Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 20 October 2020

Build a Wall, Let the Invaders Pay for it:- Troyes Dice

Game: Troyes Dice

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer:   Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban

Year: 2020 

Troyes Dice is a 1-10 player roll and write game in which you'll be using dice to upgrade your civilization for the good of all. Will you build walls to fortify the city, or focus on economic or religious development? Whatever you decide you need to be prepared for the invaders that will start to attack from day 3 onwards. While they won't burn down any already built buildings, they do spoil the land preventing future construction. Unless, of course, you have built strong enough walls to keep them at bay, but those walls aren't doing much else for your development...

Troyes Dice is a game of 8 days, each of which consists of 2 rounds, a day and a night round. Each round has a player rolling the four dice and placing them in numerical order along the coloured round tiles. Three of the dice are clear, representing that they are of the colour of the tile they are placed on, while one is black, marking that tile as blocked for this round. Blocked tiles flip over a the end of the round, usually causing them to change colour as the game progresses. Once the dice are rolled each player independently chooses one of the three available dice to use, with fees needing to be paid for the higher numbered dice. They then choose to either build one of the two buildings in the section of their player sheet that matches colour and number with the die they chose, or to use the die to generate resources.

The player board is split into three sections by colour, with red buildings providing protection from invaders for the chosen number, yellow buildings providing big boosts based on the colour of dice available that turn, and white buildings providing end game points for the different building categories. Additionally each section has buildings that mostly simply produce citizens of their colour, each citizen is worth a point and if you get enough of them you can unlock bonus actions. Once day three begins the black die becomes more sinister, destroying the section that is rolled, preventing any future buildings from being placed there. However any walls built in that number protect all three colours for that number, balancing how much you want to defend with the comparatively low scoring walls is crucial.

Here we have a daytime roll of a 1 in yellow, 2 in yellow and three in white, while white twos burn.

Troyes Dice is a very distinct Roll and Write. The inclusion of the black die not only provides a very real threat to be facing, but also flips over colour tiles meaning that there are moments of the game when certain building types are extremely rare. Sure you can use a combination of resources to change the colour and number of dice, but since you typically have to sacrifice a die to get theses resources, how much are you willing to pay now for future flexibility? Without a doubt this is a game of risk management - by all means you can focus on getting your walls up as soon as possible, but then you will find you've used six of your sixteen actions building the comparatively low scoring walls. Since end game scoring of building types goes up the more churches you build, building the latter churches is more important than the early ones, so how long do you hold out to build the one you really care about?

There's plenty of different strategies to try for, with some huge bonuses available at higher citizen counts letting you get more than the expected maximum of 16 buildings over the course of the game. however whatever you do you need to keep your strategy flexible based on the dice rolled. This creates a quick roll and Write game that can take high player counts (and be played well over skype with just a webcam, useful right now), but provides the depth of player choice usually seen in more complex games. 

The player board is clearly laid into three sections, for variety you can change which number associates to which column each game.

While I may be generally impressed by the game's depth, it's not a perfect game. The black die is an agent of absolute chaos, and it's quite possible to lose simply because the dice decided that your strategy isn't allowed. Even if you go for a defensive play you can't build more than four walls before things potentially start burning, so your losses can still be crippling. Of course luck is in the nature of all roll and writes, but here it's a double whammy since both the good and bad effects are randomized. The game is also lacking in the big combos seen in other roll and writes. Sure you can chain together two builds every now and then, perhaps even three if you have set yourself up particularly well, but these bonuses are few and far between and not quite impressive enough to provide that wow factor.

But those are relatively minor gripes, overall Troyes Dice is a great roll and write which manages to capture the theme of a city under siege while providing great options in a quick game.


Troyes Dice was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £21.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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