It is now undoubtedly clear that the release schedule for Dice City will be frequent and consisting of typically, very small expansions to boost the base game. On the plus side, it keeps a game fresh and in the public eye. On the down side, mini expansions are rarely priced fairly for what you get and certainly if the previous Dice City: All That Glitters expansion is anything to go by, it's not changed here.
We've got All That Glitters already which I've reviewed and later in the year we're expecting the third expansion in the form of Royal Decree, which unlike the first two will actually include a new board. Right now, I'm looking at the second in the line, the new Crossroads expansion, not to be confused with the Tokaido expansion of the same name.
Designer: Vangelis Bagiartakis
Publisher: Artipia Games / AEG
Time: 45-60 minutes
Rows Aren't Good Enough!
There is now an theme with the new building cards to build combos based on what buildings you have in a column on your board as opposed to simply the row. No new mechanics are introduced to incorporate this, it's simply just the abilities on the buildings themselves, so you can actually get away with including this in the base game without having to teach a single new thing about it to a new player. That's like the best of both worlds, where you get to improve on a game without introducing any additional complexity.
Some of the abilities on these are quite powerful, particularly those on the purple "culture" buildings, but they require a little more care in setting them up and you won't always have the consistency to roll those column buildings exactly when you want them too as a balancing tool. Think about it, if you were to fill out your entire blue die row on military buildings, you can guarantee that every roll of the blue die will generate some additional attack values for you. But if you fill out the whole "four" column in the same manner, you still have to roll that four on one of the die and you might even specifically want it on a certain colour. Even with the luck mitigation of removing a die to move another, column bonuses won't trigger as often as a row bonus.
I Want More Gooooooollldddd!
There is a return of the new gold resource here and it functions in exactly the same way as it did before. It's a wild resource that's harder to steal that can be also used to acquire certain more powerful buildings. The main restriction is that you can't use it in place of an ability that says "requires a resource" so you're essentially using it to purchase new buildings rather than use them. Nothing much else to say on this that I haven't already before, the new buildings are cool, but the extra requirements necessary to gain them stop them from being too overpowered.
I do like however that it adds an additional end-game trigger when all of the gold is used up. Unlike normal resources, gold is finite, which fits thematically. When you use a gold resource it's put back in the box and depleting the entire stock of gold triggers the end-game automatically. This is a nice addition as previously despite all of the triggers available, you found that in 99% of games the only trigger that mattered was filling out two rows on your board. I've never seen a single game where the depletion of buildings/bandits ended the game and only once have I seen a depletion of trade ships do it. However gold now potentially throws a trigger into the mix that is actually important to bear in mind especially if multiple players gun for gold during the game.
Great Storage, Fiddly Setup
Every reviewer I bet will have commented that the original Dice City box was too big for what you got in terms of content. Well that was because AEG/Artipia Games had expansions in mind from the get-go and thankfully the original box more than caters for the expansions to date and I'm sure for expansions to come for a long while.
However adding expansions comes at a price in terms of setup time. You can just throw everything together, however I do not recommend this at all as the dilution of the deck will be thrown completely out of whack. Instead the rules suggest several other methods of building the location deck. The Random & Full Set methods are what I suggest you go with, Random being my favourite. It throws enough variety into the game without unbalancing it unnecessarily as you don't know how many copies of a particular building will be included. So you'll be thinking, do I grab that now while it's there or hope another will show up later?
In addition you now have some suggested set-ups focusing on specific themes. The buildings for each category have been cherry picked to fit those themes. They're handy if you want some help deciding on locations. The Epic setup will mean you get to see everything from all the sets, which works well, but involves a bit of time to get all the locations together. As you can see, added expansions does increase the setup time, but stick with one and store your cards efficiently from game to game and you'll be fine.
The biggest change here to Dice City is the theme of all the new buildings to reflect columns as well as rows in your city. I actually prefer this to the new gold buildings change in All That Glitters as it adds an extra level of planning and combos to consider when deciding where to build within your city. It also can mitigate the dice luck a little as hopefully you'll have a choice between a solid row ability, but also a solid column ability. You don't even have to teach any new rules for it, it's just simply the wording on the cards themselves which everyone will get if they understand the basic game.
Playing along the same line as the previous expansion, it's a small box that gives you some new buildings and another resource. The price tag of £15-£19 again is a bit steep, but that's going to come down to how much you enjoy the original Dice City as to how expensive you find that. Certainly when you've added in multiple expansions your variety in the buildings each game is going to get better and better, but be aware of the additional setup time. As before this is not a required purchase and recommended only for fans of the original game.
If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/
YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF:
You have the disposable income and would like to add more to your copy of Dice City
Your main wish was to have more buildings and options available to you each game.
You are keen on the idea of having to consider columns as well as rows in your city for more advanced play.
YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:
The price tag is too much to ask for what you get included in the box.
You don't want to go through the special set-up rules each game.
You worry that having to deal with columns will make Dice City too complex.
Nice job...short and sweet. My wife and I enjoy this game and I look forward to more on the Dice City front.
I enjoy this game a lot and I have the base and first expansion. This one seems to be a better expansion than the first given the extra angle of strategy (pun intended).
I agree that the price of these expansions are a bit high for what you get so I have decided to wait until this goes on clearance at the on-line stores. It bothered me that Glitter went on clearance as soon as Crossroads came out. So I probably don't have long to wait!