Some of the best Roll and Writes offer the experience of a much bigger game with a fraction of the cost and time commitment, and this is exactly what 'The Castles of Burgundy The Dice Game' does.
I love the original 'The Castles of Burgundy' but it is difficult to get to the table these days due to the length of time needed to play and the fact that I have played it over 150 times already. Luckily the dice game is the perfect way of satisfying the 'Burgundy itch' with its 15 to 30 minute playtime and the fact that it can be played as a solo game.
So Much Game With So Few Components
What you get with The Castles Of Burgundy The Dice Game is one writing pad covering four different maps, five pencils, five dice and that is it! So how do you get the experience of the original Burgundy without all of the components, boards and tiles? The answer is roll and write magic.
Each map is made up of hexagons put into different size groups of colours. Blue for Rivers, Grey for Mines, Purple for Monasteries, Orange for Cities, Green for Castles, and Yellow for Pastures.
At the beginning of the game, all players secretly choose one of the castles and mark it off on their map and circle the bonus relevant to it. Then all five dice are rolled and all players will choose one number and one colour dice. Players can choose the same dice as each other as there is no drafting in this game.
With your chosen combo of dice you must then mark off another hexagon that is touching a previously marked off space. Each different type of hexagon has slightly different placement rules; Rivers require a 5 or 6, Mines a 3 or 4, Monasteries a 1 or 2. You are allowed to have duplicate numbers in any of these types of spaces even when connected.
City Hexagons require any number but it must be unique in that group of Cities. Castles require a duplicate number from any space next to it. Pastures require any number but all other connected Pastures must have the same number.
A quick special mention to the time dice included. This is a fantastic mechanism which results in variable length rounds between 5 and 10 turns. The time dice either shows 1 or 2 hourglasses which you use to mark off the columns (one at a time from left to right) in the top right corner of the map. Once a column is full the round ends.
Once a round is concluded scores are tallied for that round and then the next round commences. Then once all three rounds are completed the final scores are calculated and the winner is the player with the highest score. In the event of a tie, the winner is the player with the largest number of bonuses circled but not yet used.
When you complete a whole connected area of one type of hexagon (ranging from one individual hexagon all the way to four) you take the relevant bonus for that type.
Rivers are used to circle the commodities. When the double hourglass is rolled you can sell each commodity for 2 points and you also earn a silver. Completed Mines also earn a silver. Silvers allow you to take a second go by using a different combination of dice than you previously took this turn (at least one of the dice has to be different).
Monasteries allow you to ignore the colour of a dice and instead use any colour you want. Completed Cities give you a Worker who can be used to change the dice face to any number. The four Castles on the map provide one of each of the bonuses noted above. Finally, the Pastures provide double the score of a normally completed area.
When you unlock a bonus you circle it and then cross through it once used. You can only use 1 bonus per turn so choose wisely.
The score you obtain for completing the areas reduce as the game progresses so an area with 4 connected hexagons scores you 13 points in the first round but only 7 by the third.
When a player completes all of one type of hexagon (such as all four Castles) they obtain the top bonus for it. No other players can claim the top bonus instead the bottom bonus is now available. Once again as soon as this is claimed it is also no longer available. Two or more players can claim a bonus at the same time in which case they all obtain the same number of points.
This is one of the best roll and writes that has spawned from a big game. It encapsulates the feel of its big brother perfectly despite its incredible short play time and complete disregard for components. The Solo mode is a nice addition as well as the 4 different maps. This is a perfect travel/holiday game and can easily be played whilst on a train or even an aeroplane.
One complaint is the frustration of knowing you have made the wrong choice very early on and you may have 1 or 2 turns per round where you have to sacrifice a dice to take a worker. This normally happens to new players on their first few plays. Another problem can be in the odd game where it is obvious who is going to win after the first round. Finally, it wouldn't be 'The Castles of Burgundy' without talking about the Art Style and Graphical Design and it is as bad as ever.
Despite these few negative points I would recommend The Castles Of Burgundy The Dice Game for fans of 'The Castles of Burgundy' or Roll and Write games.