Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Vangelis Bagiartakis


No. of Players:
2 - 4



With the cuddly citizens printed on the box cover, the new ARTIPIA game Dice City certainly reminds of the happy farmer on the cover of Imperial Settlers. Indeed, both games share not only the rather cute graphics, but both of them are focusing on the players developing their cities/empires by constructing new buildings which will give them new abilities. However, that's the point where the major similarities end, since - as suggested by the game's name and the subtitle "Roll, Build, Win!" - Dice City is all about rolling dice!

So, once again we are seeing a game employing a dice placement mechanism, and I must confess that I am always quite eager to try games from this category. Usually modern dice games like Nations: The Dice Game, Ancient Terrible Things or Kingsburg all share a somewhat lighter strategic approach and a manageable playing time, and from my perspective these are factors which greatly increase a game's replayability. But let's now turn towards Dice City…

In Dice City every player possesses his own City board, featuring a gridwork of 5 rows with 6 locations each. The locations initially printed on the board form an outer ring of resource-producing locations which is arranged around an inner cluster of city locations which may provide military strength, victory points and re-rolls. During the course of the game the players will use resources to purchase new Location cards with better abilities, and the newly purchased locations will be placed on the buyer's City board, always covering an already existing location.

The namegiving dice come into the city as a means for activating the locations. Each player possesses a total of 5 different coloured dice, and each of these colours corresponds to one row of locations on the player's City board. So, during setup every player will roll his hand of dice for the first time, placing each dice on the location which can be identified by the dice's colour and the number rolled. Then the players start taking turns, and during a turn a player activates the functions of the buildings which have received a dice in an order of his choice, generating resources, military power and using some other special functions.

The intelligent usage of the locations is the key element of the game, since the relatively high pace on which the game advances does not really pardon major timewasting. So, the players need to generate resources in order to purchase new location cards from an open, partly random display, and as explained these newly bought locations then will be used to cover already existing locations on a player's City board. As a rule, the new locations have better abilities than the starting locations, so that the players may produce more resources etc.. In addition, the new locations usually will count for some victory points which the owning player can take into his calculation when the game is over

The military strength generated by the players can be used in three different ways, and it can even be split up in order to use two or three of these options together. So, a player may use his military to attack bandits (gaining a card worth some victory points), to attack another player's building(s) (gaining victory points and deactivating that building) and to steal resources from other players. The deactivation of buildings may seem to be a quite harsh way of direct player interaction, but the effects of such an attack are well balanced with other elements of the game, and a player actually can re-activate a building just by spending one dice.

The game is over when most bandits have been defeated, when most trading ships (to which resources can be delivered for victory points) have left the harbor, or when the deck of Location cards has been exhausted. Now the players will add up their victory points from locations, ships, bandits and tokens gained during the game to determine the winner.

Vangelis Bagiartakis has done a great job in streamlining this cute little game, keeping the buildings functions quite straightforward but still giving the players some more interesting options in comparison to a game like Machi Koro.There are several possible ways to win the game, following either economic or militaristic strategies. The whole design of Dice City shows that Vangelis has designed quite a few games over the last year, since he successfully smoothened away some minor effects which would have been harmful for the game's balance. For example, each turn a player may opt not to use one of his dice, and instead he will receive a Pass token which can be collected for later turns. In later turns two Pass tokens can be used repeatedly to gain one resource or one military strength or to force another player to re-roll one of his dice, and so Vangelis turned a possible waste of time due to an unfitting roll into a nice compensatory effect. Mind you, the future mayor of Dice City still needs a bit of a lucky hand, but nobody should be deterred from trying this game just by fear of surrendering himself to uncontrollable luck. A good choice of buildings and their positioning on the gameboard is essential!

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Copyright & copy; 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany