Free Games I Like: Dice Wars
Posted on 23rd Oct 2010 at 10:45 by Craig Lager with 19 comments
So, what is it? Well, the clue is in the title. Dice Wars is a way between dice, or rather a turn based strategy where dice are your armies and territory is both your objective and your resource. Everyone starts with a few, randomly selected bits of 'land' on a randomly generated map, each of which will have some dice on it. The objective is to conquer the whole map and even though its just brightly coloured and blisteringly fast flash game, it's surprisingly tactical.
To expand all you do is select one of your territories and then select an adjacent space to attack it. Combat works by rolling all the dice in the attacking territory against all the dice on the defending territory, with the higher number winning. If you win then your dice move forward on to the invaded block of land, leaving one die behind to hold the space you came from; if you roll equal or lower then all your dice are wiped out par one. Dice are restocked at the end of your turn - the amount you get calculated by the largest amount of connected territories you hold and then randomly handed out to your 'armies'.
Those are the rules and, while they seem simple, if you actually take the time to play then you'll see it's surprisingly complicated. Here are some tips...
When starting out you need to make a land grab. So, pick out an area to call home - a corner to stop you being surrounded and work to expand outwards from there, picking out opportunities were you have a near certain chance of winning the fight. And it almost always is near certain; you'll get unlucky every so often because it is just dice rolls. You send half a dozen dice against one die and that chance is there that all of yours will roll a 1 and there one defending will throw a 6. Of course, it will save your skin sometimes too.
Steadily, you can start to push towards bottlenecks and fiercely hold them. You don't want to move through them right away - instead hold them for a while so your defense gets re-enforced. Fight tooth and nail for them because one well defended bridge/door/colourful bit of area in a flash game about dice can be life or death. By now many dice foes have been vanquished - Green prevailed over Orange in the great war of the top left corner; Brown and Blue were both consumed by the now mighty and fearsome Yellow, and Pink finally submitted the centre-right to you after many a grueling fight. This is now a three dice race.
The end game is always a bit strange in that it tends to go into a stalemate for ages, followed by one single bit of bad luck or a stupid decision that tips the balance. When there are three Colours left in, it's ok - you can still try to out manoeuvre, flank and cut lines through connected territories to stifle resources...but eventually one will fall, leaving two superpowers to duke it out. This is when the map is split in two - each side fully stocked with dice and just throwing them at each other until a bit of luck sees them break the front lines and slowly, slowly, push a way to victory. You can spend ages stuck at this point.
And then, suddenly, you realise - this is a browser game about dice in bright colours and that game just took half an hour even though you were only going to take a look for five minutes and did you really shout a string of expletives at the screen five minutes ago? It's so simplistic, but so very polished and compelling that you can't help but be sucked in. Colours become Nations; Dice become living, breathing troops; you become a masterful General taking this world by the balls; your boss becomes a bit angry because he's spotted you playing it again.