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Monday, May 20, 2024

The Best Dice-Rolling Board Games (2023)

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Dice are used to add an aspect of randomness to plenty of the best board games, but many modern games use dice as a more core mechanic. From roll and write board games inspired by Yahtzee to dice drafting games where the faces on a die represent resources the players compete over, these games make rolling more than just a measure of how far you can move or who wins a skirmish in a war game.

Dice-rolling games are highly diverse, including quick games perfect for big groups of all ages, fully cooperative games where you’ll need to work together closely to win, and highly strategic games you’ll want to play multiple times to master. Test your luck by rolling the dice with these great games.

TL;DR: The Best Dice-Rolling Games

Bang! The Dice Game

Bang! The Dice GameBang! The Dice Game

  • Age Range: 8+
  • Players: 3-8
  • Play Time: 15 mins

Bang! is a great social dedication party game, but at times it can overstay its welcome and leave players who had been eliminated bored. Bang! The Dice Game keeps the same theme — a Wild West sheriff must survive being attacked by outlaws with the help of their deputies — but changes the gameplay from cards to dice so you can’t hoard defensive cards to protect yourself. Instead you roll five dice up to three times, choosing to keep results that will heal you or attack enemies, or reroll hopes of getting three or more gatling gun symbols, which allow you to fire on the whole table. If dynamite shows up it can’t be rerolled and will damage you if you get three sticks, meaning you have to think carefully about pressing your luck. Spice up the gameplay with more press your luck mechanics through the Old Saloon expansion or give eliminated players the chance to come back as zombies with the Undead or Alive expansion.

Dice Forge

Dice ForgeDice Forge

  • Age Range: 10+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 45 mins

The faces of the dice change throughout a game of Dice Forge, where you can make offerings to the gods to earn their favor and add bigger numbers to your dice, giving you a better chance at rolling the result you need to succeed. New dice faces can reward different types of resources or even be applied to your opponents dice so you can get a reward based on what they roll. Players compete to earn the most glory, rolling dice to seek divine blessings and spending resources to achieve heroic feats, sometimes kicking other players out of game spaces in the process. Success can reward them with permanent bonuses, giving them the ability to call for reinforcements and gain resources used to improve dice or take extra actions. The Rebellion expansion adds more interactivity plus additional dice faces.

Dice Throne

Marvel Dice ThroneMarvel Dice Throne

  • Age Range: 8+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Play Time: 30

Described as Magic: The Gathering meets Yahtzee, Dice Throne lets players face off as unique heroes with their own offensive, defensive and passive abilities including an unstoppable ultimate attack. You’ll draw and spend cards to upgrade your hero and roll dice to activate abilities as you try to defeat your opponents by reducing their health to zero. You can also inflict status effects that hurt your opponents, and gain positive ones for yourself, some of which can be spent for effects like preventing or redirecting damage. The numerous possible combinations make the tactical game highly variable whether you’re playing 1 v 1 or in a group free-for-all. If you want to play with heroes you’re already familiar with, try Marvel Dice Throne.

Grand Austria Hotel

Grand Austria HotelGrand Austria Hotel

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 90 mins

There’s a lot to keep track of when managing a hotel in 20th century Vienna. Each face of a die indicates a different action you can take, from preparing rooms for potential guests to bringing wine or coffee to the patrons at your cafe. The more dice of a given type are rolled each round, the more effective that type of action will be. Efficiency is important, but you also have to pay attention to the individual desires of the potential guests. They have both specific food and drink requests in the cafe and can only be assigned to certain rooms to award you with points. It’s easy to want to focus just on your business, but if you don’t pay enough attention to your standing with the emperor you’d fall into disgrace and take nasty penalties. Keep track of when scoring rounds are coming up to make sure you don’t fall too far behind, but know that other players might also be making a last minute dash to gain favor.

King of Monster Island

King of Monster IslandKing of Monster Island

  • Age Range: 10+
  • Players: 1-5
  • Play Time: 1 hour

Kaiju fans can team up and play giant monsters working together to defeat an even greater threat in this cooperative spinoff of King of Tokyo. Rolling dice Yahtzee style, you’ll seek the results you need to fight the boss and his minions, keep your creature alive, and get help from your human allies. The different bosses scale in difficulty, so you can shape your play experience from very easy games perfect for beginners or kids to challenging scenarios where you’ll need to play tactically together to succeed. Beyond rolling your own dice, the boss has their own set of dice that determine the actions they’ll take, which spill out of a volcano at the center of the board.

Pandemic: The Cure

Pandemic: The CurePandemic: The Cure

  • Age Range: 8+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 30 mins

Pandemic: The Cure offers a quick and easily portable alternative to the classic cooperative board game. It follows the same basic themes and mechanics, with players trying to stop deadly diseases from spreading around the world, but the roll of the dice will determine what you can do. You’ll need the right dice to move around the world and treat diseases, allowing you to either quarantine diseases by sending them to a treatment center or eliminate them by putting them back in the infection bag. If you roll a collect sample icon, you can also bottle dice from the treatment center and store them until you have enough to roll for the chance to find a cure. But if you’re unlucky with your dice, you’ll unleash further infections and potentially even epidemics that cause many more infection dice to appear on the board.

Roll for the Galaxy

Roll for the GalaxyRoll for the Galaxy

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 30-60 mins

A dice-rolling version of Race for the Galaxy, the dice in Roll for the Galaxy represent workers you’ll use to build a galactic civilization. The phases of each turn don’t happen automatically, only occurring if one of the players chooses to spend their action developing new technologies, exploring or producing resources. You roll your worker dice secretly to see what actions they want to take and then have to gamble between choosing an action that will guarantee you the most benefit or hoping that another player triggers a phase so you can get to deploy multiple groups of workers. Successfully taking actions can grant you more dice, victory points and special powers, so you want to strive to be as efficient as possible or you’ll quickly fall behind. The Ambition expansion adds new dice types while Rivalry adds a huge amount of complexity with a new phase and customizable dice.

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age

Roll Through The Ages: The Bronze AgeRoll Through The Ages: The Bronze Age

  • Age Range: 8+
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 30-45

Pandemic designer Matt Leacock created this short and clever game of civilization building. Each player gets a pegboard which they use to track the resources they gather by rolling dice. You’ll also use a scoresheet to record how your society has developed, choosing to alot resources to innovations of varying costs. Developments such as masonry and caravans can make it easier for you to gather more resources or build monuments that earn points. You can also unlock the ability to roll more dice by building new cities, but the tradeoff is that you need to gather enough food to feed the city or you’ll lose points. There’s also a strong press your luck mechanic as one of the die faces shows a skull, which rewards you with extra goods but also causes a disaster if you have more than one. But developments can protect you from disasters or even push them onto your opponents. Figuring out the best ways to build is a challenge that makes the game addictive. You can also try developing Greece, Phoenicia or Rome in the sequel, The Iron Age.

Sagrada

Sagrada Sagrada

  • Age Range: 10+
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 30-45 mins

Build a beautiful stained glass window in this dice drafting game that resembles Sudoku. Players take turns drafting dice of different colors and values to add to their window, following restrictions specific to each individual’s card and the universal restriction that you can’t have adjacent dice that share a color or value. There are public objectives that show the patterns and sets all players can use to earn points, plus each player has a secret objective that will shape their gameplay. You’ll try to do the best with the dice available and avoid blocking your progress, but you also have a limited number of favor tokens based on how restrictive your board is that allow you to use tools to rearrange your patterns into a more favorable state. The game is quick to learn and beautiful to look at. You can add complexity with the Life, Passion and Glory expansions or pick up the set that lets you play with up to six people.

Too Many Bones

Too Many BonesToo Many Bones

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 60-90

Play a group of adventurers trying to take down a dangerous tyrant in this highly replayable collaborative game. You’ll navigate the battle mat facing encounters where you’ll get to choose your approach to the situation and then try to beat the challenge to win training points or loot to improve your character, and progress points that get you closer to facing off against the tyrant. The game has a huge variety of dice used to attack and defend, track your character’s skills and use their special skills like throwing frag grenades or raging. The core game has four characters and seven tyrants, offering plenty of opportunity to experiment, but you can also get even more options by picking up the Undertow expansion.

For more recommendations, check out our roundups of the best three-player board games and the best games for families and adults.

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