- David McMillanUnited States
Never before has a ‘press your luck’ dice game left me wondering where I went wrong. Never before have I gone to bed dreaming about how I could have played one of those games better. Press your luck games are just silly little time wasters by their very nature, right? That’s what I thought when I began playing Luck O’ the Dice, but it quickly became apparent to me that underneath its dice game exterior, there lurked something far more intriguing. This game has successfully infused the press your luck mechanic and strategy into something incredibly unique and fun.
Before I go any further with this review, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to the fine folks at Zark LLC for the review copy of this game that they sent to my gaming group. I would also like to say that they have in no way influenced this review. If the game is terrible, I will let you know.
The game that I received came in a plastic, zip lock bag that was practically bursting at the seams with stuff. Inside the bag was a deck of very professional looking cards, 24 green dice, a big pile of plastic gold coins, a big pile of plastic silver coins, and a rules sheet. The cards are of good quality card stock and shuffle very well. The dice are sturdy and certainly fit the theme of the game. The plastic coins are a little large and feel a little cheap, but keep in mind, this is a beta version of the game that I was sent. I could have been sent a bunch of flimsy paper coins, but they went the extra mile here and I appreciate this eye on quality.
Setting the game up is easy. The coins are dumped into a pile in the middle of the table. The reference cards are removed from the deck of cards and the remaining cards are shuffled. Each player is then given a reference card and dealt 5 cards from the deck. Then the deck is set aside face down within easy reach. Each player is given six dice apiece. Then each player rolls a single die and the highest roll goes first. Play will proceed in a clockwise direction from that player.
Once everything is all set up and a starting player has been determined, you’re ready to begin playing.
GAME PLAY OVERVIEW
Each player will take turns playing Leprechaun cards, rolling dice, playing cards, collecting gold or cards, or some mixture of these. Each turn is divided into several phases: Leprechaun play, Dice play, and Press Your Luck. The only phase that isn’t optional is the Dice Play phase. The other two are optional. The goal of the game is to play a predetermined number of cards from your hand and to have the most money when the game comes to an end.
So, to begin, let’s talk about the turn sequence.
There are two types of cards in this game: Leprechaun cards and dice cards. During the Leprechaun Play phase, a player may play exactly one Leprechaun card from his or her hand and then follow the instructions on the card. Each Leprechaun card has its own special ability and each of these abilities has the potential to swing the game in your favor under the right circumstances. The different types of Leprechaun cards and a brief description of what they do are:
- Sharer: you roll a die and your opponents roll some of their dice. If any of the ones that they rolled match yours, then you get to use those dice in your upcoming Dice Play phase
- Stealer: You roll two dice and your opponents roll two dice. If the sum of their dice is equal to or less than yours, you get to take 2 silver coins from them and add them to your own pot
- Subtractor: Everyone rolls two dice and adds them up. Subtract the lower sum from the higher sum and that’s how much silver the people who are affected by the card must return to the center of the table
- Skipper: Everyone rolls two dice and adds them up. If your opponent’s total is less than or equal to your total, then their next turn gets skipped
- Slicer: You roll a single die and your opponent rolls all 6 of theirs. If any of their dice matches the number that you rolled, they cannot use those dice during their next Dice Play phase
- Snatcher: Roll 3 dice. If you roll a double or a run of three (three consecutive numbers), then you get to take a card at random from your opponent’s hand
- Staller: Choose an opponent and roll all six of your dice. If your roll could be used to fulfill one of the cards that your opponent has already completed, then they must discard that card
Regardless of whether your attempt to use a Leprechaun card was successful, the card gets discarded. Additionally, if you are the target of a Leprechaun card and happen to have a card in your hand that has shamrocks along the top and bottom of the card, then you may discard this ‘lucky charm’ to exempt yourself from the card that was played against you.
In this phase you will roll your dice up to two times in order to either complete a card, complete a Pot O’ Gold combo, or draw a card. This is the phase of the game that will force you to make some tough choices. Throw down too many cards too fast and you might wind up in a situation where you’re far behind in the gold department and can only rely on Pot O’ Gold combos to pull out a win. Draw too many cards and you risk paying a hefty fine at the end of the game. Leprechaun cards might help level the playing field some, but the real meat of the game is here. This phase is where the strategy is.
During the dice roll phase, you get two rolls. If you can complete a card or a combo in one roll, you earn the reward for completing the card or combo in a single roll. If it takes you two rolls, you will earn the reward for completing it in two rolls. You may set dice aside from your first roll and roll the remaining dice on your second roll to attempt to complete a card or a combo. You are not required to announce what your intentions are. If you are trying to complete a card but then realize on your second roll that you’ve completed a more beneficial Pot O’ Gold combo, then you may complete that combo instead.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the actions that you can choose from:
- Complete a dice card: If the dice you have rolled match any of your cards, then you can place that card face up in front of you.
- Complete a Pot O’ Gold combo: Each resource card lists the various Pot O’ Gold combos on the back of the card. There are several types and they pay out differently depending on whether or not you completed them in a single roll or two rolls
- Draw cards: If you rolled a triple, then you may elect to draw three cards from the deck. Then you may discard up to two cards from your hand
Regardless of which action you choose to do, once you’ve done it, your turn is over. So, choose carefully. At this point, an astute observer will notice that there is a reward on the dice cards for completing the combination in three rolls. This is where the ‘Press Your Luck’ phase comes in.
PRESSING YOUR LUCK
If you opt to press your luck, then you must declare which dice card you are trying to complete. That card is laid face up in front of you and then you get one more roll of the dice to attempt to complete it. If you are successful, then you collect the reward for completing the card in three rolls and then that card is placed into your completed cards area. However, if you are not successful, then you must pay the penalty.
To determine which penalty you get to pay, you will roll two dice and then add them up. If the total is an even number, then you must discard two silver pieces to the center of the table. If the total is odd, you only owe one silver. If you’re lucky and roll a double, then you don’t get penalized at all.
ENDING THE GAME AND SCORING
Once the first person has played the predetermined amount of cards, the game comes to an end. After that, each player’s scores are tallied up and the highest scoring player wins. To determine each player’s score, you do the following:
- The person that laid down the last card rolls a single six sided die and adds that amount of silver to their pot
- Each player who is still holding dice cards loses two silver per dice card
- Any player who is holding a Subtractor Leprechaun card loses 5 silver per Subtractor card that they are holding
My first impression of this game was when I pulled it out of the envelope that it had been shipped in. Even though it was a review copy of a beta game, it was very professionally put together. It was immediately obvious that these game developers really care about their product and putting the best face on it that they can under the circumstances. As I started looking at all of the various pieces, that impression never left me.
When I started playing the game with my wife, we immediately ran into some rules questions, but the handy FAQ section of the rules sheet had all of the answers that we were looking for. Try as we might, my wife and I could not find any rules discrepancies or loop holes. The rules were very well written and very well thought out and it is obvious that the developers of this game have spent a great deal of time getting it right before even thinking about putting it out there for public consumption. As a gamer and as a consumer, I greatly appreciate this level of respect for both the game and the people that are playing the game.
As we played some more, I began to notice something. My wife was beating the crud out of me. It seemed like every dice roll she made was a high scoring Pot O’ Gold combo. Rather than follow her lead, I stupidly played my cards and quickly found myself stuck in an untenable situation. One more card and I could close out the game, but I was way too far behind her in terms of money to do that and she still had plenty of cards to play. This, I realized then, was no ordinary press your luck dice game. There was a lot more strategy involved than I thought there would be.
This goes back to what I said at the very beginning of this review. When I first opened the envelope and pulled this game out of it, I had no idea that I would like it as much as I do. Every time that I play it, the randomness of the dice forces me to have to come up with an entirely new strategy if I want to win. More times than not, I lose and I lose horribly, but I have a heck of a lot of fun doing it. If that’s not enough to convince you what an awesome game this is, then I don’t know what will.
- [+] Dice rolls