Beignets and Board Games — Dice of Crowns

At PAX South 2017, we were able to visit with many established companies and some up-and-coming design studios, too. 

Unfortunately, we were not able to see everything! One of the games that we were eager to check out before the convention, but were unable to do so because of the busy schedule, is the subject of today’s snack time look see. 

Dice of Crowns, a 2016 release by Thing 12 Games, is a little push your luck filler that is easy to teach and has lots of modular rules to fit any type of game stop. The game was designed by Sean Epperson and Brander “Badger” Roullett, and plays from two to six players in about fifteen minutes. 


A. Components. 

Dice of Crowns comes in a well-made Altoids sized tin, stuffed to the brim with bits and pieces. First, players get a total of seven nicely made plastic dice with four different faces on them. Next, players receive sets of two different styles of tokens, green scoring tokens for the base game, and blue tokens for one of the modular rules. Finally, players get a compact rule set and a cute little plastic Crown. 

B. Gameplay. 

Clearly, this game was made for the start or end of your regular game night. The rules are easy to teach — players try to score green tokens by collecting favorable sets of dice before any other player can do so. Collect a certain number of tokens (five seems just right) and you are declared the crown winner. But the game comes with numerous “extra” rules to amp up the strategy and fun. 

As suggested by the designer, we mixed and matched some of the modular rules that add a little bit more depth to the gameplay. One of my favorite additional rules involved the win condition. Instead of an automatic win for collecting five tokens, the player who is in line for the fifth token gets the crown instead and has to hold onto it for the entire around, giving the other players a chance to steal. 

Stealing is not easy, as it takes seven out of seven on the rolls to make it happen. However, to make it a little easier, the designers added a rule where a certain number of dice faces will give you a chance at blue tokens.  Why are the blue tokens important?  Because they allow you to reroll your dice, or even force another player to reroll, which helps players with the steal mechanic and with collecting enough matching faces to win. Just watch out for those pesky knives and scrolls!

There are a ton of additional rules, and players are encouraged to add whatever rules they need to up the complexity or lower the barrier to entry to fit their particular game group.

There is one thing that is innovative about this game that I really liked. One of the cool mechanics is that if you roll a scroll, you are forced to hand that die (or dice as the case may be) to another player or players.  This is an immediate action and must be resolved before moving forward. 

That player or players (depending upon the number of scrolls rolled) then rolls the dice and can keep a good roll or force another player to take a bad roll. If a player gets three knives it can automatically end their turn, meaning that the scroll rolls can actually stack up good and bad dice on players before it is even their turn. (This also has the effect of reducing the amount of Dice that players can use on their turn because the dice might be locked during other player’s turns.) A very cool innovation and one that leads to a lot of strategy as players get closer to five markers. 

C. Final thoughts. 

Dice of Crowns is probably not deep enough to really need an in-depth study of the game. This game is all about chucking dice, setting up big combos with the blue tokens, and trying to steal the crown.

The addition by the designers of the scroll rolls can really amp up the laughter in the game as players try to guess who has the hot hand. Or maybe, players will look for the person whose dice just hate them, to get some dice back quickly! 

If you’re looking for a fun little filler to start the night or end your game night, and you like push your luck dice chucking, you might want to give Dice of Crowns a try.

–B.J. 

Pax South 2017 in the books – Part Two

Warm days and cool nights greeted the Krewe de Gumbo throughout the weekend of PAX South 2017.  Even better than the weather was the excellent gaming that we found, long looks at games released recently, and the great demos of new and upcoming games that will be released in 2017.

For a recap of some of the larger booths that we visited, check out our previous article here.

With my duties as Envoy Herald on the demo team of Kodama and Coup completed on Saturday, I had much more time to wander around the Con with the Krewe to see some of the other sights and sounds for PAX South 2017. Here are some of the highlights:


a. Red Raven Games.

First up, we visited the every friendly Brenna Asplund at Red Raven Games. Just like most of the board game companies in the main exhibit area, Red Raven had a much smaller booth than we saw at GenCon. But, Brenna, who is one third of the voices on the Red Raven podcast, was there with a ready smile and great demos of their latest games.

I saw  a lot of interest from the PAX crowd in Islebound, the beautiful seafaring game from Ryan Laukat that was released last year after a successful Kickstarter.  The artwork — no surprise since we are talking about Red Raven — is gorgeous and whimsical.  We played this game right after GenCon, and it was nice to see that Red Raven still had some expansion packs left.

Plus, Red Raven offered a package deal on the complete Eight Minute Empires series with expansion and extra board. By Sunday, it was loooong gone!

We got a chance to visit with Brenda about Near & Far, and were happy to hear that it is right on schedule for its release to the Kickstarter backers. It sounds like they are very happy with what they have seen from the manufacturer so far.

b. Level 99 Games.

My current favorite podcast, The Dukes of Dice, talk about their friends at Level 99, so we had to make a pass by to visit with Brad, the owner. Level 99 too was in the midst of the cacophony that makes up the Main Exhibit Hall, and frankly, it was not that easy to find some of the booths for a quick trip. (In fact, I used some of my scout skills to help Mina from Mina’s Fresh Cardboard locate a friend at the Level 99 booth the day before.)

When we got there, Josh from Level 99 was demoing Sellswords, the new release from Level 99. This is an interesting little card/tile laying game that has a theme of hiring “sellswords” to complete tasks. In reality, it is a neat little abstract game, with a cool mechanic of flipping the cards as they are placed next to each other and weighed in their strengths.  We have a review copy, and will try to post something soon.

I asked Brad what was the big hit of the con, and he said that demos of Mega Man Pixel Tactics had been going extremely well. He confided that if the game had been ready, he could have sold out of whatever he brought.  I am sure a lot of this is due to the nature of PAX (lots of nostalgic video game fans there) but by what I saw, the game looks fun. I need to try out Pixel Tactics at some point, because I know the Dukes (especially Alex) have talked it up in previous podcasts.

Finally, I got to visit with Brad and Josh about the future of Millennium Blades. This is a game from 2016 that I have not yet tried, even though it appears right up my alley. All of you know that there is an expansion coming up soon, but there are rumblings that if this expansion does well, then more content will be coming. So if you are fan of Millennium Blades, go out and support Set Rotation when it hits the game store shelves.

c. Indie game reports.

One thing I love about PAX South is that they really encourage and foster indie game companies. There were many booths to see at the con even in the main exhibit hall, so many that I could not demo all of their wares. But, we managed to grab a few demos, and even bought a game.

First up, we tried out Oh My Gods!, a new game from Gameworthy Labs designed by Timothy Blank. Tim was handling all the demos, so the demo went very smoothly to say the least.  The card game is a Greek gods themed, streamlined version of Clue (or better, Mystery of the Abbey), with special powers for each of the members of the pantheon.  I am not a big fan of the artwork, and there are just too many games with a same or similar title for my taste. 

However, the game play is a lot of fun, and the special powers of each card adds a lot to the deductive genre. Plus, it would be a lot easier to get a game like this out at the start of a game night then Mystery of the Abbey now, since Mystery seems a bit dated compared to newer deduction games. So, if your game group likes deduction games, this would be a good filler to add. 

Next, we headed to the Wild West for a test run of Shootout! The High Noon card game, a 2015 quick playing card game filler from Cris Amburn and New Experience Workshop.  I liked the artwork and theme of the cards, and I loved the quick play.  Each gunslinger plays cards off of a draw pile, until there is a “duel”. Stay alive, be a quick shot, and have a better five card hand than the other player, and you can stay in the game.  The downside? I think the game needed a little more in the development pod…some of the card types and names do not match up to the theme and took me out of the game a bit. But, this would make a great little filler for the start or finish of a game night.

We then headed off to the Indie Game Showcase, right smack dab in the middle of the Main Exhibit space.  PAX had a contest for potential new games, and six winners were chosen and featured in huge booths that you could not miss.  There were crowds of gamers, young and old alike, clogging up the pathways and entrances to the demo areas of the booths, which is a great sign for the growth in our version of table top.  However, that prevented me a bit from demoing all of the games.

I did manage to try two of them that piqued my interest. Fantastic Factories is a great looking  worker placement game  designed by Joseph Chen. There was a huge crowd of people demoing the game on Sunday, and the booth itself was very professional looking. The demo team had matching hard hats, lots of quick game play and instructions, and the designer himself was involved and answering questions. Look for this one on Kickstarter soon. I like the art and what I could see of the gameplay; plus, I am a sucker for dice placement games. 

Last, but not least, we had an enthusiastic game demo of Wicked Apples. This is a great small box filler card game, with a lot of take that and hidden role (core? Apple?) action. The artwork is serviceable, but the game appears pretty well polished. If this game gets picked up by a bigger company, I could see it becoming a convention favorite. 

I can’t forget to mention that there was a VERY active UnPub scene at PAX South. Because of my teaching and demoing responsibilities, I did not have time to take part and play test some of the games, but I walked by and saw dozens of games being tested. 

SUMMARY:

This was my first year attending, but some of the other Krewe members have been going since the first year PAX South opened. All agreed that this was the biggest showing by table top companies yet. 

I heard Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games once remark that the Con calendar could use a big Winter kick off convention to fill the drought between Essen and BGG. Could PAX South be it? Judging by what Matt Morgan and company have done in such a short time, it would not surprise me that we see big things coming out of PAX South in the future. 

Until next time, 

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

–B J