Sunday, May 21, 2017

Too Many Bones - An RPG Board Game

Kickstarter delivery!  I recently received my copy of Too Many Bones, and it is a grand adventure!

I saw a video of this game by Chip Theory Games on YouTube, and after watching several more videos by Ricky Royal (he is known for his excellent solitaire board game videos), decided to drop some coin.  A worthwhile spend to be sure.  Let's talk about components first.

I suppose this isn't a traditional board game due to the fact that their really is no "board."  What you get is a neoprene game mat, used to track the party's progress towards their goal.  There is also a set of dice and a neoprene mat for each Gearloc.  Gearlocs are the characters you can play.  Four are included in the started box, and you can order others separately (I picked up Ghille as an add-on).  As you can see, the dice are amazing!  These are not stickers you see; the design on each side is flush with the surface, and so far, is very durable.  Their is a set of about 20 dice for each character.  In addition, each Gearloc gets its own unique character mat.  The stats and skills on the mat are indicated by placing dice in the spaces provided.  This mechanic allows for an amazing variety of customization.  It is also where the RPG aspect of the game shines.  Even with the same Gearloc, each game can be different because of the number of skill choices you have.

Learning to play the game takeS a bit of time.  The instructions are well designed and easy to understand, and there is a walkthrough in the back of the rulebook.  However, I would strongly suggest taking a look at Ricky Royal's series on YouTube, as well the Too Many Bones videos made by Chip Theory Games themselves.  Adam, one of the game designers, gives a detailed breakdown on each Gearloc so you have a better idea of what to expect during game play.

Skill List for Gearloc Ghille

The game mechanics themselves are unique.  One of the things you will see on some of the dice are "bones," which indicate "misses."  The great thing about bones, however, is that for the player at least, they really aren't!  You can collect bones as they are rolled during combat, and then use them for something called Backup Plans.  The Plans are unique to each Gearloc, and most are extremely useful in helping the players stay alive/defeat their enemies.

Speaking of enemies, the bad guys in the game are called "baddies."  The boss Baddies are called Tyrants.  This is the goal of each game; to defeat the Tyrant that you have chosen.  Both the Baddies and the Tyrants are leveled, and I would suggest starting with lower level Tyrants as you learn the game.  also, each Tyrant bring with them a unique set of Baddies, so the game plays differently for each.   This game is a challenge, even at the novice level.  So don't worry about having too easy a time.

As already stated, a bit of time investment is required before you start your journey.  Don't misunderstand;  the rules are well written and their are plenty of examples.  However, to have a chance to succeed, you need to take a look at a few videos and see the game actually being played.  Another place to spend some time is learning the specific skills of the Gearloc you choose to play.  Each Gearloc has 16 dice of skills and items.  The synergies between them, and their special abilities, are critical to winning games.

Dice Sets for Two Different Gearlocs

Another unique element of the game is the Tactical/Combat Mat.  The design of the mat and the mechanics of combat make tactical decisions another variable in the game.  If you use a combination of movement and skills properly, you can defeat baddies just by proper placement and reaction to enemy movement.  Since combat is a significant part of the game, using the Combat Mat to your advantage is key to winning.

Overall, I think this game is excellent.  The components are first rate, the rules are well written, and there is plenty of support to allow you to learn how to play.  It may look a bit intimidating from the pictures, but as a board game geek, I can say it is easy to learn.   Watch the YouTube videos!  They are an excellent resource!  I also like it because it is challenging; you really need to think about the actions you are taking.  Synergies between skills, synergies between party members (in multi-player games...this CAN be played solo) and the threats you are facing all affect your decision making.

I hope you consider playing this unique and beautiful game.  The dice alone are worth the price of admission!  If you do take the plunge, let me know what you think.

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