Dice Trip – Germany
- Designer: Hartmut Kommerell
- Publisher: Helvetiq
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 9+
- Time 30 minutes
- Played on review copy provided by Helvetiq
Helvetiq is one of the game companies that I think are not as well known as they should be. Based in Lausanne, this Swiss company makes games on the lighter/family side, and as such, I think that “gamers” often overlook them. In the past few years, I’ve been happy to give their games a try. We recently tried out a prototype of Save Patient Zero which was a fun team-based deduction game.
Dice Trip – Germany is billed as a roll-and-write game where you will travel through Germany. Your goal is to create the longest possible continuous route on your way through the 25 different cities shown on the map. The components are fairly simple; you get a pack of 50 one sided map sheets, pencils, and 4 colored dice.
The map sheet has a few features to note. The country is split up into three different regions, and 8 of the cities are colored – 2 of each of the dice colors. There is a scoring area the runs most of the length of the left side of the sheet, and the two special powers are also found here. The bottom of the sheet has 36 numbers so that you can track the different numbering possibilities – this is important because each player can only use each number once during the game!
So, on a turn, the active player rolls the 4 dice. Each player looks at them and combines them to make 2 two-digit numbers, using one die as the tens digit and one die as the units digit. Each die must be used only once in this process. Each player then writes their two numbers somewhere on their map. It is possible to score bonuses – you can tick off a box in the upper portion of your scoring sheet if you fill a city with doubles (e.g. 11, 22, 33…) or if you fill in a colored city using a digit from the die of matching color. You can only score one bonus per city, so you do not get two ticks for a double of matching color in a colored city…
Note that you can only use each number once; this is what the section at the bottom of the sheet is for. As you write numbers down in the map, you also cross them off in the bottom section. If you are unable or unwilling to write a number down, you must instead place an X in a city of your choice. You will no longer be able to visit this city, and you will have a penalty for this at the end of the game – make a mark in the second section of the scoring area. There is an exception to this rule; on the final turn, there is only one city left to be filled in, you can make any combination you want from the dice and there is no penalty for not writing the second number down.
There are two special abilities that you can use during the game -each can be used only once! First, if you are the player who rolls the dice, you can use your re-roll power to immediately pick up and re-roll all four dice. All players must use the new roll. The rules suggest that this decision should be made quickly. Second, once in the game, you can use a die twice – that is, ignore one of the four dice rolled and use one of the other dice twice when constructing your two-digit numbers.
This process is continued for 13 rounds until the map is completely full – then the game moves into scoring. All of the scoring is found in the left hand column.
- Bonus cities: +1 point for cities with doubles or colored city with matching dice used
- X penalty: -1 point for each X on your board
- Longest road – calculate your longest path of cities with numbers in ascending order (no X’s allowed) – score 1 point per city in this path
- Consecutive numbers – look for the longest stretch of consecutive numbers on your map. Note that 16 and 21 are consecutive, etc. – score based on the chart on your sheet
- Zones – scores points based on how many zones you have on your map that do NOT have an X in them
- Group of tens – as you play the game, make a tick when you write a number down in each decade. When all six boxes are filled here, count the number of colored cities that are empty at that moment, and write that number down here as your score.
The player with the most points wins. There is no tiebreaker listed.
My thoughts on the game
Dice Trip – Germany is a nice light roll and write (which is completely in line with the usual fare from Helvetiq). I believe there are three versions right now – Belgium, Germany, and France – so you can explore all around Europe. Honestly, I’m surprised there isn’t a Swiss version as the company is based there, but maybe there is just a bigger market in the other countries…
In this game, there are a lot of things to consider – trying to get consecutive numbers, working on the longest road, trying to keep all my Xs in one region of the country, trying to pick up bonus points where I can… And for the most part, all of my decisions are directed by fate, because you never know what is going to be rolled! I spent the better part of a game waiting for a “25” to come up because I had made a long chain that required that number in a specific spot. I have since learned that there are a few forks in the paths that allow you to have a contiguous path that can have extra spaces added in via a jog – much better planning than a rote which must have a specific number in the right place.
I personally try to stick to the longest road and the bonus points. I find it too hard and definitely too stressful to wait for specific numbers to come up for the consecutive number streak. I will definitely try to save an area of the board for this part, but it’s not the part of the scoring that I focus on. Of course, the payoff is pretty good, and if you get a good string going, it is almost always also the base of your longest road…..
It is quite interesting to see how quickly the different player maps diverge. People will choose different two digit numbers from even the first roll of four dice, and as they are free to start anywhere they like in the country; the location of the numbers will also be as varied.
I played a few games solo when I first opened it, and I enjoyed the challenge by myself. I had it on my desk at work, and I would simply roll the dice and take a turn in a quiet moment, coming back to it on my next mini-break. The multiplayer game feels fairly similar, the only difference being that you have fewer opportunities to be the player rolling the dice, and thus your ability to reroll has to coincide with those times when you are rolling. If a bad roll comes up when someone else is rolling – well, you’re just hosed. Otherwise, it’s the typical simultaneous solitaire that roll-and-writes tend to offer. Here, there isn’t even a comparison of longest roads with other players at the end; it is truly a solitaire effort here – no need to even look at the other players sheets. There is nothing you can do to change things (even with your re-roll ability which you are supposed to make quickly).
Components are solid. The sheets are easy to read, and the icons are easy to understand. The quality of the paper is nice with a good feel under your hand. A minimal quibble would be that there are only 50 one-sided sheets in the box, but around here that won’t be an issue. If we ever get close to the end of a scoring sheet tablet, I’ll laminate the last few and we’ll convert to playing with dry-erase markers.
Is this the sort of game that would get played more than 13 times? Maybe. I’m 3 games multiplayer and 5 games solo so far (17 sheets used), and it doesn’t feel tired yet. So, I”m guessing that this will see the laminator soon…
Road Trip Germany is a nice way to pretend you’re traveling on game night instead of being stuck inside during the pandemic. It does admittedly feel similar to Road Trip, a US based travel game, but different enough that they both remain in my game collection.
As an aside, this is one game in a set of three, they also offer France and Belgium maps. The rules are the same, just the arrangement of the paths is different. I did request the other maps as I sometimes game with folks from France and Belgium, and it would be nice to have a game set in their native country. My only wish with these three boards is that I wish the map regions were color coded to the flags of the countries; each of the three (Germany, France, and Belgium) has tricolor flags, and it would have been much easier to see the distinction between black, yellow and red as opposed to moss green, light green, and not quite as light green.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Not for me…