Recently Buffalo Games posted a question on Facebook asking people how they find the games they buy and play – and actually I get that question pretty often. A LOT I find during Toy Fair, some are sent to me by the manufacturers, some I have in my collection already and then the others come from religiously trolling around the internet looking for fun games to add to my collection. Recently, I was looking at an old post about a Reiner Knizia dice game from Board Games With Scott (*See below) and I just had to have it! The game is EXCAPE and when I play tested it, I loved it – as did a math teacher friend who insisted we play it over and over.
In EXCAPE each player has 2 special EXCAPE dice and a matching X-shaped mover. While the goal of the game, getting your mover from start to finish, is pretty standard, how you get your piece to move is the fun part. The EXCAPE dice are unique because each die has a 1, 2, 3 and X but then one die has 4 and 7 and the other 5 and 6. On each turn, players try to get the highest number when the two dice are combined. So if you roll a 4 and a 3 you’ve rolled a “43.” Easy, right? Once you’ve rolled you can either re-roll for a higher number OR you place your dice on the board (which I’ll get to in a second). 76 is the highest number possible and the Xs count as zeros on your first roll only. If you roll and X after your first roll, you have to move your mover back one space and you’re turn is over so you don’t get to place your dice on the board.
Placing your dice on the board is how you get your mover to advance towards “finish.” In the center of the board, there are spaces numbered 0-5 and if you’re dice stay on one of those spaces until your next turn, you get to advance your mover that number. On your turn, you can place your dice on any one of those spaces provided your dice total isn’t less than a dice pair on a lower numbered space. So if there is a 65 on space 2, you can’t place your 43 above it on space 3. If, however, there is a 32 on space 4 and you place your 43 on the space below them, you get to remove those dice from the board because they are lower than you. See how keeping your dice on the board can be somewhat of a challenge? The dice placing requires a bit of strategy because you want to remove other players so you may choose a lower number, but you also need to advance your mover so you may what to leave your opponents on the board and go for the 5!
There are also a couple of fun catch up factors in EXCAPE like if you roll doubles (1, 2 or 3) you get to move that number of spaces forward automatically. If you roll double Xs on your first roll, you wipe everyone from the centerboard and can place your dice wherever you choose. If you roll two Xs after that, your mover goes back two spaces. Ouch!
This is a great add to any dice-addict’s collection. It’s not going to be easy to find, because it’s not published here in the US, but I was able to find my copy at Amazon.com. (Don’t worry, the directions are in English.) You can also look for it under the name “EXXTRA” but the box art isn’t quite as nice.
*Board Games With Scott is a great site because it has videos explaining how to play the games, but he focuses mostly on “German style” games (which typically take longer than the games reviewed at The Game Aisle). Unfortunately Scott is currently on a hiatus and isn’t reviewing new games.
~$25 at Amazon (UPDATE: this is out of print so look to ebay)
3-6 Players (for 3 players you may want to omit center space 5)
10-30 Minutes (dependent on number of players)
Ages 8 and up