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A dancing Dice Marathon is exhausting. But the prize for being the last couple standing is amazing! What type of dance would most impress the Jury -- a Tango of a more challenging Tap-dance? A game of chance and skilled dancers!
I’ve often been tempted to write a review of an older game, as if it’s a new release. I imagine that some games would be taken differently, if they were introduced today. For example, what would people say about Yahtzee if it had been invented by Reiner Knizia? (Actually, I’ve seen some humorous threads on the internet on just such a subject.) Games in this genre are released today, and one of the newest is Dancing Dice (DaVinci Games and Mayfair Games, 2004 - Silvano Sorrentino).
Dancing Dice is best described as an interactive form of Yahtzee. It’s a lot simpler than Yahtzee, but the basic gist is the same where players try to roll different combinations with their dice. There is a small bluffing aspect, but the game is at its heart a simple die-rolling game. It’s extremely short, lots of fun and a nice, easy filler that will work exceptionally well for people who want a game that’s as light as possible. The game was greeted with great success when I played it - both with kids and adults - and although I think the game might become tiresome after a while, at fifteen minutes, it’s quite fun.
The game’s theme is that of a dance marathon, where you try to have your dancers dance the hardest dances, winning the accolades of the judges. The winners become the champion dancers! Each player is given six dice of one color: three white dice with pips of their color and three colored dice with white pips. The pips on the dice are little foot icons, incidentally. A small board is placed in the middle of the table with a score track (endurance) and with a token of each player’s color being placed at “10” - the highest number. The board also includes a list of dances, in the order of their value...
- Boogie: three “1”s
- Tap Dance: three “2”s
- Cha Cha Cha: three “3”s
- Tango: Three multi-colored dice are thrown at the beginning of the game, whatever the numbers rolled become this dance.
- Mambo: Three dice with the sum of “18”
- Twist: Three dice with the sum of “17”
- and so on, and so on, until...
- Macarena: Three dice with the sum of “4”
Each player takes a screen and places their dice behind it, preparing for the first round.
In a round, all players roll their dice simultaneously and secretly. Each player may then reroll any number of their dice, as long as they announce the amount to the other players. After all players have finished rolling, the players separate their dice into two dances, each composed of three dice. Players all reveal their first dance at the same time, placing a wooden cube of their color on the space on the board that corresponds with the value of their dance. The “judges” then pick the top half of the dances (rounded down) that win that round. The rest of the players must move their markers on the endurance track down one as a penalty. If there is a tie, a “pure” dance (all dice are either colored, or all are white) wins over a “mixed” dance. If there is still a tie, then both players are judged “adequate” by the judges. Players then score their second dance the same way, starting a new round immediately following.
If any player scores the Tango, the special dice are re-rolled at the end of the round to form a new combination for the next round. If a player has two dances that are exactly the same (same three numbers), then they are “Rockin’” and cannot lose endurance, regardless of whether their dance is in the upper half or not. If a player miraculously rolls the same number on all six dice, they dance a “Gala”. The player actually gains two endurance points (to a maximum of ten), instead of losing points.
If a player’s endurance reaches zero, they are out of the game; and the remaining players continue until there is only one player left. That player is then the winner - the dance champion!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: I love specialty dice and hang on to them, even if I dislike the game. The dice in Dancing Dice are really nifty - with the little footprints instead of just round dots for the pips. At first glance this is a bit disorienting, since they are arranged in different patterns; but after a couple rolls, it’s easy to remember. The dice are in six different bright colors with matching wooden pieces and shields. The shields are a little flimsy but do contain all necessary scoring information in a language-independent format. A cloth bag with drawstring is included; so if you’re in the need of one of these, you could easily exchange it with a plastic bag - as its only function is to store the dice. The board is a nice way to keep track of the scoring of the dances, and the artwork on the box, board, and shields is goofy and colorful. The game is very attractive and certainly tries to tie its slim theme to the game play.
2.) Rules: The rulebook is printed in four languages (English, German, French, and Italian) - four pages each. These are fairly easily laid out with numerous references to each rules, so that we had no questions when playing for the first time. People tend to pick up on the game fairly easily, especially if they’ve played Yahtzee before.
3.) Cheating: There have been comments on the web that it is fairly easy to cheat in the game, because a player can simply change the faces of their die without others knowing. There’s really no easy answer to this problem - except to avoid playing with known cheaters. Really, the game is so simple and light that I can’t imagine many people cheating, unless the players are foolish enough to be wagering money on the outcome of the game.
4.) Yahtzee: I compared this game to Yahtzee, and the similarities are there; but as one player I taught the game to phrased it: “It’s like Yahtzee, except you can affect one another.” And that’s probably the pitfall of Yahtzee - the fact that it’s basically a solitaire game. Dancing Dice is different; one has to figure out how to put their dice together and what order to put the dice in. Should you put your best dice in the first or second dance? You want to put your weaker dance in with the other’s weak dances, but what if the others outguess you? And should you form one strong dance and a weak dance, or two medium dances? There is some strategy to the game, although rolling six “1”s is some pretty good luck!
5.) Luck, Time, and Fun Factor: When there’s dice rolling in a game, you can count on the fact that there’s a good bit of luck. As long as the time playing the game is short, this isn’t a problem. That’s why I didn’t really like Lucky Loop; the game stretched out too long and was too “strategic”, covering up all the luck with a layer of false tactics. Dancing Dice makes no such pretenses, becoming a game of quick rolling, quick choosing, and quick scoring. A game can end in about fifteen minutes, which is an excellent time for such a lucky game. I like games where one rolls dice, trying to get that high score; and what a thrill it is when you roll a Gala, or a Boogie and a Tap Dance! As long as the time I do such activities is kept short, I can enjoy it; and Dancing Dice delivers.
DaVinci Games is starting to produce some of the best fillers on the market. Just a year ago, I saw someone state on the internet that “Italy” wasn’t known for its board gaming. I think DaVinci games, amongst others, is changing the face of that, and their partnership with Mayfair is bringing these games into the mainstream of America. This game is right up there with King Me!, another DaVinci Game - a short, filler game that is fun for the miniscule amount of time that it takes up, yet involving up to six players. With a funny theme, nice components, and a fun game that takes less than twenty minutes, Dancing Dice is a must-have for all those who like to roll dice.
“Real men play board games.”