In preparation for King of the Dice: The Board Game, the publisher was kind enough to send the original to give my family a chance to learn the base game first.
King of the Dice (2017, HABA) does just enough right to serve as a family-weight gateway game with Yahtzee-style dice rules, cute artwork, and simple math.
Chuck and Duck (For the People)
Your kingdom needs new citizens! Naturally, you’ll have to earn those citizens by rolling certain combinations of dice results to take them into the fold.
Players take turns rolling six dice with the standard D6 pips (1-6), but the dice also come with die faces in three different colors: red, blue and green. A market of five domains (with point values starting at four, dropping from there) is lined up with cards from a draw pile featuring potential citizens, one citizen underneath each domain color.
On a turn, you get three chances to manipulate die rolls (à la Yahtzee) to match up with what a citizen card requires; maybe that’s five blue faces on rolled dice, or dice in a large straight (Yahtzee talk for a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, for example), or a three-of-a-kind. Each citizen is worth a certain number of end-game points, and some have a one-time power that allows the new owner to take another turn or up their roll chances in a future turn.
If that citizen’s color matches the color of the domain above it, you’ll be able to take both the citizen and the domain for end game scoring. And if you couldn’t make a match on any of the available citizens, you’ll take a penalty card which scores a small number of negative points.
Slide cards down to take the place of whichever card was selected (or the right-most card, if a penalty was earned), and roll until the draw deck runs out, the penalty deck runs out, or any of the five domain stacks runs dry.
A Decent Yahtzee Upgrade
Here at the Bell compound, we love Yahtzee. King of the Dice is better table dressing thanks to its cute artwork, colored dice, and fun bonus moments. You’ll never have a scream moment like when you roll a Yahtzee (especially a first chance Yahtzee, one of the great moments in gaming even today), but King of the Dice does have some pleasant moments and serves as a great way to introduce my kids to other concepts.
I’m hoping that the new version of King of the Dice ups the ante across the board. In the meantime, King of the Dice is a pleasant introduction to this IP!