Dicey Elementalist

The Game

Dicey Elements by DoubleThink Games is yet another rogue-like deck building dungeon crawler game. The game starts out by introducing you to its key mechanic, rolling a set of dice which determine what cards you can play. The dice effective function as mana with each move requiring a certain number or combination of dice. You can choose to hold dice and reroll others for better combos. You can only ever have six cards in play so you will have to be selective as your deck expands on your adventure. Enemies get harder as you progress and each one you defeat will give you gold (which can be used within the dungeon), stardust (used for permanent upgrades outside the dungeon) and exp (to level you up). Initially there’s only one character (The Fearless) to be played on the most basic mode (NormalMode), additional characters can be purchased and the additional modes are unlocked as you complete the previous mode.

As you navigate the dungeons, each room will have 1 – 3 exits and an enemy, shop or loot inside. If there’s an enemy you will need to defeat them before progressing. There’s a decent variety of enemies, some with special artifacts or powerful cards that will really challenge you. As you progress you will get rarer and better cards and be able to customise your deck to pull of some truly impressive combos. You will also unlock the ability to craft potions using Element Stones – some potions can be particularly useful in a pinch. You will be able to upgrade your adventure permanently through the Adventure Reform upgrade menu, as well as unlock some permanent features like blacksmiths and black marketers or even the arcade section of the tavern, which features a series of arcade games where you win tickets (although it’s not quite clear what the use of these tickets is). This section also features the daily challenge, which will feature a random character – disappointingly you cannot play unless you own the character (this could have served as a nice preview of various characters in order to help me choose which to purchase).

Worth it?

The game is free to play and ads are only there if you want them – in the guise of a fairy which can offer you a random prize (ranging from gold to epic artifacts) or a revive if you die. You can play the game without either of these two. There are some slightly annoying ad banners on screen, but for a free game this is to be expected somewhat. The additional characters all cost various prices – The Stealthy can be picked up with in-game currency (gems), The Chanter will set you back $0.99, while The Prophet, The Telepathic and The Greedy are $1.99 each. There is also a purchase available for additional level up rewards for $2.99. My biggest issue with the pricing of all of these is that there’s no bundle or overall purchase where I could get everything for a reasonable price. $1.99 per character is a little bit expensive, The Chanter seems to have the perfect price, however it would be nice if all characters were still purchasable with premium currency so as to make it technically possible to purchase by purely playing the game. Also none of these purchases remove ads (separate purchase), it would be nice to know that if I am spending money on a game it will at least remove the annoying banners in game. There are also the occasional grammar or spelling issues throughout the game.

Overall, the aesthetic of the game and the sound are quite unique and very enjoyable. The overall gameplay loop isn’t anything too new or innovative, but the use of the dice as mana and throughout the game works really well. A successful run will usually take around an hour to an hour and a half depending on difficulty, but if you ever have to pause or quit, the game does a good job of recording your progress. With the adventure reform and several characters to unlock and play and a variety of difficulties and challenges there really is quite a bit to unpack and get stuck into. It’s a great game, good for medium-longer play times, but can also be picked up and dropped for short sessions.

Tips

  • If a card is on fire it will deal damage to you for using it
  • Red doors are basic enemies, Pink doors are elites, exclamation marks lead to a dice battle
  • Elites drop better loot
  • Artifacts are OP, but you can only carry 10 so think carefully about which 10 are active at any point in time
  • Spells or abilities that restore health are very useful
  • Remember to craft potions using your Elemental Stones, but you are unlikely to need them on easier runs
  • Unlock the blacksmith from the Adventure Reform as he will allow you to upgrade and sell cards
  • “Pick up” from the adventure reform unlocks the arcade/casino area
  • Having the Black Market Merchant (All for Cash) in the tavern isn’t really worth it although he does allow you to complete quests for small premium currency awards
  • Different characters synergise better with different decks and playstyles – the game is all about getting the right combos of cards, artifacts and that little bit of luck
  • Don’t overload your hand with hard requirement cards as it could make it very difficult for you to actually play any in a turn
  • If you have a lot of cards of 1 element, try and get some with 1/2 Pair requirements as these can be used with any cards and won’t leave you stuck with nothing to use
  • Cards that generate other cards are extremely useful (just make sure to use them when you have space for the new cards) – generating new cards allows your turn to go on for longer and for you to deliver even more damage (same goes for temp cards or the Soul Flame artifact)
  • Be careful with the Light Scythe artifact because if you have a “the next time you deal damage” card that will trigger for the hit of the Light Scythe

Useful Links

Reigns

The Game

Reigns is the first game in the Reigns series, first released in 2016 – developed by Nerial and published by Devolver Digital. The concept of the game is brilliantly simple and effective. You are a king (if you would like to be a queen, you can always try Reigns: Her Majesty) at the head of an unruly kingdom faced with many decisions. Each decision is basically a Yes/No decision made by swiping left or right, reminiscent of everybody’s favourite dating apps (Tinder, Bumble, etc). Every decision will affect the 4 key factions that you need to keep in check – the church, the people, the army and the treasury. Deplete any one of those and you will be killed; allow any one of them to max out and you will be killed – dying will end your current reign and you will start as a new ruler. There are some really interesting characters, decisions and surprises that will keep you on your toes at all times.

Worth it?

Reigns is a wonderfully simple and yet surprisingly deep game. Some story lines and characters immerge after several lives or even the devil himself. The game will set you back around £1.99 (or $2.99), which is quite worth it, even more so if it is on sale. My single biggest issue with the game is the rotation on mobile – it doesn’t listen for the phone’s rotation (even if locked) and will auto-rotate, making it quite annoying when you’d like to keep the game in portrait, like if you are lying down. Other than that it’s really hard to fault the game. Occasionally if you close the game mid-reign it may not save your progress.

Overall it’s a nice looking game, with simple yet entertaining mechanics, a surprising amount of depth, loads of achievements and objectives to unlock. It’s cheap and has loads of replay value; perfect for either short time-killing sessions or lengthier runs.

Tips

  • The little dots above each of the factions indicate how big an effect that decision will have, however you don’t know if it will be a positive or negative effect
  • Decisions that continuously affect your standing with a faction will increment it constantly, meaning you can wait for it for a minute or two to fill/deplete before making a decision
  • Build the barn – this will come in handy if the people decide to turn on you, giving you an extra shot
  • Understand what adds to a faction’s standing and what detracts – over time you will get better at keeping them all in check
  • For tips on a long reign, check out the wiki: https://reigns.fandom.com/wiki/Strategy

Useful Links

Card Guardians: Deck Building Roguelike Card Game

The Game

Card Guardians (as it should be called) is a deck building turn based combat game by Tapps Games – PT. The game has likely drawn a good deal of inspiration from the popular Slay the Spire. It is a simple concept based around fighting various mobs using a deck of various cards. Every time you beat an enemy you will advance on your current adventure – you will get to choose a card to add to your deck (for this adventure only) and a choice of what to do next. Sometimes you will get to choose a way to improve your deck or heal up, other times you will have to choose which enemy you would like to take on.

Your adventures will get you gold and armour – armour can be upgraded in quality by merging 4 alike pieces. Each piece of armour can then be upgraded using gold to increase the base stats that it provides (gloves boost attack, helmets boost defence, chest pieces boost health). There are different types of armour and armour sets that provide unique set bonuses which will give you a better chance at the start of the battle.

Worth it?

Overall the game takes some clever and familiar mechanics and delivers an enjoyable and challenging experience. The game is also easy to pick up and drop as it will save your progress on your last run. My biggest issue with the game is that in a way you are “forced” to watch videos after each battle to get the better loot. While you don’t have to, if you want more gold and a better card selection – it will be in your interest to do so. One slightly annoying aspect is that it seems you need 4 piece of the same armour to upgrade the quality as opposed to 3 (which is sort of what the UI suggests). The game currently has two playable characters which are completely different – giving the game quite a bit of variety in terms of play style.

The ad-free version is £6.99 which is a bit on the expensive side for what it actually offers – the key benefit being a free way to upgrade your loot after each battle and a free revive if you die on an adventure. If the overall price was 15-20% cheaper it would make a lot more sense to go for as the perks are pretty useful. Gameplay is fairly repetitive but the randomness of the cards you may get allows you to try different tactics and ensures that each run is completely unique.

Tips

  • You can use defend or magic cards once you’ve filled up your super power without resetting it.
  • Exile cards can only be used once per battle, but will return to your deck in your next fight.
  • When offered the shop choice – you can buy multiple cards using gold.
  • Your armour will be lost on your next turn so don’t overextend your use of “Defend” cards.

Useful Links