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The legend tells that McDice were an ancient family of professional gamblers. The 4 McDice brothers lived, within their families, in a mysterious manor and today their spirits, known as Polterdice, still live in it, cursed in the manor by a spell cast by Mme Roulette, the evil enemy of McDice family. Showing your ability with the dice you will find the McDice hidden treasure and free the Polterdice from the curse.
- 16 cardboard tiles
- 16 cardboard Polterdice
- 50 wooden men
- 8 dice
- wooden coins
Average Rating: 3 in 1 review
More and more I am beginning to love the games that are coming out of Italy. There is something distinct about them the fact that they want the game to be fun. Maybe the games arent as polished as other Eurogames, but the games do not have a serious bent at all, but are there so that all playing might have an enjoyable time. I just recently got a shipment from one such company Kidult Games, and have found that true about every game in the shipment. One game I particularly enjoyed was Polterdice, (Kidult Games, 2003 Spartaco Albertarelli). The name was certainly catchy, and when I opened the box to see the bits, I was appropriately wowed by them and eager to play the game.
And my thoughts concerning the game? I found that the game is a very fun, very light-hearted time, with a lot of luck and a bit of strategy having a part of the game. In a short, nice note in the game instructions, the author gives credit for part of the game to Sid Sackson, and his Cant Stop game from which the basic concept of the game has emerged.
The game begins by shuffling sixteen tiles and placing them on the table in groups of four. Each tile has a number on it (3,4,5,6,8,9,10, or 11), a staircase of ten steps, and an amount of coins in the treasure room (last step) that corresponds with the probability of the number on that tile being rolled on two dice (for example the 3 tile has four coins, while the 6 tile only has one). Sixteen small polterdice tiles are shuffled, and placed on the table one next to each room tile. Each player is given 10 meeples of their color, along with three silver coins. Each player rolls the eight six-sided dice, and the player with the highest roll goes first, with play proceeding clockwise around the table.
On a turn, a player rolls the eight dice, and splits them up into four pairs obtaining four magic numbers. After this, a player may then move up to four of their meeples, using these numbers. For example, if a player got a three, they could move one of their men one step up the staircase of one of the 3 room tiles. A meeple could be moved up more than one step on a staircase, as long as multiple magic numbers are used. If the meeple needs to move to the next step, and another meeple of another color is there, they can jump all these blocking meeples, going to the next free space. This allows a player to move farther rather quickly, if there are enough players in front of them.
A magic number of 7 is never possible, and the numbers 2 and 12 allow special moves. A 2 bravery - is basically a wild, allowing a meeple to move up one step on any tile. A 12 is called fear, and allows you to scare an opponents meeple, moving them one step backwards on a tile (of course, if other meeples are directly behind them, they may move even farther backwards!). Once a meeple reaches the final stair, that tile is finished (explored); and the player who reached the room gets all the treasure that was there.
They also, however, release the polterdice of that room! It moves down the stairs slowly, challenging each other player on that staircase. Each player challenged must roll the eight dice and get one magic number 2 bravery. If so, they get two silver coins, and can keep the polterdice tile. If they dont, they must pay one silver coin (in an optional rule this silver coin goes to a secret room that has a polterdice with the same colored background of the attacking polterdice, and the polterdice moves to the next player on the stairs. If a player beats a polterdice that has the same colored background as one they already own, they get additional silver coins.
When one player gets 25 silver coins (20 in a two player game), the game is over, and that player wins. If nobody gets this amount, and three sections of the house are completely explored, the game is over, and the player with the most coins is the winner. Ties are broken by whoever has the most polterdice.
Some comments on the game.
1). Components: I was extremely impressed by the bits that came in this box a box, I might add, that held all the components well and is one of the few boxes where I dont bag everything up meticulously. The artwork, on the box, the tiles, and the Polterdice themselves, is very strange, but has a lighthearted feel about it one that I much more appreciate than the darker art that the theme could have invoked. The tiles are nice and thick, and easy to handle. The wooden coins always one of my favorite ways to count points, are nice, and there are gold coins included (worth 5 silver coins.) The meeples are larger than your average little fellows in games, and a cursory glance at them made me think of small clothespins. Still, theyre easy to handle,
2). Rules: The rules, which come in five languages are only two pages, complete with colored illustrations and several examples. There were a few translation errors and ambiguities, but I was easily able to decipher what the correct solution was. (For example, the rules said to roll eight dice and get 3 magic numbers, and that didnt make sense mathematically but when I looked at the other languages, they all had the number 4 before magic numbers, so it was just a typo, I assume). The rules are really easy to teach, and learn, and once a player learns how to split the eight dice up into 4 numbers, the game really flows smoothly.
3). Website: www.kidultgames.com is a really nice website. Many game companies have good websites, but Kidultgames has really pushed the envelope here. There are beautiful downloads both of alternate rules for the game, as well as a whole new board game Castle Dice, which is a similar but very different game that is fairly enjoyable. The designers also discuss how they came up with the game, and overall the website is a really nice addition providing a lot of support for the game.
4). Players: The game plays fairly well with two players, but the polterdice are not used and its just not as fun as with 3,4, or 5 players. Also, the more players who play, the higher a jump up the stairs can be adding to the strategy and/or chaos it depends how you look at it.
5). Time: If players take a long time to divide up their numbers into four magic numbers, the game could go longer. But most players can do it quickly, and so the game moves rather fast then. The box says 60-90 minutes, but I rarely find that it takes that long it goes much faster which is a good thing for a game this light.
6). Strategy, luck, and the Fun Factor: Any game that has players rolling eight dice per turn is going to have a ton of luck, and this game is no exception to that rule. That may turn a lot of people off, who are looking for a serious game, one where they can prove their superiority in strategy and tactics. However, strategy is not lacking in this game, as knowing how to divide your dice up, and which pieces to move forward when will help you win! Should you be the first up the stairs, getting the money, but losing the chance to catch the polterdice? And as the polterdice comes down the stairs, its a lot of fun as players try to roll those two 1s. A lot of laughter occurs when playing this game, and that is a plus in my book. People have FUN as they try to go up the stairs, and not be moved back down them, and everyone likes rolling dice and moving meeples.
Its obvious, as I read back over this review, that I like this game a lot and I certainly do. Its fun, fast, and everyone who plays has a blast! I do caution that serious gamers go elsewhere, as the massive amount of luck may turn them off. Ive found that this game is a big hit with my game club as they like the rolling of dice a lot. But my wife and I also found it a pleasant diversion as a two player game, and it also translates nicely for a fun party-type game whenever we have folks over at our home. I highly recommend this game if you dont mind a bit of luck and want to have a lot of fun!
A great name, a classic concept modified from [page scan/se=0498/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=10]Can't Stop, and top notch production can't overcome a game that means well but takes far too long to play and ends up being more painful than fun. I hate being so negative since Spartaco Albertarelli clearly puts a lot of thought, emotion, and money into his designs and productions, but this one needed more playtesting and ultimately a reduction in the game so that its length and weight were more in proportion.The idea is that the McDice family of professional gamblers lived in a huge mansion, and today their spirits (the Polterdice) are trapped there as a result of an evil spell. The players will try to climb the steps in each of 16 rooms in order to claim the treasure at the top and also to free the spirits of the 16 Polterdice. Each room has a number from one to 12, and the lower-probability numbers correspondingly have higher payouts but the same length staircase. There are no '2', '7', or '12' rooms. Each turn, a player rolls eight dice and combines them into four numbers in the same manner as Can't Stop. They then advance a marker one stair step in rooms that match the numbers. Markers jump over others, though, so staying close to someone else on the same steps can be valuable. Combinations making "seven" are useless, but two's and 12's can be helpful. A "two" combination (1-1) is used as a joker and thus can be used to advance any marker by one step. A '12' combination (6-6) can be used to knock an opponent back one step on any staircase. Moving backwards, players jump over other men as well. When a player reaches the top step of a room, they collect the number of coins shown on the card. This varies from one to four based on the room number, and 25 coins are needed to win. Getting to the top also releases the Polterdice from that room, and each other player on the steps (not the player who reached the top) can try to challenge the spirit as it tries to escape. If you accept the challenge, you roll all eight dice in an attempt to get two "ones". If you do, you take the Polterdice tile plus two coins. If you lose, you pay one coin to the bank and the next player on the stairs can try the same challenge. The Polterdice characters represent four different family groups and these are noted by the tile color. Collecting sets from the same family gets you extra coins. The game takes far too long and becomes tedious long before it is over because each player rolls dice only once per turn, each room has the same length staircase, players can lose coins in a Polterdice challenge, and you need 25 coins to win with a maximum of four coins per room. In the higher-probability numbered rooms, it is more valuable to be in second place on the stairs and get the Polterdice bonus rather than the measly one coin at the top. In the end, good dice rolling is the best strategy, and while luck is clearly evident in Can't Stop, it is Sid Sackson's genius that makes it a very strategic game. Polterdice does not capture this feel. Kidult Games started out promisingly with Diceland and Dicerun, and in Polterdice they continue their spectacular production with multi-color, multi-language rulebooks. The game is dedicated to Sid Sackson and the idea of using the dice-combination idea in a new game is well considered. It's possible that with a few rule tweaks, such as playing to lower totals or modifying the Polterdice rules, the game could be made into an hour-or-less contest. But in its current state, Polterdice can't capture the tension and strategy of its inspiration.