Stats at a glance
Ages: 14 +
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
The Kingdom of Rolldovia is in peril. Barbarians have sacked the capital city, leaving it in utter ruin.
Now, with Queen Statisia on the lookout for the location of her new capital, the noble families must race to establish their city as a viable replacement.
Brief Overview of Dice City
Dice City is a straightforward, competitive dice-crafting game for 1-4 players. Your job, as a nobleman of the fantastically-named Kingdom of Rolldovia, is to develop your city into the most impressive metropolis and to stop your opponents from doing the same.
You do this by rolling the dice and using the abilities of your different locations to grow your resources and expand your city. To win, you need to be the player with the most victory points at the end of the game, which are earned by building structures, defeating barbarians, sending out trade missions and attacking your opponents’ cities.
A combination of luck and strategic foresight will be needed to emerge victorious.
Versions & Expansions
There are several expansions you can buy for Dice City, however, the two main ones to note are:
Dice City: Crossroads
This expansion introduces various new concepts to the base game. Most notably, a new resource: gold. Gold can be mined using the new gold mine cards. It acts as a currency and can be used to build new locations. There are also 48 new location cards, which all have new abilities to make the most of.
Dice City: By Royal Decree
In By Royal Decree, the Queen has suddenly started to pay a lot closer attention to her noble families. It means there are now incentives to employ different strategies and build certain locations. For, should you complete one of the Queen’s special plans, you’ll get a reward!
Alongside this, there’s also a new green dice and board introduced to the game, representing an additional trading town that players have at their disposal.
Unboxing Dice City
In a game called Dice City, you’d expect there to be a lot of dice. Well, there’s not as many as you’d think, actually. Just five per player (yellow, white, blue, black, and red). Alongside that, you also get:
- 4 Player boards
- 45 Harvest resource location cards
- 15 Regular Army cards
- 60 Location cards
- 18 Bandits cards
- 11 Trade Ship cards
- 30 Resource tokens (iron, wood, stone)
- 16 Deactivation tokens
- 1 Start Player token
- 16 Pass tokens
- VP tokens
The first thing to mention with Dice City is the artwork — or perhaps ‘animation’ might be a better word. The box and all the components are designed using a very 3D cartoony style, putting me in mind of the animation from some of the old Lego PC games. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly makes Dice City distinctive on the shelf. Not to mention, the bold colors it uses mean it really does stand out proudly on the table. For me, it ties in nicely with the sense of humor the game clearly has and I like it.
The majority of the game for each player takes place on their player board. This is where you’ll build your city and place your dice. These are well made and, again, very eye-catching in terms of color and graphics. So thumbs up from me on those.
There’s a bunch of cards that come with the game, too. They follow suit in being solid both visually and structurally. However, I think they could maybe have been brought to life a little more by including more people on them. This is a city after all. And if there’s one thing that cities tend to have lots of, it’s people.
I should probably mention the dice, as well.
There we go. Job done. (They’re just dice).
How to Play Dice City
To start, players take a 6×5 player board. The columns are labeled for each number on the dice, and the rows for each of the five dice colors (white, yellow, red, blue and black). Players also take one of each of the five colored dice.
Then separate the Lumber Mill, Quarry, Mine, and Regular Army location cards into four decks – these are always available to build – and next to them the rest of the location cards in one shuffled deck. Take eight of the shuffled location cards and place them face-up on the table. These are the locations available for players to build.
Finally, players roll your five dice and place them in the appropriate space on the board. For example, a red five would mean you place the die on the red row in column five.
There are four phases to each player’s turn.
- Use Dice
In this phase, you use each of the dice on your board to take an action. The actions you have available to you are:
- Use the location of the die and resolve its ability (such as getting extra resources or improving the strength of your army).
- Move a different die to an adjacent space of the same color.
- Discard and repopulate four location cards in the center of the play area.
- Reactivate a location in your city that was deactivated by another player’s attack.
- Gain a pass token.
When you use a die, you remove it from your board.
If you have two pass tokens, you may also choose to get extra resources, force all players to reroll one die or increase your army strength.
In the previous phase, you had the opportunity to grow your army strength using locations (this only lasts for the duration of the turn). If you have enough army strength, you can make an attack and earn victory points in return. You could either attack bandits, attack an opponents’ locations to deactivate them or attack their supply of resources.
Each attack reduces your army strength. However, providing you have enough left after each one, you can make as many attacks as you like.
3. Build and trade
At this point, you may take a location from the center of the play area and place it atop any location on your player board to replace it. You must spend resources to do so, but can build as many as you like in your turn if you can afford it. Replace any bought locations in the center of the play area.
In this phase, you can also spend resources to earn extra victory points using trade ships.
4. End of turn
If you have remaining resources, you can keep one of each (wood, stone, and iron) for the next turn. The rest must be returned.
You then reroll your die and place them in their designated spots. Play then moves on to the next player.
Ending the Game and Scoring
There are four conditions for the game to end and the scoring to begin:
- The bandit cards run out
- The location cards run out
- The trade ship cards run out
- At least two of a player’s rows are full of location cards
If one of these conditions are met, then players total up the victory points they have visible in their city. They add to this victory points from their bandit cards and trade ship cards.
Whoever has the most victory points wins!
Your First Game of Dice City
As a dice rolling game, a lot of Dice City, of course, comes down to chance. However, remember that there are plenty of things you can do to manipulate it.
For example, you could dedicate an entire row to locations that generate a certain resource or boosts your army’s strength. This way, no matter what you roll for that colored dice, you’re much more likely to get it.
The same can be said for the reroll spaces, which appear on every row at the start of the game. Having them in a row increases the chance of you being able to use the other squares from one in six to one in five. So, while they may seem a little pointless at first, you can use them to your advantage.
Pros & Cons
- Easy to learn
- Build your own city
- Great for families
- Balance of luck and strategy
- The attack system is a little weak
- Not everyone will like the luck element
Dice City is one of those incredibly enjoyable games where you get to feel a real sense of achievement at the end regardless of whether or not you won. Each player gets to develop their own sprawling cityscape that they’ve nurtured and built with love and affection. I got a lot of the same kicks from it as I did when playing Sim City or Theme Park World as a kid.
Beyond that, though, Dice City is a hugely fun game, too. Each roll brings with it lots of decisions to make and several different options for earning those cherished victory points. As your city expands, you can choose to focus on specific areas and it can bring a real personality to your city.
Of course, as a dice game, there is a great deal of randomness involved. So, if you’re after some hardcore strategy, it might not be the best option for you. However, there’s not actually a great deal of rolling involved. Instead, it’s all about what you do to bend the luck in your favor, and this is where the strategy comes in.
In fact, if anything, it’s the luck element that I most enjoyed about Dice City. The euphoria that took over when you finally rolled that perfect combination and had enough resources to set sail on a trade ship was hard to match.
It’s also a very easy game to learn, with straightforward concepts that kids and first-time gamers will easily be able to pick up. I think it will make a perfect family game.
One thing that could be improved is the attack function. Initially, I really liked the idea of raiding your opponents’ cities and taking out a building. It brought to mind the daring escapades I’d embark upon in Age of Empires to destroy a nemesis’s harbor and stop them sending ships downriver.
But in reality, there’s only so much damage you can do. You might be able to deactivate a strong building, but they can quite easily discard a die to bring it back into play. As such, I rarely found myself building up my army strength aside from to attack bandits. I focused instead on earning victory points in easier ways. I think this is one area that needs change.
Dice City is a fun little dice-crafting game that pits you against your friends to build the most impressive city. The emphasis here is on smart decision-making, rather than constant rolling, meaning this isn’t a game that entirely depends on luck.
As a simple and straightforward game to learn, Dice City will be perfect for a family or group of friends with mixed levels of experience.
If you’re after an easy to learn game that anyone can play, then look no further than Dice City. It has a satisfying mix of luck and strategy, making for a really impressive family-style game. Not only that but it works just as well with two players as it does with four.
I especially liked how involved you can get in building your city. It may only be a bunch of cards on a board, but the freedom of how you can grow it, not to mention all the pretty colors, means you do develop quite a strong bond with it by the end.
You’re hardly going to win any prizes for strategy with this one. But for a simple, fun and engaging family, or beginner game, Dice City ticks all the boxes for me.
Looking for more Dice Games? Why not check out our video below:
A passionate traveller as well as a gamer, Joe is trying to play board games in as many countries as possible. No surprise, two of his favourite games are travel-friendly Tiny Epic Galaxies and Coup. But when in his home town of London, Libertalia and Secret Hitler are currently top billing.