Medici The Dice Game (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designer: Reiner Knizia
  • Artists: Vincent Dutrait
  • Publisher: Grail Games
  • Players: 1-4 
  • Time: 20 Minutes
  • Times Played: 4

The Medici’s are back and they are still shipping goods and trying to have the most valuable cargo. This time though, there are no auctions and there are no cards to draw and divy up, Medici The Dice Game is simply dice, a pad of score sheets and some pencils. 

Played over three rounds, with scoring after each round, Medici The Dice Game sees players rolling dice, choosing goods to buy and trying to corner the goods markets, all in the name of scoring the most points so that they can continue on in the Medici family tradition. 

To start, each player gets a pencil and a score sheet. These score sheets will track the goods you have purchased along with their values on your ship. Each round the players will score majorities of goods and the ship’s values.

Rules are simple, on a player’s turn, they take all five of the dice and roll them. They then choose one to three dice to “keep” and mark on their score sheet. Of the remaining dice, everyone else has to choose one. 

The goods are represented by the art on the die and the numeral on the die is the value that you would write in your ship. So if you selected the two fours in the example above you would write two fours in the boxes of the current ship and mark off one box each of wheat and dye starting from the top and working down as you progress through the game. The other players would then choose one of the remaining dice and do the same.  Play then passes to the player to the left who repeats the steps of rolling, choosing and allowing the other players to choose as well. When someone cannot place any more goods in their boat, they are done for the round, when everyone is full, a scoring round happens. 

Scoring looks at ship values. Whomever has the highest value of goods on their ship will get points based on the number of players, Players will then assess who has the Monopolies of each good in storage. The player with the most receives 10 points, second most receives 5, no matter the player count, only first and second place are scored.. If there are ties, all players receive the higher point scores. Total your scores and move on to the next round. Each round the ship increases in size by one good, but you start anew. Your monopolies continue to grow.

After three rounds of doing this, the player with the highest total score from all three rounds is greatest Medici of the game. 

I love Medici, I love the auctions and the choices that the game forces you to make, I even love how absolutely horrid the old versions looked. The newest edition of Medici is far more attractive, so no complaints. But we’re talking about Medici The Dice Game at this point, so let’s get back to that. 

The dice do a good job of replicating the auctions and simplifying them at the same time. This is a dice version of a full fledged game that definitely feels like it’s inspiration. That really shouldn’t surprise us though, as the good Doctor Knizia and his publishing partners do a fantastic job of distilling games for the most part. Grail Games is no exception here. Wonderful artwork and graphic design make teaching the game easy although the blue and the purple, dye and clothing, are awfully close in color. Moreso on the score sheet than on the dice. 

Ship points are going seem really important at first, and they probably are, but there are ways to make up for the points missed in the ships, you just have to go heavy into those monopolies and try to keep scoring those, but scoring a ship or two certainly makes life a lot easier. But I don’t necessarily want to label it as a one trick pony, you have to do both, but you might want to lean in heavy on one side or the other. 

Medici The Dice Game plays super quick, twenty minutes listed on the box is a good estimate of time, turns are lightning quick, roll the dice and choose, and move on to the next player. The scoring is simple and makes complete sense once you teach it to everyone, I love the double row on the ships that allow you to total your ship’s value as you go, because other players need to be able to see that. There is a solo variant in the box, but I haven’t tried that, it looks like it makes sense, I’m just not the solo gamer ya’ll are looking for. 

A lot of roll and write games come in this house and get played, and a lot of them leave the house almost as quick. Medici The Dice Game has earned a spot on permanent shelves, hopefully we have enough score sheets for our continued plays. 

Apologies to the rest of The Opinionated Gamers, as I didn’t get this one out in time to get their voices and opinions on it, hopefully they feel compelled to do so in the comments if they have played it, and I hope that they have as Medici The Dice Game is pretty wonderful.

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