Dice Legacy, Where Fate Decides Whether Your Workers Live or Die
Dice Legacy tasks the player to command a tribe of people who must advance their way around a hamster wheel world rotating in space. “That’s an interesting gimmick!” you might think, but the truly unique feature of Dice Legacy is that all your citizens are represented by giant dice. Instead of the dice being rolled to resolve encounters as they might be in most role-playing games, they are instead representing people in their own right who can get sick, have children and die.
To start gathering resources as one is wont to do in strategy games, you’ll place various types of worker dice onto different sections of the hexagonal board and then wait a certain number of seconds to count down to complete the task. However, to get cracking on the job, you’ll need a gathering dice type suited for mining stone, hunting game or felling trees. Another dice type example is the compass type, representing explorers who can expand territory and delve into caves for hidden treasures, but this variety can’t be used to build things, grow crops or fight intruders. To get the dice types you need, you need to reroll them, making all your dice randomly turn into different roles, but each reroll reduces a die’s durability, which will have to be restored by feeding it at the cookhouse. This means every reroll has to be considered so you don’t wear down your dies too fast and exhaust your food supplies.
If a die gets worn down to zero durability then it perishes. This can be particularly problematic as deaths in the community cause unhappiness within the populace. When unhappiness grows too high, the peasants will revolt and start burning down buildings, which is rather deleterious to your goals. These problems become magnified by the arrival of winter where dice can be frozen after working a tile, putting them out of commission until the arrival of spring thaws them once more. What’s more dies can get sick from exposure to plague-carrying nasties or wounded by fighting in battles, requiring healing to restore them.
Luckily, a bit of clever planning can make a colony self-sustaining. By slotting two dice into a cottage together, they will “create” another dice (and you can use your own warped imagination to imagine how that works) to bolster your numbers and replace fallen comrades. Training peasant dies at the school or barracks will turn them into citizen or worker dies respectively. Citizens, being terribly educated, can work as researchers to build up your tech tree, which unlocks new buildings and can bring higher yields from your workers tending their tiles. Soldiers are pretty handy for defending your settlement from roving raiders or even for raiding neighboring settlements to steal their resources if you’re so inclined!
If the bourgeoisie has expanded too much and there are too many snooty middle-class citizens to do all the dirty jobs, you can even build an almshouse to impoverish them once more and turn them back into peasants again!
Building up the tech tree and experiencing the relief of your colony becoming prosperous and self-sustaining is what’s really the most satisfying part of the game thus far; making each winter a little less deadly than the last.
Dice Legacy is an innovative new style of strategy roguelike where dire situations frequently need to be overcome and a fine balancing of your various dice types needs to be achieved. Far from being random and chaotic as the premise might suggest, calibrating the right combination of dice will tilt the odds so heavily in your favor that chance scarcely comes into it. This will delight the methodical, but displease those who enjoy the unexpected.
What’s missing from my own preview playthrough is some of the interesting random encounters and events that you’ll see in other roguelikes – big turning points offering you a choice to define your colony on a moral and philosophical level (like you might find in sims like Rimworld or Frostpunk for example). Though I did explore some abandoned ruins for hidden treasures where success at gaining resources was randomly determined, there wasn’t really that much metaphorical meat to it.
Instead, the gameplay is mainly focused on juggling job assignments rather than big, climactic moments and decisions. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing how the trajectory of Dice Legacy continues before its big release slated for next month where we’ll see how the dice land on the final version.