Dice City All That Glitters

Dice City All That Glitters

DESIGNER DIARY


You probably know how the saying goes: “All that glitters… is not gold”. Well, in this case, the opposite is true! All that glitters is the first expansion for Dice City and it introduces… GOLD!

When sitting down to design Dice City’s first expansion, I wanted to introduce new things to the game. One of the early thoughts I had was the use of gold. It would be a “wild” resource (you would be able to use it in place of any other resource) but it would also allow you to do other things with it as well.

The first thing that such a new resource required, was a way to get it. In other words, a “Harvest” location that would always be available for players to buy. What better name than “Goldmine” for it? To differentiate it from the other Harvest locations, its cost was set at 3 resources – one of each type. Appropriate, since gold could be used as any of those resources after all.

Trying to come up with different and interesting uses of gold for new cards’ abilities, ended up being harder than it initially seemed. The main problem was the “difficulty” in getting the gold. Since it wasn’t available in any way in your initial board, you had to a) build a Goldmine, b) land on it in order to get Gold and c) land on the location that made use of it. On one hand, that made such locations more difficult to be of good use. On the other hand, it allowed us to put more powerful abilities on them that rewarded the players who went through all this trouble. The best thing though, was that they allowed for different strategies to exist. You could focus your entire game on getting Gold and using it effectively or you could even ignore it altogether. The option was there and even if 2 players were going for the same overral plan (i.e. get many Trade Ships or attack the most Bandits), they could approach it quite differently.

Apart from balancing the cards to make going for Gold worthwhile, it soon became apparent that a few more changes needed to be made. The first one was that Gold could not be considered a resource. Due to its scarcity it was much more powerful than wood, stone and iron. Thus, it wouldn’t be fair to be able to “manipulate it” as if it was one of those resources (like getting more through a Storehouse or a Marketplace). Similarly, the Goldmine could not be a Harvest location since that would also create problems (like its interaction with Merchant Guild for example or with some of the new cards). The other change that was made had to do with the quantity of Gold. To prevent the game from going on for too long due to some of the Gold strategies, it was decided to limit the number of available tokens in the game. Gold was now finite and if many people were using it, it would run out after a point. In addition, running out would trigger the end of the game as well.

Not only did this solve the issue we had, it also made the game more dynamic. Players now needed to pay attention to what their opponents were doing. If you were going for gold, you had to make sure you got it quickly (but not overdoing it). If you weren’t going for a strategy involving gold, you needed to keep in mind the quantity left or risk seeing the game end unexpectedly. In other words, it had an impact in the game no matter how it was used, which was exactly what we wanted.

Besides gold, All that Glitters introduces many other exciting locations as well, with each of them allowing for interesting new strategies to be followed. Warehouse for example makes it easier to pursue that 20-VP Trade Ship. Armory allows a player with many resources to convert them to Army strength. The Library allows a Cultural strategy to shine while the Hospital makes deactivations not “hurt” as much.

In the end, we were very happy with how the expansion turned out to play. All that Glitters brings with it fun combinations to try, new paths to follow and changes in how you need to approach things!

All in all, a… golden expansion! 🙂

Vangelis Bagiartakis