Too Many Bones: An Attempt

Too Many Bones is the game cited by Tom Chick in numerous podcasts, blog posts, forum posts, screeds, scrolls, scripts, screenplays, scraps, scrimshaws, and scrapbooks as “BETTOR THAN GLOOMHAVEN.” He actually spelled “better” that way. “Bettor.” This isn’t true but it accurately conveys the vibe. At first, I scoffed at this brazen declaration. Then I played Too Many Bones and found that it is, in fact, bettor than Gloomhaven. Having played Too Many Bones, I now look upon Gloomhaven as approximately as appealing as yesterday’s yogurt.

In Gloomhaven, you play a bog-standard Dungeons & Dragons class with a complicated name that looks like a dumb person’s idea of a superhero.

In Too Many Bones, you play a gross little rat-faced twerp. This is much more realistic.

In Gloomhaven, you draw and play 27 cards each turn in order to move your character two spaces and an orc three spaces. Then you have to shuffle 12 decks so you’re ready for the next turn.

In Too Many Bones, each combat starts with your characters placed toe-to-toe with the enemy. Movement is abstract and simple. After setup, I don’t think you ever shuffle a deck one time. Maybe if an event or an item tells you to.

In Gloomhaven, as soon as you open the box you have to punch approximately 97 million counters and separate them into baggies and there’s more you have to do also but I need a nap.

Ah, I’m back from my nap. Where was I? Oh, yes, talking about punching counters in Gloomhaven. Sorry, now I need another nap.

Ah, now it’s tomorrow. Where was I? Oh, yes. Let me quickly move on before slumber once again overtakes me. In Too Many Bones, you punch. Zero. Counters. That’s because the game consists of cards, dice, poker chips and neoprene mats that can be used as jar openers when you need a tasty midgame snack of pickled pigs’ feet. If there’s one thing I know about cards, dice, poker chips, and neoprene mats, it’s that they require no prep time. In addition, the cards are PLASTIC and if you spill any pickled pigs’ feet brine on them, it wipes right off, with only the slightest aftertaste left behind.

Anyway, I’m doing a playthrough of Too Many Bones with the Age of Tyranny expansion that transforms the game into CAMPAIGN MODE and I will write about it in this thread until I get bored of writing about it. Prepare your jars of pickled pigs’ feet.

Sounds good to me. Especially because I decided to back CTG’s latest offering Burncycle, and at the same time I’m getting Too Many Bones shipped as part of my pledge. Reading about this game while I wait for a number of months has a distinct appeal.

Too Many Bones is great, but each session already feels like a campaign. I’ve heard Age of Tyranny doesn’t actually work that well. I guess we’ll see what you think!

$130, goddamn. It doesn’t matter how good it is, I’ll never be able to play at that price.

That’s just the base box. I paid $600 or so for a complete set.

You can buy it on ebay for $275 plus $56 shipping, so $130 for a brand new retail version is a deal!

There is a TTS mod for Too Many Bones…

I saw. As with most (all?) scripted modules, there are reports of bugs, etc. so I idly looked up the price, and…no.

This is a “true solo” run. I’m playing just one character, Picket. He got his name because he carries around a shield made of a fence. This is not a joke, just look at the art on

Picket seems to be an all-around solid character, and good for soloing. I previously died twice as Boomer, who got her name because she was born between 1946 and 1964. She starts with low health, and takes a while to build up her offensive power, much like real boomers.

The first Tyrant I’ll face is Nom, who got his name because he wants to eat me. I have nine days to rack up six progress points, which will enable me to challenge him and, hopefully, win. Decks are shuffled, chips are stacked, and I draw an Encounter Card for Day 1.

The Spoony Bard
The mood prior to venturing out on a journey to take down a ruthless overlord is always somber, but this guy’s singing is not helping.
“The line twixt life and death,
Too far o’er did we step,
Daelore’s soul refused to take,
Those awful deeds done at The Break.”
His name is Edward, and he says he didn’t write the tune. It’s the work of another musician who’s been hanging around town. “Heard she’s in jail. But hard to tell… oh no, here come the guards.”

The other side of the card offers me two choices. I can either turn in Edward for spreading propaganda, or explain to the guard that Edward was “simply sharing an example of illegal lyrics… you know… so that you wouldn’t accidentally start singing them to yourself… or something…”

I don’t understand the song, why the lyrics are not protected speech under the First Amendment, or anything else about this encounter. Any hardcore Boneheads in this thread? Please explain the song to me and why it’s considered uncool. I don’t get it.

Therefore, I will role-play by choosing the second option, and protecting Edward. The poor guy shouldn’t go to jail for writing a confusing song. It that were a jailable offense, we’d have missed out on 47 now-classic albums by Rush.

My reward is that Edward offers me a “secret tune” called “Ancient Melody.” Before the start of any non-Tyrant battle, I may gain Surprise one time. That means I’ll get the first Initiative slot. NOICE.

My other rewards are one Progress Point, a Training Point, and a Loot, which is… a GADGET ARM! For more information about the Gadget Arm, ask Jeeves about it on

As for the Training Point, I spend it on my Stand Ground skill, and add a custom-printed die to my neoprene mat. Mmmm, neoprene. Time for a jar of pickled pigs’ feet.

There are three encounters you’re normally supposed to get right out of the gate - one that’s a choice between training points and less training points but loot, one that’s a battle you can get help with, and one that’s about sneaking out of the city. Are there different ones for the solo encounter deck? Or did you miss those? (Or do they not apply in Age of Tyranny?)

Break that shrinkwrap on Age of Tyranny!

Heh, it’s all put away in my Trove Chest. But I wasn’t going to do a campaign when I’ve only played like four times. And none of them have been solo.

Age of Tyranny comes with more Day 1 - 3 encounter cards.


I’m pretty sure I talked about this on a podcast at some point, but it bears repeating: Too Many Bones doesn’t feel like any other boardgame. The tactile element of Chip Theory Games’ games is uniquely gratifying. You never touch a piece of cardboard. Never. It’s all hefty plastic chips, gently yielding spongy neoprene, and those weird frictionless PVC plastic cards. Your fingertips know when you’re playing Too Many Bones, and it’s nothing like the other games they’ve been playing.

Keep the reports coming, @justaguy2! I didn’t care for the campaign mode, but I didn’t stick with it very long and I’m open to having my mind changed. And I haven’t even gotten around to trying the raft-and-water-monsters expansion.

I’ve heard so many various opinions on the best character count, but I’ve mostly played with two characters, mainly because I hate missing out on synergies so I never play single-character if I can help it, and I feel like the battles get too crowded with three or four characters.


Day 2

Picket draws yet another confusingly-worded Encounter Card.

Three different types of shrieks, each with its own unique ear-splitting obnoxiousness – this is how life outside the gates of Obendar says hello. The races that make up the Ebon don’t always care for each other. This particular masochist is toying with a young goblin, kobold, and orc, educating them on how sharp a dagger can be. Attempting to save their own skins, they point in this direction. Cover blown.
It’s hard to blame the victims; they weren’t going to escape without some sort of diversion. Thankfully, they stick around to hurl insults while they watch vengeance being served.

Option 1:

Guess there’s a peanut gallery…
The orc, troll, and goblin [editor’s note: what happened to the kobold, and where did the troll come from?] serve as a helpful distraction.
BQ: Baddie Pts.
All Baddies have Skill: Careless 1.

Option 2:

Usher the victims to shelter.
BQ: Baddie Pts.
No Def Dice may be rolled during Round 1 (Gearlocs or Baddies).

So far it looks like the most formidable opponent I have is this game’s writing. I yet again have no idea what’s going on, storywise. Ruleswise, I’m good.

I choose the second option, since Picket gets a free Defense Dice roll with his Innate ability, “Shield Wall.” Remember, he carries a shield made of a fence.

I roll a whopping 1 Defense, but that’s better than nothing.

My opponents are a Troll Brute and an Orc Grunt.

Whoops. Looks like I only have one Attack die, and since my Dexterity is only 2, I can only roll 2 dice total each round. Should have looked into that.

Picket takes a swing at the Troll, and hits for 2, reduced to 1 due to the Troll’s “thick skin” ability. I also roll Picket’s “Stand Ground” die, which I’d bought with a Training Point after the previous encounter, and that gives me a Bones. (Bones are “fail rolls” that accumulate and that you can turn in for “consolation prize” actions.)

The Orc Grunt moves into position and swings at Picket, hitting for 1. There goes his Defense Die I just rolled.

Troll Brute hits for 2, taking Picket down to 3 Health. Yikes.

Round 2. I roll my solitary Attack die and a Defense die, and get another Bones and a 1. But I was attacking the Troll, so that means no damage.

Orc Grunt can now roll his defense die in addition to his attack die. He rolls two Bones, for no effect. Nice.

Same deal for the Troll, who rolls a Bones and a Defense of 1. The Bones die actually does a damage to him, since he’s Careless! Awesome!

So at the start of round 3, we have Picket with 3 Health, the Troll with 1, and an unscathed Orc with 4.

Now that the Troll has a Defense point, I literally cannot hit him, since I’d have to do 3 damage to get past his Defense and Thick Skin, and I simply am too wimpy to dish out 3 damage. So, I target the Orc with my one Attack die, and roll a Defense die as well. Result: 2 damage, and a Defense. THAT’S nice. I can spend my 2 Bones dice on “Shield Bash” and do an additional damage from my Defense point (which I’ll then lose). Done. Orc has 1 Health left, as does the Troll.

A lot depends on these next couple enemy rolls…

Ouch. Orc does 2 damage to me, and rolls a shield for himself. I’m down to 1 hit point.

And the Troll finishes me off with 2 damage.

Yikes. Combat over.

Fortunately, Age of Tyranny introduces “Boon Cards,” which give you consolation prizes if your party gets wiped. Mine bestows 2 Training Points and a Loot upon me. The Loot is… a Prying Iron! Look that up on

Well, not the most auspicious Day 2 imaginable.

You don’t have to slot Bones rolls, FWIW. Especially with skill dice, since they get used up if you use them as Bones, and you’d usually be better off trying to get an actual result. But in this case it seems to have worked out. Well, to the extent that anything worked out.

Take a look at Picket!

He does have a couple skill dice with reusable Bones, yeah. But even then, it’s sometimes better to just keep the dice ready to reroll next turn.

With my 2 Training Points from yesterday’s Boon, I boost Picket’s Dex to 3, and add his “Sword Advance” skill die, which will help out his damage-dealing.

Day 3

A real fast non-combat encounter called “Casualties of War,” if you want to look it up.

It offers two choices, and I go with the one that provides two more Training Points, a Progress Point, and a Loot, which is a Throwing Axe. However, this encounter choice also reduces my total Loot space to 3 until I get 5 total Progress Points. With the Axe, I now have 4 Loot, so I have to discard one, which will be the Prying Iron.

My two Training Points unlock my Shield Form and Confidence skill dice. A lot of points spent on dice, maybe not enough on attributes. Time will tell…

Day 4, Part 1

Encounter: “A Dire Situation”

Picket faces a Dire Wolf and one random 1 B.P. Baddie, who turns out to be an Orc Scout.

After all that loading up on Skill Dice, now I’m faced with a choice: roll ONLY Skill Dice for the first two rounds, or roll NO Skill Dice until Round 3.

One of my Skill Dice could augment damage I deal with an Attack Die, but without that Attack Die, it won’t help deal damage.

So, I’m relegated to just my one Attack and two Defense dice for the first two rounds. Skills will have to wait.

I go first, because Picket sings the “Ancient Melody” he got on Day 1, which shocks the enemies with its nonsensical lyrics.

First up I roll a 1 for my Shield Wall. Then I roll my remaining Defense die and get a 2, and 1 damage for my attack against the Wolf. Unfortunately, the Wolf has “Lashback 2,” a retaliation any time it takes non-lethal damage, which will take out 2 of my 3 shields. So now I’m sitting here having done a pathetic 1 damage to one enemy.

But wait – that Axe I picked up as loot will let me roll Attack Dice up to twice and apply the damage to anyone on the map. I roll a 1 and a 2. That’s enough to take out the Orc. Boom. Killed before he could take his turn.

Now it’s just me, face to face with a Dire Wolf…