What’s In A Game: Dice Games
Welcome to What’s In A Game, what will hopefully turn into a regular feature on this blog, where I write about different genres of games out there. This time, the topic is dice games. Dice are a simple enough thing – typically just 6 flat sides with some numbers, and yet there’s a wide variety of dice games out there, from Farkel to Yahtzee. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
First off, let’s take a look at Wizkids Games recent offering, Blank White Dice. This is a fairly uniqu e concept – the dice themselves are made out of miniature wet-erase boards on which you draw various symbols. The game itself starts with five fixed cards – these cards will be the same every game – and five randomly chosen cards out of a pool of 49 different possibilities. Those are your starting symbols, from which you choose up to four different ones to draw on any four sides of your starting dice, as the other players are doing the same thing. The goal in Blank White Dice is get to a set amount of victory points. That’s where the symbols come in. As you roll your dice each turn, you resolve any face that comes up, in any order you choose. Blank faces get a new symbol of your choice, and drawn faces have various effects that will target you or your opponents. It’s a quick game, and very repeatable due to the variety of symbol cards that come with the game.
Next up is Bezier Games with their new game Colony. Again following the variable setup format, Colony starts out with six fixed cards and seven random cards drawn from a pool of 28. Your goal in Colony is, surprise, to build a colony and generate enough victory points to win. You do this by rolling dice, and using the values that come up to purchase new buildings for your colony. These new buildings allow you to roll more dice, store dice, or generate certain values of dice each turn. Some also generate victory points or allow you to steal dice from your opponents. There are also two types of dice – white ones, which can be stored, or grey ones, which need to be used (if possible) the turn they come into play. Much like Blank White Dice, the game is a different experience each time due to the random setup and the wide variety of building cards to choose from.
For our third game, I would be foolish to not talk about Star Wars Destiny. Coming from a galaxy far, far away, and brought to you by Fantasy Flight Games, Star Wars Destiny lets you mix and match various characters from the Star Wars movies and put them together into a fighting force to defeat your opponent’s team. You do this by selecting a small number of characters to be your main characters. These main characters generate dice for you to roll, which will tell you what actions are available to you each turn. They also tell you, based on faction and what colors they are, what other cards you can add to your deck of 30 more cards (no more than 2 of each!) that you can bring into the game with resources you generate each turn, either through your dice or a set allotment each turn. Those cards might provide more dice for you to roll on future turns, or affect the game in other ways – allowing you to reroll your dice, remove an opponent’s die, and many other possibilities. Each turn consists of doing one thing, and then passing to your opponent, so the games themselves are pretty fast-paced once you get the hang of the game. Also, unlike Colony and Blank White Dice, Star Wars Destiny is a collectible game, coming in starters and booster packs of five cards, one of which will be a die-generating card of some kind.
Last but not least, we’ll end this month with an old classic, Shut The Box. The gameplay of Shut The Box seems simple enough: roll two dice, and flip down tabs whose combined numbers total the number you roll. The goal is to flip down all the tabs, but as you go on, the number combinations that remain require more and more specific rolls of the dice. Most versions of Shut The Box will have tabs numbered from one to ten or twelve, but some variations such as Double Shutter Tin by Blue Orange has two separate rows of numbers each from one to nine, with the second row in the reverse order from the first – you have to eliminate the first row’s numbers to get at the second, making the game even more difficult. Most versions of Shut The Box are single-player, but there are some two-player versions out there to be found. Wood Expressions even has a four-player version of Shut The Box, where each player has different colored dice and you compete to see who can get the most tabs down.
I could go on about dice games, there are so many out there. Wizkids’ Dicemasters and Quarriors, both dice versions of the standard deckbuilding games where the goal is to eliminate your opponent’s life points by using your resources to continuously add more dice to your pool to roll each turn. Farkle, made by a variety of different companies, where you’re trying to score as many points each turn as you can by making pairs or more groups without busting and losing everything. L-C-R or Left Center Right, where your goal is to get all the chips, but each roll of the dice could reduce your supply. Even Dungeons & Dragons, or most other role-playing games out there, have dice as a cornerstone of the game. I’ll definitely have to revisit this genre in a future column. Until then, may your rolls always turn out to be just what you need.