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Subject: Piemaster's Review of Liar's Dice rss

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Ian Taylor
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Overview

Liar’s Dice has been released so often, in so many different forms, and with so many rules variants, that it is impossible to write a coherent review for all of them. The version I play is called Perudo and so I apologise in advance if I mention in this review anything that does not apply to the version you play or go on to buy.

While the rules vary, the basic premise of the game remains the same in all versions to the best of my knowledge. Each player starts with a number of dice (five is standard I think) and rolls them, keeping the results secret. Players then take it in turns to make a ‘bid’ specifying a number and how many of that number are present across everybody’s dice. For example, if you bid ‘six 4s’ you are wagering that, once everybody’s dice are revealed, there will be at least six 4s showing. The catch is that you must increase the bid of the previous person, either by increasing the dice value or by increasing the number of that dice or both. For example, if somebody bids ‘four 3s’, the next player can bid four 4s, four 5s or four 6s (but not four 2s). They could also bid five or more of anything.

The only alternative to making a higher bid it to challenge the bid of the previous player. If someone does this then all players reveal their dice and it is determined whether the bid holds up or not. If it doesn't then the person placing the bid loses a dice. If it does then the person who challenged the bid loses a dice. Then the remaining dice are re-rolled, bidding starts again and play continues until only one player has any dice left. They are declared the winner.


The Good

In 300 words, I just told you pretty much everything you need to know about playing Liar’s Dice. Sure, there are a few other rules and variants, like aces (ones) being wild and special rules for players with only one dice. These vary from version to version and you can sub them in and out or make up your own. But in essence, Liar’s Dice is a very simple game and that is its strength! It really is a perfect filler game, which you can teach to anybody in five minutes. It can be played with anything from two to six players out of the box, but if you have extra dice around (and who doesn't) then you can play with even more than that. Play moves quickly so there is little downtime and even a game with many players will be over pretty quickly.

All this wouldn't be worth a dime if the game wasn’t fun, but fortunately it is. Obviously there is a fair bit of luck involved, but there is also a lot of skill too. Determining the best bid, or whether to call down a bid, requires elements of math, deductive reasoning, misdirection, psychology, metagaming and game theory. In fact, Liar’s Dice is a fantastic game to play with children as it can teach them all of the above while they are under the illusion that they are just playing a fun game.


The Bad

I guess if you wanted to pick holes in Liar’s Dice you could say that it doesn't really have the potential to be anything other than filler. It’s not a game you would invite people over just to play, nor is it something you will want to play all night. It just doesn't really have the strategic scope for that. While I said the strength of Liar’s Dice is its simplicity, I guess that simplicity is also its weakness. It’s safe to say there will never be any expansions for this game.

Nor is there any great variety in gameplay. Games will play out slightly differently because of what people roll, but ultimately if you keep playing the game with the same people, sitting in the same order, it will start to get quite formulaic after a while. After all, there is no real variety in the setup and the game only has one mechanic. If you like the bidding and challenging mechanic then great, but if not then… well, you won’t really get any enjoyment out of the game.


Verdict

In its limited role as fun family game or filler, it is very difficult to find fault with Liar’s Dice. It’s very cheap, fun, easy to play and will fill in half an hour with gamers and non-gamers alike. It doesn't even take up much space. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a reason not to add it to your games collection. I can’t promise you’ll get excited about it, but you will play it, and more often than you think.

8/10
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John Mallory
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I picked this game up at a thrift store for a few bucks. It's great, it is my non-gamer friends favorite game. Plus it gets better with beer.
 
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Ian Taylor
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Maltorian wrote:
Plus it gets better with beer.


It's amazing how many games get better with beer. I've been meaning to write a review of The Great Dalmuti, but I would almost have to write two reviews - one for when played with beer and one for when played dry.
 
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