Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dice

12 Comments:

Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

Possibly the most surprising result was the popularity of Um Krone & Kragen... this is a relatively new game (I played for the first time in the spring of this year) but has quickly garnered an enthusiastic following. (Think of it as Magic: the Dicening.) :-)

And will somebody please explain to me what keeps Exxtra afloat? It's not a bad game - but even the fact that I own a copy doesn't make it a barrel of laughs to play. Hmmm... possible trade pile material.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Dave Arnott said...

Not that new... April or May. That's a lot of time to catch on when it's a good game. Also being on BSW may have been a BIG help.

I'm kinda with you on Exxtra. It's a solid little game, no denying, but when I've really enjoyed it, it's been because of the players, not the game.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous josh miller said...

Um Krone und Kragen is quite new, but it's also the best dice game I've ever played by miles and miles and miles.

I also like Button Men, Liar's Dice, and Diceland (the Cheapass one, although the Kidult one is kind of nifty too). But none of these hold a candle to Um Krone und Kragen. I think I also voted for Can't Stop, although I like this one more as a solo computer game than an actual face-to-face game. It just moves too slowly for me.

Add me to the list of Exxtra eyebrow-raisers. I feel the same way about Pickomino.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Add me to the list of Exxtra eyebrow-raisers.

Honestly, I'd just put it down to the fact that the field of dice games just isn't that large. How many dice games can you even name off the top of your head? The nomination list had 40 or so games, but there were a huge number of games I had never even heard of.

In retrospect, maybe I should have nominated Settlers ...

My only three votes in this category were Can't Stop, Liar's Dice/Bluff, and Um Krone und Kragen/To Court The King, all of which were total no-brainers in my opinion. I would have voted for Kris Burm's Dicemaster, but the bundling was awkward. The game on the nomination list was explicitly Dicemaster: Cities of Doom, which is an interesting concept but not a great game. You really need the expansions Wilds of Doom and Doom Cubes to make the game a lot of fun; with the expansions, I rate it a 9 on BGG, and it's almost a 10. Since I didn't want to split hairs, and I knew it had zero chance to make it anyway, I didn't worry about it.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Shannon Appelcline said...

I'll offer some good words about Cheapass' _Diceland_ too. I knew it had no chance of making this list due to the Eurobias, but it's an interesting and very innovative game that is totally different from any of these winners and yet still uses dice as the entirely crucial basis of its game.

I've got reviews of the first few sets over at RPGnet.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

Can't Stop is a classic. I've been playing it and sharing it ever since the plastic-perfect Parker Brothers edition first appeared. Memories about this game take me from Texas to California to Georgia, from kitchen tables with kids to smoke-filled rooms with tequila shooters, from sunny days at the beach to the last game of the night at the Oasis of Fun, from copies bought with cereal boxtops to the computer version I called "Roll 'em or Don't" (a fine phrase which Jim Cobb fecklessly edited), from hither to yon and back again. It's a simple game, fun to do the arithmetic and fun to challenge the odds, which pleases players wherever it goes.

After that, the Apples voters and I diverge. I find Pickomino dull and, with more than four players, on an ever so lingering approach to excruciating. (I suppose it's playable in the same way Knizia's Jumbo Grand Prix is playable: it's practically obvious what a player should do, but somehow it's interesting to participate in the process. But not as interesting, I must say, as Jumbo Grand Prix.)

I find Exxtra a pale, inferior adaptation of Can't Stop. I don't like Liar's Dice even a little bit. Um Krone & Kragen I haven't played, but after numerous good reports I'll hope better things for it.

Meanwhile down on the nominations list, the games that didn't make the final five, is where the ones I actually LIKE poke their heads up. Dancing Dice is a marvelous little pastime, throwing six dice to make two sets of three and then picking which order they'll compete against the other players' sets, with fun touches in the game design and the artistic presentation, and it actually does accommodate all six players without creating downtime problems.

Easy Come, Easy Go also entertains -- though the reports of games that had a hard time finding an ending are a little off-putting.

I've played Sid's Gold Connection once and enjoyed it.

Yahtzee is another classic -- paced for an era of greater patience, but still a fine game for contending with the odds of the dice, and suitable for solitaire, computer or otherwise.

Pigmania (Pass the Pigs) broadens the definition of "dice" to include little pigs that can land on their feet, their ears, their sides, etc., and charms with silliness though there's no pretense a game that asks you to be smart is underway. Like Russelbande.

Enjoy,
Stven Carlberg

11:22 AM  
Blogger Kevin_Whitmore said...

I need to try Um Krone & Kragen. Can't Stop and Call My Bluff are perenial favorites at my game club. Pickomino has also provided a fair bit of entertainment.

The "other" dice game for me is Das Spiel by Reinhold Wittig et al. The game is a large pyramid of dice. (A special baseplate is provided to allow stacking the dice on an angle so that a pyramid can be formed.) Reinhold provides a few games to play with the set, but many other people have created games for this unique system. Some of the games are strategic, some are luck-based, and a few are dexterity-type games. I encourage dice-lovers to check it out - it is a provocative game. And you just might decide to write your own game for the set - I did.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

While not denying a Eurobias to the results, I imagine a more serious problem for Diceland is the Anti-Cheapass bias. I like dice games, and I didn't even give Diceland a second look because I had played enough Cheapass garbage to last me a lifetime. Not to get off topic, but Gloria Mundi has the same problem. Normally a Roman theme is enough to get me to buy a game, but James Ernst has churned out so many crappy games that his name on the box produced an anti-sale (i.e., if no designer at all had been listed, I might have bought the game; as it is, I didn't).

11:37 AM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Excellent, excellent, excellent! To me, it's been the Golden Age of Dice Games with the release of Pickomino and Krone und Kragen the last two years (along with other recent quality designs like ECEG, Bongo, and Button Men), but not everyone agrees. I'm tickled pink that these two fine games made the final cut, along with the great-as-ever classic Can't Stop.

My theory is that Exxtra, which I find entertaining but little more than that, made the list because of the devoted group that assigned nicknames to each dice combination (like Beatles for 6-4, one of the easier to comprehend labels). They've spread this version pretty far and enjoy it hugely. In other words, it's been the players more than the game that has helped this title. That is my theory and what it is and it is mine too.

Liar's Dice bores me, but it is much beloved by those who favor bluffing, so it's inclusion is no surprise (and no doubt deserved). My Top Five included the Big Three mentioned above, Gold Connection (which has some great ideas, but a possibly wonky endgame) and ECEG. Last time we voted, I struggled to come up with five titles, but this time, I could have easily mentioned ten. Good times indeed for the dice game.

And Stven, I'm more than a little puzzled that you find the decisions in Pickomino obvious, but feel there's something to think about in the cute, but very basic game Dancing Dice.

9:45 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Oh yeah, I agree with Chris about Diceland. Never played it, never seen it played, don't know anyone who owns it. Despite Ernest's spotty track record, I'd be happy to give it a try (particularly since I think Button Men is a very clever design). At least let me play it before you call me biased!

And as far as Eurobias is concerned, let me say that the WORST dice game I've ever played is Kidult's Polterdice. Oh my god, what a dreadful game--even the clever title can't save it!

9:51 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

More interesting decisions in Dancing Dice than Pickomino? Sure, let's take a look at that.

In Pickomino you've got a bunch of dice to roll and you want them to add up to a high number. When you re-roll, you save the all the dice of one number and re-roll the rest, then save all the dice of a second number in addition to the first one and re-roll the rest, then save all the dice of a third number and so on. This decision reduces to, do I have a lot of a high number that I want to save, or would I rather save just one or two of a low number so I'll have a chance to roll more of a high number? It's a novel pivot point for a decision, so it's interesting, but it's the same decision over and over. Later you get to the decisions about what to re-roll in order to be able to hit some number exactly -- again, of some interest, but the same thing again and again.

I do find the re-rolling in Dancing Dice more interesting, and I think it's largely because there are two main ways to achieve a good threesome and they don't lead toward each other. Three ones, three twos, and three threes are the three best combinations, but after that it's the plain sum of the numbers -- these are contradictory goals! -- and not forgetting there's that random "tango" combination that counts as fourth best, and not forgetting that three pairs on all six dice is yet another combination you're happy to achieve. So with a roll like 1-2-2-5-5-6, where exactly do you go? You can re-roll as many dice as you want, but only once. Save the twos? Save the 5-5-6? Save the two pairs? Oh, and what's the current tango, before I forget?

See, I think that's already more interesting than what you get in Pickomino. And then once you do have your two threesomes set, you have to decide which one is going to go first. Will everybody else save their better combination for last? Does your better combination have a chance of beating everybody else's, or would you rather have it up against their weaker ones? Smarten up or flip a coin, it's hard to decide which.

I'm glad you concede, Larry, that the downtime in Pickomino is prohibitive beyond four players. And that's another thing I like about Dancing Dice, that everybody makes their decisions simultaneously instead of watching one player take a turn making decisions. The reduction in downtime is magnificent and leaves a slick game with plenty going on to keep me interested over the course of its 15-20 minutes.

11:03 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Well, I only played Dancing Dice once and considered it a good game if you want to play on autopilot, but maybe there's more to the decision making than I saw. But in Pickomino, the decisions get considerably more interesting when you're trying to steal another player's tile. Now you have to consider combinations that will work (you might be better off with a lower number if it will leave you, say, 4 away, since that can work with two 2's or one 4, then 3 away, which might require two rolls if you've already locked in 3's). You also have to balance this against the tiles remaining in the center and the possibility of crapping out. None of these are mind bending, but neither are the decisions in Can't Stop. That's why they work, because they're numerous, but can be made quickly. I find I have interesting decisions in well over half of my rolls in Pickomino. And for a game that simple to teach and quick playing, that's pretty impressive stuff.

9:26 PM  

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