Dice Town is a dice game (duh!) for 2-5 players, designed by Bruno Cathala & Ludovic Maublanc, published by Matagot and distributed in the U.S. by Asmodée. In this game, players roll poker dice successively to fight over not only the best poker hand, but the majority in each rank (most nines, most tens, most jacks, and so on). With the Dice Town Expansion releasing soon, it’s about time we reviewed the base game. Here’s a reminder of my scoring categories:
Components – Does the game look nice? Are the bits worth the money? Do they add to the game?
Accessibility – How easy is the game to teach, or to feel like you know what you are doing?
Depth – Does the gameplay allow for deeper strategies, or does the game play itself?
Theme – Does the game give a sense of immersion? Can you imagine the setting described in the game?
Fun – Is the game actually enjoyable? Do you find yourself smiling, laughing, or having some sense of satisfaction when it’s over?
Components: When you open the box, you’ll find a nice custom insert with only one real divider, a rather small game board, some cards and paper money, five dice cups, and 25 (!) custom poker dice. Let me just say up front that I really love the components of the game. While it’s a bunch of different cool-looking chits in a game sounds great, it can make the game a real pain to play. Dice Town has a pretty modest set of components (apart from the amount of dice), and the components are all very beautifully made. Functionality is great as well; although the board does not contribute to the gameplay, it serves well as a giant reminder card for everyone. The cards are easy to understand, and the paper money is pretty nice and doesn’t stick together. I’d certainly always love for games to be cheaper, but here I feel that the ridiculous amount of dice required for the game justify the $45 MSRP. My only minor gripe is that I’d like an insert with a region for the cards so they don’t fly around. I sleeved them and put them in a deck box inside the game box, but bagging them would probably be fine. Overall, thumbs up.
Accessibility: Dice Town is very simple; the only problem with learning the game is that it’s a little unfamiliar to us who are used to immediately grabbing our dice and going for a re-roll in Yahtzee. Here everyone rolls at once and secretly decides to what to keep. Then everyone reveals what they’ve kept, and after that everyone makes another simultaneous roll, and so on. As long as everyone sticks together, it’s a very simple process, but with more players it can be a little difficult to keep everyone straight. Actually doling out the rewards from the rolls is an extremely simple process; although players still have decisions to make in that part of the game, they are fairly quick, and then it’s back to rolling. The exception is the Doc Badluck action, as the options seem to confuse new players every time I teach the game, but it eventually clicks. As long as you free your mind from the typical “multiplayer solitaire” flow of dice games and keep in sync with everyone else, the game’s mostly a breeze.
Depth: Keep in mind, of course, that this is a game of very many dice being rolled very often, so the luck factor is extremely high. That being said, there are still interesting decisions to be made. During the rolls, you need to keep an eye on the goals of other players to make sure that you get the majorities you seek. You also need to carefully evaluate when it’s worth spending cards that let you cheat the rules for your dice, or when to spend money to keep extra dice. The rewarding-the-rolls part of the game is full of simple but important decisions, such as what card to take, who to let win a tie, or from whom to steal. It’s clear the designers didn’t mean for this to be the next Caylus, but there are many more ways to decide your fate than a typical pure dice game.
Theme: As I’ve already mentioned, the artwork in Dice Town is fantastic, and does much to heighten the atmosphere of the game. It looks like you’re in a (cartoon) Old West town, trying to prove yourself to be the best cowboy around. Using poker dice instead of regular dice greatly adds to the flavor of the game as well, and the all of the actions and cards in the game are logical things you’d expect cowboys to do, the mechanics of carrying them out are all done well. The game makes you want to talk like a cowboy, and I think it’s the reason that I once almost considered trying baked beans.
Fun: The question as to whether the game is fun is whether or not you enjoy pure dice games, or party games for that matter. Despite having some strategy, the game plays with the feel of a party game with dice. If that sounds like something you’ll enjoy, then you’re going to have a good time with this game, finding yourself both thinking hard and laughing out loud, which is rare in most games. My only complaint is that having cards stolen can really frustrate some types of players, so maybe it’s not for everyone – but it’s darn close.
While Dice Town is not a game of deep strategy, it delivers in every other regard, and most importantly it’s just fun to play. Dice Town offers just enough depth of strategy that I’d still recommend it to anyone, even those who normally don’t like party games, dice games, or games at all.
Originally posted on http://meepletown.com
- Last edited Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:31 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:25 am
Re: Review: Dice Town
Thanks - we love this one, too! In keeping with the theme, we enjoy using poker chips instead of the paper money.
My aunt (a poker player) joined us for an evening last month of Dice Town followed by Pastiche. It was her intro to designer board games & now she's hooked! Not that I had any ulterior motives in bringing out this game...
- Last edited Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:59 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:26 am