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Princess Dice - A Beginning

Sometimes inspiration hits at the weirdest of times. I embrace those moments. They are magical even if the product of their vision turns out to be less than excellent. Other times, inspiration can seem almost forced because it stems from a preconceived idea. This is one of those stories...

I was reading @FatherGeek's review of Martian Dice just a few days after finding his review of Zombie Dice. Both of those games sounded interesting to me and I quickly added them to my BoardGameGeek wishlist. Now, I have never played these types of games. I, of course, played Yahtzee when I was younger, but since developing a fascination for designer games, I've not given dice games like these a thought. What really intrigued me about Father Geek's reviews was how much his sons enjoyed these games. I've got two little ones myself and they enjoy tactile experiences as well. The difference is that my little ones are both girls. Would they enjoy dice games about zombies and alien abductions? I'm thinking Princess-Fairy-Rainbow-Unicorn Dice instead!?

A Twitter conversation with @FatherGeek.

I was only semi-serious with that last tweet, but having never played these games, I really didn't know how to approach the style in a new manner. That is a minor technicality to my brain apparently because during the drive home I could not get the idea out of my head. In the 45 minute commute I had developed the underlying game and by the time I got home I even figured out how to fit the theme.

So here's the story: In Magic Fairy Princess Landtm the princesses have entered into a competition to see who can gather the most stuff. On their adventures, they are trying to gather items, but the Evil Witch is stealing things all over the land. The players race to gather their things before the witch can steal them all and in the end, the princess with the most stuff wins!

Now I'm just a dad, so what do I know of pretty princesses and unicorns? That's where my girls come in. We had the house to ourselves because mommy had a girls night out, so we set to making the game pretty. I asked them what sorts of things princesses wanted to have and after much deliberation they decided on crowns, dresses, fairies, and unicorns. I would have picked different things, but I'm just dad, I'm not in tune with the princess community. They spent about an hour helping me pick out some source artwork and colors so we could make pretty dice.

Princess dice art.

As you can see, I'm not a great artist. The title of the site is not a lie! My girls were satisfied with the designs after a few tweaks and we quickly had a working prototype. Now, black and white images may work just fine for us moms and dads who play our euro-games, but for two little girls who want to play with pretty things, we could not stop there. We had to make pretty dice! This is where having access to a good printer and prototyping parts comes in handy. Sadly, I have neither of those things, but luckily I know Andrew Tullsen of Print and Play Productions. He specializes in this sort of thing, so I built up some pretty dice faces and got the order to him as quickly as I could. We'd need pink, purple, and blue dice, some stickers, and I ordered some cubes to keep score.

Dice in full color.

Now, as you can see, we've got five symbols to sort out on three different color dice. We will have two each of the three dice for a total of six dice in play. One dice will have two unicorns, one will have two fairies, and the third will have two dresses. These are the things that princesses want the most according to my daughters. We will also need a score sheet which I haven't designed yet. That sheet will need to have a score track from 1 to TBD and three tracks, one for each item, from 1 to 10 or 15 or so. These numbers aren't hard set yet and will be worked on through further playtesting.

Here's how we currently play: the active player rolls all six dice. Any witches that are rolled are immediately set aside. For each witch rolled, the player must set aside all of 1 type of dice (fairy, dress, unicorn). The player may then set aside any dice that they want to score and re-roll any number of the remaining dice. Any dice rolled which match a type that the witch is currently holding are immediately removed. Also, any new witches rolled must be removed along with another type of dice. If a player rolls three witches their turn ends and only crowns are scored. The player may keep re-rolling as long as they have dice available, but witches and the dice they stole, and any dice removed by the player for scoring may not be re-rolled. After the player is satisfied with the results, score is taken. Each crown rolled is worth 1 point and the players token is advanced on the scoring track. For each fairy, dress, and unicorn remaining the players token is moved forward one space on the respective track. In the end, the player with the most of each type gets a bonus.

Example time! I roll the 6 dice. I roll 1 witch, 2 fairies, 1 dress, and 2 crowns. I must set aside the witch and one type of dice. I choose the dress because I'm already leading in that category. I'm really looking for unicorns, so I re-roll all the remaining dice. On my second roll, I get 2 dresses, 1 unicorn and 1 crown. I must now set aside both dresses because the witch has stolen them! I have 2 dice remaining and decide to end my turn gaining 1 point and 1 unicorn. It is now the next players turn.

Scoring is not yet settled. There are essentially three scoring mechanisms and balancing them will be something that is done through further playtesting. Currently the game continues until someone gathers 15 of one type of item. At that point, the player with the most of each item scores an additional 10 points. Also, each player scores 5 points for each item that they gathered at least 5 of and an additional 5 points for gathering 10. There is also a possibility that I will make crowns worth 2 points each, but we'll see. I encourage others to test out variations of the scoring system and we can collectively come up with something!

What's left to do? Play the game of course! Just like any other design, much playtesting is required before I can be sure that I am satisfied with the scoring. I simply cannot wait until I get the recessed dice and stickers so we can play with proper dice and I'm sure the girls are excited as well. I also need to come up with some art for a pretty score sheet. I'll get something simple put together soon for anyone that wants to try the game out. I will also send you the sticker sheet if you'd like to print the stickers and try it for yourself. For now, I'm back to designing big-boy games. ;-)

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On to Part 2 >>

- March 06, 2012