Publishers SeaGriffin are based on the Cornish coast - an area that in bygone days was identified with piracy. It's no surprise then that Cornish pirates feature in the company's games. They were very much at the heart and centre of Pirates of Penryn - SeaGriffin's first game -and they're back, if this time more tangentially, in Dice Splice.
The pirate premise of Dice Splice involves pirates stacking and stowing their treasure and, thanks to artist Matt Tweed, there's plenty of pirate-related iconography on the game's massive pile of 81 custom six-sided dice. However, Dice Splice is actually a roll & stack dexterity game, and Caitlin Russell has cleverly designed the game with incremental rules, which mean it can be played by quite young children but with more challenge introduced for older players.
The 1-6 players (yes, you can play this as a solitaire) players start off by each placing a plank to form part of the base of the stack and drawing seven dice from a bag. They roll the dice and place three of them on the stack. Any die can be placed on an empty plank square and die can be placed on top of other dice if they match either the colour or symbol. Using these base rules, turns continue until the dice stack collapses in what the rules call a 'treasurelanche'; the winner being the player who successfully completed the turn prior to the collapse.
Stepping up the difficulty, you can add further planks to the structure (ie: rest planks on top of dice). Placing a plank is optional and is in addition to the requirement to place out three dice. And planks can be placed either with their swabbed deck side up (all squares available for further dice placement) or with rats showing (players can't place a dice on a square containing a rat). The extended rules also allow players an alternative victory condition of placing out all seven dice on your turn. To be able to do this, you'll need to have dice that match both the colour and symbol of dice already in the stack ('Paradice') and/or have rolled dice that match each other for both colour and symbol ('Splices'). Paradice don't count towards your ordinary three dice placement, and Splices only count as one of your placements even tho' you're actually placing two or more. Of course, you may be pushing your luck trying to balance seven dice on your turn... If you cause a 'treasurelanche', you'll be gifting the win to the player who took the previous turn.
In addition to the eight different colours of dice, there are three 'golden dice'. These have different icons to the others. Draw one and you must roll it before you roll your other six dice. What you roll will affect the rest of your turn. The various special effects triggered by the golden dice add more fun and mayhem into the game, and not all of the effects favour the player that rolls them. There are some other optional rules too, so there's plenty to keep Dice Splice fresh and interesting.
Dice Splice is a fun dexterity game, with inevitably mounting tension as the stack grows and increasingly teeters towards 'treasurelanche'. Just make sure that you're playing on a steady surface that's not prone to jiggling and that doesn't shake whenever players roll their dice. Theme notwithstanding, this is definitely a game for landlubbers - it's not a game to play when shipboard!
If you can't find Dice Splice in stock at your local game store, you can get SeaGriffin to ship you a copy direct at https://piratesofpenryn.com/shop/