The Medici were one of the most influential families in Italy between the 15th and 18th centuries. Her family included three popes and two queens. In the past, the author Reiner Knizia has already dedicated himself twice to the well-known family in the games Medici and Medici: The Card Game - now the legendary author is tackling the topic again and is bringing the third offshoot in the series with Medici: The Dice Game. Is that entertaining? Read it yourself.


After a three-year break after the card game was published, the dice game in the series was crowdfunded through Kickstarter in November and delivered this year. Grail Games kicked off with a campaign target of around 6.000 euros, and in the end exactly 666 supporters pumped almost three and a half times as much into the dice game. So on paper, the roll-and-write has been quite successful. In the following review of Medici: The Dice Game, you can find out whether the title can keep up in terms of play.

Pretty tricky business

Along with exit games, roll-and-write games are one of the big trends in the industry. With Medici The Dice Game, author Reiner Knizia presents his second roll-and-write after Kriss Kross. Like many representatives of the genre, Medici The Dice Game is very accessible and is therefore very suitable for families or as a nightcap after a sprawling game evening.

Medici: The Dice Game is a roll-and-write - dice are as essential elements of the material as pens and paper. Photo: Johannes Grashorn

Medici: The Dice Game is a roll-and-write - dice are just as essential elements of the material as pens and paper. Photo: Johannes Grashorn

In the game, the players take on the role of dealers in Florence. Your task is to fill three ships as efficiently as possible with exotic goods on distant lands and to increase the fame of the Medici family. In each of the three rounds they fill their ships by entering the numbers and types of goods they have completed and then carry out an interim scoring. The star player rolls the five dice and then chooses one to three dice. Then the numbers are entered into the ship and, if necessary, the corresponding goods are ticked on the appropriate bars.

The goods side of the dice have the values ​​zero to four. A value of five is only available without goods. So it is important to consider choosing the highest number in order to enter as many points as possible in the ship or to take certain goods in order to secure the majority and thus bonus points. Whoever receives the most points after the three rounds from the loaded ships and goods majorities wins the game.

The basic equipment for everyone who wants to become something within the Medici family. Photo: Johannes Grashorn

The basic equipment for everyone who wants to become something within the Medici family. Photo: Johannes Grashorn

Medici The Dice Game offers very high quality material for such a small game. The box and the scoring pad are very nicely illustrated thematically by Vincent Dutrait. The inside of the box is also printed and can be used wonderfully as a cube box. The cubes are colorfully printed and feel good. As an additional bonus there is a nice starting player marker and a printed dice bag. The scoring pad also contains 200 sheets, possibly more than any other roll-and-write.

The rules of Medici The Dice Game are quickly learned and internalized. The attraction of the game arises from the selection of the dice and the changing majorities of the five goods. Do I choose the higher number in order to have the most points in the ship, or rather a certain commodity in order to win the majority. The pressure is particularly high in a game for two. The ship with the highest number of points gives 20 points, the other person misses out and has to enter zero points for the round. In a game with three or four players, the second and third placed also receive points. In the solo version, a value of at least 20 must be achieved in order to receive any points. With 30 or more there is a point bonus. Alone the goal is to beat your own high score.

Five dice and the choice: keep 1, 2 or 3? Photo: Johannes Grashorn

Five dice and the choice: keep 1, 2 or 3? Photo: Johannes Grashorn

Reiner Knizia did not win an innovation award for his interpretation of the “roll and write” trend. Does it have to be this now established sub-genre? No, especially not when a game is fun and entertaining even without a jumble of novel conceptual gimmicks. Medici: The Dice Games is independent enough in any case - and it falls under the roll-and-write games currently available. Not playful, but in terms of material and topic. The latter in particular is appealing because Knizia relies on the classic, which today can be described as charmingly aged.  

Otherwise, the concept sticks to the familiar framework of modern roll-and-write board games. Players are constantly faced with new decisions, but without overwhelming them. The downtime is small or even non-existent, after all, the “decision making” is also present in one's own move. Overall, all the games in the Medici series appeal to different types of players, the latest work is aimed primarily at casual gamers, but not exclusively. Fans of the genres are happy about alternatives, especially since the solo mode is more than useful. 

Infobox

Number of players: 2 to 6 players; Solo version 
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Grail Games
Year of publication: 2020 
Author: Reiner Knizia 
Illustrations: Vicent Dutrait
Language: English
Cost: 18 Euro

Summary

Medici: The Dice Game is an entertaining roll-and-write for in between. The rules are quickly explained and processes are clearly structured. The game is very well suited to throwing a few dice and crossing fields after a sprawling game marathon. Reiner Knizia doesn't like to win an innovation award, he has succeeded in making an accessible and at the same time challenging game. Even non-gamers or those who play infrequently will quickly find their way into the game. At the same time, the excitement is sure to delight even experienced players. Which dice do I want to take as the starting player and thus withhold from the others. Do I choose the die with the higher number in order to secure the majority of the ships, or do I choose the other die because it gives me more goods. 

The dice game is a successful implementation of the classic Medici from 1995. The first Medici game reached fifth place at the German game award and made it onto the recommendation list for the game of the year. In Medici, the players also have to skillfully load their ships. Instead of simply taking the goods, the game uses an auction mechanism. After the full ships have set sail, the points are evaluated and whoever has collected the most points after three days wins the game. In 2007 a new edition of the game by Rio Grande Games and Abacus Games was released. Grail Games financed a revised base game and a card game through Kickstarter in 2016.

Medici: The Dice Game is not drowning in the roll-and-write wave, but offers enough entertainment value to inspire fans of the genre. Especially the material and the illustrations by Vincent Dutrait enhance the game significantly. I always like to take Medici off the shelf, whether in a large group or alone.