Game Buzz: D-Day Dice

I’ll end this Kickstarter trilogy with a game that has raised more money than any other game has been able to on that site:

image by BGG user Amiral

D-Day Dice is a game for 1-4 players being produced by Valley Games.  The game was designed by Emmanuel Aquin, takes 45 minutes to play, and is for ages 10 and up.  The game is set on D-Day – June 6, 1944.  That’s the day the Allies stormed the beaches at Normandy and marked a turning point in World War II.  It’s a simultaneous-play dice-rolling cooperative experience where players have to work together to stay alive and take out a German bunker.  Now, the WWII theme holds no interest for me at all – I’m not really a history guy, nor am I one who likes war-themed games (even though I also covered Stalag 17 on this blog).  However, with over $83,000 raised so far on Kickstarter, there might be something there I should take a look at.

The game comes with 4 double-sided battle maps, each representing a different scenario – beginners should start with Exercise Tiger.  Each player gets one unit marker (a cube with different symbols); a set of six custom d6s (red, white and blue); a deck of 13 regular specialist cards; a resource card complete with dials; and a player aid.  Additionally, there are four standard d6s, 11 unique specialist cards, 28 item cards, 6 vehicle cards, and 12 award cards.  Each player will begin the game with their marker on the starting position on the map, with the marker showing one chevron (which is like an upside down V).  Each map also has a set of available specialists and items, so you should pull those out and place them out to form a pool.  You’ll also draw available specialists from your deck and place them in your hand.  The starting position indicates some starting resources, which should be noted.

Gameplay is simultaneous.  There are five phases in a turn, and all players will complete each phase.  The sequence is roll, upkeep, recruit specialists/find items, move, and combat.

ROLL: All players roll their six dice.  Two of these must be locked, and you can’t roll them again.  Discuss amongst yourselves to decide which ones to keep.  You then reroll any of the other four that you want.  You get a total of three rolls, and the only dice that can’t be rerolled are the ones you locked after the first roll.  Symbols you may roll include the skull (cancel one other die of your choice), stars (needed to recruit specialists), 1-2 soldiers (adds them to your unit), a courage medal (allows you to advance), or a tool (gives you item points to pick up items from fallen comrades).  Rolling identical results on three dice of different colors gives you a Red White & Blue (RWB) bonus in addition to normal effects – +20 item points for three skulls; three stars adds another white result, which can trigger another RWB or add 2 courage to another unit; 3 single soldiers adds 4 to your unit and 4 to another unit of your choice; 3 double soldiers adds an additional six soldiers to your unit (on top of the six you would already have); three courage gets you an extra three soldiers or allows you to move without spending courage; three tools gets you a face down item of your choice or +2 stars.  A straight (one of each symbol) gets you an award.  After your third roll, what you have left is called your final tally.

UPKEEP: Collect RWBs and Awards, as well as other resources acquired.  You’ll also change the face of your unit marker.  Add a chevron, or, if you’re already at 3, move it to a single red arrow.  Two green arrows are used if you got the RWB from having 3 courage (aka Battle Cry), and the shield is used if you’re in a “Can’t Stay Here” sector.

RECRUIT SPECIALISTS/FIND ITEMS: Specialists are specially trained soldiers that will help you survive.  You have to spend stars.  Regular specialists are available to all players, and unique specialists will be taken from the pool.  Items can be found by spending item points.  Regular items are always available, while special items are only available on certain maps.  Whether recruiting or finding, each player can only acquire one of each during a turn.  Specialists remain with you until lost in combat, while items have a one-time use.

At any time, you can also trade with another player in the same sector as you.  Tradable resources include soldiers, courage, stars, tools, items, and vehicles.  You can also spend 6 courage to draw one award card at random – these count as items.

MOVE: Your units can stay in a sector for a maximum of three turns.  You’ll remind yourself when you need to move by looking at the chevrons on your unit marker.  Your unit can only move forwards or sideways, never backwards.  If you’re moving forwards, you’re advancing and must spend courage to do so.  Many of the sectors have specific attributes that will give you special instructions – can’t stay here, must have certain specialists, must sacrifice certain specialists, bonuses and penalties.  There are also defenses, machine gun fire, landmines, and barriers that will make life more difficult for you.

COMBAT: Here is where you suffer casualties based on your sector’s defense.

The game ends in one of two ways.  Either every unit enters the bunker with at least one soldier, resulting in an Allied victory; or one unit is completely wiped out, resulting in defeat for your side.

I have to admit that this game turned out to be nothing like I was expecting when I started reading the rules.  I think I was thinking more along the lines of something like Zombie Dice – a light wargame where you’re rolling dice, trying to accumulate hits on the Nazis without getting wiped out.  It’s not incredibly deep – there’s a lot of luck involved, and your strategy is primarily going to be based on what everyone rolls.  But it’s not as light as I think I was expecting.  I like that there are different battle maps, and I like that players have to work together rather than compete with their Yahtzee rolls.  It may not simulate the precise experience of storming the beaches at Normandy, but I think that it will probably do a good job for such a short time investment.

So that’s that.  You still have 12 days to back it on Kickstarter, and it should be released in March.  If you want to try it out, there’s a free trial version on BGG.  Thanks for reading!

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