Dig Down Dwarf Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 6 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 15 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Pattern Matching
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Risk it all and dig down deep to find gems of value!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

To anyone but a dwarf, a pile of dirt is worthless. Dwarves know better. A pile of dirt represents endless possibilities! Gold, gems, and other precious items could be just below the dirt’s surface. Dwarves work hard to obtain their riches, but no matter how much wealth they gather, a dwarf is always looking to pocket more. Some would call this greed, but dwarves simply consider this to be a strong work ethic.

Dig Down Dwarf, designed by Jason Glover and published by Grey Gnome Games via the Game Crafter, is comprised of 16 standard six-sided dice (4 each in the colors red, blue, green, and black), 37 Gems (1 “Diamond”, 4 “Peridots”, 8 “Citrines”, 14 “Amethysts”, and 1o “Coal” – which really isn’t a gem, but let’s be flexible here…), 4 Player Reference cards, and 1 bag. The Gems are small pieces of plastic which look like candy, so keep your Baby Geeks far and well away from this game! The cards are made of thick cardstock and very durable. It’s worth noting that this game was a finalist in the Micro Game Challenge hosted by the Game Crafter and sponsored by All Us Geeks and Father Geek.

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Getting Ready to Dig

To set up the game, first give each player a set of 4 six-sided dice. The dice should all be the same color.

Second, give each player a Player Reference card.

Third, place all the Gems in the bag and mix them up.

Fourth, draw 6 Gems from the bag without looking. Place these Gems in the middle of the playing area and group them by color (which identifies the Gem type).

That’s it for game set up! Let’s get digging!

Digging Down

Dig Down Dwarf is played in turns with no set number of turns per round. On a player’s turn, they will complete the following sequential steps.

Step 1: Draw Gems

The first thing a player does is draw 2 Gems (or 3 Gems in a  2-player game) from the bag. This is always done blindly and results in random Gems each turn. These Gems are placed in the middle of the playing area and grouped with any matching Gem types that might be available. If the Gem drawn does not match any available Gem types, simply make a new pile for that type.

Step 2: Roll Dice

The player now takes their 4 dice and rolls them. The player can roll their dice a total of 3 times. If a “1” is rolled, it’s locked and cannot be rolled again this turn. If a “6” is rolled, it may be rerolled, even if the player has already rolled a total of 3 times. The player can stop their dice rolling at anytime and are not required to roll anymore than once per turn.

Step 3: Review Dice

The player now reviews their dice values and matches them to the following criteria:

  • Four of a Kind (example: 3, 3, 3, 3)
  • Two Pairs (example: 2, 2 and 4, 4)
  • Straight (example: 1, 2, 3,4 )
  • Three of a Kind (example: 5, 5, 5)
  • One Pair (example: 4, 4)

The Player Reference card also contains this information.

Step 4: Take Gems

The roll result the player selects equates to a specific Gem type. The player selects their roll result, tells their opponents what they will be using, and then takes ALL the Gems that match the roll result that are currently available in the middle of the playing area. Any taken Gems are placed in front of the player.

  • Four of a Kind = Diamond
  • Two Pairs = All Peridots
  • Straight = All Citrines
  • Three of a Kind = All Amethysts
  • One Pair = All Coal

If there are no Gem types available that match the roll, the player takes nothing.

This completes the player’s turn. The next player in turn order sequence now takes their turn.

Gem Power

Collected Gems will count as points at the end of the game, but they can also be used during the player’s turn to influence dice rolls. Gems used are discarded for the duration of the game. They are NOT placed back in the bag.

  • Citrine: Discard 1 “Citrine” Gem to reroll 1 die, even if it’s a “1”
  • Amethyst: Discard 1 “Amethyst” Gem to set 1 die to any value, even if it’s a “1”

Ending the Game and Final Scoring

The game continues with each player taking their turn as described above. When a player draws the last of the Gems from the bag, the endgame is triggered. Each player is now allowed to take one final turn. Players should skip the step that requires them to draw Gems.

When the turn sequence returns to the player who drew the last of the Gems, the game ends. All the players now calculate their final score by referring to their Player Reference card. Each Gem is worth a specific number of victory points. The “Diamond”, “Peridot”, “Citrine”, and “Amethyst” Gems increase the total number of victory points. “Coal” Gems reduce the total number of victory points.

After the players have determined their total score, the player with the most victory points wins the game!

To learn more about Dig Down Dwarf, visit the game’s web page at the Game Crafter.

Prediction

This game smells strongly of Yahtzee. Not a bad thing, mind you, but it will have an uphill battle with those players who don’t like Dice games that are nothing more than “roll-match-repeat”, which Dig Down Dwarf would certainly appear to be. However, there is a bit more thought required by the players on their turn than mindless dice chucking. The available Gems are always changing and a player can spend Gems to obtain an advantage. For the Child and Parent Geeks, I have no doubt that Dig Down Dwarf will be seen as a casual, fast, and fun game. For the Gamer Geeks, the level of their endorsement is going to hinge on the overall depth of the game play. It doesn’t look to be too deep, but we simply won’t know for certain until we get in on the gaming table.

Teaching Dig Down Dwarf is a very straight forward exercise. Simply make certain that the players understand what they are rolling for. From there, the game is pretty easy. You might also want to emphasis that 2 of the 5 Gems can be used during the player’s turn to influence the dice rolls, but at the cost of victory points.

After teaching the game to my two oldest little geeks, I asked them their thoughts on Dig Down Dwarf so far.

“Looks like fun!” ~ Liam (age 9)

“I like dice, I like gems! Let’s play!” ~ Nyhus (age 6)

Let’s play, indeed, and see if we “dig” Dig Down Dwarf or we find it’s nothing more than a time sink.

Final Word

The Child Geeks had a great time with Dig Down Dwarf. All the Child Geeks did a great job of managing their dice and selecting which ones to reroll to get the biggest “bang” for their effort. The younger Child Geeks did not use their Gems for their bonus actions,  however. This often resulted in losses, but not always. Younger Child Geeks won a number of games against their older peers and Parent Geeks. Luck certainly plays a role in this game, but players do have a say and can trump luck with critical thinking. Overall, the older Child Geeks did better than their younger peers, but all the Child Geeks voted to approve the game, regardless of their final score. Clearly, Dig Down Dwarf was a solid winner.

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My 6-year-old claims his Gems as his older brother and nana look on. P.S.: I lost this game…badly.

The Parent Geeks very much enjoyed their time with Dig Down Dwarf, finding it to be a casual and entertaining game that was fun to play with their peers and their family. According to one Parent Geek, “What I like about this game is how easy it is to learn and how fun it is to play.” Another Parent Geek said, “It’s better than Yahtzee, that’s for sure. You have to think about what you want to get, which I liked.” All the Parent Geeks found the game to be easy and fast to play, which scored BIG points when they were playing the game in a room with lots of noisy kids. When the dice were put away, all the Parent Geeks voted to approve Dig Down Dwarf.

The Gamer Geeks were mixed when it came to the game’s endorsement. The more casual Gamer Geeks found the game to be fun and engaging, with just enough depth to make it a game worth their time. According to one Gamer Geek, “What I like about this game is that Gems are worth more than points. They are also useful for manipulating dice. A very neat twist to the game.” But not all the Gamer Geeks thought so. According to one Gamer Geek, “All I’m doing is rolling dice and matching them to whatever is available on the table. That’s fun for about 2 minutes and then gets old.” When the games were done and the votes recorded, the Gamer Geeks were split with the more casual elitists enjoying the game and the more hardcore elitists giving it a thumbs down.

There is a small, but growing group of independent game designers that I closely follow. Mr. Glover is one of them. He continues to design excellent and entertaining games that both satisfy and tantalize a large number of our groups. I am, admittedly, a fan and Dig Down Dwarf further strengthens my fandom. I found the game to be light and fun, which is exactly what I am looking for when I want to play a game in the evening with my little geeks. I’ll be the first to admit that Dig Down Dwarf is not the deepest of games, but you don’t have to “dig” to find the game’s entertainment value, either. A perfect blend of well-balanced game play, luck, and reward that has left me satisfied each time I played it.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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3 Responses to Dig Down Dwarf Game Review

  1. Thanks for the outstanding review Cyrus! I am happy that Dig Down Dwarf got “mixed” reaction from the gamers. I knew that would be a tough hill to climb, so getting the split is a victory in my eyes for such a simple game. Thanks again!

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