Once we got it, Rice Dice ended up being quite fun. The quick pace, the flowing water, and simple evocative setting are highlights.
Publisher: APE Games
Designer: Philip duBarry
Artist: Jim Maxwell
Artist: Daniel Solis
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Game Type: Card Draft
Game Type: Dice
Game Type: Resource Management
Age Range: 10+
Expected Playtime:30-45 min
Number of Players: 2-5 (1)
Theme and What is it?
Rice Dice takes you back to nature by farming rice. Pick your paddies, roll the dice, and see where the spirits take you. Beware the weeds and be sure to let the waters flow.
The goal of Rice Dice is to be the first to get 100+ points or have the most points over 100.
Players choose a color and the Starting Paddy cards are randomly given to them. Put out the board, Planted, and Weed tokens between the players. Shuffle the Paddy cards. Put out the number of Water tokens based up the number of players and create a reservoir of available water as indicated on the Paddy cards in play.
Players take their turns by rolling the dice. The results determine the actions a player has available or the player may choose a single Worker, Card, or Water action. The results available on each of the dice are Water, Card, Worker, Double Worker, Weed, and Wild (?). One re-roll is allowed with as many dice desired.
For a Worker action, the player can choose Plant, Harvest, and Weed for each of the Workers rolled (or a single action if no Worker rolled).
When a player chooses a Card action, he draws a number of cards rolled for each result rolled (or a single card if no Card rolled). The player may choose one to add a new paddy to his field (max four paddy cards) or discard them all.
Once re-rolls are complete and any of the results are Weeds, the player places a number of Weed tokens on his paddies in any combination (no more than two per paddy). The Weeds reduce the value of the paddies if present when harvested.
Water actions move the water within players’ paddies, if desired, and also moves the Water tokens from the reservoir to their paddies.
The Wild (?) results can be used as if they were single Worker, Water, or Card results.
Rules for the player are the same while the AI is governed by the Happy Farmer card and it ignores the effects of the spirits.
The game looks neat for its art and simplicity but the rules lacked clarity, requiring to look up a playthrough for clarifications.
Game Build Quality
The game components are cards, cardboard and wood tokens, a game board, and custom dice. The cards, wooden tokens, and game board are of good quality. The cardboard tokens are a bit flimsy, quality not up to par with the other pieces.
I really think art compliments the game. The fonts, the box art, and even the depictions of the spirits on the bottom of the cards are really well done. My only complaint is how to understand the hexes on the cards.
Once you get to know how the game goes, it really is a nice little game. The water flow mechanic for moving water through the paddies and reservoir and its limiting resource keeps the game balanced from start to finish.
Age Range & Weight
The age range for the game is 10+ is pretty spot on. The rules, once understood, are fairly easy to pick up because each turn is straight forward: roll and choose action. This game does benefit from supporting short- and long-term strategies that younger players might not pick up on but will learn over time. Surprisingly, the game didn’t get a 14+ for all the tiny, pointy components (notably the Weed tokens).
Rice Dice ended up being more fun after finally understanding how to play the game. The quick pace, the water flow mechanic, and simple evocative setting were the highlights of this game.
The rules still leave a lot to be desired because they were just straight forward in presentation and explanation (the water flow mechanic still isn’t 100% grokked). If they don’t make sense, I do recommend watching a playthrough, it will help make it all come together.
The Weed mechanic as depicted in the early playtest video (Weed results cause a Weed action and you could place them on your opponents’ paddies however you desire) was better than in the final where weeds only end up on your paddies. Removing the ability to play them against your opponents and the ability to re-roll once (if not more from abilities), makes that result almost meaningless — they never factored into any of the games we played.
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