Dungeon Dice


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Rating: 2.9/5 (137 votes)
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MikeDungeon DiceIt breaks my heart to admit that every game we feature here at Jay is Games is fake. They are all illusions. We aren't really courageous space pilots or pixilated, anthropomorphic jumping animals, and if you looked under the hood, you'd see that what we're really doing when we play these games is merely shunting binary numbers around electronic circuits. As disillusioning as such an insight can be, I like to think that
Dungeon Dice, a simple turn-based RPG from Afro-Ninja (Shawn Tanner), shows that peeking behind the veil and seeing how our favorite games work at their most basic can still be fun. While Dungeon Dice is in many ways a typical RPG, its twist on the genre is that instead of fighting monsters with sword and fang, you fight each other with dice, or "magical numeric cubes." In a way, this is no different from any other RPG, but moving a background mechanic to the forefront makes for a different experience.

You play the hero in a typical dungeon delve, which you navigate with simple mouse clicks. In combat, roll your dice by clicking the "Hold and Release" button (you can hold the button to simulate the "daddy needs a new pair of shoes" experience). The side who casts the die with the highest result wins the attack, and the winner deals more damage the higher their result is compared to their opponent's. You can also modify die results before you roll by using your powers, which can either add a bonus to a result, heal you on a high result, or reroll a low result. You do this by dragging the colored orb for each power to the die you want it to affect before you roll. You learn more powers as you play, depending on what class you pick; and you also earn more dice, which let you battle stronger foes.

You only have a limited number of magic points to fuel your powers each combat, and only a certain number of hit points for the whole game, so there is a certain amount of strategy in managing limited resources, and in deciding which powers to assign when. A lot of the game, however, comes down to dumb, blind luck. This wouldn't be so bad if each fight were a little faster, but ties come up way too often, which makes the game too sluggish. This is a shame, because a simple tie-breaker mechanic (say, by resolving the round with the next-highest set of dice) could speed the game up considerably. However, despite the unnecessary drag, the game is a strangely mesmerizing experience, like playing slot machines or Plinko. Even though only a modicum of skill is required, there is something hypnotic about rolling dice for the best results, which is as fun as it is rote and compulsive. The fact that it's very short makes Dungeon Dice perfect for those who want a quick RPG experience, pared down to its essence.

Play Dungeon Dice

Walkthrough Guide


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Dungeon Dice Tips

Each class plays a little bit differently, so I'll divide this Tips guide accordingly.
One general tip: It doesn't matter which die you put your powers on, as the results are random no matter what. Dice superstitions are fun, but imaginary.
Power Mage

  • Why be a Power Mage?: Because your powers mean faster fights. Ties are a major drag in Dungeon Dice, and your powers are the most effective tiebreakers. They also make powerful attacks even more powerful. Either way, being able to cast these powers cheaply means faster combats, and faster combats means greater durability.

  • For early fights, there is no reason not to use Crush on every round until you run out of MP.

  • When you learn Obliterate, you might not want to use it right away. When you have more dice than your opponent, you have enough of an advantage that Crush should suffice.

  • When you and your opponent have the same number of dice, consider using Obliterate until you reduce the monster to about half its HP. Then switch to Crush.

  • It is rarely beneficial to use both Obliterate and Crush at the same time, and the cost usually outweighs any benefit.

  • Life magic is not worth using for you because the opportunity costs are too high. Not only do you lose mana every round, you use mana that you could have spent on your core powers. Since those powers tend to make combat go faster, you wind up fighting longer if you don't use them. You are therefore more likely to take any damage that you might heal, making it a net waste of MP.

  • Time magic, on the other hand, isn't bad, especially Rewind. It's cheap, unlike other powers, only costs you when it is activated. Since you get it late in the game, Rewind probably won't make for a successful attack, since at best you will turn a 1 into a 6, which your opponent is likely to roll. It will, however, often keep you from taking damage you would have suffered otherwise.

Powers

    Power

  1. Crush (1 MP, earned after defeating Angry Gem): Add 1 to any roll of 2 or greater. MP still consumed on 1.

  2. Obliterate (2 MP, earned after defeating Red Slime): Add 2 to any roll of 2 or greater. MP still consumed on 1.

  3. Life

  4. Heal (2 MP, earned after defeating Blood Worm): Receive 1 HP on a roll of 5 or greater. MP is consumed regardless.

  5. Mend (3 MP, earned after defeating Pincher): Receive 3 HP on a roll of 5 or greater. MP is consumed regardless.

  6. Time

  7. Rewind (1 MP, earned after defeating Gaseous Presence): Die will re-roll once if it is 2 or lower. No MP consumed otherwise.

  8. Recursion (2 MP, earned after defeating Evil Presence): Die will re-roll up to twice as long as it is 2 or lower. No MP consumed otherwise.

Life Mage

  • Why be a Life Mage?: Because if you use your powers at the beginning of the game, you will have a massive reserve of HP for later fights. Your fights will be longer, but you will be better equiped to survive them.

  • For early fights, there is no reason not to use Heal on every round until you run out of MP.

  • >When you learn Mend, you should alternate between it and Heal. Mend is more effective per round, but Heal is more effective per MP spent. Use one or the other based on how much MP and HP you have in a given round. This is true, in that you will cast Heal more often per MP spent. Thanks to reader fuzzyface for pointing out that Mend will still heal more HP per MP spent than Heal.

  • When you learn Time Magic, it is still useful as offensive magic, because you will have more dice than your opponents and are less likely to suffer ties. Use it all the time, starting with Recursion (once you learn it), and switching to Rewind when you get to about half your MP. At this phase, you may want to consider switching out Life magic entirely during some rounds.

  • By the time you learn Power magic, there is little point in trying to conserve HP, since you are close to the end game. Life Magic is therefore less useful than before. The strategy at this point is similar to the Power Mage's: Use Obliterate, then Crush, with Rewind in play for insurance against damage.

Powers

    Life

  1. Heal (1 MP, earned after defeating Angry Gem): Receive 1 HP on a roll of 5 or greater. MP is consumed regardless.

  2. Mend (2 MP, earned after defeating Red Slime): Receive 3 HP on a roll of 5 or greater. MP is consumed regardless.

  3. Time

  4. Rewind (1 MP, earned after defeating Blood Worm): Die will re-roll once if it is 2 or lower. No MP consumed otherwise.

  5. Recursion (2 MP, earned after defeating Pincher): Die will re-roll up to twice as long as it is 2 or lower. No MP consumed otherwise.

  6. Power

  7. Crush (2 MP, earned after defeating Gaseous Presence): Add 1 to any roll of 2 or greater. MP still consumed on 1.

  8. Obliterate (3 MP, earned after defeating Evil Presence): Add 2 to any roll of 2 or greater. MP still consumed on 1.

Time Mage

  • Why be a Time Mage?: Because your powers are the cheapest in the game, and they only cost MP when activated. You should be able to use your core powers all the time and have enough MP left over to effectively use other powers once you learn them.

  • Rewind is free for you, all the time, so you should use it all the time.

  • Once you learn Recursion, you can use both powers all the time until you run out of MP.

  • You can use Power Magic with Time Magic very effectively and not have to worry about running out of MP for too long. If you do this, consider using either Rewind or Recursion at this point. Recursion isn't really worth it at this phase if you have more dice than your opponent.

  • As with the other classes, Life Magic isn't that useful at the end game. Instead, like the Power Mage, use Obliterate, then Crush, and use either Rewind or Recursion for insurance against damage, depending on how much MP you have.

  • Powers

      Time

    1. Rewind (0 MP, earned after defeating Angry Gem): Die will re-roll once if it is 2 or lower. No MP consumed otherwise.

    2. Recursion (1 MP, earned after defeating Red Slime): Die will re-roll up to twice as long as it is 2 or lower. No MP consumed otherwise.

    3. Power

    4. Crush (2 MP, earned after defeating Blood Worm): Add 1 to any roll of 2 or greater. MP still consumed on 1.

    5. Obliterate (3 MP, earned after defeating Pincher): Add 2 to any roll of 2 or greater. MP still consumed on 1.

    6. Life

    7. Heal (2 MP, earned after defeating Gaseous Presence): Receive 1 HP on a roll of 5 or greater. MP is consumed regardless.

    8. Mend (3 MP, earned after defeating Evil Presence): Receive 3 HP on a roll of 5 or greater. MP is consumed regardless.

22 Comments

I love math and this is statistical combat, so I figured great! The game plays well but as mentioned in the review, the fact that ties get more and more prevalent towards the end distracts from the rest of the fun.

Enemies get much stronger towards the end since everyone has a 4/6 chance of rolling a 6, meaning you will likely tie or trade 1 point of damage between you. Power mages get worse because of this since they now need a 5 or better to do any sort of damage and then it's 1-2 points out of 25. Time mages are in a similar boat since you need a crappy roll to reset your chances, which towards the end, means less and less since the opponent already has a 6. Life mages are interesting in that they always have a 1/3 chance of healing from start to finish and they do so while doing damage. Since at the end, damage is 1-2 points at a time and you're near guaranteed to heal at that rate, you just stay at full health. Takes time but a near guaranteed victory, statistically speaking. If die totals were used instead, then there's be some sort of use to the other two types of mages.

I was able to win with a Time Mage with under 10hp left, I never won with a Power Mage and my best Life Mage finish was over 70 hit points.

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Papachabre Author Profile Page January 18, 2011 12:22 PM

Fun and humorous little game. Only problem was that the healing skills were worthless. Why would I give up 10% of my mana for a 33% chance to restore 1% of my health?

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Just finished a second playthrough to get a little comparison.

First time, I went with the 'time' version, which made the first ability (the ability to reroll a 2 or less, once) free. Won, but with only 2 HP left. By the time I finally got the healing powers, I was down to about 20 HP, so the last few rounds were a desperate race against luck.

Second time, I tried the healing route; even with the discount granted, the baseline healing power still cost 1 MP each round. Despite having to shut it off about 1/3rd of the way through a fight, I finished with 66 HP remaining. I never went below 50 HP, and never bothered with any other powers.

I haven't tried the damage-dealer yet, but I'm guessing it'll be somewhere in between.

Apart from the 'ties mean nothing' issue, one glaring problem is the fact that these abilities cost MP even if they don't work -- except for the 'reroll' ones, they only cost points if they trigger. You'd get similar results if the cost of each ability was tripled, but only charged you if they worked.

An interesting idea (if a little hackneyed), but could use some improvements in the game mechanics to really be viable for something bigger.

There's also a potential issue with the name. There was an old ('77) board game with the same name, and there's a more recent product called Dungeon Dice Monsters.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 18, 2011 4:42 PM

"Enemies get much stronger towards the end since everyone has a 4/6"

This is wrong. If you throw 6 dice you have no 6/6 chance to get a 6.

The chance is 1 - 5/6*5/6*5/6*5/6 = 51.77%

One can argue if time or life is better. Since with time you get a free reroll you can use to the end of the fight while spending the MP on heal like.

Otherwise this game is nice in markup but the end it only is a bush the button 500 times to win, a variant of PSTW.

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Asthanius Author Profile Page January 18, 2011 5:37 PM

I don't know what you're talking about, Asmiroth, when you say that the Power Mage isn't good. I beat the game with a Power Mage my first try and I ended up with about 75 HP.

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I first played through as a time mage. By the end, my favorite spells were by far crush and obliterate. While they're more mana intensive, I think you save far more HP by having a better die than is recovered by healing, and it's more consistently powerful than a re-roll or two on low rolls. I dealt more damage and took far less damage using obliterate on a single die through the whole game than any other combination of abilities. The possibility of 7s and 8s is very powerful when only the highest die is considered.

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I agree with Pure, Power seems to me the strongest choice, since it is both offensive and defensive at the same time, whereas the other two are purely defensive. I don't know how many times a Obliterate bumped a 4 to a 6 for a tie, or a 5 to a 7 for a win against a 6.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 19, 2011 1:11 AM

"for those who want a quick RPG experience, pared down to its essence."

Sorry no, its no RPG essence. *Role* *Playing* *Game* is none if there isnt any sense of "Role" to "Play". The essence of a RPG is story...

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cinder calhoun January 19, 2011 1:48 AM

This would probably play better with a bigger dice type. like d10s or so.

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"The essence of a RPG is story."

I think thats a matter of opinion. to me the essence of rpg gameplay is the grinding battles as in this game.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 19, 2011 3:53 AM

That are GBGs - Grinding Battles Game.

Take a look on the evolution of DnD what "RPG"s came from and Gygax ment them to be. Yes it got disillusioned to the point where any fighting mechanic and equipping stuff got the name "RPG". But to call that the "essence" of it?

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sure. i still think its a matter of opinion considering that virtually all rpgs today have battles against hit points and mana, yadda yadda. they're all the same when you boil it down to their essence. so yes, essence.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 19, 2011 6:08 AM

To quote the great axman13 "Its no RPG if you cant do quests and stuff"

Really there those paradoies that play exactly on the reductionist meaning of "RPG", like PSTW or Quest for Crown, but this one is so close to the border to be a "just hit one button game" and yet call itself a RPG without actually trying to be a parody. After selecting if you want to be heal, strength or time, you really only hit that button until the end, except dragging your picked ability at the start of each "dice battle".

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The fact that the game spits up a tie more than half the time after a certain point is ridiculous, especially since the effects that elevate the play to something other than a 50/50 roll-fest eventually run out.

Now, if you built something like this according to the same format of platonic archetypes of dice ( http://jayisgames.com/archives/2009/12/link_dump_friday_144.php ), equipping certain dice to beat the roll patterns of certain enemies, and then hanging RPG mechanics onto that, then you'd have something closer to playable!

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These dice don't like me very much...

I liked this game. Beat it the first time as a Time Mage. I just wish that you had more mana to spend. Power mages seem to be the most useful since they prevent ties at 6. Life mages too. Time mages are useful at first, but they see less use as the game goes on because your highest roll is likely to be a 5 or 6, and it's unlikely that the re-rolled dice will be a 6 (given that a 6 isn't already your highest roll, which it often will be). If there were spells that applied to all dice (for instance, a time spell that re-rolls the two lowest dice until they are higher than they originally were), that would be cool. Perhaps a die that you could put every spell on? That would basically win the game right there.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 19, 2011 4:34 PM

Mike, sorry but there are some wrongs in there. Mend is always more effective than Heal anyway. So use it all times. 1 MP cost for 1 HP or 2 MP for 3 HP? That is 1.5 HP per MP. Its a no brainer, really. Also hardly see so much complication about such a simplistic game, is this a paradody by chance I dont get?

Here is better tiplist:

pick any "class"

press the button

press the button again

press the more button

when you get a skill always use your class skill until out of MP

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

when you get your second class skill always use your class skill instead until out of MP

(only exception if you are "time mage" use both skills)

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

press the more button

win

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I started out as a Time Mage and won with maybe 26 HP left... it was okay. Oddly, the highlight of it all was the cute ending. Otherwise, a quick way to waste 15 minutes, all in all.

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There's really not much strategy to it; the entire gimmick is based on the visible dice mechanic rather than the invisible one in most modern games where the computer throws out the results of the 'rolls' as damage dealt/taken. The special effect dice are the equivalent of the most basic of skills in traditional rpgs. You learn new skills, but there's no role per se beyond what you might see tacked on in a shooter, and it's not even pretty to look at.

It's an RPG in a sense, but I found it to be overly brief, simplified and ugly. Perhaps if the use of the dice was more complex it would be more interesting.

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Anonymous January 20, 2011 1:28 PM

Nice idea but got bored of it really quickly. After running out of MP, it's just spamming the roll button until the monster dies.

Probably have way too much HP to begin with but maybe I just got lucky.

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chibidani Author Profile Page January 23, 2011 1:53 AM

cute game, but i HATE it when there isn't a "turn the music off" option.

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This is currently the lowest-rated Flash game on JIG. Out of like 2,000 Flash games. Now, it's not very good, but is it really worse than everything else?

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