Gang of Dice
- Designer: Reiner Knizia
- Publisher: Mandoo Games
- Players: 2-4
- Age: 8+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Mandoo Games
Says the box: “The boss is going to retire. As one of his lieutenants, you need to take over the reins of the family. But you’re not alone in this race… Gather as many minions as possible to show that you are a true leader. Don’t be too power-hungry though, as it would displease the boss – he could even get rid of you with a bomb! How far will you go to take his place?”
In setup, each player gets a screen, behind which he places an equal share of dice and gang tokens. The dice are modified d6, with number 1-5 on them, and a Boss symbol on the sixth side. Keep your dice and tokens hidden during the game. The deck of 12 Warning cards is constructed and placed on the table.
In each of the 12 rounds of the game, players reveal a Warning card that displays a particular dice combination or threshold. Your goal is to obtain the highest result without triggering the combination indicated on the card. Each player chooses at least one of their dice (but up to as many as they like) and rolls them. They then have the opportunity to re-roll the dice up to two more times.
Be sure to note the type of Warning card. The Explosive type (yellow border) can be triggered immediately – if your dice ever match the criteria on the explosive card, your roll is deemed invalid and your turn ends. If it is a Bomb card (black border) it only takes effect after the player has finished taking all the rerolls he wants. If you match the criteria on the Bomb card after rerolls, your roll is invalid. Any invalid roll causes you to discard all the dice you rolled this turn to the center of the table. Each player gets one tuen to roll their dice in the round.
After all players have rolled, all valid rolls are summed up, and the highest roll wins the round. The winner gains all the dice rolled by all players in this round. If you run out of dice behind your screen, you can trade one of your tokens to any player in return for 3 dice. Repeat the process for twelve rounds. At the end of the game, the player with the most dice wins (with gang tokens being worth 3 dice each).
My thoughts on the game
This was the second Knizia game from Mandoo of the night, and we were still on a pretty big high from No Mercy. In this game, there still is some push-your-luck going on, but also a bit more strategy with the dice.
Here, you have to constantly manage the odds – the game pushes you to roll more and more dice to try to get a higher score; while the warning cards stand as a constant threat to your success (and the chance of you busting generally increases with the more dice that you roll!)
The warning cards have a nice variety amongst themselves, and the two types require you to approach the rounds differently. Certainly, you’re less likely to roll lots of dice on the instant death cards whereas there is certainly the feeling that your re-rolls will fix any issues on the Bomb cards (though in my experience, lots of dice pretty much means automatic failure… especially if your name is Ryan).
The game plays super fast, with individual turns only taking 15-30 seconds. There is plenty of laughing and shouting and what not – exactly what you’d expect with a dice rolling game. We did notice that the players earlier in turn order often took more conservative rolls (fewer dice) hoping to post a good score; but later players might be goaded into rolling more and more dice in an attempt to eclipse the leader in the clubhouse. The fact that players earlier in turn order win any tied results only makes it more likely that the later players have to roll more dice!
One thing that we did seem to find is that (due to possibly our lucky rolls) – this led to a rich getting richer scenario at times. The winner of the previous round gets to go first in the next round, and if they are able to roll a good score on a conservative number of dice; there was still a pretty decent chance that they would win because the following players would roll have to roll at least one more die; and this greatly increased the chances of busting. Alternatively, as we soon figured out; sometimes it was better to simply kick a die into the center of the table – not bothering with trying to win but rather simply trying to lessen the number of dice lost.
Depending on the cards, some of our rounds were done super fast. On one round, we had a card where you lost with any odd result showing. Thus, you could only score 2s and 4s. The starting player rolled two dice, got double 4s. And pretty much everyone else just bailed – as the chance of rolling 3 dice, and getting at least a 4-4-2 out of it was so low, it wasn’t worth risking the additional 2 dice. Everyone just threw a die in, and we moved to the next card. On the bright side, the winner of that round only gained 3 dice, so it wasn’t that big of a thing.
Gang of Dice provides a spirited game filled with excitement and anticipation. The Warning cards give you things to think about; but like most dice games; the excitement comes from watching the cubes tumble and seeing what results come from the roll. It’s a great filler length game, and one I can see hitting the table in many future game nights this winter.
Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers
James Nathan (1 play): I went on at length when commenting on No Mercy about the joy of push your luck games, and most of that extends here – though this time in the “can you do this with less dice” corner (e.g. Dice Fishing: Roll & Catch), but with highest sum rather than fewest dice. (The penalty for not winning and the round conditions push you to fewer dice.) The re-rolls are a great addition, adding more of the last-chance tension which elevates the drama. I don’t think it quite makes it to an “I love it” because of the things Dale mentions above (sometimes the first player hits a perfect-ish roll; also, seems like an advantage to go first?), but still a lot of fun to be had with a box full of dice and a handful of cards.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, James Nathan, John P
- Not for me…