Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Purchase Decision - Castle Dice

The game in question for this week’s entry is…

Castle Dice

Castle Dice is designed by Luke Peterschmidt and was successfully funded via Kickstarter sometime late last year.
It has recently been released and is available for sale directly from Fun to 11’s website.

Game Info

Castle Dice plays 1-4 players
Published playing time is 45mins
Mechanics – Dice Drafting / Set Collection / Resource Management

How it Might Play

Castle Dice plays in exactly 7 rounds.
Each round, players are rolling dice and drafting them as resources ( to hire villagers / build the castle ) or animals ( provide in-game abilities ) or if they are unlucky, barbarians will come to raid their village.
The dice in Castle Dice are all custom made and come in 5 different colors. Each color corresponds to a particular resource in the game; but they also feature a side with a barbarian icon and from 1-3 animal icons.

Dice Faces - taken from Dan Vore (BGG)

Each turn is broken down into the following phases

1) Determine Start Player
2) Draw Cards
- players may discard as many cards and draw back up to 5 cards
- players may draw from 2 decks ( Castle Deck and Villager Deck )
3) Pick Choice Dice
- each player chooses which color dice to roll ( on top of fixed dice for the turn )
4) Roll Dice to form World
- all dice rolled that are not barbarians are placed into a common pool
5) Gather Resources
- in turn order, players draft a dice each till the world pool is depleted
6) Market Phase
            - players may trade a set of animals in exchange for a Market Card
7) Workers Produce
            - workers produce a resource in the type they are assigned to
8) Merchants Work
            - players may exchange a resource type to one level rarer ( once per merchant )
9) Build Villagers and/or Castle
            - players may build as many cards as they can afford ( Villagers and/or Castle )
10) Barbarians Raid
            - for each barbarian, players lose 1 resource of each type

Player Mat

This continues for 7 rounds, after which, all points are totaled up and the player with the most points is the winner.
Points are obtained via cards that the players have built ( mainly Castle Deck cards ), via Market Cards, and from having the most animals and villagers among all the players.

But of course, let’s not forget about the most important part of the game, the animals’ and villagers’ abilities !

Animal Abilities
1) Horse – player with the most horses is the start player of the round
2) Chicken – player with the most chickens gets a hand limit of 6 ( instead of 5 )
3) Cow – player with the most cows may swap the role of a villager to another role
4) Pig – player with the most pigs may change the face of a die in the pool before gathering ( but forgoes further gathering that turn )

Villager Abilities
1)  Workers – produce a resource on the type it is assigned to ( every turn )
2) Merchants – may exchange one resource to the next higher level
3) Guards – protects the resource it is assigned to from all barbarian raids
4) Farmers – helps you to obtain more animals ( based on how many farmers you own )

Castle Dice Set Up

What I Like ( from reading the rules )

Dice Drafting
I kind of lean towards a preference for drafting in games.
I like that everyone drafts from a common pool of dice and you’re deciding how soon to take a dice before someone else picks it up. Sometimes drafting seems like cheap thrills, but it’s a thrill nonetheless

Animal and Villager Abilities
Castle Dice would be a rather bland game if not for the abilities that the Animals and Villagers bring. And though the abilities are rather simple, I think it may end up gelling well within the game and it won’t scare away light gamers. That’s a big plus.

The art of Castle Dice falls into the area of like for me and I think it suits the mood of the game well. It may be cartoonish, but I think for a quick light game, that is about perfect.

Randomness of the Dice / Barbarian Mechanic
The randomness of the dice not only makes each game different, but the barbarian mechanic is pretty neat as well. Each time a barbarian is rolled, it reduces a die from the world pool. So if you were planning on relying on a particular die option coming out, or at least maybe enough dice to collect 3 or 4 per round, you may end up disappointed with the reaps. I can imagine it may be quite harsh to roll multiple barbarians, but at least they attack after the build phase, so with proper planning, it can be mitigated.

Various Card Abilities
Some of the cards provide one off abilities when gathering or rolling dice. I tend to like that in games, though balance is always ( always ) a problem. Hopefully Castle Dice doesn’t suffer from card balance issues.

Example of a card from the Castle Deck

What I Dislike ( from reading the rules )

Various Card Abilities ( Haha )
Although I put it as a plus above, it also qualifies for a negative as the luck of the draw may determine the winner ? ( I think )
Can’t be sure but the problem does exist especially if the card abilities are not balanced.

Damn that Box is Huge
I don’t have a picture of the box to show you but that box is unnecessarily huge.
I believe half the box is air which irritates me to no end. It might be space for expansions but really, everyone should employ the Quarriors style boxing. Big boxes for the expansion, not the base game when no expansions are in sight. Thank You.  

Not sure how the replayability will be like. Seems like a simple game which could mean that it might end up samey samey after a few plays. Sure the dice rolls make the game different, but in essence, you’re kinda doing the same thing each game. Hopefully I am wrong.

Conclusion – Bought

Managed to secure a second hand copy since it hasn’t officially been released at stores.
Just wanted to say that I think Luke ( the designer ) is a stand up guy.
My communication with him has been top notch and he is ever present in forums
I had some difficulties in getting a brand new copy from Fun to 11 though, but I won’t say much about that.
So I had to get a used copy instead ( sorry Luke ! )



basically the idea of "A Purchase Decision" is just to state out what i thought of while deliberating whether or not to buy a particular game.

i'm not sure how each of you decide on what game to purchase ( art, newness, designer, etc etc ), but for me, each purchase goes through a very vigorous and tough selection process, which usually also includes the reading through of the rule-set.
so i thought i would just list through my thoughts on how the game is going to play like and what i considered before i made ( or did not make ) the purchase

if you do read through it, i hope that whatever i had to say might help as well in your game purchasing decision ! :)

1 comment:

  1. True indeed, I will try to read the rule of the games i intend to buy ........ I learn it the hard way ...... bought somegames without reading the rules and don't know much of gameplay....... arrrrggghhhhhh the money used to buy the games is more or less wasted! Now I really try to read up the rules before buying any games.