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Subject: Design Diary 2: Working with Dice rss

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Andrew Nerger
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I've always preferred games that favor smart player decisions over luck, and that is probably why designing the dice was such a huge headache. Jeff and I went through 3 or 4 major iterations of the dice with another half dozen tweaks in-between each one.

Dice 1.0
The original concept had players collecting companions (dice) throughout the game that would help complete missions. Companions were good at either square, triangle, or circle outcomes, but they always had one face that would kill them (skull). Players could barter with the Leader by offering up their companions in return for rewards. For example, a mission might require the Leader to roll 3 square icons, and so players would offer dice with a high probability of rolling squares and ask for the best rewards. Players had to be careful though, as rolling their dice meant that they could be lost forever.



Design Takeaway
This was fun for a little while until, we ran into scenarios where a player kept rolling poorly and losing all of their companions. When this happened they were unable to barter effectively with the leader and often lost the game. We realized that the skull mechanic was too punishing because players had zero control over their rolls.

Dice 2.0
After a bit more thought, and a theme re-design, we landed on cursed faces being the punishment. Dice became a set of equipment that could be refreshed after each round. Each die had a different probability of success (star) and curse (skull). Curse meant that a player would be forced to gain a curse token. At the end of the game, the player with the most curse tokens, automatically lost, and then the player with the most victory points between the remaining players won. In this version, dice that were more likely to succeed a mission also had a higher chance of rolling a curse, so players had to determine their level of risk when making offers to the Leader.



Dice 2.0 Insanity
Since each equipment die had a different probability, we eventually became enamored with the idea of having custom shaped dice that were differentiated by the number of die faces they each had. We got so carried away that we had our friend Jordan mock-up some 3D images. This idea seemed all well and good until we got them priced out and had sticker shock. NOTE TO FELLOW DESIGNERS: Custom dice are really really really expensive.



Design Takeaway
Again, this was also fun for awhile, but it had some major issues. First, a player who rolled poorly had to play more conservatively in later rounds, offering dice that were less likely to give them curses. On the other hand, a player who rolled well could offer more risky dice and continue to collect the most valuable rewards. Once again, the dice rolls were determining the outcome of the game too often.

DICE 3.0
For a short while, we began to panic, as there seemed to be no solution to our dice woes. That's when the "0" "1" dice came about. My idea was that each player would always have access to three dice that had a 50/50 shot of doing something good for the Leader. So a "1" might give the leader an extra victory point, while a "0" allowed them to gain something else (I forget honestly). Players could select the amount at which they were willing to help the Leader by choosing either 1, 2, or 3 dice.



Design Takeaway
Mechanically, this was an okay solution, but thematically it made zero sense. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Die 4.0 (the dice to end all dice)
One of the major breakthroughs we had with this game was realizing that our barter mechanic was stopping us from seeing the game for what it actually was, a game about placing a value on a piece of treasure and bidding appropriately. While we thoroughly enjoyed the idea of shouting and haggling with the other players, at the end of the day the Leader was best off just choosing the dice that were most likely to succeed. Eureka, this lead us to the realization that instead of having a leader, we could have players bid individually for the treasure. As well, when players did have bad dice rolls they were still rewarded with the treasure card they sought out, and while losing dice is bad, we made it easier for players to recoup lost dice.

QUESTIONS:
•What is your favorite dice game, and why do you like it?
•What was the worst experience with dice that you ever had?
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Guy
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Ajn424 wrote:

QUESTIONS:
•What is your favorite dice game, and why do you like it?
•What was the worst experience with dice that you ever had?


Memoir 44 - Every game
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Heath Washburn
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Ajn424 wrote:

QUESTIONS:
•What is your favorite dice game, and why do you like it?
•What was the worst experience with dice that you ever had?

Probably Tiny Epic Galaxies, and Risk respectively.
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Andrew Nerger
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PlanBee wrote:
Memoir 44 - Every game


lol that's a pretty good one, I've played a couple command & colors system. Definitely, can feel bad when the dice don't go your way. I think this is amplified by how much effort goes into setting up and picking your action cards. The weight of the game kinda demands more strategic play then what you actually get.
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Andrew Nerger
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heathbarATL wrote:

Probably Tiny Epic Galaxies, and Risk respectively.


Haven't had the chance to play Tiny Epic Galaxies, but I totally see your point about Risk. It's a very long game and so much of the outcome depends on the player's dice roll. Interestingly, Risk Legacy by Rob Daviau, took some steps in the right direction to add importance when it comes to controlling certain territories. Also, that game cuts the length down to about an hour, which is much appreciated lol.
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Ben Blackford
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Ajn424 wrote:

QUESTIONS:
•What is your favorite dice game, and why do you like it?
•What was the worst experience with dice that you ever had?
My favorite is Las Vegas, because not only is it super easy to teach but even a "bad" result early on can be favorable later on. If you are only able to play one or two dice in your first turn, that gives you a lot more dice left for later turns than other people around you who committed more and can't adapt as well anymore. Plus I can't deny the satisfaction of just rolling a TON of dice at once like some sort of bombardment.

My least favorite experience was probably Claim It, though I liked the game anyway because I'm a bit crazy for dice. That game has you roll to claim spots on the board, and if you roll a spot twice you can claim it permanently where nobody can take it. It's also got a press your luck mechanic, where you use 6 tokens as 'squatters' so that you actually roll 3 dice instead of just the 2 for the coordinates. That's supposed to lessen the chance of what happened to me, since you can pick which 2 of the 3 dice you want for the coordinates... IF you don't roll three of a kind.

Yeah, it was the last round of the game because someone made the target amount of squares claimed, and on my turn I rolled three 6s and the 6,6 coordinate had already been permanently claimed. So I didn't even get a chance to press my luck because my first last roll was an instant failure. Ugh! But at the same time it was kind of hilarious.
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Heath Washburn
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Ajn424 wrote:
heathbarATL wrote:

Probably Tiny Epic Galaxies, and Risk respectively.


Haven't had the chance to play Tiny Epic Galaxies, but I totally see your point about Risk. It's a very long game and so much of the outcome depends on the player's dice roll. Interestingly, Risk Legacy by Rob Daviau, took some steps in the right direction to add importance when it comes to controlling certain territories. Also, that game cuts the length down to about an hour, which is much appreciated lol.

TEG is really fun and I like the dice mitigation that removes some of the luck punishment.
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