Filler Games · Reviews

Review of Istanbul: The Dice Game

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Game: Istanbul Dice

Designer: Rüdiger Dorn

Published: Pegasus Spiele and AEG

Players: 2-4 players

Playtime: 20-40 Minutes

Play Type: Dice Rolling, Set Collection

Synopsis:

As you wander the bustling street of Istanbul’s bazaar you have only one goal in mind, trading goods and coin for the glittering rubies that the venders sell. Quickly make the money and find the goods you need to gather rubies, and secure your victory.

Game Play:

In Istanbul: The Dice Game players will be competing to be the first player to get 5 or 6 rubies (dependent on player count). In order to earn these rubies players will rolling dice and attempting to make sets to gain rubies off the main game board. Players can gain rubies by having sets of dice (or tiles) of the same color, one of each different color, a certain amount of money, or four tiles. Each time a ruby is purchased, the next one in the set becomes more difficult to obtain.

Turns in the game are fairly simple. First players will take any income they get from any mosque tiles they have purchased. Then players will roll their dice. Players will start with 5 dice, but more may be added with mosque tiles. They may then pay one crystal to re-roll the dice, and may repeat this action as many times as they would like.

Once the players are finished rolling/re-rolling their dice, they will then carry out their actions. Players start with two actions, but may gain more from mosque tiles. Players may use each dice only once in their action phase, and may discard any tiles they get to count them as a dice of that color. Actions include things like taking tiles to be used later, gaining crystals, gaining money, gaining bazaar cards, purchasing mosque tiles and paying for rubies either using money or goods. Players may take the same action twice. If a player would go to take a goods marker, crystal or Lira and there are none then all players must discard one resource of this type back into the general supply.

After the player has taken their allocated actions, they pass the dice to the player on their left. Play continues like this until the first person has gotten 6 rubies (5 in a four player game). The players finish the current round. The player with the most rubies wins. If there is a tie, players sell their goods markers for 3 Lira each and their crystals for two Lira each. The player with the most Lira wins.

Components:

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The components in Istanbul: The Dice Game are well done. It includes a sturdy game board, with cardboard Lira, plastic rubies/crystals, thick cardboard mosque tiles and goods markers, a deck of mini bazaar cards, wooden dice and four card-stock player aids.

The symbols through out the game are consistent and easy to follow. Players who are colorblind will still be able to play the game, as each color has a consistent associated symbol with it as well. The art style is clean, yet aesthetically pleasing.

Overview:
Positives:
  • Easy to Teach
  • Quick to Play
  • Similar Yet Different From The Original
  • Colorblind Friendly
  • Quality Components
  • Always Have Options with Dice
  • Multiple Ways to Win

Negatives:

  • Dice/Tiles Concept can be Confusing
  • Luck Involved

Players who enjoyed Istanbul will likely also enjoy Istanbul: The Dice Game. While obviously similar in theme and overall goal, the game play is unique enough to stand on it’s own and be added to a collection in addition to Istanbul. The Dice Game provides a similar feeling, however it takes less time to set up and is more reliant on luck than the original. Due to the ease of setup and clean up, the game is easily played over lunch or as a introduction game during game night. It takes about a half hour to play.

Some players who enjoy Istanbul however may be put off by the added element of luck that the dice introduce. While players always have multiple options of what to do with their dice, players who enjoy planning ahead may dislike the randomness of the dice. There are still ways to work around this such as the market good tiles and the crystals which allow players to re-roll. The game offers a variety of ways in which players can win, and players will have to adapt their play strategy to the dice available to them.

When teaching this for the first time I have noticed many new players were confused by the market tiles versus dice. It is important to stress to players at the beginning of the game that the tiles act exactly the same as dice. Many players feel that the dice must be turned into tiles before they can purchase rubies, but this is not the case. While not necessarily a design flaw, I have seen multiple people struggle to grasp the concept of the game because of not understanding this mechanic and thus being less fond of the game.

Overall Istanbul: The Dice Game stands on it’s own as a mechanically strong game. While still having a similar feel to the original game, players will be delighted to see that the game play is new and mechanically different. Players will likely enjoy this game if they like games that involve some element of luck such as Sagrada, Catan: The Dice Game, or Pandemic: The Cure. Additionally players may enjoy this if they enjoy set collection games such as Sushi Go, 7 Wonders or Potion Explosion.

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