Dice allocation is a very unique and under utilized mechanism in board games. It is becoming more prevalent than in the past but still not widely used as many see it as random.
Dice allocation is when you have a set of dice that you roll and then use those dice, based on what you have rolled, to activate certain areas or actions to perform each round. Those actions could be to gather resources, build buildings or pass. Many times there are restrictions about where you can place your dice depending on whether other players put their dice in a spot first or not.
I love dice allocation! It is more than just placing something here and getting an action. There is strategy involved. It matters what die I put where and with what number or how I can use that spot now that someone else has put a die there. It gives another level of depth to an ordinary game.
The draw back to dice allocation is that you might roll horribly (the random). When that happens things can go very wrong, very quickly. That’s where the design of the game comes into play. A truly great dice allocation game has many different things you can do with your dice making it seem like there is always something to do and minimizing the randomness of dice rolling.
So here we go with my Best 3 Games with…Dice Allocation!
Kingsburg by itself is a good game. Kingsburg with the expansion “To Forge a Realm” becomes great! The dice allocation is the exact same in both versions. Everyone rolls their dice each season to determine what advisors to the King they can influence. There are advisors from 1 to 18, representing the pips on the dice. The 1 dice ability is to only give you one measly victory point whereas the number 18, the mighty King himself, gives you a whole slew of things. When it is your turn you can put your dice in any combination by adding the pips on the dice. Each player has 3 dice and so you can use all 3 to go to one spot or use each once thus influencing 3 different advisors. The only thing is, no two players can use the same spot. That might not seem like a huge deal but when playing with 4 or 5 players, it makes a huge difference as the better spots are at a premium and are hotly contested.
2. The Castles of Burgundy
In this game you are an aristocrat controlling a small princedom trying to expand your domain as best you can. The thing that makes The Castles of Burgundy so great is that you use your dice for many different things. Each player only gets two dice to roll each round. With these dice you can do multiple things. You can “purchase” a tile from the main board and add it to your staging area. These are not built yet but you have the plans on building them. The next thing you can do with your dice is build a building that is in your staging area to your princedom. Instead of those things you can also use your dice to deliver goods to market. The last thing you can do is rest by taking worker tokens for future use to manipulate the dice into the combination or numbers that you need at a given time. The Castles of Burgundy does a fantastic job of always having something to do with your dice. Every area is open to use, so no one is blocking you, but once a building is taken it is gone.
1. Roll for the Galaxy
This might be a stretch for dice allocation but I don’t care because it is fantastic! Roll for the Galaxy is a game about who can become the greatest alien empire of the galaxy by exploring the universe. The awesome thing about this game is that your dice are not your traditional dice with pips. They have icons on them indicating what area you want them to work. All the dice are considered your “workers” after you roll them, the icon on them will tell you what they are allowed to do, whether that is develop other technologies, attack and settle a planet, trade resources with other aliens or mine resources on a planet you have already discovered. Everyone starts with the same workers then through out the game you can collect other workers that specialize is specific areas. Roll for the Galaxy takes dice allocation to a new level!