In the dark ages before the Internet transcended its dial-up form, people entertained themselves by rolling bones that had been carved into cubes. People from that elder generation may remember the game Dragon Dice, which has recently been relaunched by SFR, Inc to the great excitement of fans both old and new. Now, SFR takes the concept of combat dice rolling to the next level with Daemon Dice.
The setting is Hell. Gladiatorial combat is commonplace for the entertainment of its many denizens and the vicarious dueling that is the reasonable solution to any problems that may arise. Each player takes up a set of dice to represent a fighter in that fiery ring, and the last daemon standing wins, although he has most likely lost a few body parts. Exceptional cover art by Jeremy McHugh really sets the scene as players move into a strategic mindset pitting one horrendous creature against another.
Daemon Dice comes has a somewhat steep learning curve. The gameplay is seemingly very straightforward: roll the dice and determine what happens based on the symbols. There are seven basic symbols giving defensive moves, attacks, or bonuses, and then there are 13 additional symbols referencing body parts, each with their own special abilities. An Arm can be a deflect or a stun, a Pincer makes the attack a wound, and a Tentacle can be used to tie up an opponent’s die. The game speeds up quickly as players become familiar with the symbols.
Each turn comes in four easy steps of rolling, recovering stunned dice, defending, and attacking, followed by the opponent’s turn. The game goes on as players gradually lose their dice in combat damage until one side is depleted and thus the loser. Determining what dice are best used in which position is made much simpler with a downloadable playmat that gives zones to each condition, making the states clearer by making them spatial rather than abstract.
At its core, the game is very simple in defending and attacking. The variables with body parts take a solid, simple core and tweak it, making for an increasingly strategic and intriguing game. Only the starter pack has been released thus far, but already the rules have bonuses for the two first breeds of daemons, Frost (blue/yellow with extra stunning abilities) and Rot (black/red with the power to turn stuns to wounds). Like a collectible card game, players can customize their dice sets, playing with smaller numbers of dice for quick fights or huge sets of dice for epic battles as well as pooling special attacks against particular enemies.
Using its starter set, Daemon Dice is a game for two players ages 10 and up with battles that last about 20 minutes. Additional sets give the game more daemons, meaning as many as eight players can be rolling against one another in a huge free-for-all or tag-team fight. DD will continue to expand as more sets are introduced with more breeds of daemons with their own special powers. Further plans mentioned on SFR’s website include weapons, armor, and even items. With a straightforward and very adaptable battle mechanic, Daemon Dice has only begun to show what havoc it can wreak.