Dice City: Royal Decree Review - Off With His Die!

I wonder how long Artipia/AEG can milk the Dice City franchise here? I don't see it being played as often as I would like, which is a shame as it's a great game and the expansions, even though they are very pricey, do improve it further. Maybe that's what is hurting it, who knows. But for me this kicked Machi Koro clean off the shop window offering the same feel but with a little more meat and mitigation and variety without being unbalanced beyond belief.

We've already had two mini expansions that added some extra simple mechanics/resources to improve on the variety we already had. Both were decent, if overpriced. Royal Decree is now the third in the line of expansions except this one is a little less "mini" than the others. We're not talking a full blown expansion here, but size wise it's a little bigger mainly because of a new board that features. Hopefully it's not too big though, Dice City already has a bit of a table hog issue.




Designer: Vangelis Bagiartakis
Publisher: Artipia Games / AEG
Age: 14+
Players: 1-4
Time: 45-75 minutes
RRP: £25.95


From Artipia Games

The Queen is taking a personal interest in the development of your cities. The type of locations you construct, where you build them, and even your capacity to gather resources or build armies may all come under her scrutiny. Trade is also high on the royal priorities. Winning the prize, and becoming the next great capital just got more interesting, exciting, and challenging!
Dice City: By Royal Decree comes with a new and separate trade board, extra dice for that board, and new strategies with Queen's Plans cards. New locations require you to be very specific about when you use them. Victory is in your grasp if you can just roll, build, and win!


YOU MAY NOT LEAVE MY PRESENCE!


First off, we have a new keyword ability "Presence", presumably to link in with the whole theme of royalty coming to visit. Simply put it requires the owner to have a specified number of dice remaining on their board (after removing the die to trigger the location) before they can use the ability. Easy to understand, but it doesn't half throw a spanner in the works sometimes for how you time the actions on your turn.

You can tell that it's there as a means of balancing on occasion, but even so, it's a cool new dynamic that gives you something else to think about on your turn when planning your actions as you have to allocate the other dice abilities around it. Just make sure that players actually conduct their turns in order and let you know what they're up to so no cheating occurs.







WHAT THE QUEEN WANTS, THE QUEEN GETS!


Long overdue, but better late than never, we now have specific objectives in Dice City for players to follow known as "The Queen's Plans". These are your standard affair of objectives that players can achieve during the course of the game, thus giving players a sense of direction from the beginning. I always find these a good teaching tool as you can say to a new player "if you feel overwhelmed, just pick a goal and aim for that as a main focus no matter what".

There's a nice twist with these plan cards though, reminding me a lot of the board meeting objectives from Kanban: Automotive Revolution (a bit of a leap from Dice City I know, but bear with me!) Each player chooses one personal secret goal and one communal goal from 3 cards at the start of the game. Anyone can claim one of the communal goals on a first come, first served basis. However once a secret goal has been claimed, all the remaining secret goals get put into the communal area as well, possibly allowing for another player to steal your original secret goal from under you. It's a neat little twist, but overall it's really the fact that we've now got variable goals in Dice City.


THE GREEN DIE OF TRADE


Now here we get the biggest change in the franchise to date. A separate trade board with several locations and doubled sided depending on whether you want the simple or expert setup. Both work well, but more swingy combos can be created from the latter. Each player gets a green die which is rolled on their turn and allocated to one of the trade spaces. It's separate from all the other die, but it allows you to place a resource (including a sword) on that space to use the ability. You can also spend a resource to shift the die in addition to this.

As well as allowing for some global buildings to be used among players, the neat part is that the resources spent for this stay on the respective spaces. Rather than use an ability, you can remove your trade die to take all of the resources placed there by everyone. This means that players not only have to consider whether they can use the location, but also how much they're potentially benefiting another player later. I like both sides of the board and certainly recommend using the basic side for your first time or if you want to teach to new players with the expansion included.


VERDICT ON DICE CITY: ROYAL DECREE


The expansions for Dice City are gradually getting better and better. I would actually say that Royal Decree is worth picking up first over the others if you're strapped for cash and want to add the most in terms of new mechanics. Presence is easy to incorporate, the new objective plans are a welcome addition to help guide players to a specific goal and the trade die is a fun, interactive dynamic where you are balancing the use of the trade locations against the possibility of offering too many resources to your opponents. The extra locations are icing on the cake.

Despite the great stuff included, it is still expensive with an RRP of £25.95 and that is unfortunately the biggest issue with all the expansions to date and it's going to hurt sales. But if you can afford this, it's certainly worth getting, but no harm in waiting for the sales to make them more affordable.


 

BROKEN RATING - 8 Bouncing Green Dice






YOU WILL LIKE DICE CITY ROYAL DECREE IF:


You want to add more than just a selection of cards to your game.


You want to include a higher degree of interactivity between players.


You love having objective cards for some direction.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE DICE CITY ROYAL DECREE IF:


The price tag is still too much for you for a small expansion.


You want a simpler addition to your game, in which case try the other smaller ones first.


Table space is a big issue - you're just adding to the problem here.


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