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  • Writer's pictureJW

Quick Civ Fix

In Nations: The Dice Game you will make an Ancient Civilization evolve into modern times in the best possible way: by rolling dice. You will upgrade buildings and get more dice, or conquer colonies to get chits that are like permanent die faces or give rerolls; you'll hire advisors, work on monuments, and expand your knowledge. All this in just 15 minutes of solo quality time.


The game plays over four rounds, each of which covers a historic period and offers new tiles. These are placed in three rows, with each row having a different base cost. On your turn you can spend whatever you rolled - money, military strength or building power ("stones") to take or complete one tile and add it to your nation. New tiles may give you more or better dice. You will lose a die you had (probably one you spent already that turn), but can roll the newly acquired ones immediately.


You can also reroll your dice as long as you have the chits for it, but a reroll takes a whole turn. And after each of your own turns, you will have to roll for your bot opponent which will usually remove a tile from the offer. This brings a nice push-your-luck element: will I settle for a lesser tile now or reroll and try to get a better one next turn, with the chance of a bad roll and the bot taking that tile I could have gotten.


There are fifteen different tiles per age in the box, but you'll only see nine of them each playthrough - and they'll probably end up in other rows, having a different price. So enough variety to last you your first twenty plays or so, more if you spread those sessions out a bit. But eventually you will feel the game might be lacking just a bit. You want more.


Fist pump

Enter Unrest, the expansion that makes Nations: The Dice Game great.


Because what have we here? It's such a deceivingly small box... New tiles that bring more variety. New chits to go with those tiles, but also ones that give a new kind of reroll action that does not cost you your whole turn anymore. You can just use the rerolled dice for an action immediately. Yay! Bonus tiles that will give you an incentive to try something special for extra victory points. "Pass first"-tiles that act as a consolation prize when you had some bad rolls. Then - of course - new dice, that not only have cool sides with doubles of every resource, but also a dreaded "unrest" symbol (a fist). If you roll that, you will have to take care of the unrest first, before you can continue your game. You either spend a whole turn just rerolling it (and, if you are like me, definitely rolling the fist again) or discard it to continue playing without the potential sweet resources.


And then there's something I wanted badly: unique nations. The eight new nations in Unrest all have different playerboards. Some will have room for two advisors, some will have more dice, some will have extra chits for military power, others will have room for an extra monument... This means you are nudged to adapt your strategy and this is really fun. One game I was conquering colonies like a madman, another game I was quietly expanding my knowledge by collecting books.


Hard to win

The only thing that is a bit of a problem for me is scoring well. I consider the "Wu Zetian" level and higher a win, but I turn out to be Charles V reincarnated.

I managed to score 35 points once, but unfortunately I got stuck on 18 another time too and they really rub it in when you score that low. Oh well, another reason to keep coming back to it.


Nations: The Dice Game is almost 10 years old and a classic. Time for a super deluxe expanded anniversary edition, I'd say.



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9 Comments


Zerbique
Zerbique
Sep 09, 2023

I finally played it tonight!


19 for the first game, 40 for the second one (I got suspiciously lucky).


I... don't hate it? That's a great start already.


It's a tough game for me. It's really some kind of engine building game where you need to balance growing your capabilities and using them to score points. It reminds me to a lot of deck-building games, and for the reasons why I don't like deck-building games.


That said, the theme is fun and transpires well through the tiles' names (conquering England with longships and Marie-Antoinette as your advisor is definitely a satisfying moment). But the redeeming feature is really that any game that lets you throw a whole fistful of dice…


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Zerbique
Zerbique
Sep 10, 2023
Replying to

There's a reason why I love RPG-inspired games where doing stuff you need is what allow you to get better! (with the main drawback that you may have spiral of death issues if you don't or get behind early and can't follow up the power arc of the game, e.g. in One Deck Dungeon, but good designs are supposed to offer ways to remedy this)

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Simon Maynard
Simon Maynard
Apr 26, 2023

Funnily enough, I had a game of this (solo) last night. I love it and it will always stick around in my collection. I agree that the Unrest expansion makes it a lot better.

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Zerbique
Zerbique
Apr 24, 2023

Building a pool of dice and push-your-luck decisions, this is something I may enjoy. We'll see how much pretty soon! I managed to find the Unrest expansion somewhere, and bought the bundle with the money I received from selling Adrenaline + expansion.

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Zerbique
Zerbique
Apr 26, 2023
Replying to

If I get to be Salah al-Din I guess I'll be happy enough.

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Gloomknight
Gloomknight
Apr 21, 2023

Awesome, JW. I never heard of this one! In fact, I happen to like civilization games. You’re enthusiasm just bleeds through the page. I will be checking it out.

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The Hank
The Hank
Apr 21, 2023
Replying to

Spot on!

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