We seem to be going through a dice game phase at the moment, having played several different ones over the last few weeks. One of these is the new acquisition, Dino Hunt Dice, which I actually bought partly to top up an online games order to a free shipping level.
The game is actually almost identical to the better-known Zombie Dice, being a very simple, push-your-luck game where you roll three dice at a time (there are three types of dice, representing different danger levels — the T-rex die is most dangerous, while the mild mannered apatosaurus is only likely to stomp you by accident), hoping to roll dinosaurs but not stompy-feet. You accumulate the stomps and if you get three of them you score nothing and your turn is over. Dinosaurs score points, and after each roll you can choose whether to roll another three dice (putting aside dinos and stomps and replacing them with fresh dice) or stop and record your score.
So, simple rules and dice with dinosaurs on (apart from the ones I’ve already mentioned there are tricerotops too), so what’s not to like?
Miss B is getting pretty good with push-your-luck games nowadays. When things go wrong for her, she generally rolls with it rather than getting upset as she used to. I think it helps when she sees me having horrible runs of bad luck too. In our latest game I hit the end-game target score, leaving her with seven points needed to draw even, which is a tough target. She had a great spell of luck and quickly bagged six dinosaurs, which would normally be a good time to bank, but as this was her last turn she had to push on, and proceeded to make the worst possible roll, getting horribly stomped whilst within a hair’s breadth of a heroic comeback. We both groaned, then high-fived, and then moved on to something else. I’m very proud of her, especially at times like that.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “Hello! It was a very good game. It was a bit annoying when I rolled a six for the end but got three stomps. Bye. P.S. It was nine out of ten. The end. By me.”
The game: Dino Hunt Dice (Steve Jackson Games), 2 to 8 players aged 6+.
Miss B came home from school with a game that she had bought at a bring & buy stall set up to raise money for plants to grow on the school grounds. She had bought it with her own money, so it was only fair to play it with her.
The game is Sshh! Don’t Wake Dad!, and it is a basic roll-the-dice, move-the-dobber game with a gimmick. The gimmick is a model of “Dad” asleep in a bed, making snoring noises thanks to a bit of electronics, and at various times you have to press the alarm clock button next to him a number of times. If this makes him sit up, you have to go back to bed (back to the start).
If I were to describe this from the standpoint of a gamer, I would not be complimentary. There are actually no decisions to be made, so at some level this is the same as Snakes & Ladders; you just help the game play itself. However, there is actually real tension as you press the button, hoping that Dad won’t wake up, each player has a hand of cards making them immune to certain hazards (but if you fall foul of a hazard you claim the matching card, so you will be safe from it next time), and two of the faces of the die have a star which moves you to one space ahead of the leader, thus helping to move the game towards a conclusion.
I’m never going to chose to play this one, but it was surprisingly good fun to play with Miss B, so if she requests it, then no problem. And she loves it for what it is, and recognises that it is definitely a game for kids.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “It was really fun and it’s a bit of a shock when Dad wakes up because he just sits up suddenly. I’d give it ten out of ten because it’s probably the best kids’ game I’ve come across.”
The game: Sshh! Don’t Wake Dad! (Tomy), 2 to 4 players aged 4+.
We have just received a package of stuff from Kickstarter projects, including a new dice game called Dragon Slayer. It has some quite groovy custom dice, and right now the combination of dragons and dice is too much for Miss B to resist, so we managed to give it a go before the packaging had reached the recycling bin.
About these groovy dice… Well, there are four sets of them, one set including axes and shields on the faces, for attacking and defending, and the others being a set in each of red, green and blue, made up of a die for the head, wings and tail of the dragons, along with some mountain sides, which are useless. All the dice also have one or more “fire breath” sides, which you don’t want to roll unless you also get shields. These dice look great, and each colour of dragon also has its own distinct design, which is a nice touch.
The idea is that you choose one of the dragons to hunt (the red is most dangerous but scores most points, while the blue is easiest but lower scoring), take the three corresponding dice and roll them with your own warrior dice. The aim is to roll all three parts of the dragon plus an axe with which to slay it. If you roll more fire breath faces than shields, you lose some of your warrior dice, and then you get a chance to reroll any dice that aren’t dragon parts or lost. If you complete the required set, you get the option to either score up your kills or try hunting another dragon (without any dice you lost in the fires).
Oh, and each player has one “challenge” token, which they can play to force another player to push on when they were wanting to stop. The challenged player can refuse and score reduced points for the round, or accept and get extra points if successful. The challenger gets points if the challenge is refused or failed.
That’s it. The game is played up to 40 points, may the best dragon hunter win!
We haven’t really played this enough yet for me to get a real feel for it, but I do quite like it so far, plus the game has a very different feel to the other dice games we have, which is definitely in its favour. That, plus the lovely dragony dice has really won me over, despite the fact that luck of the dice can make for enormous swings in the game — we have had a couple of rounds where one of us just wipes out instantly by rolling a vast quantity of fire attacks, and several others where a dragon is simply defeated with the first roll. Playing with adults, the challenge tokens would be far more of a thing than they were for us, and would add a nice extra layer onto the game, but it’s still going to be mostly about rolling lovely dice.
What matters, though, is what Miss B thought. As always, we finish with her thoughts, but as we were playing she said that she hoped we would tie at the end because the tie-breaker is to play another round, and she wanted to keep playing.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “Very good game. I like the names (Camicaze and Hiccup). Ten out of ten.”
The game: Dragon Slayer (Indie Boards & Cards), 2 to 6 players aged 14+.
September was a bit of a bumper month for gaming, helped along by a trip to the Thirsty Meeples boardgame cafe as well as a games morning visit from a couple of our local friends.
So, what was the score? Well, not our best monthly score for this year, but very close, and better than this time last year: 23 plays of 17 distinct games. That means a few games being played more than once. First of these was Piece o’ Cake, with 4 plays, followed by Miss B’s homebrew Tumbling Towers with 3 (different rules each time, but that’s the nature of game development!), and Appletters with 2 plays (I’ll see if I can get a verdict and write-up for this soon). Other plays of note were Dragonlance (written up last week), the bonkers Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs, and wooden-porcuhog-stacking game Prickly Pile-Up (which we played 5 times in 10 minutes, which I’m actually counting as a single play).
So, for the year that leaves Love Letter just in the lead with 8 plays, closely followed by Plyt with 7, and Dobble and Apples to Apples just behind with 6. It really is all to play for. As we don’t have a clear leader and we are likely to have a few more play sessions with larger groups before the end of the year, it’s seriously possible that Apples to Apples might get ahead, but I really can’t tell at the moment. We’ll see in just a few months…