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Designer Diary/Preview: Ciúb

Tom Lehmann
United States
Palo Alto
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Board Game Designer
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Ciúb (pronounced "cube") is a family dice game for 2-­4. Players are Celtic mages, casting spells by rolling custom dice to match the die faces on scoring cards and claim them for victory points.

From gallery of Photodump

Players begin with five white dice. These have 1­-4 and two "swap" faces. On each roll, players must either set aside or swap in at least one die.

From gallery of Photodump

There are six more dice types, each a different color. Those with all even, all odd, or higher numbered faces are useful to claim certain cards. For example, swapping in several all odd dice makes claiming 1­3­3­5 much more likely.

From gallery of Photodump

Dice with re­roll or adjust faces modify other dice rolled, reducing the odds that you must set aside a die without a useful face. However, these dice each have a skull face. If a skull face is rolled­­ and isn't adjusted or re­rolled, then it must be set aside, robbing you of that die's abilities.

The currently drawn spell cards are laid out in two rows, with the bottom row available for claiming. After setting aside all of your dice, if you are unable to claim a card, you gain a die of your choice for next turn.

If you do claim a card, you choose which card to move down from the top row, draw a new spell card to replace it, then reduce down to five dice (if you have more).

There are only seven of each of the colored dice. By specializing in a color, you both gain its advantages and deny other players access to lots of those dice. At turn end, you may trade colored dice for white dice.

From gallery of Photodump

The spell cards appear in three groups. Later cards have harder scoring combinations worth more VPs.

From gallery of Photodump

Later cards often require six dice to claim. To claim them efficiently, you need to set aside dice with "2 for 1" faces. These faces can't be used to claim a card, but can be traded in afterwards for two more dice apiece.

Managing your dice — i.e., claiming a card, going down to five dice, then using "2 for 1" faces to gain enough dice to be able to claim a card next turn — is key in the final rounds. During a turn, once it becomes clear that you can't set aside a scoring combination, you can instead go for "2 for 1" faces to set up a successful next turn.

From gallery of Photodump

At the start of your turn, you can either discard a card from the top row (denying it to an opponent who has specialized in dice in order to claim it) or place your reservation token on a card. A reserved card can't be discarded or claimed by other players.

If you are confident that you can claim a reserved card on your turn, you may shift your token to another card (which you intend to claim next turn). If you fail to claim the first card, however, you risk another player possibly claiming it.

Dice specialization, discarding and reserving cards, and dice management all add strategic layers to the core dice-rolling and swapping mechanism, as well as some complexity. A player mat is provided to help step new players through a turn.

From gallery of Photodump

After the last spell card is drawn, the next player to claim a card also gains the Opus Magnum card for 5 bonus VPs. Each other player then gets one final turn to claim a card. Players then total their VPs to see who has won.

From gallery of Photodump

To keep the game family friendly, a short game is provided by removing all spell cards with owls on them to ensure that the game doesn't overstay its welcome while players learn how to manage their dice and claim the more difficult cards.

Ciúb is being initially produced in both German and English (with additional language editions to be licensed later). Ciúb is my third game with AMIGO Spiel (after The City and Um Krone um Kragen / To Court the King).

AMIGO rewrote my rules in German to match their chosen theme, graphics, and target audience, then had those rules translated into English. As English to German to English translation can produce some awkward phrases, my product manager, Christian Hildenbrand, then graciously gave me a chance to touch up the final English rules. Enjoy!

Tom Lehmann
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