The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Dice Realms

Dice Realms was always an auto-buy:

The price tag? Not significant enough to stop me (I did order online … but also because I thought I’d get the copy sooner than my FLGS would have it, and I was right).

I’m not going to review the game, Joe Huber’s review explains it (if you don’t know). These are just random initial thoughts:

First — The fiddly nature of popping of die faces and resetting doesn’t bother me.

However, the memory burden of “which die did I put X on” is significant enough to be mildly annoying. It’s worse trying to review the other players’ tableaus …. easy to do at a glance in Race, nigh-impossible here. Even if you track who is buying what (which isn’t a terrible burden) it matters who is returning what and which die they are upgrading.

“I get a Jack of All Trades” (which allows you to set the die if it is rolled). Now it really matters — is that on a die with an attack, or a die with a temple (gain 6VP, which is a fair chunk of the bank).

So the memory burden is higher than Dominion (at least, to play well). If you are playing seriously everyone will have to to announce their moves. So, a semi-serious game of Dice Realms seems preferable (I suppose that’s true of most games, at least for me).

Second — The strategy seems more opaque than Dominion. Dice Realms has more randomness. You have dice randomness (more variability than card randomness) plus the fate die. That means that even if a setup has a dominant strategy, it would take longer to recognize / convince due to variance (coupled with humanity’s copious cognitive biases).

But also, I suspect even opening moves are more debatable. I think stealing Bridge World’s “Master Solver’s Club” for openings would be interesting (like I did for Race for the Galaxy …. right around when I switched to this blog, nearly 15 years ago!). For example, you roll two upgrades on T1 and decide to keep them. Assuming (for sake of argument) that upgrading two progress (pink) faces from level 1 to level 2 is correct …. do you put them both on the same die? Does it matter if you spent your first re-roll or not? How would the variable die faces affect this decision?

There are not obvious questions … and that’s just dealing with the first roll. It will take longer to unravel them than in other games.

(My assumption after a game or two I thought two upgrades was obviously the best first roll you could make on your dice … I am not so confident now. And I am do not believe that upgrading two pink is correct even ignoring what random tiles might exist. I think there is a better play, but these are untested hypothesis right now).

Again — this is a good thing. Dominion was not interesting when people could produce a reasonable flowchart for what strategy to pursue given the setup of the base game (of course Intrigue and the later expansions solved that problem).

Third — The ending conditions of breaking the bank look like Race / Roll /etc, but feels different, because you can break the bank on grain (which is gained and spent!), so what appears to be midgame can teeter on the brink of endgame (if everyone rolls grain and no winter shows up) and then suddenly veer back to midgame (or end). This has already happened in a few of our games. In some setups Misery (negative VPs) also ebb and flow (as some tiles let you get rid of it).

Fourth — The existence of tiles that modify the fate die mean that this base game feels more like a base + expansion.

The combined result of the above points makes me believe that Dice Realms has more replay value than most of Tom’s other games (which are hardly slouches in that department. I have over 125 games of Res Arcana before expansions, nearly 250 of Jump Drive, 100 for The City, 300+ for Race, etc).

That being said —

Setup and tear down is a negative. It’s the sort of game that I think is best to play 2-3 times, just because getting it in and out of the box is somewhat of a bear (relative to the game length). It’s not quite “One game is an hour, two is an hour and a half” but probably one game is 45 minutes, two games is 1h 15. (Really each game is 30m, and boxing and unboxing is 15 minutes).

It is excellent if you leave it out on your game table, which is how the TaoLing and I will likely be playing it in the coming weeks.

Rating — Suggest.

Anyway, I’ll write up very rough strategy thoughts when I have more games under my belt.

Written by taogaming

May 25, 2022 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Reviews

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