Dice Hospital is a 1-4 player worker placement and action selection game published by Alley Cat Games. In Dice Hospital players will run and manage their hospital to treat as many patients as they can. Players have their own personal hospital board that can be upgraded with additional treatment rooms and a team of nurses and specialists available to treat the patients. Oh, and the patients are represented by dice that are drafted from a selection of ambulances.
Players will need to effectively utilise their hospital and staff to treat patients and discharge them from their hospital to gain points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Each player receives their personal hospital board, two score markers (one is placed on the score board and the other is used to remind the player of their colour) and three nurses which are placed on the nurse's station in their hospital.
The ambulances are placed in the middle of the table equal to the number of players plus one. (i.e. a four-player game will have five ambulances). The Department tiles are shuffled and placed in a face-down stack, as are the Specialist cards. One less than the number of players of Department tiles and Specialist cards are drawn face-up. (i.e. a four-player game will have three of each).
All the other Doctor meeples, Blood Gag tokens and Fatality tokens are placed in the middle of the table. The dice (or patients) are placed in the bag with the number used dependent on player count.
Each player (starting with the first player) randomly draws three dice from the bag as their starting patients and sets them at three, four or five and placed on the "untreated" space in their hospital.
Finally each player is dealt two Hospital Administrator cards and chooses one which is placed face-up next to their hospital. These give players additional victory points when discharging certain patients from their hospitals.
Dice Hospital is played over eight rounds with each round consisting of six phases.
The first player draws three dice from the bag for each ambulance and rolls them. If any dice show a one or a six, these are re-rolled. The dice are then placed on the ambulances one at a time starting with lowest value dice. The ambulances are filled in numerical order. When there are multiple dice of the same value (i.e. four dice with a pip value of two) but different colours, the player to the right of the first player decides which dice are placed in which ambulance.
Starting with the first player and going clockwise each player selects an ambulance to receive in to their hospital (The first player is not allowed to select ambulance one). Any unused dice in ambulances not selected are returned to the bag. The ambulance number dictates which order the players select upgrades in the next phase. Also, the player who has selected the lowest number ambulance receives the first player token and a bonus Blood Bag. All players then move their patients from their ambulances and place them in the untreated space in their hospital.
In ambulance number order (lowest first) each player will select either a new department tile or a new specialist card from the face-up display. Department tiles are added to your starting hospital and the specialist card is placed near your hospital with the corresponding coloured doctor meeple, take from the supply.
After each player has taken an improvement, they can return said improvement to the bottom of the stack to gain a blood bag.
Each player now activates their hospital in an attempt to heal and discharge as many patients as possible. To heal a patient a player can use any available Nurses or Specialists in an empty department to trigger the effect. Each Nurse or Specialist can only be used once per round and each department can only be activated once per round.
The basic departments available in the starting hospital allow players to heal a red, green or yellow patient one pip or a one/two, three/four or five/six value patient one pip. Other Departments and Specialists that are acquired during the Hospital Improvement phase allow players to perform other actions, like heal three reds of the same value one pip, or when a green patient is healed heal another green patient one pip. With careful placement of specialists and nurses and using the rooms economically players will strive to heal many patients.
When a patient is healed above a pip value of six, they are discharged and placed in the discharge area on the player's hospital board. When a patient is healed for the first time this round, they are moved from the untreated to the treated section of the hospital board so that is clear which patients have been treated and which have not.
Players can also use any number of Blood Bags to heal any patient one additional step or temporarily change the colour of a die until the end of this phase.
Any patients in the untreated section of a player's hospital have been neglected and their health (pip value) decreases by one. If a patient is at value one and is neglected it becomes a fatality and a fatality token is added to the players morgue. Each fatality token in the morgue at the end of the game counts as negative points.
Each player counts the number of patients they have discharged and scores victory points. The more patients that have been discharged in a round the more points are gained. Discharging one patient gets one point but discharging two patients results in three points and discharging six patients results in 11 points and so on. All discharged patients/dice are returned to the bag. If any player managed to empty their ward of patients gets an additional five points.
This is the final phase in the round. All Nurse meeples are returned to the Nurse's station, all Specialists are returned to their corresponding cards, all treated patients are moved to the untreated space and all the ambulances are returned to the middle.
The first player advances the round marker, removes any improvements that were not claimed to the bottom of the relevant stack, and draws new face-up Departments and Specialist cards.
Gameplay continues this way until the eighth round and the final scores are calculated. Each player must deduct two points from the score for each Fatality token in their morgue and adds one point for each unused Blood Bag. The player with the most points is the winner of Dice Hospital.
Dice Hospital - The Power of Healing
Alley Cat Games have done it again. Dice Hospital is a fantastic game. It plays well at two and four players (I have yet to try at three). From the beginning this game offers tough choices. Taking the lowest ambulance to gain first player token (and a Blood Bag) and get first pick of the improvements leaves you with patients that require a lot of healing. Take the highest number ambulance and you get relatively healthy patients but left with the minimal choices on the improvements.
The Departments and the Specialists are really good and give great flexibility and choices on how to use them in the most effective way. Discharging patients is also compelling as you want to discharge as many patients at the same time as possible to get the best score. This sometimes means purposely not treating patients so you can pull of a big move next turn.
The artwork is really nice and the custom meeples look great. The Deluxe version comes with 3D ambulances and upgraded components. There are also Event Cards which I didn't mention above. These can be added in to the game and are drawn at the start of each round. Some of these are one-off immediate events and some last the remainder of the round. These cards really mix up the game and are a great addition. There is also a solo mode included in the game where players must complete Medical Report Cards which are basically objective cards focused on discharging a certain number of patients of a certain colour. I have not tried this yet but I am keen to give it a go.
As I said above, Dice Hospital is a fantastic game. I love the use of the dice to represent patients and their health, the Specialist cards and the Departments tiles are great and offer lots of options. The replay-ability is good with different ways to heal the patients via the Specialists and the Departments. The game is also pretty easy to teach to other players and takes about 90 minutes with the higher player count. This is reduced if playing with people who know the game and iconography.
The Hospital Activation phase is supposed to be done simultaneously but can be played in turn order for the 1st few rounds until everyone is happy, further reducing the playtime. Dice Hospital is a game that I can see hitting the table often with gamers and non-gamers a like. Highly recommend.