Have you ever broken the law on purpose? Did you rob a bank or sell illegal goods, knowing full well that your actions were not in line with truth, justice, and the American way? In Gangster Dice, players have to deal with the aftermath and behind-the-scenes scheming that made organized crime hum during the Prohibition era. You’ll need give a show of force, strong-arm the streets, or even snitch out your fellow gangsters to avoid wearing some cement shoes.
Gangster Dice is a compact game, with a handful of dice and cards taking up the bulk of the box. My favorite pieces are the character tents that stand up in front of each player that show who they are and what their special ability is. It makes me wonder why more games don’t do that, since it is so easy to look across the table to see what each player is capable of. Plus, they look great on the table. Take note, game publishers!
Gameplay is very simple and can be taught in less than 5 minutes. Each round, all players roll their six dice in three colors, two of each. These dice have symbols that correspond to four different locations or people who players are fighting over; the streets, the speakeasy, the lawyer, and the investigator all have different benefits that activate when a player maintains control from round to round. Each player will have a hand of favor cards which will be secretly paired with dice for a total influence over a secret location and are revealed at the same time. These cards can be used to secure locations already controlled, or to take away power from other players. The goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all of their dice by activating their own special ability or the powers of locations, successfully evading jail while pinning their opponents with their own crimes. The streets are yours to rule.
Gangster Dice has an interesting arc to it, where if you get rid of a lot of your dice quickly, you can’t influence locations as well as other players can. But since bids are locked in secretly, you make a big enough show, you can convince others that there’s no way you can lose, even if there’s only a slim chance you can win. If two players reveal they are fighting for the same spot, only the higher number will benefit and the loser will have wasted a potentially useful card. If you manage to choose a location that you alone want, you win it without ruffling any feathers. The key of the game is to push out your opponents from locations, but spend less powerful favor cards than they do. If you destroy another gangster on the streets, you may have wasted a powerful favor card when a weaker one could have done the job just as well. It’s a fun back and forth trying to decide what your opponent is thinking without making your plans too obvious too.
The special characters included in the game only ramp up the shenanigans even more. One character can lie about their power, risking being called out and suffering a punishment, but can also intimidate others with false influence and favor. The mob boss starts by controlling every location and other players have to fight against them to take control of the city. This variety makes a pretty straightforward game much more interesting. Who doesn’t want to see a newsie fight a flapper dancer?
Gangster Dice is fast, simple, and takes up little room on your shelf. If you like rolling dice and bluffing, you might want to check out this game on Kickstarter now. Don’t make me make an offer you can’t refuse. Does that make any sense?