Dagon’s Bones Review

Dagons Bones Cover Art
Dagons Bones Cover Art
Released 2018
Designer Brian S. Roe
Publisher Utility Games LLS (Website)
Players 2-5 (3-4 best)
Playing Time About 5 minutes per player
Category Dice Roller
Push Your Luck
Player Elimination
Travel Filler
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Because nothing ever happens in Innsmouth…

In early 2018, looking around Kickstarter there was a little title that had me clicking on it immediately – Dagon’s Bones.

I could imagine quite a few people skipping looking at the project as ‘Not another Cthulhu game’.  In a strange twist of fate, those that looked would have seen exactly that – not another Cthulhu game.

This is one of the few times that the theme of the game made incredible sense to me.  According to Lovecraft, Innsmouth was founded in the mid17th century and noted for shipbuilding and sailing.  The town fell on hard times, but after beginning to worship the deity Dagon the town began to prosper – in a fashion.

Even not knowing all this, the game quickly sets the scene as taking place in seaside pubs in the town.  And what sailor doesn’t like to gamble?

Hence the dice and coins seem completely natural, and while teaching all you need to do is explain the iconography.

Dagons Bones Components
It's three dice and some coins. There is nothing more you need.

Playing Dagon’s Bones

The game itself and its goals is incredibly simple.  To begin, deal out all of the coins in equal piles between the players and one pile in the centre for Cthulhu (the Pot).

The goal of the game is to have double your starting coins.  If you can do this, you win!  If you run out of coins, you lose.

If Cthulu runs out of coins, the player with the most coins wins.  However, if Cthulu doubles its starting coins, the Elder God is awakened and destroys Innsmouth.  All players lose in this scenario.

Starting with the oldest player, all three dice are collected and rolled.  You then do the action each die displays.

Fish bones are dud rolls – luck is not with you.  However, if you roll three fish bones, you may pay a coin to Cthulhu to re-roll all three dice once per turn.

The Key, Fishhook and Anchor work similarly – they let you take a coin.  The Key lets you take a coin from Cthulhu, the Fishhook choose a player and take one of their coins.  The Anchor let’s you decide to take a coin from either a player or Cthulhu – your choice.

Dagons Bones Dice Faces
Three dice, 7 faces. Nothing Lovecraftian in that at all.

The Coin means you must pay one of your coins to Cthulhu.  The Bottle of Booze means your turn ends immediately and all other dice are ignored – except for the last symbol, Dagon.

If you summon Dagon, you get to take a coin from each player and the pot.  With the goal of the game to double your starting pile of coins, this is a very powerful roll if you can pull it off!

And that is the game.  You now know how to play Dagon’s Bones.  As you can see, it’s not hard to get people playing straight away.

What I like about Dagon’s Bones

If you are a fan of Lovecraftian horror, the little touches in selecting the theme and setting is amazing – but it’s not required.  Even playing with people that roll their eyes at the idea of Cthulhu games, just playing the symbols and changing names of the symbols is enough to get them back on board.  Just call Cthulhu the Pot, and Dagon an idol, and everything still works.

While the game is very dependent on luck, it’s such a quick game that losing doesn’t sting.  You haven’t spent two hours trying to create a points engine and needing to pull that one card to make it work.  No, in Dagon’s Bones you just roll the dice and try to make the best decision on who’s coins to steal.

Dagons Bones Three Player Game
A three player round, and one that I find easy to picture happening at pubs along the dock

As a filler game, Dagon’s Bones is one that I will regularly just leave in the side pocket of my games bag for a quick round or two while waiting for others, and it’s perfect for this kind of thing.

And the downsides?

There aren’t too many, to be honest.  People that don’t like games based on luck will not like Dagon’s Bones. Same as people that are vocally over Cthulhu games – sometimes a game just isn’t for everyone.

The plastic coins feel a little light, but that helps make the game portable and I am guessing keep costs down.  Unless you are playing in very windy conditions, they do the job well, and I am still tempted to paint mine up.

The player count is a little deceptive though, but for games like this, that is a common problem.  Playing two players can lead to a few dull rounds of a stalemate until someone gets the right roll.  Four players is a quick and tense juggling match of push and pull play.

Five players though I tried once, and it ended in two rolls. Now, this was totally an unlucky situation (or very lucky, depending on how you look at it).  I was showing someone at work the basics of the game two-player, when a couple of other people came over to see what was happening.

Talking the new players through my roll and explaining the game, a fifth came over and listened to my explanation.  I offered to reset the game and have all of us play, and everyone agreed.

After handing out four coins to everyone including Cthulhu, I went first.  I usually do when teaching to talk everyone through that first roll.  I took one coin from another player as it was all I could do, and that was that.

The fifth person to come over was the second player, and they rolled three Dagon.  Taking a coin from everyone and the pot, they instantly won the game.

Dagons Bones Instant Win Conditions
Six piles of four coins, one is yours. If you can roll 3 Dagons, you can take a coin from every other pile. Instant win.

This then ended the group rather quickly.  The person that won declared the game broken and another player decided that a game that meant they might not have a turn wasn’t worth playing.

Now, this was just a lucky roll, and it can happen in many games.  It can also technically happen in four-player games, as you only get 25 coins in the packet.  But it’s so rare really to me it’s just a case of sharing the story and highlighting that it can happen.  All we lost 2 minutes – a quick reset and letting the third player go first was all that was needed.

There is another catch.  Dagon’s Bones is self-published, and I can’t really see where to buy it online.  I only saw it because of Kickstarter.  This just makes it hard to suggest as an impulse buy or filler gift, which is a pity because it fits perfectly in that category.

If you would like to see a game in action though, below is a video from the creator himself showing a quick three-player game:

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Dagon's Bones

Final Thoughts

Dagon’s Bones is a hard one for me to quantify.  It’s a game I would be willing to play most times, scoring it as 7-8 on my scale.

But it’s also a game that I can’t really find an online presence for.  Hunting around Utility Games LLCs Facebook page, you can email them to buy a copy but that seems to be the only way to get Dagon’s Bones, unless you happen to go to a con or similar they attend?

Making a fun game and one I would recommend hard to find online

But Dagon’s Bones is fun to play.  Pulling this out while in public, it won’t be too long before extra players come and have a look.

If you get the chance, definitely play the game.  It won’t be 10 minutes that changes your life, but it will be a bit of fun 🙂

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Easy to teach, quick gameplay
  •  Very travel friendly
  •  Allows an ‘Everyone Lose’ ending that doesn’t feel forced

Cons

  •  Not a game you can just pick up at a most stores
  •  Rules could have been better presented

Last Week’s Gaming – November 19th, 2018

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119

When I hear Tales of Explosion Criss Cross, put down the Bones and have a Tea Party is my motto.

So many games played this week – and more to come!

Aetherworks has sent notifications that Kickstarter games are coming, including Fireball Island and Tokyo Series!

In the meantime though, no time was wasted in trying quite a few new games.

Dagon’s Bones

Showed Harls how to play this little kit and he had the same opinion I do – great for more than two players, and a fun little filler game.

Personally, I wouldn’t play more than four players still – but I need to put that to the test.  The limit comes only from downtime between rolls.  Each player only really having one roll means limited downtime, but it’s still a factor.

This little Kickstarter surprise has a home in my games bag all the time now, mainly because it is so small and simple it fits in a pocket nicely.

Dagons Bones Gameplay
Dagon's Bones - 3 dice and some coins. There really isn't much action to show, but it's an interesting premise

Mythos Tales

Another game I was showing Harls, this Consulting Detective style game has been on my ‘to play’ list for a while.

A couple of years ago, I backed the Mythos Tales Kickstarter and had a not great experience.  I then imported a retail copy and was disappointed with misprints and errors in the run, and I never finished the series.

A few weeks ago I bought the reprinted version with the corrections and replayed the first case.  The short version – we enjoyed it, and Harls was keen to play the second case immediately.  I was tired so pulled the plug, but more games will happen soon so that I can do a formal review soon.

Mythos Tales 20181119
Mythos Tales - A map, a book, a directory, and some newspapers. And the reprint made case one a great time.

When I Dream

Oh, this was a surprise hit.

I had heard about When I dream a while ago, and I was excited when Alpal got a copy.

Essentially it’s a word based social deduction game.  One player is blindfolded and the other players have to provide clues for a word shown in the middle of the table.

The catch is Fairies want the ‘Dreamer’ to get the words right, the Boogeyman wants them to get it wrong, and the Sandman wants an even split.  The Dreamer has to work out from the clues who is who and guess appropriately – based only on words provided.  Another one for a full review after some more games!

When I Dream 20181119
It doesn't look like much, but I guarantee when you have people playing attention will be given to your table.

Potion Explosion

So Potion Explosion is an App I play fairly often, but I passed on the board game.  I had a lot of trouble discerning the colours of the marbles, so the app made my life a lot easier.

This week though I got play with a reprint copy, and my much has changed.  The colours are easier to distinguish, and the cardboard quality is definitely better.

And I enjoy this game.  It is a brain scratcher with a simple veneer, and the pattern recognition and logic puzzle nature of the game is very enjoyable.

A full review and a Ramblings comparison of the Board and App versions are coming soon!

Potion Explosion 20181119
A lot of pieces are involved, but Potion Explosion is an addictive puzzle game of the highest calibre.

Dinosaur Tea Party

Do you remember Guess Who? The two-player deduction game where you ask the other player questions like ‘are you wearing a hat?’ to deduce their identity.

Restoration Games seems to, and they have made a multiplayer version where players are Dinosaurs at a Tea Party, trying to guess each other’s identities.

This was really cleverly done.  Each character is beautifully drawn, but for colour issues or clues that can be missed, each character has the relevant clues on each card for easy reference.  It’s also completely open information – your answers are put in front of you in the form of tea bags.

A couple more games at different player counts to make sure, but I think this will be another Restoration Games winning review I believe!

Dinosaur Tea Party 20181119
Essentially this is your 'Guess Who' board. Dinosaur Tea Party is quick, fun and I can see expansions coming.

Criss Cross

There seems to be no way I can keep up with Dr Reiner Knizia’s released games.  Criss Cross is another Alpal special, and one that is so simple it’s annoying that you don’t just beat it the first time.

The idea is simple – roll two dice that have half a dozen different shapes, and fill in a Sudoku or Magic Square style grid with the values.  You get points for the horizontal and vertical lines with grouped matching shapes and lose points if the lines do not have any matching shapes.  The diagonal is counted twice.

It sounds easy, but you also have to write the shapes next to each other.  Alpal absolutely blitzed me in the game, but it was a lot of fun and one I can see myself playing solo just to try and beat my score.

Criss Cross Alpal Whooped Me 20181119
It's not much too look at, but Criss Cross will be an addictive puzzle to solve. And Alpal WHOOPED me!

Spyro Reginited Trilogy – Spyro the Dragon

Even though I was a PlayStation player, Spyro the Dragon was a game I never played.

It wasn’t because it was ‘childish’ – Jak and Daxter were right up there for example.  It just never squeezed in between the Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid marathons, and when the sequels came out I just never went there.

With the buzz and excitement over the Spyro Reginited trilogy, I decided to give it a go – and wow.  The platforming is what I remember of ‘old school’ PlayStation 3D games, but so much smoother and control wise much more forgiving.

The platforming is not forgiving at all though.  Missed by a pixel?  Try again!

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Thor 20181119
The developers obviously had a ball making this game. You even get to rescue Thor! An old, rambling Thor, but still...

It was fun to explore, and easy enough to get a hold of without the handholding tutorials I am used to with today’s games.

There have been updates such as the rescued dragons are now unique in look and the advice they give you, and these are very much appreciated.

The gorgeous stills you will see do Spyro an injustice though – the animation and world are better when you play.  The little touches like grass parting as you charge about and the expressions on the enemies are amazing.

From a ‘this will be a quick bit of fun’ game to probably ‘clear an area a night’ affair, Spyro is the light but challenging game I have missed playing lately.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Progress 20181119
I am only a bit over an hour in, but I seem to be making good progress. This is basically the tutorial world though, and I am looking forward to more to come!

Starlink

This is a game I started and then about 30 minutes in decided to put away.

I didn’t put it away because I wasn’t enjoying Starlink – I decided to put this in the ‘I need to give this dedicated time’ group of games.

I thought Starlink was a “Go to Area X and kill all the bad guys” challenging but mentally relaxing shooter.  The opening tutorial type engagement certainly looked like this was the case.

But then it turned into an open world sandbox adventure game with plenty to see, explore and unlock.  I was discovering new species, collecting items and found a way into a ‘secret’ area – all from 10 minutes in.

Starlink Main Game Begins 20181119
I expected a cute generic wave shooter with a toy gimmick with the ships and weapons. What I started deserves my full attention.

The way Nintendo has integrated Fox McCloud and the Arwing was quite cool as well.  Obviously, I haven’t seen how fully the story integrates, but an extra ‘makes sense’ cutscene meant that the Starfox team felt natural to be there.

I can see why people are playing this on the Switch, and I am glad that I have followed suit.  More of this will be played, but probably later.

Pokemon Let’s Go – Eevee

*This has been edited as originally it was showing only placeholder text.  Ooops!  Thanks to everyone that pointed that out 😀

Well, last Friday was the day – Pokemon Let’s Go is now real 🙂

I have been playing Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, and Rabbit has Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu on the new Pokemon Switch.  We played for a while single player in the same room and had fun comparing the little differences in the game.

Now I am not a hardcore Pokemon fan, and the lighter mechanics in Let’s Go seems to fit into that pickup and put down category nicely.  The controls in handheld mode are great, and the graphics are gorgeous.

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Eevee is happily sititng on my head as a walk around Professor Oak's office

I will say though I don’t like playing with the Poke Ball Plus under normal conditions.  For some things like it’s amazing – it took two throws to get used to catching pokemon, and then I was nailing excellent each time.

The problem is the Poke Ball Plus only has 2 buttons, but the game expects you to use at least 4.  For 95{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of what you are doing the two buttons (OK and Back) is fine, but having to shake and hope that the game knew I wanted to use the Y for info not the + for menus was frustrating.  When I don’t have to get so much extra info though, it might be more fun!

Also, I am taking the Poke Ball and my Eevee Rabbit for a ‘stroll’ while at work tomorrow, so expect some news on how I found that!

And there are more coming!

So many games played this week – and it’s not slowing down for a while!

What about you?  What have you been playing lately – any of these, or other games you think I should be keeping an eye out for?  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming October 15th 2018

Tower of Madness 20181015

The Bones are in the Chest Atop the Castle’s Highest Tower

Another week, another few games played! Very quite video game wise this week, prepping for PAX Aus is taking a lot of my time at the moment.

But some games will always make it in, and this week three out of four of the games were all new ones!

Tower of Madness

An honourable mention in this year’s most anticipated games list, Tower of Madness is now finally in my hands!

Alpal opened it for me, and there are a few component issues to me out of the gate.  The dice were covered in something that required rubbing alcohol to stop them sticking, and the tower doesn’t quite fit.

But there is potential.  Two games in and we enjoyed the game – everyone wanted to play again.  A few more games and a formal review will be coming, but at the moment play someone else’s copy if you get the chance.

Tower of Madness 20181015
It arrived, and the marbles hit the base with a satisfying 'Thunk'!

Dragon Castle

During games night we got two new players into Dragon Castle.

There was a lot of confusion at the start, but everyone was up to speed quickly as I knew they would be.

Dragon Castle was intended as a night ender, and it worked well.  We all enjoyed the game even with teaching for half of the table, and the final scores were almost all within one point of each other!

Now I just need to play some 2 and 3 player games for the review…

Dragon Castle 20181008
Dragon Castle is aa game I am very much warming up to.

Dagon’s Bones

Dagon’s Bones was a fun looking game I Kickstarted a few months ago.  I was surprised by how quickly it arrived!

A simple and quick push your luck dice game, Dagon’s Bones is small and easy to carry around.  Simply three dice and a bunch of coins that come in a small cylinder.

The idea is to double the number of coins you have, by either taking from the pot or other players.  There can be player elimination, but if the pot wins (it’s possible!) then Cthulhu rises and destroys everyone.

Dagon’s Bones is more fun than it deserves to be, and I look forward to more games soon.

Dagons Bones Gameplay
Dagon's Bones - 3 dice and some coins. There really isn't much action to show, but it's an interesting premise

Dead Man’s Chest

Another quick game, and a surprisingly fun game.  Dead Man’s Chest is a quick and simple bluffing game similar to Liar’s Dice.

The game consists of a pile of rubies, two dice, and a ‘chest’ about the size of two packs of matches stacked.

A player shakes the dice in the chest, and bids on the amount shown on the die.  There are some funny rules to the values, but it’s easy to get into and a great way to pass some time with friends.

Dead Mans Chest Gameplay
Another game with nothing much happening on the table, Dead Man's Chest is surprisingly tense