A Review of Dice Throne Adventures (the cooperative expansion for Dice Throne)

Dice Throne Adventures is an expansion for the Dice Throne series of games.  This expansion turns Dice Throne into a cooperative game for 1-4 players.  The original Dice Throne is a competitive, dice-chucking, 1 vs. 1 game, where each player takes the role of a mythical character trying to defeat the other player.  The cooperative expansion has the players explore a world and fight big-bad bosses together!  Essentially, Dice Throne Adventures takes the core Dice Throne game, and throws the players into a party working together to defeat the Mad King and his minions!!

Introduction

So, in March 2018 (quite some time ago), my friend Sam and I played Dice Throne (Season 1) at Dice Tower Con West in Las Vegas. I usually don’t like 1 vs. 1 games, but the game was pretty, and I had heard good things about it. We checked it out from the Dice Tower Con library and gave it a go, and you know what? It was fun! It was pretty to look at, easy to learn, and easy to play. There were fun decisions along the way, and we got to chuck a lot of dice. Sam and I enjoyed it enough that it was one of my favorite memories of that Dice Tower Con West 2018!

Kickstarter

Based on my good impression of the game with Sam, I went full in (“Legendary Collector”) on the Kickstarter for Dice Throne Adventures back in August 2019. The “Legendary Collector” pledge included everything (and I mean everything) for Dice Throne: Season 1 (rerolled), Season 2, expansion packs, stretch goals, a dice bowl, miniatures, cards sleeves, and a play mat. But the real reason I backed it: it added a cooperative expansion to the game called Dice Throne Adventures (this is a cooperative games blog after all). As you can see above, there’s a lot of stuff! It was possibly the biggest box of stuff I have ever ordered!!

The big box arrived a few days ago, and I have spent the entire weekend getting into this!

A Discussion

Before we get into Dice Throne Adventures proper, we need to take a look at the precursors Dice Throne Season 1 (Rerolled) and Dice Throne Season 2. Why? Because you cannot play Dice Throne Adventures without first understanding how the core Dice Throne works: all of the mechanisms in Dice Throne Adventures build on the core mechanisms of Dice Throne. In fact, there’s a little blurb in the Dice Throne Adventures rulebook that says just that (see below):

So, we’ll take a detour into Dice Throne before we end our journey in Dice Throne Adventures!

Dice Throne: Season 1 Unboxing

The first thing you notice is that the Season 1 box is pretty big! Opening it up, you see why:

There’s 8 large game trays, 1 for each of the Heroes in the first season.

Each Hero has beautifully drawn art!

There’s a surprising number of tokens hidden in the middle plastic bag, along with the rulebook (and some ads). These tokens are all status tokens for the Heroes! I learned the hard way that each hero has it’s own set of tokens, so even after I went through and punched out all the tokens, I had to open up EVERY GAME TRAY again to put the appropriate tokens in the game!!

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Each Game Tray holds the hero, the dice, cards, and a little reference sheet.

The sleeves were “extra”: they don’t come with the game (as you had to buy them separately):

A quick note: if you DO get the sleeves, note that there are 50 sleeves but only 32 (33 if you get the expansion pack) cards PER character! What are the other sleeves for? The extra sleeves are for loot in the Game Throne Adventures expansion! They were thinking ahead! (In the expansion, you will add to your deck as you progress). See below.

The components are magnificent. This game is truly gorgeous. I am not even sure you need the sleeves, as the cards are linen finished.

Note that each character also some counters to help them count health (if you are reduced to zero health by the other player, you lose) and something called a combat counter (see above).

There was also a nice little promo that adds some more cards to each character, and some randomizers to help you pick characters if you just want a random character!

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They thought ahead and notated the cards that were promos (see the bottoms of the cards). This shows forethought!

Season 1 Rulebook

 

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The Dice Throne rulebook is a thin little book (see above), but it’s good. Now, the rulebook doesn’t show components, but SINCE THE GAME COMES SO NEATLY PACKAGED WHEN YOU OPEN IT, you don’t need a components page! You just grab a Game Tray and jump right in! So, the first page talks about what’s in each little box and what they are (see below for a closer look).

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And in one quick page, you can see how easy it is to set-up the game!

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The basic game flow is described in the next few pages (see above left for the overview). This is really a superb little rulebook, and everything I remember about why I liked Dice Throne that first time! Easy to set-up, easy to read, easy to start playing!

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This is a good rulebook. And it’s very nicely produced as well.

Dice Throne Season 1 Solo Game: Me vs Me

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Now, there are no solo rules for Dice Throne. It’s strictly a 1 vs 1 game: The first player tries to beat-up the second player and vice versa! The first player to 0 health loses and the other player wins! It’s a very simple win condition! Like we said earlier, you have to understand the base game before you jump into Dice Throne Adventures! So what did I do? I played a solo game of me vs. me to remind myself of the core rules. See above, I set-up the Paladin (also my character at Dice Tower Con West) …

… and then I set-up the Monk on the other side of the table. (Note the mat and the little Dice bowl came with the Kickstarter and are NOT standard in the game, but I believe you can still buy them). My plan: play the game as me vs. me, constantly going back and forth between the two sides. And you know what, it worked fine! It was a little bit of overload (as learning two completely different sets of characters was a bit much), but it worked okay. It did take a little bit longer than a real Dice Throne game would take (as I had to switch sides, remind myself of abilities, and context switch). I played both sides as best I could and reminded myself how to play the base game.

For the record, this worked well! If you feel you can handle the context switching, I would recommend this as a way to learn the core rules to Dice Throne. Oh, and who won in the epic battle between the Monk and The Paladin? The Monk!

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Dice Throne Season 2 Unboxing

So, Dice Throne Season 2 is really just more of the same: it’s eight new characters for the Dice Throne world.

There’s a new promo pack (like Season 1)

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Everything is very much like Season 1, just more!

If you want more characters, pick up Season 2! (The rules are essentially identical, modulo the new characters).

Dice Throne Adventures Unboxing

Of course, the real reason everyone is here is to hear about Dice Throne Adventures: the cooperative expansion!  Let’s take a look inside!

The expansion continues the tradition of using Game Trays to keep things well kept together.  There’s a token tray, a “player” card tray, and a “Boss Card” tray, all packed nicely in the box. 

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I was surprised to see so many status tokens (see above) after playing the base game.  Can’t you just use the status tokens from the characters? Nope!  It turns out the bad guys (minions and big bosses) have statuses too! And they fit nicely in the tray.

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One of the trays holds the Bosses (and the final Big Boss, the Mad King).  If you think these bosses kinda feel like normal characters, you would be right! They fold out like characters (below) and even have status sheets (above left).

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It turns out, they will play differently than a player character.

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There’s some dice: the Bad Guys get 5 “chaos” dice (like the normal players getting 5 dice). The fact that there’s 10 tells me that we will PROBABLY be fighting two bad guys at once at some point … notice there are also 20 sided dice: each player will use one for a “loot” roll later in the game.

Notice the standee stands … the game comes with standees, and they look fine, but I went ahead and ordered the miniatures.

Of all the components in the game, the miniatures are probably the most extravagent and least useful.  They simply mark where you are on the map when you explore.  They look cool, but I am not sure if they were worth the extra cost.

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They look nice on the table.

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The Loot (see above) is probably the coolest part of the new expansion.  As you explore and kill minions and bosses, you get new Loot which allows you to upgrade you deck!  There’s Common, Rare, Epic, and Legacy (note the little initials on the bottom).

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Putting all this cards together can be daunting: look at what you get above!! There are a tons of cards!! But, there is a nice little picture in the rulebook showing how it all fits together:

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And voila!

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A quick view of a few more components:

The components are still fantastic, and the expansion looks and feels just like the original Dice Throne!!  The game is just gorgeous!

Dice Throne Adventures Rulebook

Now, like all good rulebooks, Dice Throne Adventures starts with a list of all components: there is SO MUCH content in this game, it’s absolutely essential to show it all and list it.  I had no problem correlating components to the pictures (above and below) as I tried getting the box in order.

And, as we hope for: the next page shows a very nice sprawling set-up of the game.

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Now, this rulebook is longer and bigger than the core game!  There are a lot of rule to read, but I got through them very quickly.   The rulebook is very well written and the graphic design is excellent.

Be aware: there are a lot of rules!  These rules AUGMENT the core Dice Throne rules!  There’s NO explanation of the base game in the rulebook: it assumes you already know how to play the base game!  That sounds daunting, but I never felt like there were too many rules.  I thought this rulebook was well laid-out, well-written, and well presented.

Dice Throne Adventures Set-Up

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This game takes up a LOT of real estate on the board (see above).  Part of that is keeping the rulebook somewhere so it’s easy to read, but even still, this game is sprawling!  Luckily, the set-up picture from the rulebook makes this pretty easy.

Dice Throne Adventures: True Solo Play!

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Dice Throne Adventures can be played with 1-4 players: each player takes a unique Dice Throne hero from any season of Dice Throne and assumes the mantle of that character!  A solo player simply takes one character and plays that throughout the game.  This game is a campaign, as you alternate between exploring (Portal Crawls) and big-bad fighting (Boss Fights).  The game starts in Portal Mode:

Basically, you have to explore the world of tiles (which usually reveal monsters you have to fight): in order to win in Portal Mode, you have to collect 3 dice shards and make it to the final Dice Portal to fight the IVth level minion!    A sample revealed tile might look like:

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The game is self-balancing for 1-4 players as various set-ups adjust based on the number of players (starting health, starting combat points, etc).  The game works fine in solo mode … ALTHOUGH!  I almost died because I got poisoned!!!  Other characters (like the Monk) make it easy to get rid of bad status tokens, but I had to almost go through my entire deck to find the cards that help me get rid of statuses.  I think if I had been playing with one other player, he would have been able to help me heal quickly.

That poison incident made me realize that solo play can be a little worrisome if you get the wrong statuses or the wrong rolls: you are less likely to survive and it might feel less fun. Having said that, it was “fun” tension (trying to heal the poison), but I can see solo play more likely to go wrong.

Combat With Minions

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The core mechanism in the Portal Crawl is fighting Level 1-4 Monsters.  Above is a Level II monster. Combat with the monsters is very much like a simplified version of the main Dice Throne combat.  Each monster has an “objective”, so you don’t have to do any real roll playing to operate the monsters.  After you attack, the monsters throw the “Chaos” dice, trying to meet their objective (they get 2 more rerolls, just like Dice Throne heroes).  If they make it, great! Then it’s combat goes off and smacks you … you get to defend normally! 

It really feels like a simplified version of core Dice Throne combats.

Level Up!

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One of the funnest parts of the game was levelling up your deck with LOOT at the end of a scenario!  I was able to buy 3 of the loot above and make my Paladin deck that much better!  And that’s why you get 50 sleeves!!! Your deck can only have at most 50 cards after you buy loot!!  

Dice Throne Adventures Boss Fight

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After you have gotten some new cards, the next adventure is to fight the big boss.  NOTE! This is considered a separate session!  Doing the “Portal CRawls” will likely take 1.5 to 2 hours, and the Big Boss fight will likely take 1.5-2 hours, so you probably want to do them on separate sessions!

Above, we are fighting the corrupted Barbarian.   This feels VERY much like the solo Me vs. Me game in many ways!! But, like the level 1-4 monsters had “Objective rolls”, you will draw cards to see what the Objective Rolls are for the Big Boss that turn!   The difference is that the Big Bad feels like operating another Hero.

Even though there are a few new ways to “run” the Big Boss, it really feels like the Me vs. Me solo game.

Thoughts

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Dice Throne Adventures is a campaign.  As you alternate between Portal Crawls and Boss Fights, you make your way to the final Boss Fight: the Mad King.  If you ever “lose” a scenario (everyone dies), then you have to play it again.  There are elements of exploration in Portal Crawls, and there are elements of deck-augmentation (as you make your Hero deck better), but at the end of the day, the core mechanic of this game is throwing dice.   Just like the base game, there are a ton of interesting decisions along the way (Do I reroll again?  How do I allocate my dice?), but my only concern is that dice rolling will be repetitive after a while.  The loot and treasure do a good job of distracting you from the dice rolling for a little bit, but then it’s right back in.  But look, Dice Throne is one of the best dice chucking games I have played!  If you like the base mechanic, there is more of it.

The game rulebook is really well designed: the FAQ answered most of my questions, but there is one thing that’s not clear.  How much do you reset after a battle? I think the answer is that you keep all your Combat Points, all your Statuses, all your health, and all the cards in your hand: I think the ONLY thing that changes is that you take down your equipment and upgrades after a combat (at least, that’s what the FAQ said).   This makes you think about maybe doing some simple combats (just to boost some stats) before doing a hard combat.  In other words, this adds a little decision and tension, as your current status doesn’t just “reset” after a combat! 

Dice Throne Adventures Conclusion

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If I hadn’t enjoyed the original Dice Throne back at Dice Tower Con West, I probably would NOT have picked up the full complement of Dice Throne merchandise. But you know what? I am glad I did! I enjoyed the base game, I enjoyed the Me vs. Me way to learn the game! I might have even picked up the core Dice Throne if it didn’t have Dice Throne Adventures!! In the end, though, I prefer cooperative games and I liked what the Dice Throne Adventures added to the system! There’s a lot of upgrading your character (with loot and new cards), there’s some exploration, and there’s cooperation as you help your buddies.

Would I recommend buying everything at once like I did? Probably not. I would recommend trying Dice Throne in isolation first (as I did), and if you like it, ease into more content. Would I recommend getting everything JUST to get the cooperative game? The price point is so high to get to that point, again, I’d say probably not. The game can get just a little repetitive in Dice Throne Adventures (as you mostly just fight monsters all the time), but the upgrading and treasure keeps it from being too repetitive. I am really glad I went all in on this game. It’s gorgeous, it’s easy to get into, and there’s a lot of fun stuff here.

2 thoughts on “A Review of Dice Throne Adventures (the cooperative expansion for Dice Throne)

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