Too Many Bones is a kickstarter game which has just been delivered. It is a game that has grown and improved its content during development and is now set to become a very popular product. It is not a cheap game, but I can re-assure you that in terms of its content and quality, you will not feel short changed. The core box is big and beautifully designed, and opening will be joyful experience. Huge numbers of amazingly coloured and detailed dice await, you will probably not have seen its like before. The game also uses coloured playmats for the characters and battles, and they are also fabulous to use with neat spaces to slot in your dice as you roll them. Finally you get round chips, red health ones are largely mundane plastic you will have seen before (unless you bought the upgraded ones, which sadly I didn’t), but the tyrants, monsters and character chips are weighty, with excellent printwork and a shine to them, they are simply lovely to use.
There are 4 gearloc characters in the main box (and 3 more expansions, which I did buy), but looking at the core box ones alone, when you start to dig into their variety, it is actually an amazing amount of gameplay. Each gearloc has its own dice sets, with unique abilities to unlock which sets them apart, you will never get close to using them all in one game so the replay options are huge, just for one character. You will be upgrading your gearloc as you play the adventure, deciding each time whether you need health, attack, defence, more dice to roll or work through its skill trees. I am quite amazed at how varied this is and how much it makes you think about your options. Your gearlocs will undertake an adventure with the goal to defeat one of the six tyrants. On the way you have encounters via some lovely textured cards, which form a mix of enemy battles and other varied adventure decision choices to make. Battles are at the heart of the game, and generally are tough to win, but immensely fun, and the small battle mat is great, making movement, targets and positioning important and visual, but still not becoming overly complex its general execution. The game is very tactile, rolling the dice and moving chips around is lovely.
There is initially a lot to learn in this game, so watching youtube tutorials will really help immensely, but once you get to grips with the basics there are excellent reference cards for enemies and gearlocs which makes the general usage easier to cope with, just look up what you need when you need to. Trying to absorb it all at the start will be too much for most people. Whilst I have only played a few of games so far, I would suggest starting with the helpful tutorial play through in the back of the rule book and continuing this onto its conclusion, and then play some solo games with one gearloc to get to know its abilities quite well, which will help your confidence. There are a lot of options available, but it all becomes very straightforward as you get to know your gearloc, and the game is much more manageable than Mage Knight for instance, and everything makes thematic sense when playing. Beating a tyrant will be tough, and will require knowing some of your characters best strategies, but still there are easier game level options provided in the rules to play.
My early summary thoughts are that this is a superb game. It is an adventure game, it is also a tactical battle game, and it also feels like role playing, where you are developing your character. It works amazingly as a two player game, and has a wonderful solo experience, either playing as one or using two gearlocs. I love an excellent solo game, and this has the making of being top class alongside Lord of the Rings LCG, and the fact that it is dice based is excellent news. Kickstarters may well be changing board gaming forever, I am well into a Gloomhaven campaign with my group and its depth of gameplay and longevity is quite astonishing, and I put Too Many Bones into this same category, as the depth of the alternative skills, combinations between the gearlocs and quality of components is beyond what we usually see when buying board games. I see this as a game that may well last even after many hours of playing, but I qualify this by saying it is early days for this game, and its longevity is certainly not fully tested out. At the moment there are a few adventure games being developed that push the boundaries of what you can do with a one box game, and this is set to be one of them. You may initially pay more for it, but when it delivers high quality components, more gaming hours, choices and enjoyment then I am all for the new trend. You will need less games in the long run.