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Dice City

December 3rd, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dice.  City.  Two little four-letter words that tell you almost everything you need to know when looking at it for the first time.  “Dice City”, as you probably figured out by now, is a dice rolling game to where the dice values indicate which buildings within your city will activate (similar to “Machi Koro“).  What’s different here is that the buildings are laid out on a grid and can be replaced with other buildings one may purchase from the supply.  Besides gathering resources and gaining victory points, you can attack other players and lock out their buildings.  I’m a sucker for city-builders so this was a must-grab for me, but did I like it enough to come back to it again?  Keep reading to find out!

 

Dice City

Dice City: 1-4 Players, Ages 14+, Average Play Time = 45 Minutes

 

Components

The game includes 4 Player Boards (6×5 grid, numbers 1-6 on the X-axis and five colors on the Y-axis), 45 Resource Harvest Locations, 15 Regular Army Cards, 60 Location Cards, 18 Bandit Cards, 11 Trade Ship Cards, 30 Resource Tokens, 16 Deactivation Tokens, 1 Start Player Token, VP Tokens, 16 Pass Tokens, 20 Dice (4 of each of the 5 colors – white, yellow, red, blue, and black)

Setup & Gameplay

There’s an entire page devoted to game setup in the manual, so I’ll opt to offer the hi-lites. Essentially, each player receives a board and five dice (one of each color).  The lumber mill, quarry, mine, and regular army cards are stacked into their own piles and the rest of the location cards are shuffled to form a face-down draw deck (eight are drawn face-up to form the supply).  The bandits and trade ship cards are set up into their own piles by VP.  The tokens are separated and form a supply.  Lastly, each player rolls their dice and assigns them to their player board by color and number. For example, if you roll a three on a blue die, then find the coordinate on the board where the blue row and three column intersect.  Whoever last rolled a die in any game prior to this one gets the first player token.

On a player’s turn, they’ll observe the following steps:

1. Use Dice Step – With each die, the active player can take one of the following actions:

  • Use the location beneath the die and resolve its ability.
  • Move another die to an adjacent space on that die’s own row.
  • Discard four of the location cards in the display that are available to build and reveal four new ones.  Important: You may only take this action once per turn.
  • Reactivate a deactivated location anywhere in your city.
  • Pass and gain a pass token.  Important: You may only take this action once per turn.

In addition to using dice, the active player may also spend two pass tokens to take one of the following actions (as many times as you have the two pass tokens to do so):

  • Gain one resource of your choice
  • Increase your army strength by +1 for the turn.
  • Force all other players to re-roll one of their dice of your choice (this happens in clockwise order starting from your left).
  • After you use each die, remove it from the location and place it to the side of your player board.

2. Attack Step – Attack bandits, locations, or stock via the calculated army strength.  The active player’s army strength is good for that turn only.  You can split your attack if you have enough army strength to do attack multiple targets, though your army strength is spent as it is used. Each location/bandit card has a defense value and your army strength must be equal to or greater in order to successfully attack it.  Taking from another player’s stock requires two army strength.

3. Building & Trade Step – The active player may purchase buildings and place it on their board, covering up the building behind it.  Alternatively, they use the trade ship to export goods for VP.

4. End of Turn Step – The active player may store one of each resource in their stock (the rest are returned).  Then, they’ll roll all dice and assign them to their board for their next turn.

Player’s continue taking turns until:

  • All of the cards have been taken from all three of the bandits piles.
  • All of the cards have been taken on two or more trade ship piles.
  • The location deck runs out of cards.
  • Two or more rows in a player’s city have been filled with built locations and none of them have any deactivation tokens (optional — the player that meets this condition chooses if he or she wishes the game to end or not).

When one of the conditions is met, the players continue until everyone has had an equal number of turns.

When the final round ends, each player counts the VP tokens they have in front of them and the VP from the trade ship and bandits cards they have taken, and adds the VP values of all the locations in their city, both active and deactivated. Locations that have been discarded by building other locations on top of them are not considered to be part of the city any more so they do not count towards scoring.  The player with the most VP, wins!

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.

 

Dice City

 

The Review

“Dice City” hits that “not too difficult but not too easy” sweet spot with me, making it a game I’ll be coming back to as time permits.  I just love how many options one has at any one time in the game, regardless of your strategy.  For example, you could opt to go a military route and cover up resource generating locations with military structures.  It might sound like it would be a simple “Hulk Smash” scenario once you get that established, but you still have the option of going after bandits or shutting down/stealing your opponent’s locations/resources.  Alternatively, you could cover up the existing military spaces with more economic buildings in the hopes of easily nabbing those trade ships with an influx of resources.  Of course, a mix of the two is more than viable.

Getting back to that options bit, the dice are not always going to give you the values you want at any point in time.  While it may seem a bit harsh that you have a one in six chance of rolling the space you want on a colored row, you do have the option of moving dice by giving up other dice.  This makes the one and six spaces a little less popular for the structures you want to hit on a regular basis.  If you want to roll a three for example, you could roll a two or four and only have to give up one die to move it.  The one and six don’t have a value on the other side of them, making them a bit harder to roll onto.  It’s all a matter of odds really, but the moving dice thing really makes me feel like I have more control over the dice after I roll them.

“Dice City” is fantastic, plain and simple.  I love the way everything comes together and the components are both colorful and eye-pleasing.  It’s “Machi Koro”, but taken to a whole new level and then some.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some “Machi Koro”, but folks who want more of a punch would do well to check out this dice rolling city builder.

Final Verdict: 9/10

 

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