books that came out around it, though it is one of the oldest settings for D&D. Dragonlance falls into that more classic fantasy flavor, which makes sense for something that has been around as long as it has.
In Dragonlance, you have a lot of stories and games that are going to be focused around the deities or dragons. Which is classic fantasy and classic Dungeons and Dragons. The deities are active in the world and are regularly fighting each other which of course is going to cause problems in the world that the adventurers are going to need to take care. The world where the characters join in is already going to be at the point where things have gone poorly and they are going to be fighting to bring things back to some level of good, or at least to keep the world from ending.
Dragonlance, being that it’s an earlier world doesn’t have the fully fleshed out set of races. While you’re going to have your classic races, Elves, Dwarves, and Humans, some of the other ones such as gnomes, halflings, tieflings, etc. aren’t going to be in this world. Much of this comes, again, from the time when this was created. Those other races were added onto Dungeons and Dragons at a later time. However, with that, because it’s been around so long, there are some well known NPC’s that you can interact with in the world. Raistlin is probably the most well known. He’s an extremely powerful mage, probably the most powerful in the land, so while he’s dealing with the bigger things, it would make sense then for the players to deal with smaller things that aren’t worth Raistlin’s notice.
So why would you play in this world? It’s fairly generic, and you don’t have the options that would be there in The Forgotten Realms which is also generic. I think that the reason you’d play here is that it’s going to have that grittier feel. If you wanted to play in a more generic settings but one that is darker and grittier, The Forgotten Realms is about being heroic, and while Dragonlance can have that feeling as well, it’s not going to be handed to you as much. Your characters will have to fight their way for it keeping track of everything. Now, that isn’t going to be for a lot of people. I would say that this is for the people who care more for the simulation piece of Dungeons and Dragons and a little bit less about the role playing piece. Not to say that you couldn’t play that more heroic style of game in Dragonlance, but what can set it apart is going less that direction and delving more into the darker and grittier side of fantasy.
As for the sort of games, it’s going to be the big epics. Eventually, your characters will be up there fighting with Raistlin against some deity or taking care of some dragon that he doesn’t have time for. It’s a world that is on the swords edge of falling into just complete war and chaos, which is what one of the gods wants, and the players will need to fight back those forces. You can do more stories in the world as well, but with the history and lore that is in place, that’s going to be a common style of game, is keeping Dragonlance and the lands of Krynn from falling into chaos and destruction that they can’t come back from. Again, leaning towards more of that fight for survival in a world that’s falling apart versus a grand heroic adventure.
So, would I play a game in Dragonlance? I’d play a game in any D&D setting, but I really don’t care to play in Dragonlance. Because it’s older, it would feel like an older setting with more constraints on what I can play and do. And this idea that it’s this darker and grittier world, just make something really bad happen in the Forgotten Realms or Eberron and you can gain that same survivalist feeling. So if I want this generic fantasy feel and to have that survival and darker setting, I can do that, I can even make it more unique in some other settings, so for me Dragonlance is a setting that’s had it’s moment and I really don’t care if I’d play in it.
Would you play or run a game in Dragonlance? Have you played a game in that setting before?
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While some of the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons are big and expansive, and Ravenloft can be, in fifth edition, you’ll find that Ravenloft is quite small. It’s also quite different as we’ve shifted away from something that’s heavy fantasy and into a world that…
From the deepest depth of the earth, you can hear the clang of the hammers as the players in this game forge their own dice to get more energy and more points. Dice Forge is a pretty fast dice game where your dice change throughout the game, in something that I haven’t really seen before. Can you get the right cards and faces of the dice so that you will be able to score the most points?
As I said, Dice Forge is a dice crafting game. At the start of the game each player has two dice with removable sides. The two dice are different, one with more of one crystal type and the other one with the other. And then a lot of gold. You use the crystals to buy cards that give you various actions that you can do or they give you points. The coins are used, and this is the most exciting part of the game, for buying sides of dice. The dice, you can pop a face off and put a new face on that gives you more money, points, or crystals. You play through a certain number of rounds and then the person with the most points from cards and scoring points during the game is the winner.
There most important thing to talk about is the dice. This seems like it could have been a gimmick that might not have worked that well, but it actually works really well. The dice are engineered extremely well, and you actually have to snap the face of the dice out and snap a new one in, and in several plays and plays of copies that have had more than a few plays, the dice are holding up well. Now, the tray for storing the dice sides that you’re going to put on, I think that it’s an interesting idea, but the sides are just sitting in there, and I don’t think that works as well that well, because a jostles can knock them loose, and moving the box can certainly mess that up even more. But the dice themselves are awesome, and making the best dice you possibly can is where the fun really comes in.
One of the mechanical things that I really like about the game is that you aren’t just rolling the dice on your turn. You roll the dice every turn, however, you can only spend what you’ve collected on your turn. So you have tracks where you are keeping track of how much gold you have as well as the crystals and points. So when you roll, you’re tracking it there, this should help give players something to do when it isn’t your turn, and because you’re only getting a roll of the dice when it is your turn, you should be able to start planning some. Now, that changes with two players, but in a multiplayer game, when you’re rolling on the turn previous to yours, you should have a plan already somewhat in place.
Let’s talk a bit about the card piece. I think that the cards work fine in this game. They are mainly going to give you points or the ability to manipulate what you have. This game has a fantasy theme on it and it’s mainly on the cards. However, that theme doesn’t really come through. I like that there is a theme, because there really isn’t any reason to have one, other than to make the game more aesthetically pleasing. The cards, however, they feel lackluster compared to the dice and changing the dice face. They are basically just another way to spend resources. I wish that it was more about the interesting dice side changing part of the game, but I understand that it would cost a whole lot more to change the cards into something more or to make more faces to add to the dice or even more of the dice.
Now, I called this a fast game, and it is. It says 45 minutes, in a two player game, it should take less time than that, but I played a four player game, and it took longer. I know some of that was the players I was playing with as two of them can have some to all the analysis paralysis on their turns. But I do think that a teaching game with four people is going to take longer than the 45 minutes, even though the game isn’t that difficult. Dice Forge, I think, is a good length and a good way to introduce engine building and resource management to new gamers. The tactile nature of the dice faces is really nice in the game and it’s going to draw people in to want to check out the game. And then, they did a good job with a simple game that will work well for lots of levels of gamers.
Overall, I like Dice Forge. I think that it does something really new and unique. I think that the game has good turn decision making, it doesn’t have long term planning because you don’t know what resources you’ll roll, but that helps keep the game something that is easier to introduce new gamers to. Dice Forge isn’t on my shelf, but that’s because I know people who have it, otherwise it probably would be for the ease of play and dice forging which is just a lot of fun.
Overall Grade: B
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A-
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There are some of these larger campaign games, Sword & Sorcery, Gloomhaven, and Tainted Grail, that can be hard to get a review done quickly. That’s simply because you need to play several chapters or scenarios to really get an idea of the game. So…