New Acquisitions: June 2015 + a look at an Oldie but Goldie

So, June draws to an end. The weather here in Northern Germany remains extremely pleasant. I suspect the gardeners hereabouts are desperate for rain. As I am going to look at a game in the Wild West, it is appropriate to say that a Red Indian Rain Dance is called for. I have persuaded my squaw to dance at midnight tonight!

No new games to play this month so I am going to write about an excellent filler game that you might have missed. DICE TOWN was published by Matagot in 2008. Players are residents in a western town. The board represents Main Street and has locations where you can visit in your turn, from the Gold Mine at one end and Doc Badluck at the other. The game mechanic is elegantly simple. Each player has 5 Poker Dice and a round starts with all players throwing their five dice but keeping the dice cup over the dice. Now, you must choose one of the dice and take the remaining dice back into their hand. The die under the cup is kept secret and then all reveal it at the same time. Now players roll their 4 remaing dice and repeat the procedure.. Eventually all the dice will be revealed. This is the player's hand. There is an important modifier to this mechanic. You will often roll a throw where you would like to keep more than one die per roll, three Queens for instance. You may keep those dice and when the dice are revealed you must pay $1 for each dice kept over the one allowed. A second option allows you to reroll all your dice just rolled for 1$.

The round starts at the Gold Mine. The player who rolled the most 9's takes 1 Nugget for each 9 in their hand. Nuggets are worth 1 Victory Point (VP) at the end.of the game.

Next is the Bank. The player who has the most 10's takes all the money out of the bank. During the game, players may be required to put money on to the Stagecoach. At the end of the round, the money on the Stagecoach is placed into the Bank for the next round.

Next stop is the General Store. The player with the most Jacks takes one General Store Card for every Jack they have in the roll. After looking at them, he selects one and discards the rest. The kept card is not revealed until it is used. These cards give you advantages; for example, The Blackjack dealer allows you to turn a die to the face of your choice after revealing the dice under your cup. Dynamite lets you discover more Gold Nuggets (you can collect double the number you would normally take. Some cards will give you extra VPs at the end.You get the idea I expect. Most of the cards have a one-off effect. In all, there are 12 different cards in the pack.

Now, to the Saloon. The player with the most Queens solicits the help of the Saloon Girls. Choose another player and take cards from him or her, choose one and give the rest back.

Next down the street is the Sheriff's office. The player with the most Kings becomes the Sheriff. The Sheriff is very influential (at the start it is randomly awarded). He decides the outcome of any tied results at each place in the street. As this happens quite a lot (2 players have 3 x 9's at the Mine for instance), he wields a lot of power. He my be bribed by giving him cards, money or nuggets. He can resist any offers if he wants but generally it is wise to earn something if he can.

Nearly at the end of the street. We have arrived at the Town Hall. The player with the best Poker Hand overall may take Property Cards equal to as many Aces in the winning hand (if any) and up to three maximum. At the start of each round, three Property Cards are revealed. The player with the best hand takes one and up to two more if he has at least two Aces in the winning throw. Property cards are worth points at the end.

Finally, old Doc Badluck has his 'surgery' at the end of the street. If a player earned nothing in the round then he may visit the Doctor. He may choose one of three choices. If he has a 9 or a 10 in his hand, he my 'ring fence' up to two Property Cards from his hand of hidden cards. They are revealed and left face-up and they are safe from loss (by using the Saloon Girls for instance). If he has a Jack or a Queen in his hand, he may draw the top General Store card. If he has a King in his hand, all the other players must give him $2. If he has an Ace in the hand, all the other players must give him a Nugget. Remember; he can only choose one of these options and he can only use the doctor if he did not win anything earlier in the street that round.

The game ends at the end of the round when there are either no Nuggets left in the Gold Mine or if all the Property Cards have been acquired. At the end each player earns 1Vp for each Nugget, 1 VP for every $2, 5 VP for whoever is Sheriff at the end, General Store cards which earn VPs and, finally, the value of earned Property Cards. The player with the most VPs, wins. If there is a tie, the player with the most Property Cards wins. If still a tie, the Sheriff becomes Kingmaker so-to-speak.

There are refinements and details that I have glossed over but you can trust me when I say it is still an easy game to play. It takes up to one hour (usually less) if all the players have played the game before. There is a ton of interaction and the 'hand-building' with the dice lends itself to a fair bit of strategy, often missing from a dice game. There is an expansion that has more cards and stuff and enough components to let a sixth player take part. In my opinion, unless you want to add a player because your group is generally six players, the expansion is not a must-have.

Highly recommended. The game is now seven years old so you might find cheap copies on Ebay or the Geek. Hunt the varmints down!

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