This D-Day Dice (2nd Edition) review was made after playing the game eight times. We were sent a copy of this game by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What is D-Day Dice?
D-Day Dice is a cooperative World War II dice game in which you get to play as Allied soldiers who are trying to advance up different beaches to take out key machine gun nests. The game was designed by Emmanuel Aquin and is published by Word Forge Games.
D-Day Dice Gameplay
To play a game of D-Day Dice, you choose one of the scenarios, grab that scenario’s battle map, and put out the different sets of cards. Everyone chooses one of the countries to play as and grabs their unique player aids. Your goal is to use your limited resources (soldiers, items, vehicles, etc.) to fight your way through the map and make it to the bunker with at least one surviving soldier.
Each player has two red, two white, and two blue dice. During a turn, everyone will roll their six dice, lock two of them after that first roll, and then optionally reroll any of the other dice two more times.
Your die results can be:
- Soldiers – This is your main resource. You’ll lose some soldiers every turn, so you have to plan ahead (and roll well) to be able to survive. There’s one die face with one soldier and one with two soldiers.
- Stars – You use your stars to recruit specialists. These are highly trained soldiers who will give you special abilities. Sometimes sectors will require that you have specific specialists in order to move into those zones, so, again, you have to plan ahead.
- Courage – You need courage to advance toward the bunker. When you move forward into a new sector, you have to “pay” the amount of courage shown on the map.
- Tools – Tools are converted into item points, which can then be used to get new items. Items are cards that give you one-time-use abilities.
- Skulls – Each skull you roll negates one other die of your choice.
There are two types of special rolls that you can get: Red, White, & Blue (RWB) and Straights. If you roll a three-of-a-kind in all three colors, you not only get the results shown on the dice, you also get an RWB bonus, which activates one of the unique abilities shown on your country’s player aid. If you roll one of each symbol, you get a Straight, which lets you look through the Award deck and take one (these are basically more powerful items). If you get the RWB bonus for skulls or you use a skull in your straight, those skulls don’t cancel out any dice like they normally would.
After you record your results on your resource cards, everyone gets a chance to use some of their resources to buy new cards (specialists, items, etc.). After that, each unit can optionally move. You can stay in most sectors for three turns, but some you can only stay in for one.
At any point before combat (see below), you can trade resources with other units in your sector. The only things you can’t trade are specialists and awards.
Combat is the last part of a turn. Each sector has a defense value that represents the number of soldiers each unit is going to lose, so you have to have at least that number of soldiers (specialists count as soldiers, too) to survive. A lot of sectors also deal extra damage from machine gun fire, determined by rolling a d6.
You’ll beat a scenario if each unit in your group is able to make it to the bunker with at least one surviving solider. You’ll lose if anyone runs out of soldiers or if anyone’s unit is unable to move when they need to (lack of courage).
Check out the D-Day Dice (2nd Edition) rulebook (PDF) to learn more about how the game plays.
- The RWB system is excellent! It adds just a little bit more tension to each dice roll (especially when going for the Skull RWB) because you usually want to go for one to get the most resources that you can. Plus, there are some great cooperative RWB bonuses in there.
- I love the short dedications that they included for each scenario. First of all, it’s just cool that they honored the soldiers that took part in these battles. Also, the dedications do the job of prepping you for the battles and making you care just a bit more about the decisions that you make.
- D-Day Dice – and I’m just talking about the base game here – has a ton of replay value. The battle maps give you different types of obstacles to overcome, each combination of countries will give you different RWB abilities to use, and the rulebook includes ways to increase the difficulty.
- It’s also really cool that you have to constantly readjust your strategies. You come up with a plan, execute as much of it as you can, and then adjust based on the resources that you end up with. The dice definitely do not play the game for you, which is a big, big plus for me.
- I like that the item, specialist, and award cards are more than just simple dice manipulators. Some of them do allow you to manipulate the dice, but it’s usually more interesting than just converting one symbol into another.
- There’s a lot more cooperation in this game than I expected. I actually anticipated more of a multiplayer solitaire game, but there’s plenty of player interaction. You not only have to plan out each turn, you also get to share resources with each other and use your abilities to help each other out. I definitely prefer (and recommend) playing D-Day Dice co-op over solo, though solo works well, too.
- D-Day Dice is a light and challenging cooperative game, which is a combo that pretty much always works really well for my group and just about everyone else I teach games to. It’s easy to teach and learn, but it’s very tough to pull off the wins.
- A short campaign mode would have been great. I’m not even that into campaign games, but I’d definitely be interested in playing a three or four-scenario campaign where we get to keep the items we found along the way.
I wish they had made a different set of red, white, and blue dice for each country, maybe by just adding in a bit of each country’s color surrounding the symbols. I just think that would have been a nice touch and it’d help you to clearly see whose units had moved over to help out other units.
I think D-Day Dice is fantastic. The theme comes through well, the RWB system is awesome, and it’s simple enough for just about anyone to learn. It’s a ton of fun trying to figure out ways to move from sector to sector with limited resources and hoping that once you make it up near the bunker that you have enough soldiers for that final push. I was pretty sure that I was going to like this game, but I honestly did not expect to like it this much.
Recommendations are easy for this one: If you like war-themed games and dice games, you’re probably going to be a huge fan of D-Day Dice.
I’m going to be writing up my top 10 cooperative board games of 2019 list pretty soon, and D-Day Dice (2nd Edition) would probably be in the top 5 if it wasn’t so similar to the first edition (I still consider it to be a 2012 game). That should tell you how much I like this one. Great game.
Update: D-Day Dice (2nd Edition) made it onto our Top 40 Cooperative Board Games list!