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     " For less money than you can buy Bio-Dome on DVD you and almost a half dozen buddies can get rolling on this bad ass little number. "

      Title: Diceland: Deep White Sea by Cheapass Games

      Format: Sort of a miniatures, dice, strategy combat game.

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: James Ernest, the uber genius behind most of Cheapass Games products has created a new trend that he feels will revolutionize gaming. It involves large paper dice being tossed onto a table and then maneuvered and manipulated like miniatures. More than a little kooky in design, will it roll boxcars or crap out? Read on, my Monkeys…Read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Playability: Let me begin this review by apologizing if you spend a lot of time asking, "What the hell is he talking about?" The problem with a lot of new genre games is that it often is very, very difficult to explain them in text form. Diceland definitely qualifies as one of those. Hell, even Cheapass doesn't do a good job of describing what the game is…So I'm gonna wade through this as best I can and hope that some how, some way, it makes sense in the end. Wish me luck.
          The premise for Diceland, as simply put as possible, is that your "characters" are card paper cut outs in the shape of 8 sided dice which are tossed on the table in a haphazard cross between a table top strategy and 1950's marbles game. Turns begin with players literally tossing their characters onto the board and then slowly manipulating them, a single side facing at a time, to use the characters attacks, defenses, and special powers. They move through the pressing down of single corners of the dice, thus shifting them by one facing in whatever direction you want. They fight through basic "high number wins" and take damage by slowly counting down from 8, their values and abilities changing with each new side displayed, and dying when the side labeled 1 comes up.
          As strange as it sounds, it's actually an incredibly clever concept. Part luck, part strategy, and all entertaining- Diceland bridges the very real gap between the over thought creationary aspects of CCG's and miniatures gaming and the often a little too mindless party games that are out there. To a certain degree, you get to control your destiny through your choice of characters and movements but equally effecting is an element of chance…they are, after all, dice- with all the randomness that indicates.
          Designed primarily as a 2 player game, Diceland ends up combining a very real element of strategy and skill with the chaos of a good party game to make a fun, light hearted, and incredibly entertaining experience. And that's really the best I can explain it…Hope it made some sense. 4.5 out of 5

      Layout and Presentation: Deep White Sea is illustrated, more or less, in comic book fashion- Which is just fine by me. The full color drawings are crisp, bright, and pretty to look at. Everything as far as powers and attacks are color coded, so identifying your character's potentials is fairly easy. And, best of all, the pre-cut and scored paper dice are easy to punch out and assemble and require no glue or tape. Keen.
          The two noteworthy flaws, as far as the office monkeys and myself were concerned anyways, were the lack of indicated damage on the characters and the convoluted instructions. Each side of each dice shows the exact same character illustration… which while I'm sure saved a ton of money in development does nothing to demonstrate any level of drama or interaction with the game. Had each side shown an increasingly haggard persona, it would have not only added some essential story but would have shown a more clear indication of how your units were doing. As it stands now you'd best keep very close track of the little number on your guys or you might find them counted down to 1 before you realize what's going on.
          As for the instructions- as I said, the game is very difficult to explain. That may not be better illustrated than in the several page instruction sheets for a game that, if you can find someone to teach you rather than having to read the instructions, only takes about 5 minutes to learn.
          Still, all that being said, it's a fun game to look at and ain't hard to figure out so deserves a comfy rating of 3.75 out of 5

      Value vs. Cost: Now, if you know anything about Cheapass Games you know that their gimmick is to save you money by making you do things yourself- and Diceland is no exception. Rather than coming with pre-assembled characters you have to punch out and fold the pre-perforated and scored dice yourself. I know, I know…it's not that big a deal. But it's the only negative and I had to rag on something here. What is a big deal is what you get: for a retail of $14.95 you get a cute little box, rules, and five whole armies worth of characters! How keen is that? That means that for less money than you can buy Bio-Dome on DVD you and almost a half dozen buddies can get rolling on this bad ass little number. Compared to all of the 25 and 30-dollar games that have hit market lately, 15 bucks is a pleasant reminder of exactly how much you can get for your money. 5 out of 5

      The Verdict:


       Easier to play than to explain, Diceland may be poised to become one of the next great party and idle time games on the market. It's fun, fast, and chaotic…All the things a good party game should be but at the same time has enough of a strategy element that you'll really be able to out think your buddies and use your superior intellect to make them your respective bitches. Sure to be the next big thing at geek house parties and conventions.

      The Good: Great original premise, lots of bang for the buck, and amazingly fun to play.

      The Bad: A little tough to learn your first time from the book and the illustrations are a bit static.

      The Overall Ugly: A great game that's a refreshing departure from the status quo. It'll stay dust free in my collection for quite some time.

      What it's Worth: Market without hesitation.

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