After the buzz surrounding last year’s Space Cadets, I’m interested to see
Space Cadets: Dice Duel is a new game from Geoff and Sydney Engelstein, published by Stronghold Games. It’s for 4-8 players and takes 30 minutes to play. While the game shares a real-time aspect with its namesake, this one is different in that it is team-based and not purely cooperative. The object is simply to cause damage to the opposing ship. You still have different stations and jobs that need to be completed, but now you’ve got to beat someone else instead of the game.
The game comes with two starship plastic m iniatures, 6 purple acrylic crystals, 12 asteroid/nebula/wormhole tokens, a board, 50 colored dice, 4 mine tokens, and 2 displays for each of the stations (engineering, helm, sensors, weapons, shileld, tractor beam). Divide into two teams of even numbers. Each team gets six displays and the dice to go with them: white for engineering, yellow for helm, green for sensors, red for weapons, blue for shields, and orange for tractor beams. Each player takes control of some of the stations. You can split them up how you want, but there’s a recommended split in the rules:
- With two player teams, one person takes helm/shields/tractor beams while the other player takes weapons/sensors. Engineering is shared.
- With three player teams, the split is the same, but the third player controls engineering.
- With four player teams, the split is the same as with three players, but you add a captain to direct traffic.
Spaceships and crystals begin on the board in designated spots, and asteroids/nebulas are placed by the teams. The game begins when someone says “Begin!”
Space Cadets: Dice Duel is a real-time game, so there aren’t any turns. Rather, you’ll be rolling dice and trying to emerge victorious. Each stations has their own jobs:
ENGINEERING: The white dice for the engineering station are energy dice that may be transferred to other stations – 1s to weapns, 2s to sensors, 3s to tractor beam, 4s to shields, and 5s to helm (6s must be rerolled). The Engineer can roll and reroll the dice until he gets what he wants to pass. However, stations cannot begin rolling until they have energy. Once they get energy, they can start rolling one die per energy. Once they get the result they want, it goes on their display and they return an equal number of energy dice to engineering for rerolling.
HELM: The helm is responsible for movement on the map. The yellow dice show how the ship will move – forward one or two spaces, forward and turn, or u-turn. There are three slots for dice on the supply, and the ship won’t move until all three are filled. There are obstacles on the board, so be careful. You can’t move off the edge of the map, and you can occupy the same space as the other ship (no ramming).
WEAPONS: The weapons is responsible for loading and launching torpedoes. There are four rows of three slots for the torpedoes – two rows for the front of the ship and two for the back. You need to roll a nose, a body, and a tail for each torpedo to be ready for launch.
To launch, the captain (or weapons player) yells “Fire 1” or “Fire 2” to indicate how many you want to shoot (you can only have two torpedoes at a time). Action on both ships stops immediately. You first check to see if torpedoes hit – the enemy must be in the front or rear arc of your ship, a torpedo must be loaded on that side of the ship, and you must have lock points equal to range plus enemy jammer points (sensors). If it’s a hit, you check the shields for that side, and the opposing ship takes one damage if it has no shields, no damage if it has three shields, and you roll for damage if there’s 1-2 shields. The enemy loses one energy die per damage caused.
SHIELDS: The shields protect you from torpedoes. There are four sectors on the display, and you can put dice there to try to protect you from enemy fire.
SENSORS: The sensors help you fire weapons. Lock points are used to fire the weapons, and jammer points are used to make it harder for your enemy to hit you.
TRACTOR BEAMS: Tractor beams can do several things. They can capture crystals, which can be used in place of a station die, allow you jump to a new spot on the map, or regain an energy die (though your damage remains the same). To capture a crystal, you must have power equal to double the range of the target.
You can also use a tractor beam to move an enemy ship. Again, you need power equal to twice the range. You yell “Tractor!” and action stops, as with the torpedoes. Move the ship to an adjacent space, then resume play.
The other thing you can do is release mines. To do this, roll a Mine A/B and place the mine on your display. To release it, place it on the same space as your ship and remove all TB dice. You can only release a mine in a space you have stopped movement in. If any ship moves into a space with a mine, they take a damage and the mine is removed. Keep in mind you only get two mines for the game.
The game ends when one ship has taken four damage. The other team wins.
This game seems to be what you get when you mix Space Cadets with Escape: The Curse of the Temple. It’s different from Escape in that it’s competitive and you have several different jobs, but they both share the real-time dice aspect. I think they’re different enough that you could have both in your collection. Additionally, it seems that it’s quite a different experience from the original Space Cadets. I think it’s pretty impressive that the Engelsteins found a way to introduce a new feel to what is clearly a related game. The stations concept looks like it will work well in a competitive game, and it looks quick enough to play a few in a row. This one is definitely on my list, maybe even moreso than the original. Wish I could be at GenCon to try it out. Oh well…thanks for reading!
- BGG page for Space Cadets: Dice Duel
- Stronghold Games website
- Geoff Engelstein’s Design Notes: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5