Dice Realms

Dice Realms

RRP: 119.99
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RRP €140.99
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In Dice Realms, players vie to improve and expand their realms, which are represented by customizable dice with faces that can be popped out and upgraded for better ones. Each game is different as during setup, players draw five tiles (from a bag of 35) to determine which extra die faces will be available beyond the five standard lines of faces: victory, farming, commerce, defense, …
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-RGG563 Availability Out of stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Intuitive and fast gameplay
  • Innovative components that facilitate smooth game flow
  • Huge amount of variety in core box

Might Not Like

  • Price is a little on the high end
  • The size of the box is somewhat inconvenient
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Description

In Dice Realms, players vie to improve and expand their realms, which are represented by customizable dice with faces that can be popped out and upgraded for better ones.

Each game is different as during setup, players draw five tiles (from a bag of 35) to determine which extra die faces will be available beyond the five standard lines of faces: victory, farming, commerce, defense, and upgrades. Each player begins with two identical dice and can gain more dice during play, in addition to upgrading their starting dice.

Play is mostly simultaneous. To begin, players roll their dice, with one player rolling the Fate die. If Winter appears on the Fate die, all players must pay 1 grain for each die they own or collect a -2 point "misery" chip for each grain they can't pay. Players may then re-roll one die for free, and they can invest in re-roll and "set a die" tokens (that allow you to choose the die face result) for further control. If a re-rolled die shows a re-roll icon, you do power shown on the die and then re-roll it.

Players then resolve attacks, starting with any on the Fate die (that hit all players), and then going clockwise from that player, with each player's attack affecting all their rivals. Each shield showing on your dice lets you ignore one attack. Successful attacks can cost players grain, the use of a die for a turn, or the loss of a die face, with that face being replaced with a "destroyed" face (which can be later rebuilt).

Players then collect the victory points (VPs), grain, and coins shown on their die faces, with coins being used to purchase re-roll tokens and set-a-die tokens, repair any destroyed die faces, buy a new die -- which also costs 2 grain -- or acquire upgrades. You can save at most 1 coin in your treasury from round to round.

Upgrades are the heart of the game. Players receive upgrades from upgrade symbols showing or by spending coins. Die faces have 1, 2, or 4 dots on them. To change from a 1 to a 4 in the same color — such as from a yellow face collecting 2 grain to the 4-dot version that collects 4 grain and 2 coins — costs three upgrades, whereas changing from one face to a different color face at the same level costs just one upgrade.

If during a round any player needs to use a 10 VP token, a -10 misery token, or a 10 grain token (because all of the smaller value tokens have been used), then the game ends after finishing that round; otherwise, the player with the Fate die passes it clockwise to the next player and a new round begins. When the game ends, players tally their points earned, both on the VP tokens and on the upgraded die faces, with 2-dot faces being worth 1 VP and 4-dot faces being worth 2 VP. Whoever has the most VPs wins.

With 18 dice, more than 650 plastic die faces in 72 types, and 35 tiles that provide more than 320,000 unique starting set-ups and challenges, Dice Realms offers lots of variety and replayability.

Games Are Physical Objects

Judging any game on their mechanics alone would probably net you a less than ideal result. Board games are physical objects; part of the enjoyment is picking up and moving the pieces around the board. There is a reason most people push their card against the table, slightly bending them, before releasing it triumphantly onto the table. It’s the same reason people use one chess piece to knock over another when they capture it. It feels good and, if you’re nerdy enough, cool. Many modern games have harnessed this physical appeal by adding luxurious miniatures, screen printed meeples or tarot sized cards. Tom Lehmann had another idea, instead presenting you with a new kind of toy to enjoy handling; Customizable dice, which allow you to switch out the faces for better ones. Dice Realms.

The Mechanics Alone…

A turn of Dice Realms is easy: You simply roll your dice and see what you get. Your reward for this simple act may come in the shape of food, coin or victory points, all based on the faces you rolled; but the “upgrade” face really steals the show here. This is your gateway into the endless possibilities and combos the game presents you with, allowing you to upgrade either vertically, making one face of your die better while preserving its function, or you can upgrade horizontally, keeping its level but changing its purpose. And when you’re upgrading horizontally you really have a lot of choice. Along with the five basic face types you’ll use in every game there are thirty five special die faces, of which you’ll pick five to use every game.

Starvation & Sacrifice

The core of Dice Realms strategy is really in line with Tom Lehmanns usual design style. If you ever want to use an opportunity presented to you, you have to choose one to forgo. It is all about sacrifice. The process of acquiring a new shiny special die face to play with necessitates getting rid of one you already have. Therein lies the ultimate question; Do you think you can survive the next winter event if you get rid of one of your food faces? Your food supply really is the main dilemma in this game. You’re constantly threading a fine fine line between prospering and succumbing to starvation. It’s the age old dilemma of security versus freedo… err, victory points. And fear not the luck of the dice, for you have many tools at your disposal to mitigate it. If anything, it will be your stubbornness or miscalculation that will lead to the death of your people.

For every wheat you’re short in winter, you receive a terrible -2 points token; a devastating amount of points to lose. But when you start to fall behind you can at least find solace in the swift appearance of the endgame. You see, the game end hinges entirely on the players depleting one of three piles: food, points tokens or negative points tokens. This means that the game can end for one of three reasons. Either all the players have stayed toe to toe keeping the game competitive to the very end, one player has gotten such a good engine that they deplete all the points or one player has made such a critical mistake that they have no chance for recovery. In either case the game is swiftly ended once it’s apparent who’s going to win, making sure that you’re never stuck doing the motions but knowing all too well you have no chance of catching up.

…And The Components…

It would be a great disservice to imply that understanding the mechanics and flow of the game alone would allow you to properly understand it, for Dice Realms makes heavy use of a core aspect of the medium; its physical, baby. The custom dice almost sell themselves. As a novelty of course, but also through the many satisfying clicks and pops it makes as you tear off one face to replace it with another. And at the end of the day, I have to admit that there is a sort of simple joy to just rolling dice.

Sadly the dice in Dice Realms is the reason for my main criticism as well, not for their quality but their price. For a game of this weight, it feels awfully pricey. For the same price you could probably buy two of Tom Lehmanns other games, which would present you with a lot of similar ideas. Then why in the world would you ever buy Dice Realms? Well, I have an argument that I think is fairly solid. I think it foolish to approach the dice in Dice Realms as if they are more expensive normal dice. Instead I would, as I alluded to in my intro, think it more appropriate to compare these with plastic minis you find in a lot of modern games. Why would you buy a miniatures heavy war game for twice its price had it used wood or cardboard? Because placing a huge miniature on the board makes you feel like you just recruited a big monster. It feels cool. I would argue the dice in Dice Realms are much the same, but for a euro crowd. It’s simply cool. They’re fun to show to people and fun to use. The question you have to ask yourself before buying is if you are the type of person who enjoys this aspect of board games. The physicality of it all. And if you are, this is a great game with a lot of physical appeal to add to your collection.

…And The Strategy

I’ve already talked at length about the luxury of the components but how does it feel to play in the decision space this game introduces? At the start of every game you observe the available die faces and try to plot a path through the game, bumping into as many combos as possible on the way. That’s not to say the game is decided from the start. You’re constantly forced to make smaller tactical decisions, gambles and sacrifices.

So Should I Buy It?

I think Dice Realms is a fantastic game, though I will forfeit that it doesn’t hold the longevity that some of Tom Lehmanns designs have. This is only a problem when bringing up the price of this game, in my opinion. If you find yourself strapped for cash, but feel intrigued by the core gameplay, I would urge you to look at either Tom Lehmanns previous designs, such as Res Arcana or Race for the Galaxy, who offer similar ideas with a much lower price. I would also point you in the direction of Donald X. masterpiece Dominion, which requires a comparable type of thinking. But if money isn’t an object, or you already own and love all of Tom Lehmanns other games, I wholeheartedly recommend acquiring this game.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Intuitive and fast gameplay
  • Innovative components that facilitate smooth game flow
  • Huge amount of variety in core box

Might not like

  • Price is a little on the high end
  • The size of the box is somewhat inconvenient