Dice of Destiny!

Will your dice defeat those of your opponent?


I was chatting with an acquaintance online, and he told me about a game he was playing with his daughter to help her learn how to count - Dice War! I asked him what the game was about, and he explained.

  • Each player starts with about ten dice. If you're playing this game with the goal of teaching numbers to young kids, remember that if dice with dots will help them practise counting, and dice with numerals will help teach them to recognise numbers and add them.
  • They roll a single die each together. The player with the higher number keeps both dice - their opponent's and their own.
  • If the two players roll the same number, then they roll again.
  • The winner is the player who ends up with all the dice.
  • This game can take a while - on average it will take about 120 rounds to find a winner, starting from ten dice each, but ity may take longer or shorter.

    I tried this game with my son (who is well and truly beyond kindergarten age, so this was just for fun). We started with six dice each, and I won in seven rolls. So, we played again. The second time, though, he had sneaked a 12-sided die into one of his pockets, and brought it out mid-game. He won that one!

    As we played the game, it morphed into a complicated battle game using cards and dice, which we decided to call Dice of Destiny. Here's how to play:

    Dice of Destiny - two player version:

    Materials needed:

    • A pack of ordinary playing cards,
    • Eight 6-sided dice. (Actually, if you're willing to share dice when needed, you can make do with only four dice.)

    Setting up:

    • Shuffle the deck, and deal out all the cards. Give each player two dice.
    • Don't look at your cards or rearrange them. Put the four spare dice aside.

    Game play:

    Briefly, the cards you have are your army. During the course of the game, you send squads of troops from your army to battle the enemy. If you win the battle, the enemy's squad joins your army. The winner is the player with the largest army at the end.

    To begin a battle, follow these steps:

    • Deal three cards face-up off the top of your deck. This is your battle squad. Your opponent does the same.
    • Number cards (2-10) are troops. Other cards (Ace, King, Queen and Jack) are special power cards that modify how the battle progresses.
    • If you have a Jack, you can play it now - a Jack allows you to swap one of your cards with one of your opponent's cards. You don't have to play a Jack if you don't want to.
    • If you have any Queens, you also play them now. Each Queen lets you take and use a single spare dice for the duration of the battle. For example, if you had two Queens, you'd take two extra dice, and be rolling four dice instead of two for the duration of the battle.
    • Now, the battle commences! Push your most powerful (highest number) troop forward. Your opponent does the same. If you have no troops, only power cards, you have already lost the battle before it even begins!
    • You roll your dice and your opponent rolls theirs. The total on your dice is added to the number of your troop card. You want this total score to be bigger than your opponent's!
    • If you have a King, you can play it now. That allows you to re-roll your dice if you don't like the score you got, and think you can do better. Each King only allows one re-roll per battle. The King only lets you re-roll, it doesn't force your opponent to re-roll.
    • If the scores are tied, then both players re-roll.
    • If your score is lower than your opponent's, your troop is dead! You put it aside, in a pile with all the other dead troops or used powers from both players - unless you have an Ace. Playing an Ace allows you to instantly resurrect the troop that just died (if you want to). Each Ace allows only one resurrection.
    • Once all your troops are dead, your opponent takes all the cards from that battle (the used powers, dead troops, your unused powers and their own unused cards) and places them at the bottom of their deck. If you defeated all the opponent's troops, then you get the cards!
    • Then, as long as either of you still have cards in your army, you both deal the next three cards for your next battle!

    And that's it! The winner is the player who has the most cards at the end. Here's an animation showing a single battle between two squads:

    Of course, since I've got two sons, we had to invent a multiplayer version as well:

    Dice of Destiny - multiplayer version:

    • Deal out all the cards. Each player gets two dice.
    • Decide who goes first. They become the reigning champion, and deal three cards face up off the top of their deck.
    • Around the circle, the players take turns challenging the reigning champion. When you begin your challenge, you deal out three cards, face up, just like you do at the start of a battle in the two-player version.
    • The battle proceeds as in the two-player game - except that when a player is defeated, the winner does NOT return their own undefeated troops to the bottom of their deck - only all defeated troops and their opponent's unused powers.
    • The winner of any battle becomes (or remains) the reigning champion. They don't deal a new squad of troops, they use the survivors from the battle they just won.
    • If the reigning champion wins three times in a row with the same squad, they must retire it - they return that squad to the bottom of their deck and deal a new set of three cards. At this time they also return any extra dice they obtained by playing Queens.
    • Play continues until time runs out, or one player has all the cards.

    Again, the winner is the player who has the most cards at the end.

    And that's all! Have fun playing Dice of Destiny!

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