One of the benefits of going to conventions is the opportunity to view and try games one might not otherwise have found. By walking up and down the many aisles, I've stumbled upon many a small publishers with only one or two games in their catalog. Every year there is some sleeper hit hidden among the crowd of larger publishers, such as the game I'm reviewing today.
God Dice was designed by Rick Maxey and published by Maxveld Games in 2008; it supports 2-4 players, and takes 30 minutes to an hour to play. The game comes with 12 character cards, 9 attack dice, 2 "God Dice," a set of rules, and some counters. This game is dice geared combat, so if you're not a fan of dice games or games with heavy randomness, you probably won't be interested in this one. If, however, you enjoy a quick combat game and trash-talk, pick this one up.
After teams have been selected, the first player begins their turn by pushing forward one of their characters (indicating this is their active character) and rolling the God Dice--these are the two six-sided dice with letters on them. These dice are identical, each side designated to one of the characters; if the active characters' letters are rolled, an advantage can be given to the attacker or defender as follows: One letter matches the attacker, the attacker may reroll their first attack dice roll. One letter matches the defender, the defender may decide to have the attacker reroll their first attack roll. Two dice match the defender, the attacker's turn ends immediately with no attack. Two dice match the attacker, the defender is killed automatically. Lastly, if two matching letters are rolled for a character that is not involved in the battle, the direction of play is reversed (play begins clockwise, but this can change several times during the game).
Assuming no pairs of letters were thrown, the player then rolls all nine attack dice. These dice are also identical, having one Yellow, Blue and Red side, two "5" sides and one "0" side. Depending on which character you re currently using, you will need a different combination of colors to execute the different attacks (see the right side of the image above). More likely than not you will have to re-roll some of these dice to complete an attack. Re-rolls in God Dice are similar but very different from Yatzee. On a player's turn they take all five of the chits representing the sides of the attack dice; if a player chooses to make a re-roll, they must discard one of these chits, re-rolling all of the dice with the discarded symbol. The player does not need to use all the re-rolls, and may stop at any time, particularly if they have fulfilled one of the attack requirements. So long as a player can match the dice needed for an attack, damage is then dealt to the defending player equal to the number of "5's" rolled plus any modifiers based on the attack rolled. As an example, let's again look at the Hero card above; if the player rolled five Red's and two 5's, they would do 10 damage for the two 5's rolled, plus the bonus 15 damage for the Lacerate attack, for a total of 25 damage. Keep in mind it is possible that a player can fail at an attack, having used all their re-rolls and not being able to match any of the dice combinations to complete an attack.
The opposing player would move their damage chit along their character's health, removing that character from the game if the damage takes them to zero health. Play then proceeds to the next player; that player may opt to put out a new active character (since they were just attacked, they may want to move a character back if only to protect it, or to make use of another character's abilities), and they then proceed with their turn, starting by rolling the God Dice. Play continues until only one player has characters remaining.
I enjoy this game, particularly when I'm looking for something quick and light to play for 2-4 people. The character drafting has a little strategy to it and doesn't add much to the length of the game, and turns are generally quick. There's a great sense of satisfaction at pulling off special attacks. The game itself is also inexpensive: looking at online retailers, it's around $15. My main quibble is with the God Dice themselves--rolling these two dice seems extraneous to me, and rolling doubles almost always seems frustrating--if play is reversed you're attacking someone you didn't plan on attacking, if you roll double your opponent's letter you don't get a turn, and if you roll double your own number your opponent's character dies immediately, and you don't get a turn.
Next week I may not have internet access. This means two things: 1. I'm going to write and "schedule" a post to go up on Tuesday of next week. 2. It's not going to work, likely due to some insignificantly small yet essential error, and there will be no post up next week. Yes, that's me, 100% optimist.
Lastly, congratulations to my wife, Jackie, who is completing her last class this weekend and will officially have her Masters in Business. I love you, Jackie.