Published by Arcane Wonders, and designed by Garrett Herdter, with art by Damien Mammoliti, Dice Manor is a dice and tile placement game where the 2-4 players are using their dice to bid for tiles that will form interconnecting rooms in their stately manors. It's a set collection game too because there are potentially game-winning bonuses to be won for having rooms with diverse icons, the most rooms of each colour and the most rooms in your manor.
In each of the four main rounds, a room tile is placed out around the main board to correspond with the numbers 1-6. The room tiles come in various colourways and each shows a number or '?' at its centre. Players each begin with seven dice in their chosen colour. They roll these and, in turn, they place out any number of dice of the same number to bid for the room tile corresponding to that number. To beat another die or dice at the same location, you'll need more matching dice than an opponent. When everyone has placed a die or dice, players re-roll their remaining dice and make a further placement. If you roll a die or dice with the right number, you can add to the 'bid' you've already placed. When all bidding is finished (ie: when everyone has run out of dice), the room tiles go to the players who ended up with the highest bid. For a losing bid, you take a consolation 'inspiration' token. When you win a room tile, you need to position it in your manor so that doors line up with your starting tile and/or tiles you've previously placed (you can't have a door adjacent to a wall).
You don't just use your dice to bid for room tiles. You can also use them to bid for position on an advertising track. End here with the highest or second highest bid and you earn victory points and advance your marker to eventually claim additional dice (there are potentially two more dice apiece to be claimed). Dice can also be placed out in rooms in your manor. These too earn you victory points but to rack up big points you'll need to have interconnecting rooms that'll take dice with the same number. After four ordinary bidding rounds, there's a final 'Grand Opening' round where players only place dice in their manors to boost their scores.
Dice Manor is a light easy-to-play game but it would be overly dependent on lucky dice rolls if it weren't for the 'inspiration' tokens. You start with two and you'll collect others mostly as compensation for being outbid at locations. The tokens are worth just half a point at the end of the game (ie: two tokens are worth a point) but you'll use them in game for dice mitigation. You can cash in a token to add or subtract pips from a die; for example, switching a 4 to a 3 or a 5 (you can even use a token to turn a 6 to a 1, and vice versa). Tokens can be used cumulatively (you can cash in two to move a die two steps) and they can be used alternatively to re-roll however many dice you want. The dice manipulation possibilities opened up by these inspiration tokens switch a game of luck to much more a game of strategy.
Dice Manor plays quickly (our plays at Board's Eye View mostly ran to around 30 minutes) and it scales well for all player counts. There can be merit in just scooping up rooms that you can nab on the cheap (ideally for just a single die) but if you can collect rooms with the same number as the room(s) to which they are connected, it opens up possibilities for racking up big bonuses when you place dice in your manor. The room tiles at 3 and 4 all have two numbers on them - again making it easier to place out matching dice, and the room tile at 6 is especially desirable because it shows a '?' so can be treated as any number. The room tile at 5 counts as two separate rooms. The excitement builds as the game progresses because particular tiles can be especially tightly fought over if they are needed, for example, to win a colour majority or earn you the big points bonus of having a room of every type...
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