Diceland is perhaps the most well-designed and well-produced game made by Cheapass Games. It's a wargame/miniatures game, more or less, except that your troops are 8-sided dice, with different abilities on each side. There are other reviews that go over the basics of gameplay - instead, I'm going to go over all the different Diceland sets/expansions that have come out.
It's always hard figuring out where to get into a new game, especially with a game like Diceland, where all the sets can be played independently, but also combined together. Really, where you start with Diceland depends on what kind of gamer you are. The 'expansions' apply the basic Diceland concept to different styles of games.
Diceland: Deep White Sea
The skirmish game.
Deep White Sea was the first Diceland set, and remains the easiest to use. The set comes with five armies of five dice each, all color-coded, so you can just grab an army and play immediately. All five armies play similarly; they have a commander die, a support die, a repair die, a heavily armored die, and so on.
At this point, Diceland didn't really have the concept of drafting or deckbuilding. Different dice were worth different points, but that was just for scorekeeping.
Deep White Sea also has the simplest rules, with only a few special powers in the set, so it remains the easiest way to get into Diceland. If you're interested in playing Diceland casually with your friends, I'd go for Deep White Sea.
The collectable miniatures game.
Diceland: Space was not actually collectable, but it did include the idea of drafting or deckbuilding. Each space fleet in the game contained 40-60 points worth of units, and an army is only allowed to be 30 points strong. In addtion, Space encouraged players to mix and match armies, avoiding the teams of Deep White Sea.
Space also introduced major differences in teams and dice, so not everyone played the same. You could have a fleet of fighters worth only 2-3 points each, or bank your hopes on a capital ship worth 15-18 points alone. There were stealthy warships, carriers, all kinds of stuff.
Diceland: Space is not a very good place to start playing Diceland, though. In order to play the game effectively, you need to know what the different dice do and how to use them, since you need to build your own team. However, if you're into CCGs or CMGs, and like the idea of tweaking and adjusting your army for maximum effectiveness, getting both sets of Space is the way to go.
Diceland: Extra Space
The cheap-ass introductory set.
I wanted to mention Extra Space separately. The name of the set is a double pun - it's extra ships for space, and it was printed on the extra space on the sheets while they were making the Ogre set.
Extra Space was a low-priced introduction to Diceland. Deep White Sea and both sets of Space were about $20 and contained 25 dice; Extra Space was around $9 and contained 8 dice. This was my first Diceland set, and was a great way for Cheapass to get people to try the game.
The downside is, Extra Space wasn't very well balanced. Red would almost always win against Blue. 8 dice also didn't leave any room for team construction, or much variety in the dice.
Once you're into Diceland, Extra Space is a good buy, but if you're just trying the game for the first time, I'd recommend you spend the extra few bucks and get Deep White Sea.
The scenario game.
Ogre was a step away from the norm for Diceland. The most obvious change was the Ogre die; twice as large as any other die! Ogre introduced a lopsided scenario; one giant tank, worth as many points as an army, versus a bunch of smaller units and their command post. The Ogre also had special rules like damage tracking and ammunition.
Even with all those changes, the Ogre set is a blast, and perhaps the best of the Diceland sets. It captures the feel of the Ogre wargame perfectly - one unstoppable tank versus a bunch of tiny forces trying to just slow it down.
The set also gives you a bunch of standard army dice - infantry, tanks, hovercraft and artillery - which might satisfy the more wargame-minded player. The downside is, if you just have Ogre, there's really only one good way to play the game; army versus Ogre. It's a set designed around a single scenario, although it's a fun scenario.
I recommend Ogre as your second Diceland set. It mixes the game up well and gives massive bang for your buck, but it's not a very good way to get into the game in the first place.
The fighting game.
Cyburg features two teams of 6 dice each, for a total of 12 dice. Smaller than a full set, but bigger than Extra Space. Unlike Extra Space, Cyburg actually has balance, and enough dice to do some basic team construction.
There is a little rules creep - this set introduces some new concepts, like Clone and Double Shot. But nothing in Diceland is too hard to understand, so you'll catch on quick.
I consider Cyburg the fighting game of the series - it's one-on-one, two teams which are mostly balanced but have their own strengths and quirks. It's a game that you could play several times over, trying to learn how best to use your team, perfect your combos, and such.
If you want an inexpensive way to get into the game, and want to play one-on-one, Cyburg is the set for you.
The four-player game.
Dragons is another 12-die expansion, but, like many other Diceland sets, it turns the basic gameplay on its head again. You get four teams here of three dice each: one Dragon Master, one Dragon, and one support character. Dragons also comes with rules for team games and 3/4 player games.
And multiplayer is really how Dragons is intended to be played. With only 3 dice per team, it's all about choosing which one to use, thinking ahead, and trying to make your opponents into a better target than you. It also makes a good introductory set, since with only 3 dice to choose from, new players don't have to worry about knowing everything right off the bat.
It does introduce some new abilities, like Thunder Clap, Swamp Gas, and Dragon Master, but they're all explained in the rules.
If you're interested in multiplayer Diceland, go for Dragons. It's quick, fun, and easy to teach, and the best Diceland set for multiplayer mayhem.
Diceland: Penny Arcade
The special die.
All Diceland sets are 25 dice. Ogre was 17 dice, but Space used the rest of the sheet with 8 dice. Cyburg and Dragons were both 12 dice, leaving Cheapass with one space left. So they slapped some Penny Arcade graphics on it (yes, from the webcomic) and bam, special die.
Interestingly, though, it's not just another die. It introduces a few new concepts. One is Hammer, which hits a target die multiple times. Another interesting aspect is that it's actually two dice! You see, in Diceland, most dice get damaged one side at a time, from side 8 to side 1. The Penny Arcade die, however, has two side 4s, side 3s, 2, and 1 - essentially, it's like two 4-sided Diceland dice stuck together. There are also ways to shift from one 'track' to another, changing the abilities of the die. Interesting.
I don't know if you can get this one anymore, and even if you can, it's really just for Diceland fanatics. Still, it's a cool die.
So that's it - each Diceland set corresponds to a different type of game. Deep White Sea is still the easiest way to get into Diceland, but after that, you can really go wherever your interests take you.
Excellent review with a unique touch.
I am now quite interested in Cyburg, though I have tried (and kept some of) the rest.
Cyburg also contains what's probably the most unique Diceland die: a die with no side 1.
One of the characters is a hologram. If you damage her, she changes sides, but you can't kill her just by damaging her down to side 1. You have to kill the die in one shot if you want the points.