Game at a Glance
Take command as a military General and lead your army to victory. In Dice Command players must carefully manage their dice and make tactical decisions in order to be the first to place four dice behind the enemy’s front line (five in the 4-player Team variant).
How to Play
The battle takes place on a small grid board that evokes Omaha Beach and is divided into Enemy Zones, Front Lines, and Facility Spaces. The goal is to get your units across the enemy’s front line while trying to defend your own. The Facility Spaces in the middle of the board offer special benefits to whomever controls them.
Turns consist of preparation (resolve any start of turn effects), rolling dice, assigning dice units, credits and research tokens onto available actions, resolving these actions in any order, and finally advancing units. Typical actions during the Assign phase may include conscripting reserve dice units to the barracks, deploying units to the battlefield, researching new technology or using a Tactical Advantage card. The Advancing phase consists of marching units down the field. Anytime a unit encroaches upon an enemy unit’s space, they are engaged in battle and deal damage to one another depending on their strength values.
The game continues until somebody is able to get four of their units behind enemy lines, or until the Cease Fire card at the bottom of the Tactical Advantage deck is revealed.
There is a lot of game packed into this small box. Despite having a lot of components and available actions, this game feels very streamlined.
The dice are doing double-duty as both the worker placement units and the soldiers on the field. There is a balance that players must strike between units on the field and those being put to work. Over-deploy and you won’t have enough workers to complete important actions, such as conducting research and using tactics. But if you leave the board empty your enemy will surely overwhelm you on the battlefield and get behind your lines.
I really appreciate the Tactical Advantage cards as they offer players much to consider. I often see a card that I really don’t want to use; however, I know it will devastate me if my opponent gets access to it. Sometimes you have to take sub-optimal moves in the name of defense. Other times they offer chances to get an offensive advantage, or to steal valuable research from your enemy via espionage.
The theme is very well-integrated, especially in the Facility Tiles and Tactical Advantage cards. It’s apparent that a lot of care was put into each and every card here. For example, the Nuclear Silo lets the controlling player gain a research token; however, exposure to radiation causes the controlling unit to take 3 damage. It’s certainly a risky spot to take advantage of.
It feels fitting that in a game themed around WWII heavily investing in research, particularly Atomic Warfare, is crucial. Saving up five research tokens allows players to drop a bomb, immediately placing two reserve units behind enemy lines – half of the victory condition. Atomic Warfare can turn the tide in this game. It also causes players to feel like they’re in a cold war standoff, wondering if your opponent is going to save up their research or spend their tokens immediately to upgrade other Command Cards to earn more efficient actions. There are opportunities to slow down your enemy’s research with sabotage tokens, or to steal them with an Espionage Tactical Advantage Card. No matter how it’s managed, Atomic Warfare adds a significant dose of tension to this game.
Each player begins with access to the same actions; however, the technologies players choose to invest in makes their actions asymmetrical as the game progresses. Alternately, players with the Limited Kickstarter edition may choose to play with the Special Ops Deck which grants a unique ability to each player. The constantly-shifting Tactical Advantage cards offer a wide range of actions available to both players, and the Facility Tiles chosen and the beginning of the game will force players to consider new strategies. There is a lot of replayability smashed into this relatively small box.
Although I have only been able to play this as a two player experience, there are setup options for 3 and 4 player variants of the game that involve using both of the double-sided boards. There is a 4 player team battle available, and the other side offers a free-for-all skirmish for 3 or 4 players.
The game has a lot going on but I think it’s quite accessible to a wide range of players. The utilitarian rulebook walked me through the steps from getting the game set up and played pretty painlessly. There are plenty of graphics to offer visual examples and any question I had was answered within the pages and found quite easily. Handy reference cards that outline the turns are included for players who have not quite memorized the order of operations yet.
The artwork on this game is extremely well-done. Behind the gritty battle scene taking place on the cover you can notice just a bare hint of blue sky peeking behind thick gray smoke. The dark figures and explosion in the foreground tell you all you need to know about the tone of this game. It’s a war game and war can be ugly. Fortunately the game itself is not. The game board is colorful and inviting as are the dice. This somehow works in conjunction with the drab olive tones found elsewhere in the game. The military theme is present throughout, from the storage components (the bunker boxes include beds), to the dog tag first player token. I have no complaints about the art and style on this game whatsoever.
Tabletop Mom’s Opinion
The publisher gifted me a copy of this game; however, I always strive to provide fair, honest opinions.
I’m lukewarm on war themes in games unless they involve some sort of orc-smashing or interplanetary conflict. Historical battles have never been a draw for me. Despite my disinterest in the theme I really enjoy this game.
Dice Command has a streamlined, elegant design that allows for a highly interactive, tactical battle experience. The game just seems to flow smoothly once on the table, and I was surprised by just how much I enjoy the back-and-forth tug of war offered here. I spend a lot of time peering at the available actions, trying to determine where I want to strike on the game board while also trying to anticipate my husband’s plans and figure out how to counter them. There’s a lot to consider when figuring out how to allocate your resources and finding a good balance for the situation is such a joy when it pays off. I really enjoy games where my decisions feel like they matter.
Despite it tending to be a more quiet experience around the table for us, my husband and I are absolutely interacting with each other as we play. If you do not pay attention to what the other is trying to do, you’re likely to get nuked. At 45 minutes this is a wonderful weeknight battle game for my husband and I to play together.
I would recommend Dice Command to just about anybody who is interested in tactical battle games and/or dice worker placement, people who are interested in WWII battles and war themes in general, and players looking for a good game to play at a 2-player count. This game likely won’t appeal to those who do not enjoy direct conflict, however.
It’s a well-designed game by an indie publisher and if any of this review piques your interest at all, it’s worth a look.