Long before the invention of board games we humans loved to push our luck. The idea of pushing ourselves right to the point we might fail and then stopping is tantalising. TV quizzes often contain some element of this risk vs reward structure, and it's a common mechanic in board games.
Whether it's dice-based like Zombie Dice, or card based as in Port Royal it is undeniably addictive. Games like Ponzi Scheme push the idea further with the push your luck element hidden under the belief that you can always keep your impending finical crash one more turn away. DIG approaches the push your luck element in a simple yet compelling way in the base game, before returning to more straightforward chancery in the expansion.
DIG is a family friendly push your luck game that I would happily pull out on games night too. The push your luck elements in the game are slightly less obvious than the standard fare. Instead of pulling cards, or rolling dice until you stop or bust, in DIG you start by pulling one card at a time. What you do with this card is part of the way you push your luck.
Before you dig you can visit the tavern to hire an extra recruit, or a companion that offers a permanent power or protection from some of the monsters in the hill. The hill is the deck of cards you will be 'digging' from. Until you build some 'galleries' you can only dig outside. This means you draw and resolve one card from the hill deck. These cards resolve differently depending on whether they are inside your galleries or outside the hill.
So how do you start a gallery? When drawing a precious stone card from outside you can choose to place a recruit on it and start a gallery. This is the best way to get the game winning gems. Whenever you place a recruit on a precious stone card you must draw another card and immediately resolve it, meaning that gallery could instant close with little reward. Should you manage to successfully draw another four cards to that gallery you place a gem on that card.
Galleries can hold multiple recruits and therefore produce multiple gems. For instance, if you have a recruit on the first and third stone in a gallery then the fifth and eight cards. Alternatively you could start a number of galleries over multiple turns. Then when you dig inside you draw and resolve a card for each gallery.
This is a great layer of choice meaning you not only get variable options but also different ways of pushing your luck. Add in equipment cards which range from giving you more digging potential to messing with other players galleries. The spread of good to bad cards seems very well balanced and the one to four cards at a time draw means that the game avoids the annoyance of continuing to push your luck only to lose everything you have earned.
My son could cope with drawing a card that at worst emptied a gallery better than drawing a whole series of cards in the same turn and then losing them for pushing too far.
I DIG Dragons
The Dragon expansion adds the more standard form of push your luck. You add a number of lair entrances to the hill, if you draw one you can either discard it and draw normally or enter the dragon's lair and draw cards until you choose to stop or bust. I love that this is a choice that players are given, adding yet another layer of simple tactics.
Also included are some more companions and some specialist recruits that cost more but can gain two gems instead of one in the galleries. All in all DIG is a great little package at an attractive price point.
DIG is live on Kickstarter now! At the time of writing (April 26), 188 backers have helped to raise £4,604 for the the project. The funding goal for the game is £8,731 and there are 26 days remaining so go check it out!