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Subject: Nations the Dice Game, A sick day review. rss

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Steven Green
United Kingdom
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This is the first time I have ever reviewed a game or posted on BGG. Please feel free to give advice or comment on this review as I do plan to add some more in the future. This is called a sick day review because at present I have been struck down with manflu (yes it is real) and having taken a sick day from work. I thought I would be productive and give my thoughts on a game I bought in Finland over Christmas whilst visiting family. That being said please enjoy the review and as I said comment and let me know what you think.

Nations the Dice Game

Components.

The components in this game are nice. I do think that the boards could be a bit thicker as there is some curving on the score chart. However the dice are fantastic. Coloured well and easy to read. Very satisfying to roll. Everything else is functional. The art work on the cards is nice and easy to understand.
Rating: 7

Set Up
Set up for this game is quick and simple. Everything is easy to put out and is logical.
Rating 8

Game Mechanics

This is a light and simple game. Don't let that fool you though. You roll you dice and decide what to do based on these. There are some heavy decisions to be made during a turn. Do I take that tile or risk my opponent taking it on their turn? Do I re-roll and risk losing what I have? Decisions are deceptively simple looking and can have ramifications later down the line in other ages. Do I go for war, money or culture? Do I want a cultural bonus or not? All this from rolling five dice?! Like I said don't be deceived into thinking that a light mechanic does not give you heavy thinking.
Rating: 8

Multiplayer game-play

Over Christmas we played this a few times with family. When asked everyone said they enjoyed it. Player conflict is minimal and generally arises from taking a tile that someone had be eyeing on their turn. So not much take that involved. That being said you could quite easily mess with someones game if you know what they want but that does not necessarily help you, so ask yourself why bother?
Rating: 7

Solo Game-play

I have played this a few times solo and was quite shocked at how well this worked. At the beginning of an age you roll for AI culture, place the new age tiles out and roll your dice. However there is the dreaded D4 in this game. As you are playing solo the game has a mechanic to replicate other players taking your tiles, this is the dreaded D4. After every action you take you roll and remove the cheapest tile based in the result of the D4. Initially I thought so what. Boy was I wrong! This simple mechanic makes you really think through your turn. If I take the cheapest tile in row 1 then the next highest value becomes the cheapest and I really want both so I need to make a decision of which I want to risk losing. Of course the D4 may roll in my favour, often I have discovered it will not. Going back to the culture roll I mentioned, at the start of every age you roll blue dice (1 for 1st age, 2 for second etc) and add any books you roll to the AI culture. Being ahead on culture at the end of a round is worth 2 points. So often I have been behind on points in the first age because of this. Again a simple mechanic. Again one that makes you think.
Rating: 8

Conclusion

Nations the Dice Game is a good game. It has simple mechanics hiding a depth of thinking and decision making. Play time is fast when you understand the rules. We played a three player game in about 40 minutes and I played 3 single player games in around an hour. I think if you like simple fast games that give you choices this deserves to be in you collection. I am not saying the game is perfect. The culture bonus for the players leading on the track can make going first a mute decision. 2 point (3 in 4 player)is massive ans sometimes I would rather go last so not to waste dice catching up on culture. I agree with some other reviews I have seen that it would be nice to have cultural differences between the players (All players start with the same player board). this could have been solved with an advanced version giving the Rome player, for example, a red war starting dice and the Greece player a blue cultural dice etc.

Overall Rating: 8
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Francesco Meucci
Italy
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Great review, well written and clearly laid out.
Keep'em up!
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Steven Green
United Kingdom
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Thanks for commenting. I do plan to do more when I get time. Again thanks.
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Jonny
New Zealand
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I enjoyed this game for a while, but eventually moved it on as the 'get blue dice and build wonders' strategy seemed by far to be the most dominant. I did mostly play this as a two player game, perhaps that has something to do with it.

I believe the upcoming expansion adds asymmetrical powers, however which sounds cool.

Thanks for the review.
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Matt Dirkes
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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Uphillspin wrote:
I enjoyed this game for a while, but eventually moved it on as the 'get blue dice and build wonders' strategy seemed by far to be the most dominant. I did mostly play this as a two player game, perhaps that has something to do with it.

I believe the upcoming expansion adds asymmetrical powers, however which sounds been cool.

Thanks for the review.


I think with 2 players that is more consistently good. In a 4 player game, I think getting the round bonus consistently and going earlier in the round is also really good though. If you go heavy blue dice in a larger game, you tend to see most of the best value tiles gone by time you get to do anything, let alone if you rolled poorly initially and need to adjust.

I didn't know there was an expansion coming out though! Excited to hear it will add some asymmetry, I think that's what everyone wanted in this game initially and was sad to not see.
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Steven Green
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Having only recently got the game I really like it. It is a good 2 player and am also looking forward to an expansion.
 
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Adam Burnage
Finland
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Got around to giving this a read Steve and I would agree with your opinions on it. The two additional aspects that I found worth noting were...


1. The fight for first player is maybe too powerful?

Being last in a 3 or more player game can make it impossible without taking the first player at some point. This means that in someways your strategy is decided from the off (go for the knives!).

2. Knowing what the rounds offer.

In the first round you only get to swap a general dice for a specialised dice. In the second round you can get the specialised dice as an additional dice. In the 3rd round you get to swap one general and gain an additional dice (to get two of the same specialised dice). In the final round you will only lose dice (if you choose to take certain victory points).

This is logical and it works really well but it gives a huge disadvantage to new players who have no idea of the structure. This is a minor issue obviously, but maybe it also made the game a bit linear. Maybe a surprising powerful dice in round one would have created more take that though and I guess with these things it's about finding the balance.

All this being said, I really liked this game and I really liked beating Steven Green at it .



 
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