a white die with a 1 and a black die with a 3.
The cards are monochrome: the backs have a pattern of dice in various
sizes and shapes, and look the same if the cards are rotated 180
degrees. The fronts show a large black die and a white die in the
center, one card for each of the 36 possible combinations, and the
same dice as small icons in the corners, with a number showing the
total pips. The cards are regular playing-card size, and are plastic
coated for easy shuffling. While not exactly beautiful, they're not
bad looking. No actual dice are included: only cards representing
The deck also comes with an explanatory sheet with a simple card game
to use the cards with, as well as some suggestions for using the cards
with other games.
The Games Mentioned in Their Notes
The complete game provided is called Caba, and is a
gin-rummy variant with some interesting twists. The game is for 2-4
players, and only deals with four-card hands. Each player is trying
to collect a set, and offers one card face-up on the table for other
players to swap with. In addition, there is a common draw and discard
pile you may take cards from. Sets are worth more points if made up of
rarer elements - for example, a set of four 7s is worth only 15 points,
as there are six cards that total 7 points. A set of four 5s is worth
25 points, however, as there are only four 5-point cards in the deck.
While not an earth-shattering game, it's actually pretty well thought
More interesting, however, is the Backgammon suggestion
included. They suggest you can play Backgammon by
dealing each player four cards. Each turn you play one of your cards
as your move, then draw a replacement card. This would make for a
very interesting Backgammon variant, though I admit I
haven't tried it yet. You still risk some horrendous luck, such as
one player drawing all the doubles. They recommend using multiple
decks shuffled together as a variant to mitigate this possibility.
However, it could be eliminated altogether by playing with two decks:
each player has his own Deck of Dice and draws only from
that. Thus each player would eventually have exactly the luck that
the odds predict - no better, no worse. In fact, you could use this
method whether you drew one card at a time from each deck or tried
their suggested choosing from four cards.
Other Possible Uses
I can think of many uses for this deck of cards. Settlers of
Catan instantly springs to mind, for example. Many people
complain about the luck in Settlers, and this would
eliminate much of it. Instead of rolling dice, simply turn over a
card each turn - you know the numbers will turn up in the exact
quantities predicted by probability, but you don't know when, at least
until late in the deck, if you've been counting cards ...
Other games can use the techniques listed for Backgammon
above. Any game that uses two dice, such as Monopoly,
Columbia's Victory, Wizard Kings, or
Pacific Victory (for the initiative rolls in all three
games), Illuminati, Galaxy The Dark Ages,
etc., can have the luck smoothed out by using these cards.
Even games that only use one die (Igel Ärgern,
San Marco, Basari, Star
Traders, Ursuppe, many wargames, etc.) can
benefit from these cards: simply read only the white die, for example.
(Though some, such as Basari, would really require a
separate deck for each player.)
Or you can use it in games in which each player rolls 1d6 and compares
with the other player, such as in Encounters: one player
uses the white die, the other the black.
Something they don't mention but which occurred pretty quickly to me is
that one of the Jokers can be included in the deck as a "reshuffle" card.
(That is, when the Joker is drawn, reshuffle all 37 cards together
and start drawing from the full deck again.) This would make for
an interesting cross between the pure luck of rolling the dice and
the ever-changing odds involved in simply using the deck straight.
Thus once the double-six card is played, anyone counting cards knows it
can't come up again until the deck is reshuffled - but they don't know
when that will be if using the Joker as a reshuffle card.
Why Wouldn't You Like This Deck?
You might, of course, prefer rolling the dice. The advantage of
rolling is the same uncertainty that is sometimes bothersome in dice.
That is, if you're using the deck, once the "snake-eyes" card has come
and gone, you know it won't come up again. This can alter the
way you play some games - certain actions become safe, for example,
and other actions impossible, depending on the game. In those
situations you wouldn't want to use The Deck of Dice, at
least without a Joker as a shuffle card.
Obviously, the cards aren't for every game that uses dice, nor for
every situation, nor for every player. They're still pretty flexible,
and even hard to count in games that only use one die: using just the
white die means that each result will appear six times within the 36
cards, and that still gives you a lot of suspense in a game that just
uses 1d6. For games such as Pacific Victory where so
much is riding on an initiative roll, rolling dice can be very unfair.
It's far more a game of skill if each player has their own Deck
of Dice, whether you're using a simple flip over the top card,
or playing one card from a four-card hand.
Recommended for certain situations and games - notably any game with
one or two dice where a lot of people complain about the luck.
These can be found in game stores for a suggested retail price
of $3, though I don't know which distributors carry them. Or you can
contact the manufacturer directly at:
160C Donahue St. #243
Sausalito, CA 94965
ph- 888-388-3649 (or 415-388-3642 if outside North America)
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