What is this game about?
Like its parent, The Castles of Burgundy, and its small-box sibling, The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game, The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is all about scoring victory points by building up an estate. The dice game, however, is a roll and write game in which you roll dice and combine them to fill in as many hexes on your estate as you can. The game comes with four different estates, each with a different hex pattern—which means that once you come up with favorite strategies for one of the estates, you can try another.
On each turn, you will roll five six-sided dice. Two of them are "normal" dice, two of them are dice with a different color on each face (to match different hex colors), and one is a timer that puts pressure on you to finish your business before the game ends. Only certain pip numbers can be combined with certain colors, so part of your turn is seeing if you've rolled a valid pair. The other, more important part is acquiring and using dice manipulation powers that help you achieve your goals in the game even when the dice aren't on your side. You can score for finishing all neighboring hexes of the same color (i.e. creating combos like in the base and card games), as well as for selling off goods and for filling in all hexes of the same color on the entire map. You are also rewarded for achieving combos earlier in the game—there are diminishing returns for late-game achievements.
How does it play solo?
Because this game is a typical roll and write, there is no player interaction, so the solo game plays almost exactly like the regular game. There is one minor difference: There are exactly eight turns in each of the game's three rounds, regardless of what you roll on the timer die. The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is definitely a beat-your-own-score solo game, but the satisfaction of filling in your estate sheet and using your special abilities in clever ways overcomes that for me.
I very much enjoy The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game. You can get a copy for around $15, and you will absolutely get your money's worth. For me, this game is highly engaging, and I find myself playing it again and again in pursuit of a better score. (I laminated a few copies of each estate, so I will have reusable game sheets.) Sometimes you get unlucky and can't get good die rolls to save your life, but thinking through your options is still fun. I'd say that The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is more enjoyable than the card game, and it's far faster and more compact. There is almost no setup—you just grab a pencil (they are included in the game box), choose an estate sheet, grab your dice, and go to town. The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is perfect if you just want a quick game to play on a work night or lunch break. I have even played it in the waiting room at a doctor's office!
Do I recommend it?
Yes. The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game is a fun little puzzle that doesn't wear out its welcome. It's also so inexpensive that it's worth a risk if you're interested but on the fence.
Overall Rating: 4 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.