A very limited game budget forces me to be choosy about the games that I add to my collection. There are a bunch of things that I consider before buying a new game, value for my dollar, theme, number of plays, solo options, and component quality. I am a sucker for components. If a game offers a deluxe, pimped out, blinging version, that’s where I am going. Ditch the cardboard for wooden bits? Yes, please. Upgrade cardboard player mats for neoprene? I’m starting to drool. Custom dice? I may be in love! I think you get my point, I love components, no need to embarrass myself any further.
I cannot think about game components without one company immediately coming to mind, Chip Theory Games. Chip Theory makes some of the most beautiful components for their games, and folks, they came standard! Die cut neoprene mats, custom dice, chips, and cards made out of PVC , all in the standard game! It is like a dream, wrapped in an enormous box. Chip Theory games is based in the US, and is the brainchild of cousins Josh and Adam Carlson. They started their venture with Hoplomachus, a series of tactical games set in ancient arenas. (See Ricky Royal’s review here). Too Many Bones followed, and Triplock soon after that. Each venture has been successfully backed on Kickstarter by fans eager for more from these guys, me included!
Unfortunately, I am not fortunate enough to own all of their games (one day, one day!!!), but I am all in for Too Many Bones, so that is the game I will be gushing, uhhh, discussing, today. The base game comes with 138 heat transferred custom dice. 138! I mentioned the PVC cards, there are 120 of those, standard 4g health chips, and 71 11.5g Baddie, Tyrant, Gearloc, and various other chips. Oh, and I almost forgot 5 neoprene mats, 4 of those are player mats, and 1 is the battle mat. All packed into one of the biggest, heaviest boxes that I have ever seen. I have also added on the three additional Gearlocs they offer, each coming with dice and chips individual to them.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are upgrades to be had. An adventure mat to replace the adventure card, 11.5g health chips to replace the 4g chips, and even a really cool “Control ‘Ur Roll” dice tray. I recommend upgrading the health chips immediately, they feel so much better, slide better across the mats, and make the game more cohesive, in my opinion. Not to mention that, oh so satisfying, music to my hears, click the chips make when stacking them on top of each other. My 4g chips had a little extra plastic in the middle that would catch on my mats, and that ultimately convinced me to switch over. I made the right choice! The adventure mat is a nice addition as well, keeping the day counter in place and offering a nice aesthetic. I had to add that to my collection as well. Each of these components all fit into the original box, making storage easier, as well.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so it looks pretty, but how does it play? The game takes place over a series of days, as you lead your Gearloc, or Gearlocs, to track down and defeat the Tyrant that is threatening Daelore. The number of days, or rounds, depends on the Tyrant that you have chosen to square off against. The game moves forward through a story driven mechanic that offers the players choices on which road to take. They may choose to fight, or flee, they may choose to help a poor merchant, or steal from him. These choices will affect the rewards for victory, and may also affect the way the battle itself is set up. These choices also make the game fun and replayability high. After a certain number of days has passed (it differs from Tyrant to Tyrant) you may choose to fight the Tyrant. You may, instead, decide to get more experience and loot. The loot and trove loot cards are varied and offer nice options on and off the battlefield. As long as you defeat the Tyrant in the requisite number of days you are victorious and may return home a honored hero. Fail to do so, and gulp, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination. The game play is smooth and tactical, and very much fun. I love rolling the perfect combo of dice and putting a big hurt on a baddie, or group of baddies.
How does it solo? I have played this game almost exclusively solo, with a few multiplayer games here and there. The solo story cards do get a bit stale after a few playthroughs, a complaint they seemed to have addressed in their newest offerings, Undertow, 40 Days in Daelore, and The Age of Tyranny expansions. Multiplayer gameplay offers more cards to choose from, and therefore stays fresher a bit longer. Although the story side of the cards may get a bit stale, the gameplay itself does not. This was my most played solo game in 2017, and I only got it in October! The battles are varied enough through the number of chips, and the increasing difficulty brought on by the passage of time. The custom dice for each character are not all offered to the player at the start of the game, making for some tough choices, should I get more HP, or get that really cool die that might help me take out some more baddies? The choices that are made here also vary from day to day making each game different and exciting. There are 7 Tyrants included in the box, and they too offer different challenges, add that to the 4 Gearlocs in the box, and 3 more that can be added on, and the options are plentiful. The set up is fairly quick, and simple. The learning curve can be somewhat high due to the sheer number of custom dice, individual to each Gearloc, but the included sheets for each one makes it less painful, and more of a discovery.
The cards have nice flavor text that really bring a sense of choice and tongue in cheek humor to the game. I often find myself chuckling when reading them. To expand the world and the story, Chip Theory has also released Adventure Logs, books that include journal entries, concept art, and more back story to the lore of Daelore and the Gearlocs. There is so much to this game, it keeps calling me back to the table, again and again!
I am excited for the new games coming later this year, and to see what else Josh and Adam Carlson have in store for this franchise. I am also eager to one day try their other games, Triplock, and Hoplomachus, as well. I saw a video by Ricky Royal talking about a Training Arena for Hoplo that offers a way to try the game out without a big dollar commitment. I’ll have to keep my eye out for that. I have also heard tons of good things about Triplock as a solo game, and we all know how I feel about that!! 🙂 Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see these games pop on here as well! Until then, I will be happy to keep bringing this big box of joy top my table over and over again!!
I am planning on doing a playthrough of all the tyrants in the base game, and possibly the expansion as well (when it gets here this summer). Comment below if you’d like to see these playthrough sessions posted on here, highlighting what happened between my Gearloc (probably Ghillie) and the Tyrant he is currently facing.
Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly saved Daelore! Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!
Don’t forget, once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, I will have a giveaway of a copy of Mint Tin Pirates!!