I mentioned in the design notes to Alea Iacta Est that it all started out with a challenge I gave to Bernd to enter a contest for 2-player dice games. I also posted my original game here, titled Castles & Crowns, which was later developed further into Alea Iacta Est. I always thought that Bernd's answer to my challenge was a great little game as well, and for some time, I have wanted to make it available for others to enjoy. It's a very simple and elegant game that can be played with a few materials you already have. We tried it at the end our game night again last night, and I highly recommend it! -Jeff
TUG OF WAR
A fast-paced dice game by Bernd Eisenstein for 2 players
Age: 5 +, duration: 10 Minutes
Age: 5 +, duration: 10 Minutes
Game Idea:Each player represents a team of athletes that will challenge the opposing team in a tug-of-war match. The number of pawns in play for each side represents the strength of that team. Through the clever use of dice rolls, each player tries to reduce his opponent’s team strength, while building up his own side through fresh substitutions.
Components:- 36 Athletes (pawns, 18 each in yellow and red)
- 9 six-sided dice
- One Rope (a piece of string, approximately 50 cm long)
Preparation:The rope is stretched out in a straight line between the players.
Each player takes the 18 athletes of one color and 3 dice.
Yellow begins and rolls his 3 dice. Then he may choose to re-roll 1-3 of the dice simultaneously.
The 3 dice are then placed in a column in front of him. These are called the “team dice”.
He takes as many athletes from his reserve as the total shown on his 3 dice and places them in a column along his end of the rope. This is his starting “team.”
The red player does the same, placing her athletes along her end of the rope.
The remaining 3 dice are placed apart from the players’ team dice.
The player with the least amount of athletes along the rope will start the game. If both players have the same number of athletes, yellow begins.
Example: Bernd rolls a 2, a 6 and another 6. He decides to re-roll the two 6’s. He then rolls a 3 and a 5. He places three dice with the 2, 3, and 5 showing in a column in front of him. Then he takes 2+3+5=10 athletes and places along his end of the rope.
Player Turns:The active player rolls the 3 “common” dice that are not a part of either player’s team dice.
For each “6” currently in his team dice he may re-roll one common die.
Then he has two choices:
- For each value rolled that is at least as high as one of his team dice, he can remove one athlete from his opponent’s team (and places it in his opponent’s reserve). Note: each common die rolled is matched with only one of that player’s team dice.
- For one of the rolled common dice, he may instead exchange it with one of his team dice. The remaining 2 common dice rolled may still be used to remove athletes from his opponent’s team, if possible.
Exchanging Dice:When a player exchanges dice, he first receives one additional athlete for his team, regardless of the values of the dice.
If the value of the new team die is higher than the old one, he also gains additional athletes equal to the difference of the 2 dice.
If the value of the new team die is lower than the old one, however, he loses athletes from his team equal to the difference of the 2 dice (these athletes are placed in that player’s reserve).
An exchange is only allowed if the values of the dice exchanged are different.
Exchanging dice never results in removing opposing athletes.
When a player has performed as many actions with his dice as he wishes (maximum of 3 actions, one for each common die), his turn is over and his opponent takes her turn.
Example: Jeff has 3 athletes left, and a 2, 4, and 6 in his team dice. He rolls the 3 common dice and gets a 1, 3 and 5. Since he has one 6 die in his team dice, he may re-roll one die, and does so with the 1. The re-roll is a 4. Since he only has 3 athletes left and is at risk of losing the game (if his opponent rolls well, he could lose his last 3 athletes), he decides to exchange the 3 from the common dice with the 2 from his team dice.
He then takes 2 athletes from his reserve and adds them to his team (1 athlete for the trade plus 1 athlete for the positive difference in the dice exchanged 2-1=1).
His team dice are now 3, 4, and 6. He may then use either the 4 or the 5 he rolled to remove one of his opponent’s athletes, since both are equal to or higher than the 4 team die. The other common die is useless, as it is not as high as his 6 team die. He takes one of his opponent’s athletes from the rope and returns it to that player’s reserve.
His opponent then takes the three extra dice and takes her turn.
End of the Game:The first player to eliminate all of the opposing athletes wins.
Strategy Tips: It is always tempting to exchange for higher team dice in order to gain athletes to your side. However, this makes it harder to remove your opponent’s athletes, as you must then roll higher numbers to do so.
When exchanging in order to lower the values on your team dice, it is best to do so one value at a time (from a 5 to a 4, for example), so that you do not lose any athletes (you gain 1 athlete for an exchange, then lose it because of a negative difference in the values).