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Subject: Biblios the Euro-Dice Game rss

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Tina T
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Executive Summary:
This is essentially Biblios the eurogame - if you like both Biblios (or other games about resource collection and auctions) and eurogames like those designed by Stefan Feld and others, you will love Biblios Dice.
If you prefer quick card games, stay with Biblios.

Full disclosure:
I got access to this game via a print and play that was sent to my free of charge by the author Steve Finn.

What the game is about
Biblios Dice is the "dice version" of the popular game "Biblios" by the same author. Biblios was a card game of set collection and auction. Biblios Dice is based on Biblios and is also an evolution of "Scripts and Scribes the Dice Game", also by Steve Finn, which was an earlier dice version of Biblios (or rather of its earlier self-published version "Scripts and Scribes").
In Biblios Dice, as in Biblios, each player is an medieval abbot trying to build the most successful library by collecting resources such as ink, pigments, manuscripts etc. In contrast to Biblios, players don't collect and auction for cards, but dice in a dice pool. The final goal is to have made the most victory points, which are determined by how far players climbed on the resource tracks with their player pieces and how valuable each resource is at the end of the game. During the game, players also have the opportunity to change the values of these resources (they are represented by dice that can be manipulated during the game), or to score additional victory points by being one of the first to climb to certain positions on the resource tracks.

How Biblios Dice works:
Players try to collect resources on a number of resource tracks (one separate ladder-like board for each resource). They do this by taking turns drafting from a pool of dice - these dice have the resources such as ink, pigments etc. printed on them, and some dice also have special symbols, such as simply an amount of money (gold, to be used for bidding later), a bishop's hat (allowing them to climb up on the associated bishop track), or the ability to change the value of some of the resources. The active player rolls the dice and gets to pick first, then the other players get their pick around the table.
Periodically, an auction takes place. The active player divides the resource dice pool into one large and one small group for players to bid for using auction cards. Players bid "blindly" by picking one of their cards numbered from 0-7 and placing it in front of them. Bids are turned over when everybody has placed their bid. They add more blind bidding cars from their hand until everybody passes. The winner - that is the player who bid the most gold - gets to choose the smaller or the larger die sub-pool. During bidding, it's also possible to try to bluff others out of their money by bidding higher than the gold you have, but if you win and can't pay, you have to pay the price (you will be penalized).
The game ends when one player has climbed to the top of the bishop track or four player's track counters have reached the tops of any resource tracks. Before scoring, players may trade in leftover money for victory points, with a ratio that is determined by how high players climbed on the bishop track. The higher you climbed, the more VPs you get per gold coin.
The player with the most victory points wins the game.
Note: Playing with 2 players includes a dummy player ("Cadfael"), who gains resources semi-randomly.

Components & Print and Play notes
Biblios Dice comes with a large number of small chits and tokens. There are cardboard gold coins in many denominations, victory point tokens, tokens that are stacked up on the resource tracks, a lot of dice, and a small handful of cards. There is also a screen for every player to shield their money and their VPs from the other players. Compared with Biblios, which consisted mainly of a deck of cards and a few dice, it is more of a large game, with many more components. I can't comment on the final component quality, obviously, because I printed and crafted the game myself.
The game's art is pleasant, maybe with the exception of the resource icons, which looked a little rough to me.

I'm a frequent print & player myself, and since the Kickstarter for this game includes a print and play version of the game, I will comment on the ease of building a little. There are many round coins to cut out, so a circle punch may be helpful, and a large number of dice need to be stickered. If you like to have backsides for your tokens, coins and cards, you may have to get a bit creative, as these were not included (at least not in my review pnp). I added backs to my bidding cards and left the tokens single-sided. The tokens are printed as they would be on a punchboard, that is, they have a slight gap between them - you can't cut them apart with one cut of you scissors or craft knife.

Verdict
Biblios Dice feels very much like a eurogame version of Biblios, as though it were expanded in many directions. In a way, it plays as though Stefan Feld had tried to remake Biblios. That doesn't surprise me much, since Dr. Finn has apparently in the recent past turned into a more eurogamey direction, with his previous Kickstarter "Institute for Magical Arts" being at least partly inspired by Feld's Roma.
Biblios was a very streamlined cardgame, very quick and with a limited decision space. In Biblios Dice, there are many little decisions to make - which resource track will I try to advance first? Will I deny someone a resource die without helping me much? Should I end the game early by climbing to the top of the bishop track while I'm ahead - or maybe I'm not ahead at all, who knows (as money and victory points are hidden behind a screen)?
These many small decisions, which all bring you ahead somehow, may be a minus for you, though, if you're one of the people who think this feels like "point salad" and your decisions don't matter that much, since you get points whatever you do. I've certainly noticed that player's scores are pretty close in the end. However, this also points to the game being thoroughly tested and balanced.
Play time is about the same as Biblios, I would say, 30-60 minutes, depending on your experience with the game and number of players.
A few words about theme: as in Biblios, being a monk or abbot in medieval times doesn't come through much.
My final verdict: if you liked Biblios and you like Eurogames, you will probably like Biblios Dice.
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Christian K
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To me it seems very similar to biblios with the drafting and auction except that the auction is spread out and not all at the end. However, meany people seem to find this game more meaty. Can you elaborate on why that is?
 
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Travis Hill
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Thanks for this! You just made up my mind to back it.
 
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