Chip Theory’s Dice Throwing RPG is a fantastic entry into the genre and boasts an amazing production
Disclaimer: Chip Theory Games (publisher of Too Many Bones) provided the author at Chasing Railways with content from this game–they did not ask for any endorsements, reviews, or blog posts in exchange. The Author is sharing their own thoughts on this game.
What is Too Many Bones?
Too Many Bones is a game published by Chip Theory Games with its debut release in 2017. Over the past 4 years they’ve released expansion content to their base game in the form of character expansions, two smaller box stand alone expansions, and tons of additional items.
It currently (as of writing) sits on BoardGameGeek at Overall: 39, Thematic: 11, and Strategy: 27. It has been a popular game in the facebook groups, youtube channels, and instagram since its release. Its current ratings are 8.4/10 and a 3.84/5 complexity. Its 1-4 players and has a 60-120 minute playtime.
Too Many Bones is a cooperative fantasy roleplaying game involving a group of lovable characters called Gearlocs. If you combine gnomes and goblins from Dungeons and Dragons you’re pretty close to what they look like.
The Gearlocs live in a fantasy world called Daelore that is besieged by Tyrants (the big baddies) and you’re chosen by the council to save. Each player has unique powers, unique dice, and unique effects to take on a quest over a number of days and battles before challenging the Tyrant.
Production & Components
Too Many Bones is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to calling a game “over-produced”. I mean that as a huge compliment to the game. The game is full of 100s of dice and heavy plastic chips. These items are all screen printed, and incredibly durable. The player mats and battle map are made of neoprene and are well stitched with incredibly clear graphics. The cards are all made of PVC and are incredible to hold, shuffle, and mess around with. The art is quirky and fun and really stands out despite a growingly crowded genre of games (Gloomhaven, Descent, the Arkham Files games, Lord of the Rings, and so many others). This game is a solid 10/10 in terms of production.
Now that we’ve talked about what’s in the box, lets talk about playing the game. A lot of youtube videos talk about the complexity of this game and minutia of rules. After a few playthroughs, its actually a fairly simple game that builds on itself with each turn and each playthrough. The game provides handy guides (also printed on PVC) for each character, and a general turn order guide. The gameplay is really fun, and while the theme is strong, this is definitely more of a gameplay focused game from our perspective. After set up, you choose your Tyrant and set the day counter and encounter deck appropriately and you’re ready for your adventure. Each turn you draw an encounter card and weigh your choices. you draw, upgrade, and chuck dice as you battle a large supply of enemies some with really sinister effects. You win and lose as a team as you tackle a very challenging game (even on Adventure (read: easy) mode).
If you make it to challenge the Tyrant within your day allotment you’ll face a viciously difficult boss fight that usually breaks your team in some way (status effects, single gearloc battle, increased damage, etc.)
This game plays well at both 2 players and solo in our experience (we have not played it at 3 or 4 players).
This game takes a lot of what makes a huge legacy/campaign fantasy game fun and compacted it into a single game night which is similar in some respects to Aeon’s End. There is a legacy mode available for this game as well.
There’s a lot of luck in this game–but that’s not hidden. So many battles come down to a few dice rolls. There are a lot of ways to mitigate luck throughout with re-rolls, loot, effect dice, and so many other things, but it is still a heavily luck based game. They don’t hide that there is a lot of luck in this game. So while I typically avoid a lot of luck based games, I didn’t shy away from this one. The amount of strategy involved in this game is also very high. Too Many Bones is a good marriage between the strategy and luck. You have to strategize with your partners, on your upgrades, and your skills to do the best you can possibly do in a very hostile adventure.
The gameplay on this game is strategic, fun, and highly replayable. I would rank this game between a 9/10 & 10/10.
While this game doesn’t create the overwhelming sense of dread that an Arkham Files game causes, nor does it create the grand world building of Gloomhaven or Descent, but what it does create is spectacular and leaves you wanting more. What it does create is a rich immersive world with intricately unique characters, and one of the most challenging coop gameplay experiences available. The theme is immersive and unique and the story in each encounter is satisfactory, but where this game shines is its gameplay. The gameplay is spectacular and doesn’t overstay its welcome. There are so few games to compare it to in terms of its gameplay that doing a “This or That” section on this game doesn’t really make sense. That being said, this is a game I would be eager to pick up again as soon as I could and as often as I could.
This game may be for you if:
- You love fantasy and roleplaying games or are interested in the theme
- You love a combination of strategy and luck
- You want a game with an amazing table presence and quality components.
- You want a game with high variability/replayability
This game may not be for you if:
- You’re looking to make an economic game choice. At $130.00 you’re looking at a costly investment for a base game. This could buy you several games, or even more expansions for other games you love. That being said, I think its worth the price tag, and if its something you think you’ll play a lot of, you’ll get your money’s worth.
- You don’t like luck in games. While there are a lot of ways to mitigate bad rolls, there is still a lot of luck in this game–every turn can come down to a roll of the dice.
- You’re not into the theming. While the game is awesome on its own from a purely mechanical standpoint, if you don’t like the art or the theme this game won’t be for you.