A Dicey Evening with King's Forge

August 28, 2013

kingforge I have a deep, dark hatred of dice. I am a fierce and vocal opponent of randomness in games. If I win in a game, I want it to be because of my own merits. If I lose in a game, I want to be able to pinpoint what I did wrong and learn from my mistake. This is just how I am. So when a game comes along that is essentially a big bucket-full of dice and some decks of cards, you may be asking why I would even care - why would I bother letting dice decide my fate in a game? Well, I'm not quite sure how to answer that, but at some point King's Forge won me over into wanting to sit down and play it. It originally got stuck in my craw some months ago when it was simply called “Forge” and I was searching the word “Forge” on BGG to find out what I couldn't call my own game. It looked interesting enough, a little bit on the light side, but it stuck with me until it popped up on Kickstarter a month or so ago. Oh, you may have changed your name, but I recognized you immediately. And then I read the full description and watched some gameplay videos, and it start to get to me. This wasn't just about rolling a bunch of dice and bowing at the feet of randomness. There was a lot of strategy about how to use your dice and about balancing long-term goals versus short-term goals. What was this welling up inside me? Was it a desire to play this dice game? To revel in its dice-ness? Well, I was head to GenCon, so I decided to keep my eye out for it. And lo-and-behold, you could check out a copy from Game Salute and play it at your leisure. I had already memorized the rules (what? I love reading rules...), so my friend and I didn't even need a teacher. We just sat down and started messing with the dice. There were a couple metal-only designs to begin with, but I was looking down the road at the vast amounts of green and red dice required. I had determined to play this game in a tactical manner, so I started amassing an empire of dice, and my friend got out to an early lead. Then ruthless things started happening with the peddler gather card. You see, our options for getting red and blue dice were limited, but there was that peddler, ready to steal precious red dice from your opponent. There were multiple designs that needed 2 or 3 red and it quickly became a craps shoot as to whose turn it was when the peddler came out. Because if my friend had 3 red dice and needed to craft that necklace and I pulled the peddler, well, then he was out of luck. It eventually came down to a 3-4 scoring with the swift sword (2 black, 2 red) and a sword of kings (black, green, red, blue) left. I once again screwed him out of having enough red to build the swift sword, so we both went after the other one and I managed to steal it from him to tie up the game. Then it all came down to one last roll, where I was able to pick up more bonuses while he had to scramble for the right dice. All in all, I enjoyed it, but I think it would have been better with more people and I really didn't like the power swings caused by the peddler (exacerbated with only 2 players), but, then again, there are plenty of extra gather cards, so that one could just be removed if you're playing a 2 player game. It is sort of funny though, that I got more frustrated from the random draw of the gather cards more than the randomness of the dice rolling. There's so many ways to offset your rolls and improve them that I was able to see past all that chaos and just enjoy rolling a big fistful of dice, which, okay, I'll admit, was pretty great. It would add a little complexity, but I'm sort of a fan scaling costs for actions, like in Through the Ages. So maybe there could be 6 gather cards on the table, but 2 of them are sort of the “future” gather cards, which could still be picked up now, but maybe cost you an extra die. I don't know, I guess I could make that a house rule if I pick up the game. Anyway, so, yeah, I'll admit that I'm still sort of on the fence about the game. I know certain people who would just love it, and there is a simplicity combined with a depth of strategy to it that would probably even make it a great game to play with my hot wife. Given my loathing of dice, the fact that someone could make a game almost exclusively of dice that would cause me to even be on the fence about it – well, I think that is praise enough.

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