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Too Many Bones – a dice builder RPG

Game Info

Game: Too Many Bones

Year: 2017

Designer: Josh J. Carlson, Adam Carlson

Type:  Role Playing Game

Category: Aventure, fantasy

Mechanics: Dice building, Role playing, Cooperative,

Number of Player: 1 to 4 Players

Play Time: 60 to 240 minutes

Recommended age: 12+

Last update was on: November 12, 2018 1:39 pm

 

Introduction

TMB - Box

Your characters are embarking on a perilous adventure in Daelore, a land filled with villainous creatures and other dangers. Hidden in Deepwood, the Gearlocs have been living peacefully for centuries. Recently, they have been forced to emerge and seek shelter in within the walls of Obendar.

Are the Gearlocs goblins? Gnomes? No… They are a very specific race with many aptitudes.

Your Elder know the growing dangers in the north are the work of The Ebon, lawless creatures ruled by tyrants. The Elder believe a smaller party will have better chances at infiltrating the land of the tyrants and defeat them, one at a time.

Fearless as you are, your party will make way to the north. And today, we will follow the path of Picket and Tantrum, two Gearlocs ready for adventure.

Picket was born with a shield in his hands, and his sword is famous in the land for the blue topaz set in its hilt. Tantrum is a fearless warrior, but with a temper. Don’t be fooled, this works to his advantage. All he needs is to control his rage. Will they make their way to Shalefist, a Nothern region controlled by Nom, the brainless Troll Chieftain? Time will tell. But they should hurry, for they need to defeat this tyrant before the 8th day.

Too Many Bones

Last update was in: November 12, 2018 1:39 pm
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Game Components

The box of Too Many Bones is packed with components. And the very first thing you will realize when opening it is the way the box is organized. No space is wasted, and every component is easily accessible, allowing a very quick set up of the game.

In the box, you will find:

  • 1 neoprene battle mat
  • 4 Gearloc chips
  • 4 lane markers
  • 1 day counter
  • 65 health chips
  • 55 baddies, with different point values
  • 4 neoprene Gearloc mats
  • 60 encounter cards
  • 60 loot cards (40 loot and 20 trove loot)
  • 1  cover card
  • 1 day counter card
  • 64 Gearloc skill dice
  • 8 effect dice
  • 16 stat dice
  • 4 Gearloc initiative dice
  • 4 baddies initiative dice
  • 12 attack dice
  • 18 defense dice
  • 4 lockpicking dice
  • 1 round counter dice
  • 1 d6
  • 7 tyrant cards
  • 7 tyrant chips
  • 7 tyrant dice
  • 4 dice storage trays
  • 1 marker
  • 5 reference sheets.
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Setting up an adventure

TMB - Set up tyrant

TMB – Set up tyrant

First, place the battle mat in the center of the field.Place the day counter chip, on the value 1, on the day counter card. You may notice a map of Daelore is available, as an additional purchase, allowing a better immersion. I placed my party marker in Obendar.

Find the tyrant chip, card and die and place it next to the battle mat. You may already place health chips under the tyrant.

Note: every tyrant shows a game length on its card, allowing you to estimate the time your game will last. Nom is the quickest, with a maximum of 8 rounds to be played.

TMB - Encounters and loot

TMB – Encounters and loot

It’s now time to build your encounter deck, symbolizing the events your party will fight through. With 12 solo encounters, and 30 multiplayer encounters, you can travel through Daelore multiple times without ever living the same story.

Locate the tyrants encounters – blue cards. Nom has only one such encounter. Randomly draw a number of cards equal to the tyrants rounds minus 3. With Nom, this means you will have 5 encounters. Shuffle these cards, including the tyrant’s special encounter, and place them under the special encounters noted 001, 002, 003. You may add the encounter cover card to avoid eyeing on what’s coming your way.

The three top encounters should always be, from top to bottom, Leaving Obendar, Hardly Out the Gate and Crossing the Sibron.

Place the encounter deck in a place easily accessible.

Take and shuffle in two different decks the Loot and Trove Loot decks.

 

TMB - Baddies and dice

TMB – Baddies and dice

It is now time for you to locate all the baddies. Your tyrant shows some class icon: get all the baddie chips bearing these icons. Form 3 piles – 1 point, 5 points and 20 points – you may place next to the tyrant. Make sure to shuffle those piles, and leave them hidden.

If at any time during the game you run out of baddies, you will shuffle the defeated ones.

 

Note: there may be special occasions when you will need to locate a specific baddie that is not in your piles. Make sure to keep the box at hand.

Place a few health chips stacked next to the baddies – 10 should be enough.

Place nearby 10 attack dice, 12 defense dice, 4 effect dice and the d6. Place as well the 4 lock picking dice nearby.

Set up the battle mat, the 4 lane markers and initiative dice, and add the round marker, with the 1 facing in the initiative meter lane.

TMB - Battle mat

Note: in this picture, the lanes are incorrectly set up. Should be 3 – 1 – 2 – 4

 

Finally, set your Gearlocs up. Get their individual mat, and the associated 21 dice. Set the character’s chip, with the starting health.

Note: the character chip has two faces, one with stars, one without. Start with the face showing no stars up. It may be turned if you upgrade your abilities to “Innate +1”. Get your character reference card nearby.

There you are: ready for adventure!

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Playing the game

Note: the following paragraph will reveal the three first encounters of the game. These are present in every game of Too Many Bones, and is a very minor spoiler.

The gameplay is fairly simple as each round consists in 4 simple phases:

  • Increasing the day counter, except on the first round,
  • Drawing and resolving an encounter, which may lead into battle,
  • Moving the reward phase, earning different bonuses depending on the outcome of your encounter,
  • Perform the recovery phase.

Picket and Tantrum are enjoying their last evening in Obendar. Ready to go, and with adrenaline pumping in their veins, they both know they will not find the sleep tonight. Two ideas cross their mind: fending off some shady character in a dark alley, and sharing the loot, or going for a last minute training?

This encounter card shows two options – one peaceful, training, and one battle, fighting some shady peddler. Each will have its own reward: the first will allow every character to gain 2 skill points, while the second will allow them to gain one skill point and one loot.

After much consideration, Picket and Tantrum decide to train tonight: this is no time for little injuries.

With this choice, I now have 2 skill points to spend on each characters. Following the beginner’s guidance on the character’s sheets, I decide to increase the health and dexterity of both characters. I add a die, showing 1, on the upgraded competencies, and add health chips to match the expected amount (6 for Picket, 5 for Tantrum).

The event also shows my characters moved: I track their position on the map and add the card with the progress point showing under the tyrant’s card.

Nom is still far, but his presence cannot be denied!

At the end of this turn, I don’t have any action I can perform during my recovery phase.

The sun rises. A new day is dawning on us. I move the day counter to 2 and draw my second encounter.

The way of our heroes just only started, and yet: arrows are flying. There is no letting this attack get unpunished, those dark faces in the woods will see what Gearlocs are made of. The Guards of Obendar noticed those intruders and are getting ready to reply to the attack as well. With one look at each other, Picket and Tantrum agree they don’t need help from the guards and make their way towards their first fight. 

Battle

Battle

To start this battle, I will first have to create the battle queue. This first battle is simple to assemble: calculate the number of Gearlocs * the number of days to know how many points are required. Then draw baddies, with the highest number first, to match this number of points.

Stack them, highest number of points on top of the stack.

On the second day of their journey, the two Gearlocs spot 4 foes in the woods ahead. Getting closer, they can distinguish their opponents.

Place every baddie in its lane. If more than 4, keep the stack next to the battle mat: these will enter the frey as baddies are defeated.

Reveal the baddies, and place them on their lane, in their starting position, depending on whether they have range attack or only melee. Place the lane marker chip under each baddie, as they may change lanes during the battle.

 

Note: you will notice that I misplaced the starting lanes of my baddies – the order of the lanes is 3 – 1 –  2 – 4.

Set each of the lane dice to the initiative value of the relevant baddie, and place them, higher value top, in the ini meter lane. Add health chips as required under every baddie.

Roll the initiative dice of your Gearlocs, and place them, top to bottom, in the ini meter. In case of a tie, the party agrees on who goes first.

Position your Gearlocs on the mat, as you please, but on the proper attack type – melee or range.

Picket an Tantrum spot an Orc and two trolls. What is this in the shadows? Could this be a Dragon? This fight will not be an easy one, but this surely is not the last! Attack!!! Tantrum will have to control his Rage to survive this fight.

Before battle, Tantrum used his innate skill, Rage!, to place his Rage! skill dice on the value 1.0 in an active slot. Every time he’ll attack or take damage, he will increase the value of this dice. We validate the round counter is set to 1, and we may start the battle – the perfect moment for Picket to use his innate skill: Shield Wall. He rolls 2 defense die and can place any die showing defense in his active slot: good luck – I rolled 2 x 1 defense!

We can now battle: Dexterity is an essential skill in battle. You may move your characters one position horizontal or vertical for every dexterity point you chose to spend. You may throw dice, to a maximum of what your skill permits, for every dexterity point you chose to spend.

As an example, Picket now has 3 dexterity points: he may move one position up and throws one attack dice. He can only target 1 enemy. He will try for the dragon! And scores 2 attack points. This enemy has no defense yet, and only 2 health. He is defeated and removed from the battle mat.

Tantrum attack

Tantrum attack

It is now turn for Tantrum to launch his attack. The Troll facing him has a thick skin and is careless. Looking at the reference sheet, it show this enemy will ignore the first damage (thick skin) and loses 1 health point every turn. This is a foe Tantrum want to take upon.

Being adjacent, this Gearloc will not have to move and can use his 3 Attack dice. Before doing so, Tantrum needs to increase his Rage! die to 1.2. Let’s now roll the attack.

This is a 4, meaning 3 damages are inflicted to the target, who dies.

Our Gearlocs are unstoppable. Yet, it is no time to rest, two opponents still remain, and they are a force to be reckoned with!

The baddies will now take their turn. The troll, in lane 4 has the highest initiative and will take his turn first.

What a careless beast this troll is, thought Tantrum. He stumbles with every move he makes.

With the careless skill, the troll loses 1 health for every bone he throws. Every enemy may move up to 2 spaces, to get closer to their targets. The troll throws one attack die and one defense. He scores 1 attack point, hitting Tantrum – umff! This makes me angry thought the Gearloc. As he has no defense, Tantrum loses 1 health and must increase his rage. The defense die is placed on the troll.

The orc is adjacent to Picket. He will attack. His raiding skill is of no help, as it would be applied only for any other orcs on the battle mat. The orc throws 1 attack die and 1 defense die: the attack lands, but the defense shows bones – this will be of no help for this foe. But Picket was ready for this attack, and his shield was lifted. As Picket had active defense, he removes one die to block the attack.

 

Ready for round 2: move the counter to 2. Be wary of this counter, passed the fifth round, your party will suffer exhaustion, and lose health points for every subsequent turn.

Starting round 2

Starting round 2

 

This orc is mine, thought Picket. With a dexterity of 3, he can throw 1 attack and 2 defenses. He lands 2 blows, but two bones. Gearlocs can store their bones for their back up plans, triggering powerful effects. The orc cannot parry the attack and loses 2 health points.

Tantrum last attack

Tantrum last attack

Tantrum attacks the Troll, with his 3 attack dies. And increases his rage to 1.6.

He scores 4, 2 are blocked by the trolls who had lifted his defense on the previous turn. The troll loses 2 health and his defense.

 

 

 

He now is ready to attack. But being careless, he loses 1 HP as he throws bones. And falls. The orc now attacks Picket. His 1 attack is blocked by the remaining defense of the Gearlock, and the orc receives 1 defense for next turn.

Moving on to round 3.

Ready round 3

Ready for round 3

Let me kill that orc, screams Picket. He throws a powerful attack of 2, breaking through the defense of the enemy standing in front of him. Yet, this is not enough: the vile creature still breaths. But in the same movement, Picket goes for a shield bash!

Using the two bones in his backup plan, Picket can execute a shield bash: he can remove every defense dice he has, both the newly rolled and the ones stored in his active slots, to deal an equivalent number of damages. He discards the 2 bones and all defense and hits the orc for 3 health point.

That should do it, laughs Picket, looking at his irascible companion.

Take your characters back, set the round counter back to 1, reset any active dice and backup plan dice. And take your reward. In our case, the heroes both get 2 skill points to spend, and both receive 1 loot card.

They also move one step closer to Nom.

It’s time for recovery: Tantrum will chose to heal himself, gaining back his lost health point.

Picket will search for a better loot. He discards his loot card and throws 6 attack dice. For each bone rolled, he’ll reveal 1 loot card. Chose one of the revealed cards to keep.

And off to the next day.

Ready for another day in Daelore

Ready for another day in Daelore

You know now the essential rules to play Too Many Bones. There are number of additional elements to discover, skills end enemies, but this gives you a flavor of how the game flows.

 

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Conclusion

When I lifted the box, I was impressed by its weight. And was a bit worried that it would be too much rules to take: a role playing game is often complex. But it turns out to be an easy to grasp game. The weight is not in its complexity but in the quality of the components. And in that regards: the game screams “put me on the table!”

The stitched mats are amazing, the chips feel very good in hand and the space management in the box is cleverly thought.

This box alone promises hours of game play, and the diversity of skills and encounters helps to keep the surprises alive until the end. No two games are exactly the same. We could argue the chips makes the game feel abstract, as opposed to those role playing games packed with miniatures. But, in my opinion, immersion is in the way a game flows and events happen. In that regard, Too Many Bones is one of the most immersive games I have. I live the adventures I fight for.

Playing cooperative or solo work very well, and the 40 minutes to one hour you’ll spend in Daelore will fly by. Sure, in the first games, you will do back and forth with the rule book, and even after a few plays, you will understand rules you misread or misinterpreted, but the pleasure will be there.

Are dice synonyms of randomness: well sure, always… But in this game, you always have options and dice tend to drive your decisions rather than defining outcome of a fight.

Going forward, there are numbers of addons available – new characters, expansions – and Too Many Bones Undertow, a new game expanding Too Many Bones with yet new characters, tyrants and encounters is being released.

The cards are very well thought about, and simple iconography to understand duration of a game or complexity of a character makes starting into this universe very quick. The progression rate is very rewarding.

With this game, Chip Theory Games have released a product that gets me to look very closely at their range. And will keep me busy for many hours.

Last update was on: November 12, 2018 1:39 pm

Video

Too Many Bones Review - with Tom Vasel

Tom Vasel takes a look at Too Many Bones, a dice crafting cooperative game from Chip Theory Games! BGG link: ...

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9.5 Total Score
A perilous journey in Daelore

Your characters are embarking on a perilous adventure in Daelore, a land filled with villainous creatures and other dangers. Hidden in Deepwood, the Gearlocs have been living peacefully for centuries. Recently, they have been forced to emerge and seek shelter in within the walls of Obendar. Are the Gearlocs goblins? Gnomes? No... They are a very specific race with many aptitudes. Your Elder know the growing dangers in the north are the work of The Ebon, lawless creatures ruled by tyrants. The Elder believe a smaller party will have better chances at infiltrating the land of the tyrants and defeat them, one at a time. Fearless as you are, your party will make way to the north. And today, we will follow the path of Picket and Tantrum, two Gearlocs ready for adventure. Picket was born with a shield in his hands, and his sword is famous in the land for the blue topaz set in its hilt. Tantrum is a fearless warrior, but with a temper. Don't be fooled, this works to his advantage. All he needs is to control his rage. Will they make their way to Shalefist, a Nothern region controlled by Nom, the brainless Troll Chieftain? Time will tell. But they should hurry, for they need to defeat this tyrant before the 8th day.

PROS
  • Simple and immersive game play
  • Components of very high quality
  • Quick set up and tear down
  • Very good beginner guidance
CONS
  • Dice mechanic
  • You will play too often
  • Price tag is high, but excellent in regards to components and replay value
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