Roll The Dice
Istanbul The Dice Game, (or Das Wurfelspiel to give it its formal name) is a condensed version of the 2014 Kennerspiel des Jahres winning game Istanbul. In Istanbul the Dice Game 2-4 players face off to race to be the first to collect either 5 or 6 rubies like the board game version. This however is a substantially faster game than its predecessor, packing in what would take around an hour to play the full game into something that takes half the time or even less and very much feels like a race to gather resources and rubies.
Set up is quick, choose the side representing the number of players and place rubies on the correct parts of the board, shuffle and draw mosque tiles and determine first player along with starting coins and you are good to go. Turns consist of three phases, firstly acquiring any resources you may have gained from mosque tiles, secondly rolling the dice, and thirdly take two, or more, actions utilising a combination of the dice rolled and resources you may already have to trade for new resources, coins, cards, mosque tiles or if you are really lucky, rubies! Don’t like what you’ve rolled, well you begin with one crystal and can acquire more through the game. Each crystal allows you to re-roll any number of dice in the hope that your luck will improve.
Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby
If you are lucky enough to convert your dice and resources into a ruby, the next ruby that can be exchanged for that type of resource becomes more expensive and so harder to achieve so although you may be able to gain a ruby from dice alone early in the game, you will need to trade those dice for resources if you want to be able to win the game.
When you roll the dice, a number of symbols will be staring back at you, each indicating a resource type, card draw or dice. Match two resources the same, and you can switch it for a resource tile to be used on another round, three different resources can be exchanged for a wild resource and two for a crystal allowing for a re-roll. Cards drawn will offer unique and sometimes powerful opportunities depending on what you have in your supply already and coins can be used to purchase rubies. Mosque tiles can be acquired if you match the designated symbols above them and might offer an additional dice or action among other powerful benefits.
The art style and board are colourful, with a handy player aid explaining all the options available to all players. The rubies and crystals are nice and tactile which when combined with the colourful dice make the game visually appealing.
A Race To The Finish
Istanbul the Dice Game isn’t a complicated or long game and I’ve really enjoyed bringing it out after dinner before doing something else, or playing at the end of an evening after a longer game. It still offers a level of decision making while accepting that you are ultimately at the will of the dice. You have to accept this is a race game and you’ll be fist pumping the air when you pull off the perfect roll you needed, or cursing your friends when they manage the same to snatch victory away from you. It’s a great filler game that plays well at any player count, although if I had three or more players I sometimes wish I was playing the full Istanbul experience instead. I also got the impression that longevity may be an issue with this game as well if you play too many times with the game playing out the same way most times, however this is intended as a quick lighter game so not necessarily one intended to offer huge layers of strategic depth.