Deception Dice Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 10+)
  • For 3 to 8 players
  • About 30 minutes

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Memorization
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Bluffing and Misdirection

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Roll the dice and bluff your way to victory as you attempt to out guess, out play, and outwit your opponents! The key to this game is being a quick thinker, a risk taker, and never letting your opponents see you sweat!

Deception Dice is comprised of 1 “pit” (miniaturization coliseum like octagon box), 40 six-sided dice (in 8 different colors, five per player), 8 shaker cups, and 2 large six-sided die referred to as “Deception Dice”. The “pit” is multipurpose and is used to hold the large Deception Dice, the lost player’s six-sided dice, and contains a quick rule summary on 4 of the 8 sides for easy reference.

Deceptively Simple

Deception Dice is one part bluffing and one part playing Chicken. The players are attempting to out bet each other by making statements about the number of dice that might or might not be available at the table. The key to success here is making plausible bets, not accurate bets. In other words, the players are bluffing and skating that fine line between risk vs. reward and managing their level of risk by forcing their opponents to take bigger risks.

And, yes, this is nothing new. There are a number of other games available on the market today that are the exact same thing. For example, Liar’s Dice which is pretty much the same game. Except, Deception Dice bring something unique to the table, literally. The game’s namesake, the Deception Dice, take a well-known game mechanism and turn it on its head, figuratively.

The Deception Dice randomly determine each round how many dice will be lost by a player and how the round will be played. This makes the risk of each round different as well as the style of play. When rolling the Deception Dice, the possible outcomes that can occur are as follows:

  • Single Dot: indicates that the loser of the round will remove 1 six-sided die
  • Two Dots: indicates the loser of the round will remove 2 six-sided die
  • Reverse “R”: typically, bets go in a clockwise order, but this makes the order counter-clockwise
  • Cross Rip “CR”: typically, only the player who is next in turn order can call the bet of the previous player, but this makes it possible for anyone to call the bet
  • No Wild: typically, all “1’s” on the six-sided die are wild meaning they can count as any number, but this makes all “1” values equal only to “1”
  • Star: typically, the number of wilds is based on the number of “1’s” rolled, but this adds one more wild (in addition to any that might already exist)
  • No Look: typically, all the players can look at their roll once before they make a bet, but this makes it so that players cannot look at their roll at all
  • Deception Dice “DD”: a special side to both dice – if the red “DD” is rolled, the player who rolled the dice immediately loses a dice, but if it is the “green” “DD”, they get to take a lost die back. If they roll both the red and the green “DD”, all the player’s lose one dice except the player who rolled the dice!

Rollin’ Dem Dice!

Game play, as already mentioned, is different every round, but the basic flow is more or less always the same. Unless otherwise changed by the Deception Dice, a typical game round is as follows:

  1. All players take their dice that they have not lost, and put them in their shaker cup.
  2. All players shake their cups and place them on the table upside down so the dice are under the cup and on the table. This is referred to as “throwing down”.
  3. All the players now look at the dice values rolled under their cup without letting the others players see. Note that if 2 or more dice are on top of each other under the cup, the player should call “stacked”, show all players the stacked dice,  and repeat Step 2 immediately.
  4. The player who rolled the Deception Dice now makes the first bet.

Betting and Risk

All bets are in the format of “Number-of-Dice” + “Dice-Face-Value”. For example, “2 Fours” which means the person is betting there are at least 2 dice rolled that have a value of four. To help the player’s make bets, they have two helpful pieces of information. First, they know what values they rolled. Second, they know how many total dice are being rolled by simply looking at the “pit” and counting how many dice have been lost, subtracting that number from the total number of dice first in play. Using this, they can determine the level of risk by attempting to calculate the plausibility of each bet being made.

A player makes a bet and, typically, the next player in the turn order either calls the bet or makes a new bet. If they make a new bet, they must increase either the “Number-of-Dice” value or the “Dice-Face-Value” stated by the previous player by any amount they want. Note that a player can never bet on ones as they are wild. This continues, in turn order, until a player calls the bet.

I Call!

If the player is next in the turn order, they have the option of calling the bet. There two reasons to do this. The first reason could be that the bet just announced is terribly implausible. Second, the bet just announced could force the next player to make a bet that is implausible, in which case, they might call the other player in hopes that they were bluffing. Regardless of the reason, the following immediately happens when a bet is called.

  1. The player who called the bet raises their cup and counts all the dice that support the bet and all the wild “1’s”.
  2. The next player in turn order now does the same thing, followed by the next player and so on.
  3. The last player to lift their cup and count is the player who is having their bet challenged.

If the count finds that there are an equal number or more combined rolled dice values plus wild “1’s” to support the bet, the challenger who called the bet loses a the number of dice indicated by the Deception Dice. If the final count comes up short, the individual who placed the bet loses a the number of dice indicated by the Deception Dice. Lost dice are placed in a tray located on the sides of the “pit”, one tray per player.

The round is now over and all the players collect their dice, placing them in their shaker cups, ready to start the next round.

Rollin’ Singles

If at anytime there are two or more players left in the game and all the players only have 1 six-sided die left, instead of making a normal bet, the players count the dots of the dice. In other words, the possible summed value of all the dice under the cups is being bet on. Note that “1’s” are no longer wild at this point and count as one dot.

No Dice and Victory

In the event that a player should lose all their dice, either through a called bet or through the Deception Dice, they are out of the game. The last player to have dice is the winner of the game.

To learn more about Deception Dice and read the rules in full, visit the game’s official web page.

Prediction

Dice games are fun to play because of the action of rolling. There is just something about holding dice in your hand and tossing them down that is engaging. My love affair with dice started with Axis and Allies and later with role-playing games. My little geeks, especially my 2-year-old, like getting out their dice collections and playing with them. With 42 dice, Deception Dice is going to draw in my little geeks like an ice-cream truck jingle.

But that might be where their interest ends. Deception Dice requires the players to constantly pay attention, and while the game itself is not difficult, keeping a little geek engaged and focused can be. All it takes is a player losing count of what the other player has said before them and they will be hurting. For this reason, I don’t think my 4-year-old is going to do very well as his mind tends to wander, and I think my 7-year-old has a 50/50 chance of enjoying the game and doing well.

For adults, the challenge and fun of Deception Dice will be in pushing the limits and skunking the other players. The game takes on a whole new level of competition and I always feel like a gunfighter at High Noon as I make a bet and then another player makes and bet, each waiting for a chance to pounce on the other.

Teaching the game is easy, but explaining the betting process took longer than I thought. What is obvious to adults is not always obvious to the little geeks. Both my 4-year-old and my 7-year-old understood the concept of increasing the bet, but my 4-year-old was having a hard time demonstrating it back to me when we practiced. I suggested he and I play as a team, which he was happy to do.

When I had answered all the questions, we set the game up for our first play. While I did so, I asked my little geeks their thoughts on the game so far.

“Tricky game, but I love all the dice!” ~ Liam (age 7)

“<shrug>” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

My 4-year-old is clearly on the fence and my 7-year-old is already acknowledging that this game might be slightly out of reach for him. Let’s roll the dice and find out.

Final Word

Let me first take a moment to address the obvious here. Yes, Deception Dice asks the players to possibly lie. As a parent, I am always telling my little geeks to tell the truth and this game would seem to be taking that lesson and kicking it to the curb. But this is incorrect. What I am telling my kids to not do is to deceive, knowingly, when their parents ask them to tell the truth. Deception Dice is asking the players to bluff and deceive to trick the other players. The line between the two might seem thin and somewhat blurred but it’s all about context. Knowing the difference is a very important and strengthens the lesson. I challenge parents who embrace the bluffing mechanism in games as it challenges the player in two ways. First, it challenges them to think through what is being told to them. Second, it challenges them to think creativity on how they should communicate back to others.

As expected, my 4-year-old did not do well in the game, but he did a great job as our team’s official dice roller. My 7-year-old was not very surefooted at first but eventually got into the groove of it, making better choices and better bets, and had a blast. The adults I played with, both with and without little geeks, had no problem grasping the game and having fun with it, too. The Deception Dice are a great touch to the game and bring new possibilities and slight changes of game play each and every round. With the chances of winning or loosing dice right off the first roll, everyone waits with some anticipation (and excitement) until the Deception Dice finishing rolling and make it clear what is at risk for that round of play.

My little geeks play a game of their own while they wait for me to come join them at the table

Gamer Geeks, this would be an otherwise “ho-hum” game if it weren’t for the Deception Dice and the fact it can sit 8-players. The more people you add, the more difficult the game and the Deception Dice make each round unique. There are no tactics or strategy really to speak of other than “don’t make bad bets or bad calls”, but bluffing and memorization is all important. Play Deception Dice with Gamer Geeks and the game can be insanely intense and cutthroat. I’ve even had people become angry while playing! Try Deception Dice as a game filler, an early appetizer, or a late night snack to end your evening of game playing.

Parent Geeks, this is a fun and challenging family game that promotes math, communication, and memorization in an easy-going but subtly hostile social atmosphere. Expect laughs and a lot of table talk and some hard looks as the game progresses. This is one of those games that plays very well with non-gamers, too, as it uses simple game mechanisms and game play that shouldn’t be radically new or different.

Child Geeks, before you play this game, make sure you are up to the task. There is going to be a lot of number shifting, number values you are going to need to keep in your head, and a lot to listen to. This game will challenge you and you must listen to everyone who is playing and keep your head in the game. As soon as you let your mind wander, you’re going to have a very difficult time catching up. But don’t let any of this scare you as the game itself is really very easy and fast. If you lose a couple of dice, this actually makes the game easier and the numbers you need to remember decreases.

I like Deception Dice for two reasons. First, it is easy and fast to teach, but provides an engaging game experience. Second, it is a game that gamers and non-gamers can all play as equals without any prior game knowledge or experience needed. Games that challenge me and are fun to play with mixed groups always makes me smile as it allows me to share my hobby with others who might not want to play games, normally. Our hobby is a social one, despite the fact that most “gamers” are stereotyped as anti-social or socially awkward. You need people to play the games with and there is a level of intense interaction and competitiveness that many other hobbies, save competitive sports and multi-player video games, have. Any chance I get to play games with others is a joy and Deception Dice allows me to do this with ease with a large group of people. Give Deception Dice a try and see if it is the right game for you.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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