In Dice city you play the role of a leader of one of the Rolldovia’s influential noble families. The capital of Rolldovia has been destroyed by bandits and the Queen is looking for a new capital. How you do it is up to you: you can build new buildings, gather armies to attack the roving bandits and other noble families or open up trade routes, all in effort to gain the most prestigious city.
Dice City Gameplay
Dice City, published by AEG, is a dice rolling/dice worker placement game with resource management and city building elements. It is easy to teach and learn, and can be classed as a gateway or light game but has enough interesting elements to keep you coming back for more.
Each player starts with five coloured dice and a player board that contains 30 pre-set locations in a five by six grid. Each row is represented by a colour (white, yellow, red, blue or black) which corresponds to a coloured die and each column by a number (1-6) corresponding to the value of the die. The pre-set buildings provide you with a single resource (either lumber, stone or iron), a single army (sword) or a victory point.
A player’s turn in Dice City consists of four phases:
- Dice Step.
- Attack Step.
- Building/Trade Step.
- End of Turn Step.
During a turn a player rolls their five coloured dice and places them on the relevant space. For example, a black four will go in the fourth column and the black row. For each of the die, one of the following can be performed:
- A player can then use the location that the colour and number on the die represents to gain resources.
- Move another die to an adjacent space on that die’s row.
- Discard four location cards and draw four new ones.
- Reactivate a deactivated location.
- Pass and gain a pass token (once per turn). Pass tokens can be used for several wild actions.
Depending on the number of swords gathered from their die a player may attack bandits, another player’s location or another player’s resources. Defeated bandits count towards a player’s final victory points total. A player’s location becomes deactivated if successfully defeated and cannot be used until it is reactivated in the Dice Step. For every two swords a player may take one of an opponent’s resource and add it to their general supply.
The resources collected in step one allow you to construct new and improved locations that are significantly better the pre-set locations that a player starts with. These improved locations are placed on your board, covering up the original locations, and provide you with more resources or unique bonuses/actions.
There are 60 “resource” locations always available to purchase, 15 Lumber Mill, 15 Quarry, 15 Mine and 15 Regular Army, which provide two of their respective resource instead of one – i.e. two lumber, two stone, two iron or two swords.
There are also 60 non-resource locations that can be purchased (20 different types) that offer unique bonuses or actions. As with the resource locations, these are placed on your player board and cover up another location. These non-resource locations can give you bonus victory points, allow you to manipulate your die, gain extra resources or benefits when attacking bandits or other players.
Instead of using your resources (wood, stone and iron) to buy and construct new locations they can also be used to trade. There are 11 trade ships (six ships worth five victory points, four ships worth 10 victory points and one ship worth 20 victory points). The five victory point ship requires two of each resource, the 10 victory point ship requires three of each resource and the 20 victory point ship requires four of each resource.
At the end of a player’s turn they may store one of each resource type (stone, lumber, iron) for use in subsequent turns. Any number of pass tokens may be kept and the players army strength resets to 0. The player then rolls all their die again and places them on the relevant locations ready for use next turn. Play then passes to the next player.
The end game is triggered when one of the following four events happen:
- The location deck runs out.
- All the bandit cards are claimed.
- Two out of the three types of trade ships are claimed
- A player builds locations in every space in two rows.
Victory points are counted up and the winner is the player with the most victory points.
Final Thoughts on Dice City
Dice City is a good game for what it sets out to do. It is a lightweight, fun and quick-playing game. The game can be set-up, played and packed away in an hour or less once you are familiar with the flow. It is easy to teach to people who are not familiar with board games and there are enough decisions and choices to keep the enthusiast engaged.
Where to place your newly acquired location offers some interesting choices as you cover up existing locations. There is some element of luck involved, as with most dice games, however, there is some control over the luck by being able to manipulate the die once rolled.
There are multiple paths to victory with a player being able to pursue either trade ships, army strength, acquiring new locations or a combination of all of three. Depending on which path players take, there can be high player interaction with people attacking each other’s buildings or resources. This is not essential to win the game and as such can be avoided if that is not your thing.
Personally, I love variable board set-ups and even though Dice City does not have this I still have this game in my personal collection and will be keeping it. It offers a fun, lightweight game which is easy to teach and play to gamers and non-gamers.