The real problem with Dragon Dice lies not in the computer game but in a realm that strikes fear in the hearts of all RPG fans - the real world. created Dragon Dice in what seems to be an attempt to cash in on the collectable and addictive market power of Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering. Give TSR a "C" for effort and an "A" for greed. When I naively tried to buy a few packs of Dragon Dice at the local game shop, the clerk scornfully replied, "What, you mean the product that single-handedly bankrupted TSR? We don't sell those anymore." Though Dragon Dice did not 'single-handedly' bankrupt the company, it certainly wasn't a success, which is probably because the gaming system lacks intrigue - and PC treatment, though quite thorough, inherits the dull concept of its real-world counterpart.
Interplay did its best with the lemon of a game it licensed. Dragon Dice begins with slow pans across fantasy style oil paintings of contemplative elves fletching perfect arrows and muscular dwarves forging the tools of a mortal struggle. Area maps follow the fantasy game archetype, as do the battle and spell screens. Conversely, the renditions of post-roll simulated combat border on the ridiculous. The soundtrack is the best part of the game: Epic and symphonic, it's almost compelling enough to warrant suffering through the mediocre gameplay. The physical rolling of the dragon dice is another high point - the act of frantically shaking a mouse around to roll dice is a treat for those of us who still believe the method of dice rolling can positively effect the outcome.
Your objective in the game of Dragon Dice is to take and hold territories from your opponents via turn-based, die simulated combat and wizardry. Each die represents a member of your army and its focus (magic or combat). You group dice in pools and roll them to launch attacks, cast spells, defend attacks, and counter maneuvers. In the right place, with the right rolls, your magic dice can summon Dragons, which have beefier spell and combat abilities. The larger a die, the more points it can score for your side. Attack and defense points are tallied at the end of each combat round. Then the appropriate side assigns his damage, possibly having to take dice out of the appropriate attack pool. There is an inherent statistical stagnation built into Dragon Dice that makes the game less than it could have been. Battles often end in a spread of just a few points between winner and loser. Though terrain can affect the total point outcome, little else adjusts the end-of-turn point spread. At times, the game is as monotonous as the card game War.
TSR couldn't make coffee without scripting an elaborate background story (say, bean gnomes and roasting dwarves who fight the powers of darkness so that they may provide us with the life-giving beverage), and that attention to detail is evident here. There are four races and there are dragons. They all derive their strength from the elements: Water, Earth, Fire, Air, and Death. But the ten-minute introduction adds little to the game besides letting on that terrain can affect the point totals after the dice are cast. Each game can be played against live, computer, or networked opponents or in campaign mode. Most scenarios occur on a small map where you start with three armies and fight for ownership of two or three spots on a small map. This scope will seem small to those accustomed to region maps exponentially larger than their computer screen.
Dragon Dice the PC game inherits the statistical smallness of its physical counterpart, and lacks the deep complexity of great fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. Interplay's adaptation of Dragon Dice is an improvement on the original, but it doesn't fix the basic underlying problem: It's just not very fun. And frankly, any fantasy game player with some spare dice and a spare hour could create a game just as good.