27 June 2023
Same world. Smaller scale.
I’m not sure what the ratio is between original roll and write games and those based on extant designs or franchises, but I’d guess it’s rapidly creeping toward 50:50. It’s not surprising; pairing a popular (and often cheap) style of game with something already popular or recognisable is a smart move. Dice Kingdoms of Valeria is a recent addition to this trend, offering a compact take on 2016’s Valeria: Card Kingdoms.
There’s at least nine standalone titles in Daily Magic Games’ Valeria family, and surprisingly this is the first roll and write. But, whilst players familiar with the original deck-builder should feel right at home with the theme here – and, to some extent, the mechanics too –does this render Dice Kingdoms of Valeria somewhat unnecessary?
In the game, one to four players will be managing a duchy in Valeria by building roads, hiring citizens, and repelling monsters. To climb the ranks of nobility and earn themselves the title of Duke or Duchess, players must compete to amass the most victory points through any combination of these activities, alongside garnering some personal end-game bonuses through the construction of various statues.
All of this is achieved, unsurprisingly, through the rolling of dice and ticking of boxes. Each round will see one player rolling all six dice and performing the following effects; first, every player will mark off progress on the guild tracks associated with any citizens they have matching the two citizen dice. Much like Valeria: Card Kingdoms, citizens activated are determined by each individual die number and the combined result. After any extra effects have been triggered on the guild tracks, the active player chooses one of the remaining coloured dice to perform their action.
Green dice tick off ‘Road’ spaces, expanding the kingdom and opening up options for dice manipulation and gaining citizens. Red dice contribute to completion of ‘Monster Lairs’ for end-game points, whilst yellow dice allow players to welcome new ‘Citizens’ into their Duchy. Each die can also be complemented by the blue ‘Magic’ die, whereby the values are simply added together. In typical roll and write fashion, all of these approaches to victory intermingle with each other, as well as the separate tracks for ‘Gold’ and ‘Knights on the Wall’: Bashing a monster, for example, might bump a player further down a road, consequently earning a gold and placing another knight atop the castle’s defences. It’s all incredibly dynamic and satisfying – even more so once repeat plays have honed tried and tested strategies – and importantly, the game differentiates itself from its predecessors admirably.
Doing well in Dice Kingdoms of Valeria undoubtably feels good, but this success is solely down to the individual player. An opponent may snatch up one of the ‘Statue’ cards you were eyeing for end-game scoring or earn slightly more points for being the first to complete a lair, but on the whole this is a solitary experience. Although, with the concentration needed to manage these expanding duchies and their explosive strings of combos, the game fits its solitary nature nicely.
Thanks to a solid solo mode incorporating event cards, I’m actually quite happy sat alone beneath moody, dim lamplight, poring over the game’s dual maps, and tossing dice as if hurling coins at the imaginary courtiers carrying out my biddings. I’d have been happier if the game managed to squeeze in some of The Mico’s always impressive character art, but his bold cartography still makes for a prettier roll and write than most.
PLAY IT? YES
A fine addition to the Valeria family and a good, albeit somewhat generic, game for roll and write fans.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED VALERIA: CARD KINGDOMS
A well executed alternative to the original’s deck-building.
Designer: Levi Mote
Publisher: Daily Magic Games
Time: 30-45 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 50 Castle sheets
- 50 Forest sheets
- 6 Dice
- 28 Statue cards
- 10 Event cards
- Wood token
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