When one of my cousins from Hawaii came to Calgary a few years ago, we decided to go to a casino. He told me that Hawaii has no casinos.Apparently Hawaii was one of two states in which land-based casinos are considered illegal (the other being Utah). When we went to one of the local casinos, he loved playing the game craps. He told me that it was one of the few games that gave you that “butt-clenching” feeling. And I knew what he meant. It’s that feeling that you’re going to lose it all at any time, or win big, when the dice is right.
After writing my last blog post reviewing Run Fight or Die, I realize that my board game collection combined with the collections of the other Friday Night Gamers have A TON of dice rollers. I guess we just ultimately like rolling dice. My hunch is because it’s the Press-Your-Luck feel that you get when playing one of these games. These games definitely give you that butt-clenching feeling too. After awhile, you get a good feel for what dice rollers are great to play.
So how do you distinguish which dice rollers are great? For me, there are a few factors. It could be that the game has a unique set of dice, designed only for that game. It could also be that it has a regular set of dice, and the actions that are done with it make the gameplay really fun. Ultimately though, if the game gives you that butt-clenching, press-your-luck feeling, then it’s a great dice roller. Having said that, here are my picks for 10 dice roller you gotta play with your friends.
1. Zombie Dice
There are some roll reversals in this game in that you are now playing as the zombie. Roll the dice to see if you land on brains. But if you get three shotguns, you’re out of the game. It’s a simple game of chance, it’s quick to play, and definitely has that press-your-luck mentality.
2. Can’t Stop
In this game you roll four dice repeatedly and choose up to three two-dice combinations. You can keep rolling, so as long as you roll the same combinations. If you don’t, you will lose any points gained on your turn.
Even though the game has no control over what is rolled on the dice, the reason why I like this game is that you have much control over how far you are willing to go. It makes you start asking yourself, should you keep going and possibly lose any points, or should you stop and have your opponents potentially overtake you. It doesn’t help either when you have your friends heckling you and urging you to keep going.
I’ve been playing this game a bit on BoardGameArena a lot, and I often get it handed to me by many European players. In this game, players use elements to summon the aid of familiars and activate magical items in order to become the new Archmage of the Kingdom of Xidit.
This game is part dice roller, part card game, and part resource management. I really like this game because of the 20 unique dice that are used to represent the seasons. Depending on the season, you are more likely to get certain resources than in others, which you need to take into consideration when playing cards. The dice also dictate how fast the game goes, so these dice essentially play a huge part of the game.
4. King of Tokyo/King of New York
I classify these two under the same game, albeit, there’s a lot more happening with King of New York than King of Tokyo. In this game, you take on the role of a giant monster who is terrorizing the city of Tokyo or New York.
Think of this game as an upgraded Yahtzee. You have three rolls to get certain combinations on the dice, which can be used to attack your opponents, gain points, increase your health, or get energy cubes, which can be used to upgrade your monster. Really simple to teach, but it definitely has an in-depth strategy in order to win.
To be honest, I’ve never played Kingsburg, but when three people from three different groups of friends say that this is a game that you have to play, I had to check it out. Players act as lords and seek the influence of the King and his advisors in order to develop his or her territory.
After watching a video review of this game, I must say, I have to somehow get a copy of it. This worker placement, resource management style game has you constantly thinking about how you want to spend your dice. And the fact that you can block players from accessing certain advisors gives you that extra incentive to take initiative before your opponents do.
6. Stone Age
In another worker placement/resource management game, Stone Age places you as the leader of a prehistoric tribe. Your task is the send workers to hunt for food, and gather materials that are necessary in developing your village.
This game has a bit of math involved in calculating how many resources you get, but the game really makes you consider how many workers you’re going to need in order to get certain resources. The funny thing is that even though you put a lot of workers in a certain area of the board, you may still not get the resources you need because of the roll of the dice. Much butt-clenching to be had in this game.
7. Alien Frontiers
Continuing our journey through time and space, Alien Frontiers puts you as a leader of a faction trying to colonize a planet. You gather resources from the sun and moon, steal technologies from other players, and gain territories on the planet in this king-of-the-hill style game.
In addition to the multicoloured dice that come with the game, the reason why I like this game, just like with the last two games, is that you really have to consider where you place the dice. Like the other games if you don’t place the dice first, you will miss out on some really important tools. Timing is key with Alien Frontiers.
In this game, you take on the role of “Quarriors”, mystical wizards who use “Quiddity” to capture creatures from the wilds, and cast spells in order to gain glory. This takes deck building games to the dice.
Now I have all but one expansion for Quarriors, and honestly there are more than 100 unique custom dice in my set. Quarriors gives you a similar play experience as Dominion, but the dice and dice bags give you that extra sense of chance. You need to be adaptable when the results of the dice come out.
9. Lords of Vegas
You and your opponents represent business men and women, trying to develop the city of Las Vegas. You earn money, build casinos, and maintain ownership of these casinos while your opponents try to develop their own chain of casinos and even try to buy you out.
In addition to the simplistic gambling features in this game, the dice are used as a marker for the influence of power you have over the casinos. With some negotiating, you might be able to even restructure your position in a casino and become the boss, all with the simple roll of a die.
10. Escape: The Curse of the Temple
In this real-time cooperative game, you play as explorers who enter a cursed temple that will kill any or all of your team unless you escape the temple within ten minutes.
There are a few games out there, such as Tenzi, or Flash, in which you roll dice as fast as you can in order to get a certain combination. However, Escape adds Indiana Jones-esque thematic elements, especially when you play their additional CD, which acts as a timer for the game. You must also work together with your teammates, in order to search the temple, activate gems, and unlock cursed masks that are rolled on your teammates’ dice. This game gives you and your friends an immersive experience that you want to play over and over again.
So those are my picks for Dice Rollers you gotta play. Definitely these are games where your butt is going to clench. If there are any games that I am missing on this list, please send me a comment. Happy dice rolling everybody!