Dice Wars is a unique new turn-based strategy game from Taro Ito of GameDesign in Japan. Using nothing but dice and a randomly generated territory map made of hexagons, the game is similar in gameplay to that of the board game, Risk, though much simpler and quicker to play. The objective is to conquer all territories and eliminate all your opponents by attacking them with dice.
The single-player game may be played with up to seven (7) computer opponents, selectable at the game's main menu. Simply choose a number and let the game begin. You always play as violet.
Each turn you may attack any opponent's territory from one of your adjacent territories as long as your territory has more than one (1) die on it; and you may attack as many territories as you wish. Your turn ends when you click the "End Turn" button.
The rules of combat between two adjacent territories are simple (see illustration): all dice on the attacking territory are thrown and the total number of pips are added and compared against the total of throwing all dice from the defending territory. If the attacker's total is greater than the defender's, all attacking dice (minus one) move onto the defender's territory thus capturing it, and the defender dice for that territory are all removed. If the defender's total is greater than or equal to the attacker's total, the attacker loses all but one die for that territory.
No movement of dice is allowed between territories other than by attacking as noted above. At the conclusion of each turn, the greatest number of adjoining territories you have is calculated, and you are awarded a bonus of that number of dice. They are then automatically and randomly placed throughout all of your territories, up to a maximum of eight (8) dice on a single territory.
Analysis: As usual, Ito-san delivers a compelling casual game experience that feels both familiar and unique. It is amazingly simple to pick-up and play and yet difficult to master. The game relies heavily on the luck of the dice (obviously), which may turn some people off, and yet there are definite strategies that emerge as you play to help counter those seemingly random odds.
The game moves pretty quickly, so it may take a game or two to get used to. But play through a couple of games and you'll likely be hooked as I am. And when you finally do conquer all 7 computer opponents, just click the "History" button and sit back and watch the whole game again in instant replay. Sweet!
Dice Wars is an excellent single-player casual game experience that I'd like to see made into a true multiplayer online game.
Looking for a bit more of challenge than the computer AI can give? Try Ryan Dewsbury's multiplayer version of Dice Wars, kdice!!.