Being a big fan of deck building games I’m always interested in trying new takes on the concept. So I was excited to find that Dice Settlers was exactly that. It even had a designer I really like and an artist I think is amazing. So I had high hopes for Dice Settlers, but high hopes for a game can sometimes be a dangerous thing…
I love the bag-building of Orléans, Altiplano and Quacks of Quedlinburg, I think it’s a clever twist on deck building. But I also love dice and the combination of dice and deck building. The only great example I’ve seen of this so far is Roll for the Galaxy. So it’s great to see other games trying to combine dice and deck building.
Dice Settlers is at its core a bag building game with dice. Players each start with the same set of dice that gradually evolves and expands to create a unique dice pool as the game progresses and new territories are acquired. At the start of your turn, you’ll roll and manipulate a specific number of dice. You can then manipulate them in various ways. The end results will be that you can take actions based on the symbols on your dice. The more you have of the same symbol the better. This is a great little puzzle to solve and makes each turn (and game) feel very different. Will you go for a lot of smaller actions or for fewer bigger ones?
That leads us to the second core part of the game: area control. There is a lot of this going on and it’s one of the main ways to score points and get new dice. You can either explore new titles or put more “tents” on titles already in play. With certain dice symbols you can even get rid of your opponents “tents”. It’s also possible to claim and lock down certain tiles for the rest of the game, permanently securing you points and/or abilities. Now I’m not a big fan of area control games in general, so finding out this was such an integral part of the game experience left me feeling a little sad.
But despite that there are still lots of things I really like about the game. The bag-building and start of turn puzzle with the dice is great. I love there are many different paths to victory and that there are different public goal / research cards to go for each game. That really adds a lot of replayability to the game.
You might also have noticed I did not mention anything about the theme and setting so far. That’s because I don’t really feel it’s tied to the game at all. The theme could have been literally anything. That being said the wild west setting is very nicely illustrated by The Mico. I do feel like the production could have been better though, the dice are very over-saturated and would have been nice with more custom bits for “tents” and “buildings”.
Overall I do think Dice Settlers is a good design and I would recommend it to anyone who likes both area control and deck/pool/dice building games.
A review copy of Dice Settlers was supplied by Board&Dice.