Desperados of Dice Town is a game for two to four players set in the same universe as Dice Town. In this game, each player will be playing the role of a leader of a band of desperados who, unfortunately, start the game in prison. The player who sets their desperados free and has the most money wins!
Each player will have a gang of five desperados. Each one contains a different symbol on their character card. Each card has one side indicating the desperado is in jail and one side indicating that they’ve escaped.
Each desperado has a rank, indicating how difficult it is to free them from prison. Every player’s desperados have identical pairings of symbol with rank:
- Bottle = Rank 2
- Fist = Rank 3
- Knife = Rank 4
- One gun = Rank 5
- Two guns = Rank 6
Each desperado starts with their highest rank pointing upwards, and as the desperado is closer to freedom, the card will rotate so that lower ranks are pointing up, until they’re finally free. Freedom is symbolized by the keys on each card. Once escaped, the card is flipped over and the desperado is able to attack other players, or use their special ability. Each gang’s rank two desperado has a unique ability that they can use once they’ve escaped.
In addition to the desperados, there are four custom six-sided dice. One side features each of the five symbols listed above. The sixth side contains the action symbol, which will be very important.
There is a deck of 28 wild west cards. These will allow the players to take special actions either on one of their turns or another player’s turn.
Finally, there is a pile of poker chips representing the currency of the game. They total $200 and are in denominations of $1, $5, and $10.
Each player receives the five desperados of their chosen gang, the corresponding gang card, and $50 in poker chips. The gang members are placed in front of the player with the jail side visible and the highest number pointing up. To create asymmetric starting conditions, each player will roll the four dice until they have no action faces and no more than two of any symbol showing. Each player then rotates their corresponding desperado a number of ‘clicks’ towards freedom as indicated by their dice (i.e. two fist dice would rotate the fist desperado from a 3 to a 1).
The youngest player starts the game, and each player’s turn is played in two steps:
1. Roll all four dice (re-roll any dice up to two times).
2. Have one or more desperadoes take an action or draw wild west cards.
Roll the dice
The player rolls all four dice, and then has two re-rolls, during which they can choose to roll any of the four dice. This is very much Yahtzee-inspired. The player then takes the effect(s) of the rolled dice by either:
1. Taking desperado actions, if at least one action face was rolled or,
2. Drawing wild west cards
If action faces were rolled, the character symbols on the other dice indicate which character is able to use those actions. In the below example, two action faces, one fist, and one double gun were rolled. The player may choose to either take one action with the fist (rank two) desperado and one action with the double gun (rank six) desperado OR two actions with either the fist or double gun desperado. In short, each action die must be paired with a character die.
If the characters activated are in jail, they simply rotate one space for each action die assigned to them. If the characters are already out of prison, they force the other players to discard money according to the number of action dice assigned. The exception to this is the rank two desperado, who allows the player to take a special action. The actions are indicated on the ‘escaped’ side of the desperado card. If, however, another player has their equal rank desperado already freed, they are immune to the theft or ability. Any player who loses all their money is immediately eliminated from the game.
If no action faces were rolled, the player draws wild west cards according to the following guidelines:
1. If four of a kind was rolled, the player draws the top 4 cards and keeps 2.
2. If three of a kind was rolled, the player draws the top 3 cards and keeps 1.
3. If neither of the above conditions applies, he player draws and keeps the top card.
Players may choose to use action phases to draw cards if 3 or 4 were rolled. The action cards give actions that take place on either their turn or another player’s turn. The timing and action are clearly explained on each card.
The game is over when all of a player’s desperados have escaped and they’re the richest player. If they’ve freed all their desperados but another player has more money, they must force that player to discard until they’re the richest. Whoever fulfills this victory condition first wins!
Thematic filler game – Who doesn’t like being immersed in the wild west, after all? The character art is pretty cool, and I love the custom dice.
Re-roll decisions – This is the most strategic part of the game. You have to consider what your goal is, and if the dice don’t allow you to accomplish your goal, what plan B is. Do you keep the two action faces and re-roll the others, hoping for a more optimal character face? Or do you throw back one of the action phases, as you only need one anyway? And who IS the most important character to free anyway? Do you follow your opponents’ lead to make yourself immune to their characters? Or do you forge your own path and hope to steal their money faster than they take yours? It is a dice game, of course, so you only have so much ability to carry out your plan.
Repetitive – This game is just long enough that the repetition starts to bother me. Every game turn proceeds very, very similarly. It also becomes pretty clear which players are in contention for victory and which aren’t well before the game is over.
Unexciting – Some of the cards have pretty significant effects on them, but there aren’t many big reveals in this game. It’s a very methodical game of slowly rotating characters one at a time, chipping away at your opponents.
Only seats 4 – This always tends to bother me about filler games and lighter party games. Why do they only seat four? I know, I know, it would probably take too long. Valid point. But often times, I need my filler games need to seat more than 4 players.
How easy is the game to learn?
Very easy. The rules and complexity are kept to a minimum in ‘Desperados’.
Will it be easy to find players?
It’s quick enough that I want to say yes but as soon as you say, “it’s kind of like Yahtzee”, you’ll turn off a number of players. Some people just really aren’t into dice. *raises hand*
Is the reward worth the time spent?
If the right dice aren’t rolled by at least one player, this one can drag a bit. The ending isn’t particularly climactic either. It’s more of a, “Great! I slowly and methodically whittled you all away!”.
How much fun is defeat?*
Not very fun if you know you’re behind early, because you’re likely to stay there. Dice are fickle so I suppose the door is always open, but it’s not fun to get a slow start. If you’re in it right to the end, losing isn’t so bad.
*I think one of the best ways to evaluate a game is to consider how much fun it is to lose. The goal is to have fun whether I've won or lost!
If you enjoyed reading this review, feel free to check out my other game reviews HERE