A Frantic Evening with Space Cadets: Dice Duel

September 18, 2013

dice duel Well, I have been itching to play Space Cadets for a long time now. It just sounds very different and exciting - something to experience at the first opportunity. When I was given a chance to play Space Cadets: Dice Duel, however, there was a little hesitation. Yes, "Space Cadets" was right there in the title, but so was my least favorite word in the board gaming lexicon: "dice." But, no, no, let's give this a try. For posterity. I was sat down in front of a station and told to man the weapons. Apparently this was a team game, and I was in change of building missiles and locking onto our opponent while one of my compatriots was in charge of moving, shields, tractor beams and mines while the other one was rolling the energy dice which allowed the other two to actually do the things they needed to do. It's all pretty simple. The energy man rolls a standard D6: 1 is weapons, 2 is targeting, 3 tractor beam, 4 shields, 5 movement, 6 nothing. He can then give the die he rolled to the corresponding action and the guy controlling that action. That allows this guy to roll another die with various symbols on it. When he gets what he wants, he locks that die into place and gives the original die back to the energy man to roll again for more energy for something else. And this is all happening in real time and each team starts with 6 energy dice to work with simultaneously. You would think this would get pretty hectic, and it did for my two companions, I think, but, honestly, the weapon man's job is pretty easy. You just have to build missiles and build up enough targeting to reach your opponent. You can choose whether to put your missile in front or back when you start building it (this matters as far as where you are in relation to your opponent on the map), but you can build up to 2 at a time, and I was told to always keep one in the front and one in the back. Granted, I shouldn't have taken this directive as law and maybe paid attention to the board and thought for myself, but it was my first time playing, and, really, the strategy was more-or-less sound. The two teams start their ships off in opposite corners of the map and the ridiculousness begins. I have plenty of time before the other team gets in range, so I build my two missiles, increase targeting to 6 and then sit around and wait while the other two guys roll dice frantically to move where they want. It doesn't quite work out very well as the helmsman ends up running over his own mine...this is not starting out very well. The other ship gets in range, but because I'm doing nothing, I can see what they're up to and I call out for another 2 for my targeting computer. Somehow they don't have a front missile fully built yet, but once they do, they will exactly be in range, so I roll for more jammers (jammers essentially decrease the range of the opponent). I get another jammer, putting them out of range right as they call "Fire!" They lose their missile into space and I am happy. We launch back and get a hit (which involves rolling more dice to overcome their shields...), bringing us both up to 1 damage. We sit there and trade a couple more missiles, but luck turns against us as I can't get any more of our missiles to hit and they score two more damage against us, bring us one away from death. They attempt to warp away to regroup, but end up warping to exactly where they were already...and where their mine was already, scoring a second pity damage against them. We then warp away to regroup instead. There's some crystal gathering (which allows you to do the warping and do other things), but eventually the two ships near each other again. I send off two more missiles against them, but only one hits. I'm begging the pilot to just turn around so I can send my front missile at them, but he floundering over there, removing movement dice instead of putting them down. The other team finally gets a missile ready fires it...game over for us. Dice Duel was good, if largely random fun (our opponents never missed with their missiles when they were in range, where we missed quite a bit), but my favorite part of the game came after it was over and the shit-talking between me and the helmsman began over why we lost the game. "I gave you plenty of opportunities to hit with those missiles!" "All you had to do was turn around! What were you doing over there?" I would play it again, but only because it was fast, and I'd like to try out a different role. In my opinion, the gunner is a really easy, boring job compared to the others. It wasn't really my kind of game, but it was an experience.

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