Spiel 2014 Preview: Nations: The Dice Game

Posted by James (admin) on August 2nd, 2014

Nations Dice Game boxThe full game of Nations is an excellent civilsation game which uses euro-style game mechanics and focuses more on building civilisations and indirect interaction plus has no landscape board.  It’s an excellent, tight and unforgiving game which I have enjoyed (and hope to review soon).

This year sees Nations: The Dice Game being released which looks very promising from reading the rules.  The dice game contains simplified and streamlined version of the core elements of the main game but, as the name suggests, it uses a dice mechanic.

Each player has their own board with limited spaces for tiles representing buildings, advisors, and wonders (colony tiles can be unlimited).  Each of these items can be built for a cost which then gives its owner a benefit.

Over 4 rounds (ages), players take turns taking actions.  At the start of a round, you roll the dice shown on your tiles (players start with basic buildings) and the results display the resources each dice is worth.  One action is to buy a tile from the common pool by spending resources (those shown on your dice as well as resource counters already earned).  Dice spent this way are ‘used’ so are unavailable until the next round.

As you have limited slots, you build tiles over existing tiles and this means giving back any item shown on the tile being covered up but these can come from your used dice or unused dice.  For example, you buy a tile giving you 2 yellow dice and place it over a tile that currently gives you 1 yellow dice.  Therefore, you return a yellow dice (from your used or unused dice) and then take 2 yellow dice which are immediately rolled and added to your unused dice.  The same happens with other items the tiles give you such as re-roll markers – these are returned (from your used/unused markers) when you build over the tiles that give them to you.

So, in addition to working what to build in limited spaces with limited resources, there appears to be some interesting extra gameplay in timing the order in which you perform buy actions so you can return your used items rather than those yet to be used.  Other actions allow you to use a re-roll marker to re-roll some/all of your unused dice, build a wonder (as this requires extra spending after buying the tile before it is functional), and to pass (when you are out for the remainder of the round).

When every player has passed, players spend books from their unused dice/counters to move along the on-going total book track.  Players score Victory Points (VPs) for being ahead of other players on the book track  (just like in the full Nations game).  Then, depending on the round’s event card, Famine is resolved so players can spend food to earn VPs.  Next, player order is based on who has the most unused swords (so sometimes you don’t want to spend all your dice).  Finally, Warfare is resolved which is like Famine and, depending on the round’s event card, players can spend unused swords to earn VPs.

After 4 rounds, players earn VPs from the tiles they have built and the player with the most VPs wins.  The game is for 2-4 players.

I’m really looking forwards to Nations The Dice Game as it sounds like it packs a great deal of tight gameplay into a small and short game (10-15 minutes per player).  Jostling the tiles you have in limited space whilst trying to upgrade sounds like a good challenge just like the full game.  Player interaction will be trying to grab the tiles you want (or those others want) first, and I like how using a re-roll marker takes an action so you can re-roll dice but it gives your opponents an opportunity to buy something you want.

It reminds me of the brilliantly, gameplay-rich, compact experience of Oddville.  Also, it reminds me of how Caylus Magna Carta was a superb, lighter version of Caylus but which still contained all the core gameplay of the full game (and I actually prefer Caylus Magna Carta).  I am hoping Nations: Dice Game does the same.

You can read the rules and see some details of the game on Lautapelit.fi’s game page using this link: bga.me/ndg

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


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