Dice City Crossroads

DESIGNER DIARY

 

When I first designed Dice City, my goal was to create a game where you would change the faces of your dice. To make the game less fiddly (and also able to be produced at a reasonable cost) I ended up “simulating” that through the players’ boards. On the board, the various slots were now creating a grid of sorts. However, since each row was a separate die, there were no “relation” between the various rows. Each one was independent of the rest – it didn’t “care” what the other dice did. That meant that although there were many abilities that were row-related (as in “do something based on what else you have built in the same row”) there was no column-related ones. After all, the columns weren’t “representing” anything. The rows were your dice. Your columns? Nothing.

But that is about to change!

With Crossroads, I decided to go into that territory and start playing a little bit more with the spatial aspect of the players’ boards. After all, there was already a grid in front of the players. Why not take advantage of that? The trick however, was not to swim in the same waters I had swam before. It was very tempting to just use the “same” abilities that were already row-related and make them look at columns this time, but I wanted them to be different. Moreover, there were other things to consider as well. Rows have 6 spaces – columns have 5. This immediately made the math slightly different. One other important change was that in a row, you (normally) have only one of the locations get activated each turn. When talking about columns though, you may have multiple dice in the same one. All these differences were opening up new design space that I was eager to use.

What was very important was to give each card type a good column-related ability that helps with its strategy. The economic card had to be able to produce resources, the Military one should generate more Army, the Cultural location had to be VP related and the Civic one should manipulate your dice somehow. Many ideas were tried and in the end the abilities that were kept, were really fresh and allowed for interesting gameplay. In fact, we even had 2 Civic cards made since we liked so much the way they were interacting with the rest of the board.

Apart from the columns there was something else that I wanted to explore further: Gold. “All That Glitters” introduced the gold commodity and had some locations that were taking advantage of it. There was potential for more though, and we quickly came to the conclusion that we should include some new gold-related cards in this set as well. Once again though the key was to create something different and not just more of the same. In “All That Glitters” the abilities were quite straightforward. Most of the cards directly converted gold to one of the other resources. This time, some more radical ideas were tried. Bank for example allows you to “store” gold on it and cash it later in the game for a LOT of resources. The Conservatory spreads Victory Point tokens in your city while the Treasury does something unique in the game. 

In the end, those new abilities not only introduced new things to the game, they opened up new strategies as well. Combined with the column-related cards, very cool combos emerged and play-testers were now exploring more and more options during the game.

The expansion was completed by putting some more “regular” abilities in each card type, helping you towards the various strategies. The funny thing is that when you start to work on a game, there are times you struggle to find enough interesting abilities. After a while though, more and more ideas rush through you and you try to find space to fit them all! The final count for Crossroads was 16 different locations (4 in each type). The rest of the new ideas, would have to wait for the next expansion, and the royal decree that would announce them…

All in all this expansion is going to add a lot of variety in your games, giving you exciting new things to try out!

I hope you all enjoy it.

Vangelis Bagiartakis

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