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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Thursday 22 October 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Troyes Dice

Game: Troyes Dice

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer:   Sébastien DujardinXavier GeorgesAlain Orban

Year: 2020


Troyes is one of those older euro games that we've still not got around to playing. I select it in every math trade I participate in, but so far, we've never matched and received it in trade. As a result, this review will be a straightforward review of its latest incarnation as a roll and write game. The momentum behind roll and write games does show a few signs of slowing recently, but new titles and implementations linked to a larger board game version are still being released and we still have a high level of excitement for all of them. Troyes Dice edges towards the heavier end of the roll and write spectrum and it's unlikely to become part of my Skype gaming rotation, but it could do if your Skype gaming is with a more gamerly crowd.

Troyes Dice is a game that takes place over 8 days, each with a morning phase and an evening phase. Over the course of the game you will draft 16 dice and use them to build a city on your player board in order to gain end game victory points. After a couple of days, invaders get wind of your city and twice a day they will try to invade and destroy different areas of your city. The greatest city with the greatest population and collection of buildings will win.

In each round of Troyes Dice, four dice will be rolled - 3 clear and one black. The dice will be arranged in ascending order and the clear dice will be treated as the colour of the cardboard disc they are placed on- red, yellow or white. The black dice will block one of the four slots and in later rounds will destroy the area of the player board corresponding to its number and colour, unless you've built a fortification for that area. All players can then draft a clear dice - the same dice can be chosen by multiple players, making the player count of this game technically limitless (although the box says 1-10 players). The dice allows you to either take resources or to build a building in the corresponding number/colour area of your board. Each building has a different power and contributes in its own way to your end game victory points. Victory points come from just three different methods - population growth, leftover resources and cathedrals which act as a multiplier effect on each type of building you have built.

Creating combos is not a core feature of roll and write games, but it's one that's more common to slightly heavier roll and write games like Ganz Schon Clever or Fleet Dice. For most of the game of Troyes Dice, you might not get many chances to combo, but there are a few exciting moments where you can. Growing your population evenly in the three different colours unlocks options to build a bonus building or to claim more resources, and building two buildings side by side sometimes unlocks some bonus resources or population too. These occasions are quite infrequent, which in some ways can make certain phases of the game quite pedestrian, but in other ways really guides some of your decision making to focus on those bonus opportunities that will give you a leg up when compared to your opponents.

Troyes Dice is the type of game that encourages me to come up with a strategy up front and follow through. I've played two main strategies in my games so far and had varying success. The first obvious route is the cathedrals - you need to build 5 or 6 to make this worthwhile and get the 2x and 3x multipliers, but if you pick the cathedrals themselves to multiply by three and then pick one other, then you've set-up a pretty good strategy. However you've spent a whole lot of time building the 1x cathedrals along the way that don't do very much at all! On the other hand, half the cathedral spots might get destroyed early in the game, so you might want to protect those that are precious to you. Protection seems to be quite vital in most games, unless you're fortunate enough to keep decimating the same zone of your player board every turn. Another successful way to play is to care less and just focus on building population. I've done well both ways, but not quite as well as I might have hoped.

And thus, we come to my biggest downside in Troyes Dice. I just feel like I'm really bad at it. Objectively I don't believe I am - my scores have ranged from 40 to 60 and I've won some games and lost others, but no matter if I win or lose, I feel like I've not played a successful or optimal game. It's a combination of the low chance of combos and the chance to have your strategy destroyed by the black dice that means that I don't feel like I'm reaching my potential. It's also really hard to get enough population to hit the later bonuses - I think it might be possible, but very, very tough to do.

Troyes Dice is a great roll and write game that certainly does more than most roll and write games, making it a good fit for gamers. While it has a dry euro game feel to it, it's still got a little more theme than many roll and writes that are simply about numbers, numbers and numbers. Unfortunately that feeling of not playing your best is one that really puts me off playing, so Troyes Dice will not find a place in the roll and write draw on our shelves, but I'm sure it'll be coming to a Skype game evening for me soon and I'll be more than happy to play. For the Yellow Meeple, it's a 6.5/10.

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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