Updated: Oct 24, 2020
It's a minute to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. We are on the brink of nuclear armageddon...
That's the setting for this pocket dice game designed by Chris Rossetti and published by Rampage Games. It's a theme that will be familiar from the DC Comics graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and you'll find it running through a host of cold war games; it's even a factor in GMT's chart-topping Twilight Struggle. If you are looking for another deep strategy game tinged with diplomacy or brinkmanship then move along, there's nothing to see here. If, however, you enjoy a good real-time dice chucker then 11:59 could be just what you are looking for.
11:59 is a two-player game that comes in a compact tin box. Tip out the components and you'll find wooden bunker chevrons, 'diplomacy gems', wooden VIP meeples, plastic nuclear missiles and two pairs of six-sided dice. There are no turns. Players are just rolling their dice as fast as they can, aiming to roll 7 or doubles. If you roll a 7 you earn a diplomacy gem or you can pay a gem to rebuild a chevron on your bunker. If you roll a double, you either load your missile (stand it upright) or, if it's already loaded, fire it. Firing a missile allows you to remove a chevron from your enemy's bunker or, if the bunker has been destroyed, eliminate one of their VIPs. Alternatively, you can return one of the enemy's diplomacy gems to the supply. Firing a missile means laying it back on its side, so you'll need to have rolled two more doubles to fire it again. You both keep rolling and the game continues until a player either either eliminates their opponent's two VIPs or amasses five diplomacy gems.
The game is simple, so you can very quickly jump in to play, but there are some push-your-luck choices to be made over which of the available actions to take every time you roll a 7 or a double. And this game is the perfect cure for AP (analysis paralysis): you really can't afford to dither for a moment over the choice you make because your opponent is continuing to roll while you are making up your mind.
This all makes for a frenetic and surprisingly exhilarating filler-length travel game that you appreciate all the more every time you play it.