We have some friends who regularly do game demos at a couple of local game stores. It’s important to not only be supportive of those friends, but also of those stores. So we’ll often stop in and get a demo, buy something or just hang out and talk to other members of the game community. A couple weeks ago when we stopped in, our friend was demoing Dice Manor from Arcane Wonders. I had just received a copy myself so I was super excited to hear his demo. Considering my affection for dice games, I was already pretty sure I was going to enjoy it. Once I recognized the similarities to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, that feeling was cemented. In the case of Dice Manor, property designers are creating blueprints and marketing plans for fancy dream homes, building manors and giving tours.
The setup for Dice Manor is pretty simple. Place the project and prestige boards in the center of the table with the round marker on the space marked for Round 1. Create a general supply of tokens then sort the room tiles by type, shuffle and place the stacks face-down to the side. One of each type is turned face-up into the matching space alongside the board. Each player takes 9 dice, an entrance tile, an advertising marker and a prestige marker in their select color. The advertising and prestige markers along with two dice are placed on the main board. In addition, players each take two inspiration tokens and a player aid card.
Originally designed for 2-4 players, Arcane Wonders released an alternate set of rules for two players that amends the setup a little. It also makes some amendments to the game play for balance. Check out our TikTok that explains some of the changes.
Dice Manor takes place over four rounds with each consisting of four phases: Bid, Collect, Build and Reset. Before we go any further, let’s talk about the blueprints and the rooms. There are six different types of rooms, each with different numbers in the center icons to help identify them. In addition, there are four different colors. Dice are used not only for bidding on blueprints and advertising space, but also to replicate people touring the manor. When tiles are acquired, they’re added to the players’ manors, aligning doors appropriately.
In the first phase, players simultaneously roll all their available dice. Players sort them by value and select one value to use for bidding. All the dice for that value must be used at once, but may be divided between the project board and your manor. If you have more dice or a higher value than is on one of the blueprint or advertising spaces, then you may place your dice there. If you choose to place in the under-construction manor, you may “walk” a single path through available rooms and doors, placing those dice in appropriate marked spaces. If you reach a room that has a different number or run out of dice of the selected value, then you must stop the tour. You’ll immediately earn prestige or inspiration tokens, but the tradeoff is you won’t have those dice available for purchasing additional blueprints or advertising.
After each player has placed one value of die, all remaining dice in the player pools are rolled and the process repeats until all dice are placed. If you have been outbid and have again rolled that number, you can increase your bid on the space. Dice can instead be used to snag a low-bid blueprint, work on advertising or continue a manor tour. Inspiration tokens can be used to either roll any number of dice in the pool or change a single die up or down by one number value.
Once all dice have been placed, the collection phase begins. Room tiles are given to the highest bidder while losing bids earn players an inspiration token. The advertising track is also resolved with players adjusting their ad track based on the results of the bidding. Highest bidder moves their advertising marker two spaces while second only moves one with both earning the noted prestige. Third place simply earns an inspiration token. All players move their closest bonus die toward the advertising marker the equivalent of one space for each die bid. In addition to the prestige, it gives players the ability to acquire additional dice.
The final step of the collect phase is for players to earn one prestige per die in their manor before taking back all their dice. Players then move to the building phase where any new room tiles earned are placed into their construction site. Finish up the phase by moving the round marker, passing the first player token and refreshing the blueprints. After the fourth round, players participate in a grand opening tour. Everyone rolls their dice simultaneously and places their dice in the manor following the same single-value placement rules as in prior rounds. You’ll earn rewards in the same way as earlier rounds. If you have more dice than available spaces, any additional of that value are referred to as Unhappy Guests, are set next to the entrance and are unavailable for future rolls. Continue rolling and placing dice until all have been utilized. Earn additional prestige for each die in the manor then move on to end of game scoring including majority color of room, diversity, largest manor and leftover inspiration tokens. The player with the most prestige earns bragging rights.
The attention to type of room, layout and colors is what provided familiarity to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but the dice offered a very different feel because of the bidding and tours. The limited number of rounds and multiple opportunities for simultaneous play makes Dice Manor a very quick play. You can grab copies online from Arcane Wonders or Amazon or in person from your local game store. If you’ll be attending any game conventions, look for copies there as well. Arcane Wonders continues to release quality games so tune into their social channels (Twitter, Facebook) to find out what is rolling out next.
What itch does Dice Manor scratch for you?