Dice Legacy is a fun take on the survival city-builder genre with dice as your workers, though it did take me several hours to get my head around all the main mechanics and research better build/research orders.
Dice Legacy is a roguelike survival city-builder developed by Destinybit and published by Ravenscourt. The game released on September 9, 2021 on Steam and Nintendo Switch and has a unique spin on the traditional city-builder core mechanics. Ordinarily you would have npc workers doing tasks, and if you were playing a tabletop game like this, you’d be rolling dice to determine task outcomes. Well, Dice Legacy switches things up and our workers are actually six-sided dice. It’s a cool concept where patience and planning moves are key, otherwise you can find yourself quickly overrun or succumb to the frozen winters.
Your ship has reached the shore of an uncharted continent. The game’s playing field is a narrow strip of land that rolls forward like the ring from Halo or the end of the movie Interstellar. There is a fog of war that you need to progressively reveal which will net you more resources, but also increased dangers as you work to unravel the mysteries of each scenario. The games graphics and level of detail are stunning, and the soothing orchestral music helped me concentrate on the many tasks I was faced with. You will roll and use your dice to gather resources, expand and defend your settlement, survive the winter, and interact with the strange inhabitants of this eerie world.
Dice Legacy starts with only one scenario active, called Stranded, and we can only play as The Stranded King who has limited starting resources and five starting peasant dice. You unlock more scenarios by beating Stranded, and you can unlock other heroes by completing in-game tasks such as destroying an encampment, forging a construct die or having at least 30 gold, amongst other objectives. As you unlock more rulers, you’ll see they have different playstyles via their starting dice. Every playthrough of Dice Legacy is procedurally generated, therefore presenting you with the chance to discover the secret that is hidden in the mists of the ringworld.
Once you start up the Stranded scenario, you commence playing at the start of summer and weather is perfect for growing crops. You are shown a decent tutorial that explains the use of the dice as well as their durability points. As you put the dice to work gathering resources and completing the cookhouse building, you’ll need to start collecting other resources such as wood, stone, iron, gold, and food. Completing a task costs one durability for each dice used. Once you’ve used as many dice as you can, you will need to roll for new ones. You can have up to 12 dice active in your deck at once, but you can have more in reserve. This wasn’t clear for the first few hours of the game, and I stuck to the perceived limit of 12, to my detriment in the first couple of games.
There will be times when you need a specific dice role for a specific task in the field, such as when working a wheat field or farming wood. You may be under attack, and you have no fighting dice, so you can re-roll the deck to try get one. Each time you roll the deck, all dice lose a durability as well. If a die loses all of it’s durability, it will perish and be removed from your deck. As you begin to build new structures, you’ll unlock different classes of dice such as citizens, merchants, soldiers, and more. Peasant dice can be converted to citizens once you build a school, or to soldiers when you build the barracks. Unlocking the military academy can convert any dice into soldiers. The research and technology trees will have you trying various strategies until you find your gaming groove.
Citizen dice are green and deal more with research and technology. Research points are required to unlock improvements and more advanced buildings. Soldier dice are blue and have more tactical tasks such as raiding and fighting but can also build, whereas merchants deal with trade and monks can heal wounds dealt from battle. It’s good to have some versatility of die within your deck, however as you start to get wounds from battle and eventually start losing some dice altogether, you’ll start to lose happiness with the appropriate class. The different dice classes are represented on the council, and at the end of each season the council will propose a new law which you need to select from three options. These will provide benefits to buildings of that class, and rare ones are signified with a wax seal. As you build district halls, you can use particular dice classes to create class districts which affect buildings within their area of influence. For example, you can adopt a law that stops wheat fields from freezing in winter, which I highly recommend getting as soon as you can.
Winter is a mongrel to get through in Dice Legacy, and it feels like it lasts longer than the other seasons. It isn’t, I just found it much harder to play and progress in my first few games slowed almost to grinding halts. After completing the Stranded scenario, one of the scenarios you can unlock is winter all the time, which is definitely not for me! As dice complete their regular tasks, they have an increased chance of freezing as winter progresses. If a dice freezes, they are stuck in your deck for the duration of winter, or unless you can thaw them out with a brewery. However, I didn’t unlock the brewery until later, so for the first couple of hours I struggled each winter. Steam Generators become critical in winter, but they require 3 wood each time. Doing some quick maths, that works out to needing about 24 wood each generator to last the winter. That’s a lot of resources that are taken away from your progress in unlocking other tech buildings. I took a long time to learn their relevance, and by that time I did I had placed most of my buildings willy nilly without any planning, so the steam generators weren’t really effective. I learnt a lot of hard lessons in my first three games and over 4 hours of gameplay.
In my first couple of games, I got impatient and just wanted to know what was at the end of the map. I eventually worked my way up there, but I neglected my resource flow and once at the end, the frequency of villager attacks increased a lot, to the point I just got overrun and outplayed. One big suggestion I can give to prospective players it to make hard saves at key points as you advance. After a 3-hour play session, I realised I was pretty much at a stalemate as I didn’t have enough research to unlock catapults and didn’t have enough tactician dice. I was holding them back but not gaining enough resources to advance. Then once winter came along, I was stuffed and ended up losing. It was a hard pill to swallow knowing the last 3+ hours ended in nothing as I only kept the one save game. That’s roguelikes for you I guess!
I was playing on standard, and there is a lower difficulty call Pacifist which means there won’t be invading villagers unless provoked, but I feel this would take away a lot of the risk versus reward in learning your personal strategies. I did end up watching some other YouTubers to see how they reacted to certain situations and see what order they researched/built things in. Some advice I can give to new players, aside from saving often, is to rush to build citizen dice and workshops. Once you have built up some research points, unlock the tower under the military tab and place some at strategic chokepoints. This will reduce the number of fighting dice you need to fend off attacks from villagers and allows you to concentrate on learning and unlocking more buildings to enhance your deck. And don’t forget to keep the resources coming in!
Overall, Dice Legacy is a fun take on the city-builder genre with dice as your workers, though it did take me several hours to get my head around all the main mechanics and research better build/research orders. The game is addictive, and I often found hours passing really quickly. But on the same token, I found myself in stalemates and lost hours of progress. Entirely my fault, but if tactical survival city-builders and roguelikes are your thing, no doubt you’ll do much better than me.
This review utilised a Steam key provided by Koch Media ANZ. Dice Legacy is available now on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis