Dice-Matching Resource Management Game [In the Lab]

[Image: Soft Tones Dice]
Here's a loose idea for a dice-driven resource management and bartering game. It's very, very early but I want to record it for future reference. Basically, it's a civilization game that uses Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as an upgrade structure.

Players roll 4d6 at the same time. You're trying to make pairs, three-of-a-kind or four-of-a-kind. The chart below what resources each set produces.

11=AA   111=AAA   1111=AAAA
22=AA   222=AAA   2222=BBBB
33=AA   333=BBB   3333=BBBB
44=BB   444=BBB   4444=CCCC
55=BB   555=CCC   5555=CCCC
66=CC   666=CCC   6666=CCCC

You may sum two results to "fake" a set. If you fake a set, it earns one fewer resource than it would normally produce. So, if you rolled 3 3 1 2, you could sum the 1 and 2 to fake a triple 3. (3 3 [2+1]) This produces two Resource B.

Straights can also be very useful, but difficult to achieve. There are three possible straights from 4d6. 1,2,3,4 produces one of each resource A–D. 2,3,4,5 produces two of each resource B–E. 3,4,5,6 produces one of each resource C–F. In other words, straights can be a shortcut to producing resources that you'd otherwise not be produce with a standard set.


Each single result produces gold coins of that amount. Gold coins may be used to buy resources or temporary dice.

You may also barter with the other players to get their results, trading resources or gold coins as you wish.

Resources can be used to buy permanent upgrades, such as re-rolls, permanent dice, resource production bonuses, trading powers, etc.

The goal: I'm imagining a model something like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as applied to a whole civilization. You're first meeting the barebones necessities of an early culture (Resource A) and then gradually climbing that pyramid to reach a fully self-actualized civilization (Resource F).

Maybe A and F should be reversed, since it's far easier to sum two or more dice to create a 6 than to create a 2 or 1. Food for thought, indeed. UPDATE: @RyanAech had an interesting idea: How about fake straights? Like 1+2 4 5 being a straight, giving CDE. Something like that.


  1. I'm imagining something very similar to Roll Through the Ages. Obviously the resource distribution mechanic is slightly different, but RTTA definitely has that "build up a civilization" feel and a Maslow's Heirarchy incentive system that pushes food and reproduction early before being able to build building and greater works

  2. Indeed, Roll Through The Ages is the big elephant in this space right now. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives some basic familiarity for the premise and mechanics. I just gotta make sure the theme and gameplay is distinct enough to stand apart. Specifically, I think this can be done by creating more player interaction.

  3. Interesting idea.
    So I did an analysis:

    Actually, two analyses:

    First analysis....

    Just take the resources generated, without doing the trade-up (i.e. if the player rolls a 3-3-2-1, he'll take AAGGG (G==gold) rather than BB).

    After going through all dice combinations, the total generated amounts:

    A-1048 (~0.8/roll)
    B-776 (~0.6/roll)
    C-504 (~0.4/roll)
    D-72 (~0.06/roll)
    E-48 (~0.04/roll)
    F-24 (~0.02/roll)
    G-9492 (~7.3/roll)

    The "per roll" is calculated as this number divided by the number of different rolls performed, which is 1296.

    Second analysis....

    Always take the trade up if it makes sense to do so.

    It "makes sense" to keep the results of two pair instead of trading a lower pair into the higher number. For example, 2-2-1-1 generates AAAA, where as 2-2-[1+1] generates AA, which makes no sense at all, and 4-4-2-2 generates AABB, whereas 4-4-[2+2] would generate BB, and still make no sense.

    It doesn't make sense if the triplet and pair have the same resource. For example, 6-6-5-1 generates CCGGGGGG, where as 6-6-[5+1] would generate CC, so trading up just means losing gold.

    Results of going through all of the roll values:

    A-1024 (slightly down)
    B-752 (slightly down)
    C-552 (slightly up)
    D-72 (same)
    E-48 (same)
    F-24 (same)
    G-9336 (slightly down)

    (the per-roll calculates round out to the same values above)

    The number of times that "trading up" made sense was a total of 36 out of 1296, so the same chance as rolling snake-eyes on a pair of dice. It would naturally chance once more dice were introduced or powers to re-roll dice, but just on the basic roll 4d6,

    What this also did was, once one divides the gold per-roll and divide it by the other resource per-roll, you have a basic "market value" for the resource, which I calculate to be approximately:

    (based on the first analysis, for a potential "trading with the board")

    A = 9G (sell for 8, buy for 10)
    B = 12G (sell for 10, buy for 15)
    C = 18G (sell for 15, buy for 20)
    D = 131G (sell for 125, buy for 150)
    E = 197G (sell for 175, buy for 250)
    F = 395G (sell for 350, buy for 500)

    My goodness.

    I mathed all over the place.

    Please excuse me.

  4. Okay, trying to translate this into layman's terms... Would you recommend adding more valuable high-level resources to make "faking" more valuable, or should I just remove "faking" as a mechanic to keep things streamlined?

    As for the gold values, that is extremely helpful. Dang, I wish I could deflate those numbers, though. Denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 might be cumbersome for actual play.

  5. Since it is unknown how the "fake" mechanism impacts more than 4 dice, I wouldn't ditch it yet... it just doesn't have a high impact on the base roll of 4 dice; it is likely to be a greater factor with more dice. How much remains to be analyzed.
    Also, it adds an additional player choice. I think, however, you may be well served by having the "fake" triple worth the same as a regular triple.

    In order to flatten out the values, you could either have the runs count as pairs of all dice involved (like 1-2-3-4 yields AABBCCDD), which flattens it out somewhat(or some other yield of more than 4 resources). The runs only happen naturally in 1/18 rolls.(twice as likely as a worthwhile "fake" opportunity).

    Right as the rules are now, you've got nicely separated tiers of resources. ABC make the lower tier, and DEF make the upper tier, where there is a definite gap between them.

    Here's a thought... why not make one of the dice a "wild" die, where one die has a "6" replaced with a "wild" that can have the value decided by the player. It'll happen 1 in 6, and provide for additional player choice.

  6. Also, perhaps there is a limit on how much gold you can earn in a turn. "You earn as much gold as the lowest single unmatched result in your roll."

  7. That brings it more into the realm of reason:
    A - 1072 (~0.8/roll) (~2G)
    B - 752 (~0.6/roll) (~3G)
    C - 552 (~0.4/roll) (~4G)
    D - 72 (~0.06/roll) (~33G)
    E - 48 (~0.04/roll) (~50G)
    F - 24 (~0.02/roll) (~100G)
    G - 2412 (~1.86/roll) (1G)

    (The G values are calculated with the per-roll of G divided by the per-roll of the other resource).

    This nicely nerfs the gold.

  8. If I understand this chart correctly...

    Out of all dice combinations, the most common resources are A, B, and C.

    A appears most frequently and is worth about 2 gold;

    B appears 25% less frequently than A and is worth 3 gold, or 2 A;

    C appears 25% less frequently than B and is worth 4 gold, or 2 A, or 2 B.

    Rarer resources are D, E, and F.

    D is worth about 33 gold, or 17 A, or 11 B, or 8 C.

    E appears half as frequently as D and is worth about 50 gold, or 25 A, or 17 B, or 13 C.

    F appears half as frequently as E and is worth about 100 gold, or 50 A, or 33 B, or 25 C.

    These numbers still feel too big to manage at a game table. They require big denominations of six different resources. Still, it's a start.


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