Kakao might not be a game company you are familiar with, but their success overseas has opened doors for them to bring their widely popular gachapon Lord of Dice (Free) to western shores. If you are not instantly familiar with that term gachapon, its basically a reference to free to play games that allow you to collect, level up and evolve your team of fighters to take on ever increasingly strong enemies. These games offer a slow trickle of hero acquisition which can be expedited via the purchase of summoning gems. If you aren’t a fan of this type of free to play model, I can save you some time and say that the formula is followed closely enough that you probably won’t enjoy this game. For those of you who do, however, there is a lot under the hood that this game offers.
In Lord of Dice you operate a team of characters, to which the game dubs ‘Dicers.’ Your character and the other dicers are trapped in the Tower of Inifinty and have lost their memories. In order to escape the tower and regain your memories you need to level up, get strong, and ascend the tower. The story is admittedly rather thin, but the game does not really hinge on the story line progresion. The real strong points of Lord of Dice are the combat and the visual asthetic. LoD has a strong chibi-anime visual style that feeds its combat and dicer animations. Moving around in Lord of Dice feels a lot like Mario Party, where you bounce from spot to spot getting into trouble each turn. The nice thing about LoD is that you can plan out where you end up moving to and end up dishing out most of the trouble to your enemy with a little bit of planning.
The biggest attraction for me in Lord of Dice is the gameplay. What looks like a simple RPG card playing interface belies some gravitas that you would not expect from your typical FTP game. On the surface, you play one of your dicers each turn and you have an attack and a movement that are executed associated with that card. Once you finish your attack and move, opponents can attack you if you are in their range. The next turn you take may be impacted by a special effect your previous card had or by buffs or debuffs that you picked up by landing on them. So far this game doesn’t even have any dice mechanics. The first wrinkle comes in the form of dice battles. Most of the time these battles are triggered by running directly into an enemy before it gets killed by one of your attacks. You select 3 of your dicers to a roll-off with the opponent. There are a slew of special abilities and modifiers but the basic idea is that the high-roller wins and deals damage to the loser.
What you will start to notice is that each dicer has their own types of dice they roll in a fight, sometimes more than one. They also have movement values that are variable, skills that impact the next dicer’s attack if it is the correct type. They have defensive skills, charge skills and these ALL can combine in being much MUCH stronger than a single dicer doing a single attack. It is this complexity that makes me happy I have certain dicers and will actively go back hoping to summon more. These types of synergies mean that there is probably no single “right" way to build a team, which is the pit many gacha games fall into. While there are only about 200 dicers in the game and a solid team is pretty easy to establish, you can keep fishing for more and more perfect versions of dicers to slowly get stronger and build towards specific goals. For example, I love dicers that have 5 move and 1 move values. Melee dicers are especially strong at 5 move and whirlwind dicers are great at 1 move. You might want more 2-4 movement options but I love having the extreme distance spreads so I can chose to either stall or race through areas. This is especially helpful in the raid mode.
Gem acquisition in games like this is sometimes dicey… but Lord of Dice is really generous with the amount of summons you will get. Within about 20 minutes of play you get enough gems to do the big premium summon pack. The first month’s login reward is a 5 star summon and there are enough acheivements to unlock to get you multiple pulls on that big summon pack in your first few days. This is a game I can see investing in heavily, but the primary resource for me is going to be time, not money.
Like most gacha games, you have a main story line game mode as well as pvp, raid, guild, and resource gathering side areas that have separate rewards that mostly reset on a daily or weekly basis. I was not able to find much in the reesource gathering section that felt unique or interesting but the pvp and raid boss fights are both very cool and a lot of fun. Trying out new team strategies for both of these modes proves that the depth of combat in this game has a huge impact on how successful you can be given various combat objectives. The pvp mode usually involves a small loop of squares with buffs and items the replenish after a certain number or rounds that you chase your opponent around. The boss mode can be played either solo or cooperatively with others. Bosses have minions that attack normally as well as large, telegraphed area of effect attacks that can usually be avoided with clever use of your dicers. You don’t really come across a gacha game with as much depth and varied gameplay as Lord of Dice. I guess thats why it has been so successful in other regions prior to the NA release. While the story line and artwork carry some trope-y under tones, There is still a whole lot of game to enjoy here.