Oh boy, talk a big one!
This game has popped up a lot of places for many reasons. It is decent and heavy box, fancy poker chips/components, not being the cheapest game, and definitely being challenging. And most of those are a good reason to love it!
Let’s talk about this non-pirate game.
Too Many Bones is a 1-4 player RPG-lite, dice-chucking, adventure game. While I’ve never played the example, CJ summed it up as sort of Dungeons & Dragons 4.0 Edition-lite. This is because you set up the adventure deck of cards certain ways depending on the tyrant/boss you want to face and then read the card for the day. It might give you 2 or more options or none at all. Regardless, it is the story that decides what happens on your day. Some can be battles, some can be dexterity challenges, but they all vary a good deal. If you pick a fight, you move your character/chips to a centralized neoprene mat, set up the enemies, and then move around it trying to take them down as quick as possible but still strategically.
Now I did say chips. No miniatures in this game. You are represented by a high quality poker chip (with your face on it) on top of a stack of red poker chips representing your health. Enemies are the same plus a color-matching initiative chip and stats on the face of their chip. This gives the game a lovely visual flair where you can instantly tell how much health everyone has left. All the stats for the enemies are on their chip so there isn’t anything to look up for them. It also allows for more enemies/characters since they take up less space and more can be packed together.
Now there is some to look up for yourself because each of the characters play super differently. The medic sounds pretty straight forward but the shield/tank can turn defense into damage. the berserker can heal themselves and go into rage if done properly while there is another character who makes bombs (it is a mostly medieval setting). They each have their own stats and skills and it is your choice to decide if you are going to get more stats up (health/atk/def/dex-actions) or new skill dice to do cool and unique things. They also have a pretty thorough if not intimidating player reference sheet that tells you just everything they can do as well as helpful beginner tips on how you should level them up and/or what stats/skills you should grab. There are many stats to pick from that it really changes up the game, which are presented by your dice.
It is all about dice and while not everyone likes the randomness, they have a way to try to mitigate it. This is where the title comes in…most of the dice have a crossbones on it. Every time you get/keep one of those pesky crossbones you put them in your backup plan. Each character has a different plan but it essentially allows your character to do other special actions or level yourself up. So too many bones/misses and you could unlock a permanent ability or use a quicker one to deal a bunch of damage or heal or move or etc. So there is some balance there.
The battles are definitely a puzzle. You only ever face four enemies on the table at once but more can be in queue. It is about deciding which is the best target to take down first and working together. Even some of the battles are unique. One had us fighting orcs and we had to kill them and position their bodies as a bridge to cross a river. WE CROSSED A BRIDGE OF ORC CORPSES! HECK YES!!!
There is a lot to this game. I could gush on and on about but these are supposed to be short and sweet. I quite enjoy this game for the tactile feel, the story, the puzzle-like battles, the cool ability building, and so much more. There is a lot to find in this game.
Too Many Bones
Chip Theory Games