By Sean Epperson and Brander “Badger” Roullett
Published by 12 Things Games
The first thing I love about this dice chucking filler game is the size: it’s in one of those tins that fit in the palm of your hand. Right now, I have my copy in my purse just in case there’s a sudden urge to throw some dice around in the quest for the crown. And I might just have the urge to pull it out and play, because it’s fun.
Dice of Crowns, published in 2016, might have flown under your radar but don’t pass this one up if you have a crowd that likes light dice push your luck games with some take that (actually, a lot of “stabby, stabby,” as we started saying as we played) with some strategy decisions.
The game tin includes a rulebook for basic and advanced versions of the game, seven very nicely done custom made D6 dice with crown, skuill, scroll, and dagger faces, a generous bag of printed scoring tokens for both the basic and advanced game, and a nifty plastic crown for an advanced variant. It plays up to six.
The rulebook is small, and questions did arise on gameplay, but once we played through it made sense. Some houserules might be necessary to keep the game from going on too long with constant dice re-rolls for the crowd that gets bored easily.
Play is a push your luck affair with the seven dice. On the first turn, a player rolls all of the dice and decides what to do with them. The current player can lock two kinds of dice faces: any crowns in the hope of gaining three for a point, and a dagger die. Collect three of those, you are dead and the turn passes. Skulls and scrolls can be re-rolled, with the interesting twist that a fellow player of your choice must reroll them. If the reroller gets a crown, they get to keep it. If they roll a dagger, they choose who gets it. When a turn is resolved, dice pass to the left for the next players turn. The next player might already have a crown or a dagger locked in front of them from the re-roll action, and they start by rolling the dice that are left.
Players are vying for the crown of the kingdom, and sure, you can get it legitimately with three of the crown faces on the dice, but then again, maybe you just want to kill off your rivals with daggers in the back just to make sure you get what you rightfully deserve. It just takes three bloody dagger faces to make your friends pass their turn and lose out on the throne. Stabby stabby! Beware, if you pass out too many daggers, your “friends” might just come back and stab you next turn.
Due to the locking dice mechanism, it can arise that there aren’t enough dice to roll to win in a round, which can get a little weird but it does eventually resolve itself as the dice are passed eventually.
One big attraction of Dice of Crowns is players care what happens on someone else’s turn. The addition of more player interaction makes the game much more interesting for everyone. It also allows for some strategy.
In the basic game, the skulls aren’t that interesting a roll (you need a legendary roll of five to get a point), but in the advanced variant, three allow you to grab a fate token which gives you a reroll of a dagger. The advanced variant is definitely more interesting than the base for a gamer group and kept six of us entertained for a while.
With the full complement of six players, the constant rerolls of scrolls and skulls can get a bit tedious. Use the advanced variants to mitigate some of the downtime waiting for turns to resolve. A two player game is also a bit problematic because it loses a little entertainment value with just two people trading dice back and forth. Dice of Crowns shines with 4-5 people and is even good with six.
If your collection could use an interactive dice rolling, push your luck filler for a large group, Dice of Crowns is a good choice. It does involve player aggression, however, so if your group dislikes this type of playstyle, proceed with caution. Recommended!
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