Too Many Bones Board Game Review | Discover your favorite Gearloc

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Too Many Bones was released in 2017 by Chip Theory Games. It is sold as a dice building role playing game (RPG) and is around $140 to buy. So, what the heck is a dice building RPG and is it value for money?

I’ll answer all the questions and explain everything you need to know in this Too Many Bones board game review. We’ll take a look at what it is about, how well it is made, and if it is any good.

Let’s get started with looking at what Too Many Bones is about.

Too Many Bones Board Game Review
PlayersAgePlaytime (m)Overall
1-412+60-1208.4

Table of Contents

  1. What is Too Many Bones About?
    1. Tyrants
    2. Encounter Cards
    3. Story
    4. Gearloc’s
    5. Combat
    6. Dice Building RPG
    7. Summary
  2. How Well Is Too Many Bones Made?
  3. Is Too Many Bones Any Good?
  4. Can you play Too Many Bones solo?
  5. Does Too Many Bones Have a Story?
  6. How Many Dice Are In Too Many Bones?
  7. Does Poison Stack In Too Many Bones?
  8. Is Too Many Bones Worth Buying?

What is Too Many Bones About?

Too Many Bones is an adventure strategy game like no other. You are Gearlocs in the world of Daelore. For a long while you have been living hidden in the Deepwood but have had to flee to a southern city of Obendar.

The menace that is the Ebon are gaining power in the north and forcing you to retreat from your seclusion. The Ebon are made of creatures grouped under a series of Tyrants. As these Tyrants don’t speak it is thought that a small group should be sent out on a sorte to eliminate each Tyrant and their underlings one by one.

The task has fallen to you and your comrades as Gearloc’s who love nature and machinery. This fantasy world of monsters will immerse you in the world of the Gearloc. Will you defeat the Tyrants and free the land?

In the base game you get 4 Gearlocs to play and 7 Tyrants to defeat. In true RPG style the Gearloc’s, Monsters, and Tyrants will all have health (HP), attack, and defense points.

Tyrants

You select a Tyrant at the beginning of the game. Each Tyrant you pick sets the length of the game calculated in days. They will also tell you how many progress points you must earn before you can face them. The Nom Tyrant requires you to gain 6 progress points before the 8th day.

The Tyrant will decide on how long your game is and this is realistically between 2-6 hours. So, rather than pick a random one I would suggest picking one of the shorter Tyrants to begin with. You will be reading up on a lot of rules as you play.

Tyrants also dictate the type of monsters that you will come up against. As part of the setup you will build the monster chip decks with only the monster types shown on the Tyrant. These could be a mix of:

  • Trolls
  • Scales
  • Bogs
  • Orcs
  • Goblins
  • Beasts

Each Tyrant comes with a Tyrant poker chip and dice. They also have a number of Encounter cards. The Tyrant Encounter cards are shuffled into the encounter deck and will have special encounters for you to play once drawn.

Encounter Cards

There are 6 Special Encounter cards, 30 General Encounter cards, and 1 or more Tyrant Encounter cards. This adds to some replayability and randomness to each game as you play.

The Special Encounter cards 1-3 always play at the beginning of the deck and symbolize you leaving the Obendar and setting out. These are fairly easy and will ease you into the game. If you are offered help e.g. you can choose for guards to help, then take it.

After the first three encounter cards the deck will be random. These cards usually have a choice for you to make. Eat some grub or explore the caves, fight the monsters with help from the guards or just fight them with your Gearlocs.

Depending on your choice it will be easier or harder and the rewards will vary depending on your choice. This is a hard game to play and so I would recommend getting any help you can. Definitely avoid hardship if you can in the early game before you have built up your character.

You build your deck by picking one encounter card up to the total Tyrant days to play minus 3. So, if the Tyrant requires 8 days then you would select 8 – 3 = 5 encounter cards. Place the Tyrant Encounter card(s) into this newly formed deck and shuffle. Now take the first 3 Special Encounter cards and place them on top with 001 as the first to be drawn, then 002 and so on.

There is a cover card so that you can cover the encounter cards to conceal what is coming next. It is a good idea to shuffle and build the deck without looking at what is coming up. This will add to the reveal and the enjoyment (or despair) when you draw it.

Story

The story is played out through the encounter deck which will provide an encounter each day of your journey.

Depending on your choice you will get better rewards if you are successful. You will also earn a number of progress points.

As you play through this rich fantasy game you will fight monsters and progress, if you are skilled enough, towards the Tyrant fight before the days run out. If you have not defeated them by the set number of days then you lose.

The writing is impeccable and will completely immerse you into the varied and surprising world of Daelore. Each encounter card brings a new event that might be a day off hunting for food or a choice to fight a dragon or run for your life.

Along the way you may gain Loot or Trove Loot as rewards for your encounters. Each Gearloc can hold up to 4 cards in total.

Loot provides you with buffs and items to help along the way. Trove Loot is the same but will require you to pick the lock before gaining the rewards.

There are 4 phases to the game:

  1. New Day Phase

This will simply increase the number of days by one. There is a counter that records this and as discussed you’ll need to defeat the Tyrant before the end of the final day.

  1. Encounter Phase

Here you choose to draw an encounter card or if you have enough progress points challenge the Tyrant.
If you chose an Encounter card then read it, make your choice, and resolve the encounter.

If you are successful then go to the reward phase. If unsuccessful then go to the Recovery phase.

  1. Reward Phase

Here you gain any rewards that your choice offers from successful completion along with any ones from the Encounter card.

Draw any Loot or Trove Loot card and use any Training Points earned. 

Finally, if you earned any progress points then put the encounter card under the Tyrant card with the points showing. This allows you to keep track.

  1. Recovery Phase

Here you can trade and Loot with your party. You can also discard any Loot if you want to free up space or it is no use.

Here is where you lockpick a Trove Loot and you can do this on anyone’s Trove Loot.

An individual can also do 1 of the following:

  • Rest and Recover
  • Search for better Loot
  • Scout the area

After each Recovery Phase the New Day Phase repeats.

Gearloc’s

The Gearloc’s are all fantastically unique and have their own player mat. This is where the dice building RPG comes in. They are all uniquely different and have strengths, weaknesses and abilities that will enable you to play with different strategies.

It’s a good idea to get to know your Gearloc and these characteristics. I would recommend sticking with a character for a while before changing to another one. It is best to understand fully how to build up their potential and use them to their max. 

As with baddies the Gearloc’s can be ranged or melee characters. If they are melee then they must be next to a monster to attack, ranged means they can attack from a distance.

GearlocDamageSkillsConsumablesHPDexterityAttackDefense
BoomerRangedScavenger, Grenadier, Utility Bomber,
Keen Eye
Bag’a Booms, Holy Hand Grenade3312
PatchesMeleeCombat Medic, Forester, Stim StackerLiquid Life, Poison Dart, E-Cells5211
PicketMeleeCaptain, Hero, Protector, WardenOrchish Ale, Gibby Jerky5212
TantrumMeleeZerker, Mimic, SkirmisherAxe Collector, Horn o’ the Zerker, Body Count4330
Gearloc Starter Statistics and Skills

Combat

Each Tyrant will only have certain types of monsters in its horde which is also shown on the card. During setup you will build the monster decks (made of chips) so they only contain those types in randomized order.

When an encounter card has an encounter with monsters then you will need to enter into combat. This is done over several rounds and you will need to defeat all the monsters to be successful.

Each Gearloc and Monster will have a ranged or melee attack.  On the Battle Mat there is a 4×4 grid and an Initiative Meter. The Initiative Meter will dictate the round and the order of turn for each monster and Gearloc.

The 4×4 grid has 2 rows for the monsters. One row is ranged, the other is melee. The other two rows are both ranged and melee for the Gearlocs.

As you build the monsters you will place them in either a ranged or melee position on the mat. There are 4 columns in which you place the drawn monsters (3-1-2-4). You only fight 4 monsters at a time so any other monsters wait above the Battle Mat. As monsters are defeated they are removed from the Battle Mat and any waiting monsters take their place in that empty column.

Monsters have a set Initiative shown on their monster chip. Players roll a 6 sided dice to determine their initiative. This sets the order of turns.

Each turn a roll is made to decide on Attack and Defense. Depending on a Gearlocs dexterity they will then be able to choose to use that dexterity to move, attack and defend. 

Movement uses up dexterity, so to move 2 spaces uses 2 dexterity. The rest can then be used to roll dice. These are made up from attack, defense, and ability dice.

Once each Gearloc and Monster has taken a turn the round is over and the round dice is incremented. The round is then repeated until all the monsters are vanquished or the Gearloc’s knocked out.

If you have not completed the battle by the 6th round all Gearloc and Monsters are exhausted and so they each reduce their HP by 1. The rounds then go back to Round 1.

If you are unsuccessful then you are not killed but only knocked out. Which means your party will be a man down for the rest of the encounter phase.

You’ll have to wait till the Recovery Phase and then use your Rest and Recover action to gain your HP back.

If your whole party is knocked out then you all proceed to the Recovery Phase and bypass the Reward Phase. The battle mat is reset and the next day begins.

If you are successful and reach the Reward Phase then you resolve the Encounter card and gain the rewards depending on the choice you made. Then proceed to the Recovery Phase where everyone can heal if or take another action if they wish.

Dice Building RPG

You will find many games that are deck building games. This typically means that you will have a starter deck of cards for your character. 

As the game progresses you will be able to gain more cards that will strengthen your characters abilities. 

This in turn will enable you to defeat tougher enemies or complete higher tasks. Games such as Everdell and Dominion are good examples of this kind of game.

In Too Many Bones the game engine is dice instead of cards. Which means each character and Tyrant have their own dice.

The Role Playing Game part comes in the form of each Tyrant, Monster and Gearloc have classic stats. These are HP, Dexterity, Attack, and defense. Along with this they will either be melee or ranged characters. 

Your character will have a starting set of stats that have a base value. Along with this they also have skills.

For example, Boomer can create explosives that will annihilate monsters. Patch can create potions that may or may not provide buffs and can even bring back a Gearloc from being knocked out.

Each character has their own set of dice and way of using them on their character mat. As you play you will create the skill and then add to it for more and more powerful skills. When you take a roll you can include these skills in that roll to activate them.

You can also choose to improve your stats. In this way it is a dice building RPG.

Summary

This game is a very rich and well written adventure that will be a challenge for you. As you develop your skills and learn about your Gearloc and the monsters you come up against.

The base game has limited replayability due to the limited Gearloc and Tyrants to play through. Adding expansions with more Gearlocs and Tyrants will increase the replayability significantly. You will be able to have a different mix of Gearlocs attempting to defeat the same tyrant that will give you different starting points, scars, and other things.

Chip Theory Games have also worked at improving the game with each expansion. Expansions like the Age of Tyranny provide a campaign mechanic. You’ll also be able to buy various different Gearloc’s each with their own unique characteristics and gameplay styles.

This is an incredible fantasy world with minute detail to the cards and texts to bring the world to life. The world is very 

How Well Is Too Many Bones Made?

I have to say that whilst the publishers have clearly worked at bringing you a quality game. I fear this may be at the expense of the planet! There is so much plastic in this game. From the box insert, the dice, cards, and even the reference sheets are plastic.

Having said that, each component is superbly made. The mats are made from hardy neoprene. They have holes in them to place your dice. Unlike Terraforming Mars, if you knock these mats the dice are going nowhere.

Each of the card decks you use are plastic. So it is unlikely that you will need to sleeve them. The dice faces are made well and won’t be rubbing off so you can’t tell what you’ve rolled.

This game is made exceptionally well and as it should be for the price.

Each of the Gearlocs, Monsters, and Tyrants have their respective poker chips. Each with the artwork nicely drawn on them. There are another 65 red health chips to be used to track the monster and Gearlocs HP.

Finally the artwork for this game is both imaginative and well drawn. Each Gearloc character is cute and endearing and draws you to make a connection with it. The monsters are all standard monsters we all know and love to kill.

This game will last you a very long time.

Is Too Many Bones Any Good?

Yes, Too Many Bones is an excellent game to play. It is nothing like you have played before with its fantastic dice building engine. The writing is superb and quirky and will always throw you a surprise over the turn of a card.

Each game does take a considerable amount of time to play. Particularly when you are new to the game. You will find yourself reading and reading the rules and reference sheets to make sure you are playing it right. In which case this is probably for the more experienced board gamer.

If you have the money to invest in this game it will return hours of fun. It is no push over and you will need to work hard to defeat the Tyrants that you vowed to rid Daelore from.

Can you play Too Many Bones solo?

Yes, Too Many Bones is just as good with only one player. You play with a special solo encounter deck instead of the usual multiplayer one. The rules adjust how many monsters you fight automatically.

You typically play with one Gearloc. However, there would be nothing stopping you from going in with two or more Grealocs and playing the regular encounter deck solo.

This game number 7 in my 20 Best Solo Board Games article. Take a read to find out more great solo board games.

Does Too Many Bones Have a Story?

No, the base game in Too Many Bones does not have a story. The game does have an overarching cause where the Gearlocs are fighting to overthrow the Ebon and free the land of Daelore. It is really only covered in the pretext introduction and does not follow through the games you play.

In which case it will feel like you are playing individual games to overthrow the particular Tyrant you have chosen to fight.

This is a marked difference from games like Gloomhaven that have a story that runs through the entire campaign. In Gloomhaven there is linking text that joins the scenarios together along with choices to make about which scenario to do next.

This lack of cohesion between tyrants is meant to be solved in The Age of Tyranny expansion which brings in a campaign mechanism. This expansion joins together the 7 Tyrants you get in the base game. You can play through and defeat all of them in order to win the campaign.

Although in my opinion it is still not on par with the likes of the Gloomhaven campaign story.

How Many Dice Are In Too Many Bones?

There are 132 dice in the base game Too Many Bones. They are broken down into 9 different types of dice.

Here is the full break down:

  • 64 x Gearloc Skill Dice (16 per Gearloc)
  • 8 x Effect Dice
  • 16 x Stat Dice (4 per Gearloc)
  • 4 x Gearloc Initiative Dice (1 per Gearloc)
  • 12 x Attack Dice
  • 18 x Defense Dice
  • 4 x Lockpicking Dice
  • 1 x Round Counter (for battles)
  • 1 x 6 sided Dice

The dice in Too Many Bones are the mainstay of the game. You use the dice to build up your characters and make them stronger. 

Choosing which aspect of your character to build is one of the most interesting parts of the game. Should you increase your dexterity to give you more dice to roll or add another skill to your character?

Make a wrong choice and it could be coffin nails for you in your next encounter.

Does Poison Stack In Too Many Bones?

No, poison does not stack. Which means that if you already have a poison 2 dice on you. Then a monster attacks you with a poison 1. The result is you replace the poison 2 with the 1.

Is Too Many Bones Worth Buying?

Yes, In my opinion this is a high ticket game that provides great value. The text is superbly written and the game draws you into the world of Daelore.

It is an incredibly popular game which people rave about despite the cost. If you are not careful you could find yourself at work wondering how Tantrum is getting on and if he has had a breakdown today?

This odd ball game with its uniquely different turn on the RPG worlds we are used to is definitely worth it if you like that genre. If you are not a fan of dice rolling and deck building then this could be your worst nightmare.

However, if you do like deck building and dice rolling then you must try this game. You will have hours of fun attempting to defeat these hordes of monsters. I highly recommend this game.

Pros

Hugely Thematic
Excellent writing
Funny and quirky
Each Gearloc and Tyrant are unique
Immersive gaming
Challenging game

Cons

Expensive
Everything is plastic
Complicated rules upon rules
No campaign linking the Tyrants
PlayersAgePlaytime (m)Rating
Too Many Bones
Too Many Bones
1-412+120+8.4
Buy at Amazon

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