The Many Uses of Dice in Games

Many of us love dice.

We love to chuck them on the table, sometimes so hard that half of them roll off of it and onto the floor, making the cat sit up and take notice.

But sometimes, dice aren’t just for rolling. Sometimes games use them in other innovative ways.

I was reading the Shut Up & Sit Down review of Sagrada, the game where you use dice to make stained glass windows.

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I haven’t played that game yet, but I know that while you do roll dice, you are placing those dice in certain specific ways on your window tableau and the colours represent the glass in the window.

That’s pretty neat.

I thought I would explore other uses of dice a little bit in this post.

The game that jumped to mind for me was Biblios.

In that game, you are given five dice of the same colour as the five colours of cards (representing the book types) you can have in your hand.

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Those are just begging to be rolled!

These dice are not meant to be rolled. They are just there to keep track of how much each colour is worth at the end of the game.

But I’ll bet you that somebody, before the game starts, will be rolling them like crazy.

This is not to be confused with Biblios Dice, the dice game version of Biblios that I haven’t played yet.

Then there are Dice Placement games, which are basically Worker Placement games where you use dice as your workers.

A great example of that is Alien Frontiers.

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In this game, you are rolling dice, but you are using those dice as ships to go to various areas of the planet and do something based on what numbers you rolled.

Along similar lines is Quantum, where each number on a die represents a type of ship with variable abilities. You roll them to see what type of ship you get (which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me…shouldn’t the shipyard know what they are working on?) and then that ship has abilities based on what number it is (a two is a transport that can carry another ship with it, for example).

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There is, of course, the classic Troyes where you are rolling dice at the beginning of your turn, but then you have to use those dice to do various things around the city of Troyes.

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You need a combination of dice with a big enough number to match the action that you’re doing. If you don’t have the right dice in your area of the city, you can buy other people’s dice as well (which could be expensive for you, but hey, you’re taking their dice so they can’t use them!)

So most games that involve dice do actually make you roll them (except Biblios, of course). But what I find fascinating are the various uses that games can make of these dice.

It’s a wonderful concept and I love the innovation that some game designers bring to the whole dice thing.

Can you think of any other good examples of games that do unique things with dice? Even better is if you can give me a game that uses dice but doesn’t make you roll them.

Leave your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Many Uses of Dice in Games”

  1. Personally, I love it when dice are used differently in games. Biblios is such a great game for that. It uses them in such an innovative way as well. Great article.

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    1. Thanks, Luke! Biblios is what really cemented it for me, but the Sagrada review is what made me really think of it. I can’t think of any other games that don’t have you roll the dice at least once, though.

      Like

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