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The D-Day Dice 2nd Edition Kickstarter recently finished shipping in the US. It came with 11 total boxes, which includes the base game and a pile of expansions.
One of the boxes isn't an expansion, though: it's two tiny versions of D-Day Dice. I decided to learn the rules on a trip out of town and ended up liking them. Here's a short overview of the rules for the cooperative and competitive modes along with my thoughts.
In Battle, one player starts by rolling a single grey Axis die. Then they have three chances to roll and re-roll their six colored Allied dice to try and match the Axis die. They only need one of their dice to match the Axis die.
If they do, they can retreat and score a single point... or they can advance and try the same thing, but this time rolling and matching TWO Axis dice.
You see how this might go. If you keep matching Axis dice with your dice, you can get up to 6 Axis dice at once. If you fail to match the Axis roll, you lose all the points you accumulated that turn. Either way, you pass the dice to the next player, and whoever gets to 30 points first wins.
This is basically Zombie Dice.
There are two extra wrinkles though.
You can end up scoring a lot of points very quickly if you're lucky, or no points at all if you're not.
In Express, all players are playing simultaneously. Like in Battle, the object is to match the rolled Axis dice, sector by sector. Unlike Battle, though, there is no score. You succeed if you clear 6 consecutive sectors, and you fail if you don't.
Each sector increases in difficulty, from 1 up to 6 Axis dice. The fourth sector, the Gantlet (not a typo), has a special rule applied to it that makes the sector harder. The specific rule changes depending on which of the six beaches you're playing. Examples include "The Axis rolls an extra die here" and "Allied Skulls cannot be rerolled".
Similarly to Battle, if you roll a Red/White/Blue, you get a Specialist. Specialists, like in normal D-Day Dice, confer passive or one-time bonuses that help you get through sectors. For example, the Captain allows you to change the color of one of your dice, which helps you get more RWBs.
The real juice in Express, though, is the Advanced variant. With this, you choose a beach to conquer, and each sector has a different, Gantlet-like challenge. Here's an example of the six sectors in Utah Beach:
I've lost the two different beaches I've tried, but they've been close.
Battle is dopey fun. I found myself caring about every roll, even my opponents', when I played. The awards add a fun amount of back-and-forth, as you can steal them from other players. The Battlefield Die is a little swingy, though. Its "you must advance" and "you must retreat" faces unfortunately take choices out of a game that doesn't have many to start with.
Express is very smart. It captures the spirit of its elder, larger version without any of the numerical tracking or analysis paralysis. The advanced sector rules are exactly the right amount of variety. Like in normal D-Day Dice, doing poorly early on will doom you to lose later in the game... but here that only takes five minutes! You can try again!
I'm not sure if D-Day Dice Pocket will be available separately from the Kickstarter. If it is, and you're looking for a small press-your-luck dice chucker and/or a micro-tactical dice roller, I recommend it.
If it isn't, get in touch, and let's play my copy.