Dice – Games with Meat on their Bones

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Yspahan

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Yspahan (said: Ees-pa-haan) was the first modern Euro game to use dice in such a way that allowed players to control the randomness, while using that same randomness as a way to promote replay-ability. The object is make points by filling areas of the city or a camel train with goods. 8 dice are rolled to determine what goods will be available, with the lowest set of numbers placed on the bottom row, highest dice on the top and then each set of numbers working from the second lowest up. This means that if every number is not rolled, some goods will be missing that turn. You can use goods to obtain buildings which will give you abilities, and if the dice left to choose from blow, then you can always choose to take a card, which gives you something groovy.

Its a quick game, taking about 40 minutes and has a number of strategies available, definitely worth a bash if you are down in the cafe.

Alien Frontiers

AlienFrontiersBoard

One of the very first successful board games that spawned from Kickstarter. Its a kind of worker placement game, where your choice of where to play your workers is slightly limited by the dice you roll. The object is to try and get the most victory points through colonizing the planet in the center of the board. As with any strategic dice game there are numerous ways to manipulate the dice you roll to allow you to get what you want, mainly using special power cards or abilities gained through controlling parts of the planet. Competition for stuff is ferocious and people will be blocking spots left, right and center to deny their opponents what they want. The board art is also fabulous with that 50’s sci-fi feel and the bits are also really cool.

Kingsburg

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This one could almost be a gateway game, and I would put it up front with the other family friendly games (except Game of Thrones…although that depends on the family), but for the fact it runs a little long with 5, which is a shame because its best with more players. Whats the idea on this one Bill, I hear you ask? Well sit down Children and let me tell you….

“Roll three dice and placeth them on ye olde board decorated with destinations that range from the miserly 1, to the Kingly 18 (literally, there is a King on that spot). The grander the number the more you get”

“’But that’s not fair to people who roll rubbish numbers’ I hear you cry”

“Fear not! For if you roll lowest you place first and may splitteth your dice up, perchance to place them on 3 locations”

Enough of that. You use the stuff you get to make buildings that give you points and powers, as well as defense against incoming mosters that will attack you every turn. ROAR.

Its easy to pick up and there are a squillion buildings to buy, 2 squillion if you buy the expansion!

Space Cadets – Dice Duel

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This is a team co-op game. Each team will control a space ship that flies around the board shooting at the other team attempting to destroy them first. Engineering controls the dice the team uses, for example if they roll a 1 they can give it to ‘Weapons.’ This is all done in real time, with players setting the dice aside, a la Yahtzee, when they have what they want and re-rolling the dice they don’t want.

Basically the faster you do stuff the quicker you’ll move, shoot and protect yourself. However, this involves a lot of co-ordination and will inevitably degenerate into people shouting at each other repeating themselves over and over again, while getting louder and louder in the vain belief that this will somehow expedite the matters at hand. It plays up to 8 and only takes 30 minutes and is a blast to play. Definitely worth a try.

Escape the Curse of the Temple

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Similar to Space Cadets, this is a team game done in real time, but with an actual sound-tracked timer that plays spooky music counting down the 10 minutes you literally get to escape the temple. I played this with my 6 year old daughter, who in her second game, ran from the table claiming that it was too stressful and she couldn’t cope. You roll the dice to move from room to run, trying to unlock crystals to open the door to escape. If you roll a black mask then that die is cursed and you can’t roll it till you free it with a yellow mask. Someone WILL roll 5 black dice and start screaming ‘I can’t move’ while their team-mates are half a game away and will have to run all the way back to rescue them. It has a simple version as well as a complex one with curse and bonus tiles that help or hinder you (my favorite being the curse of being unable to speak, combined with 5 black masks and attempting to communicate with other players with vigorous hand signals while they totally ignore you). Its really fun, if quite stressful at points…

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