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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Friday Free Game: Dice Wars

If you're anything like me, then you probably went through a phase where you thought that Risk was one of the coolest games around. And if that's you, then you'll probably really like this week's Friday Free Game: Dice Wars, because it brings much of what you love about the classic board game — big armies, epic battles, huge wins and stunning upsets — and leaves behind pretty much everything else. Dice Wars is a lazy man's strategy game, with just a little depth and a healthy dose of luck. It's perfect for casual strategic play, because it doesn't get mired in all the details.

Dice Wars allows you to select a number of players, from 2 to 8, and then randomly generates a board, allowing you to continuously regenerate until you find something you like. Each territory is controlled by you (purple) or one of your computer opponents. The goal is to conquer the entire board by using your dice, which you see stacked up in each territory you control.

The combat system is very simple, and this simplicity is what makes the game fun. You click on a territory you control that has at least two dice in it, and then click on a neighboring territory to attack it. Each side rolls its respective number of dice, adds them up, and compares the total. The player with the greater total wins, and ties go to the defender. Like in Risk, you have to leave at least one die in any territory you control and when you win a battle, you automatically leave one die behind and move the ramining dice into the newly-conquered territory. This means that where you attack, from where, and in what order all becomes important so that you can best defend yourself from your enemies. Also, there is a number at the bottom of the screen next to your color. That indicates the largest contiguous number of territories you control. At the end of your turn, you get that number of extra dice (placed randomly by the computer, unfortunately) to fortify your empire.

As you're probably gathering, this isn't a game of deep, complex strategies. There's a lot of randomness in this game, and often times, things just don't go the way you planned. But there is a balancing act to be done. Remember not to overextend yourself, try to keep your territory coherent, and use the divide-and-conquer approach against your enemies. Over the long haul, the statistics will all average out, and it's simply about the number of dice you can throw at somebody. Plus, this is a game that's very light on its feet. If things don't go your way, no worries: you can be trying to conquer the world all over again in about five minutes. I'd recommend Dice Wars for any strategy game fan for its deft blend of luck and skill; just don't take it too seriously.


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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.