kdice (multiplayer Dice Wars)
Great news for those who enjoyed GameDesign's Dice Wars game and thought that it would be even better if it were multiplayer. After building a successful and compelling online multiplayer Texas Hold'em game, gpokr, Ryan Dewsbury of Toronto has been hard at work to bring multiplayer action to this beloved dice-based strategy game (which, coincidentally, he discovered on this site). And I am very pleased to announce that kdice has just launched!!
There are no written instructions, but the game is so simple you can hop right in and play. Each of the seven players has a color and corresponding territory. Stacked on each territory are a number of dice. When your turn comes up, attack another player by clicking one of your territories followed by an adjacent piece of land. The game rolls the dice and the higher number wins. The goal is to take over and continue to occupy as much of the map as you can. At the end of your turn you get a set number of dice added to your stacks (at random) based on the largest number of contiguous territories that you control. The more areas you control, the bigger your dice army, but remember not to spread yourself too thin.
There's no shortage of strategy in kdice, but there's still plenty of room for blind luck. Even if your stack of dice is larger than another you can still lose the roll. Balance your offense and defense well and try to control territories in the safe corners of the map. Just don't play it too safe or you'll find the enemy closing in from all sides with massive towers of dice ready to attack.
Analysis: kdice is essentially everything you would want in an online multiplayer casual game: ease of use, simple gameplay, and strategy tempered by blind luck. The small chat box at the bottom of the screen is usually filled with people shouting strategies or trying to form alliances. It's very easy to lose an hour or more with just one sitting. You just can't stop playing.
The only possible downside to kdice is that a table must have seven players sitting in before a game can begin. You might have to wait a few minutes before playing, but as more and more people get hooked that wait will definitely decrease. Until then, take a deep breath and enter the fray.
If you're a Web technology geek you may be interested to know that like Ryan's other multiplayer Web game, gpokr, this is an Ajax application that is built using the Google Web Toolkit and integrated with Flash. What's different about kdice is that it uses Jetty (instead of Tomcat) to take advantage of Jetty Continuations. Jetty's lead developer, Greg Wilkins, helped to scale kdice to more simultaneous players. And from what I've seen so far it's handling the load of players very well.
Cheers to slgalt for the heads-up about Ryan's latest multiplayer game.