- For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 2 players
- Approximately 45 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Bluffing and Misdirection
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Call the plays to help your team win the big game!
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
The roar of the crowd is deafening, but you don’t hear them. All your attention is focused on the game. Your assistant coaches stand a respectful distance away, but are noticeably anxiousness. Looking into the field, you see your quarterback standing in the huddle, looking at you for direction. It’s the 4th quarter with 30 seconds left on the clock. The next choice you make could win the game or send you home, defeated. Taking a deep breath, you call the play, hoping you made the right choice.
Dice Bowl Football, by Corasian Games, is comprised of 14 Field cards, 16 Game Clock cards, 1 Time Out card, 1 Quarter/Down card, 1 Football pawn, 1 First Down marker, 4 marker rings, and 12 custom six-sided die that represent the offensive and defensive plays in the game. Not included in the game, and necessary to play, is a pen or pencil and some paper to keep score. You might also want to use a small cloth bag to help with the dice selection processes.
Individuals need not be familiar with American Football to play Dice Bowl Football, but it would certainly help. Knowing how the game is played will assist the players in making smart choices on what would be the best tactical play. As an extra bonus, the game designer has provided a “Football 101” summary with the instructions to assist players. In addition, the rules do an excellent job of describing what plays require which die, making it easy to learn and to play.
Game Set Up
To set up the game, first take the 14 Field cards and build the playing field. This is done by laying out the cards in the middle of the playing area creating 2 rows of 7 cards each. Seven of the cards have a larger out-of-bounds space than the others, as well as yard numbers on every card, which makes it an easy exercise to quickly build the field prior to play. It is suggested the players sit opposite of each other so each player has the two end zone to their immediate left and right.
Second, take the Game Clock cards and organize them in descending order so the top card shows 15 minutes (15:00) and the last card shows zero minutes (0:00).
Third, place the Time Out and Quarter/Down cards to one side of the Field cards. Place 2 of the marker rings on the “3” position for the Home and Away team trackers on the Time Out card. Place the remaining 2 marker rings on the “1” position for the Quarter tracker and the Down tracker on the Quarter/Down card.
Fourth, place the Football pawn and the First Down marker to the side of the Field cards. Collect all the dice and set them aside until the game begins.
Fifth, toss a coin. The winner of the coin toss decides if they want to receive or kick the football. They also get to decide if they are the Home or Away team. Note that there is no advantage to being the Home or Away team in the game.
That’s it for game set up! Time for some football!
Note: Prior to your first game play, you will be requires to apply stickers to the 12 dice in the game. This is not a difficult processes, but it can be time-consuming. This is especially true if you want to do it right and make the dice look good. It took us about 20 minutes of being exceptionally anal about it, but we’re sure you can do it in less time.
The first part of game play is the game’s starting kickoff. The player who is kicking the football will take the Kick die and the Defense die, rolling both at the same time. All dice in the game come in colors and are easy to spot. For example, the Kick die is black and says “Kick” on each of the six die faces. The Defense die is red and says “Defense” on each of the six die faces.
The results of the Kick die and the Defense die will be a number. For example, if the Kick die value was “25” and the Defense die value was “-4”, the number result would be “21”. The number result indicates the yard line closest to the receiving team’s end zone where the football was received.
The receiving player can now call for a “Fair Catch” (meaning the play ends and first down starts with the football on the yard line where the football stopped) or they can attempt a runback. Calling a runback means the player is taking the football and running with it. The reward for doing so is taking the football further down the field and closer to the touchdown zone. The risk is that the player might fumble the football. If a runback is called, the player who is running the football takes the Gut, Weak, or Strong run die and rolls just one. The results will determine if the football is advanced down the field, no gain is made, or fumble takes place.
Once the play is completed, the Football pawn is placed in one of the grey circles located on every Field card. Each circle represents 1 yard. The First Down marker is placed 10 yards (or 10 circles) away from the Football pawn and in the direction towards the touchdown zone.
It’s now First and Ten for the team with the football.
In the Gridiron
I won’t bore you with the details on how one plays American Football, as this is a game review, not a sports review. As already stated, a player need not know anything about American Football to play Dice Bowl Football, but knowing the terminology and being somewhat familiar with how the game of American Football is played will greatly reduce the learning curve. For the sake of keeping this review to a reasonable length, we will only summarize the game play here and how the dice are used. We encourage you to read the game’s rule book that does an excellent job of breaking it all down.
Note: For the duration of this review, the player who has possession of the football is referred to as the “offensive player” and their opponent is referred to as the “defensive player”.
When a player has the football and they still have downs left (as well as time left on the game clock), they will need to decide if they want to either make a running play or a passing play. For each of these two plays, there are three different versions. The running plays have a Gut, Weak, and Strong run. The Gut run will advance the football, but not far, with no chance for a fumble. The Weak run will advance the football further, but there is a chance it will result in a fumble. The Strong run will advance the football further than the Gut run but shorter than the Weak run, with a reduced chance of a fumble.
The same can be said for the passing plays, Short, Medium, and Long. Short will advance the football, but not far, with no chance of an interception. Medium will advance the football further, but with a chance of an interception. Long will advance the football the furthest, but with an increased chance of an interception.
In this way, the offensive player can determine which play they want and then add risk to it for a possible better return on the play. Just like in a real football game.
During the game, the offensive player will take all 3 passing and all 3 running offensive play dice. From these 6 dice, they will secretly pick 1. The defensive player now calls out the play they think their opponent made. For example, “weak run” or “medium pass”. The die that was selected is now revealed. Depending on the results, the following will occur.
- If the defensive player called the play exactly, they collect and roll the Defense die and the Exact die.
- If the defensive player correctly called the play as a run or a pass, but not exact, they collect and roll the Defense die.
- If the defensive player did not guess the play correctly whatsoever, they don’t throw any dice for this play.
The dice are now rolled simultaneously. The offensive player will roll the die they selected and the Offense die. The defensive player will roll the number of die allocated to them based on their called play accuracy. The offensive player will look at their results first. A number value indicates the yards the play “could gain” and the Offense die will multiply that value. If the die value results in a “Stop”, the result is read as zero. The Defense die and the Exact die are read at the exact same way, with the Defense die resulting in a negative number value and the Exact die multiplying it. The values of all dice are now put together, with the Defense and Exact die values reducing the total number of yards gained in the play. The Football marker is then moved that many spaces forward and the marker ring for the Down value is increased by +1.
If the resulting roll on the Offense die shows “Offense Fum/Int Special”, there is a chance the football was fumbled or intercepted and is now in the possession of the other team. However, a fumble or interception only occurs if the run or passing die rolled also shows a fumble or interception. If it doesn’t, the football remains in the possession of the player and the Special die is rolled that could result in a sack, penalty, or an exciting breakaway! Otherwise, the football is turned over to the other player at the line of scrimmage (where the football started before the dice were rolled) and the First Down marker is relocated 10 yards going in the other direction. The defensive player is now the offensive player, and vice versa. The number of Downs is reset and the game continues.
A player will score an automatic 6 points if they complete a running or passing play within their opponent’s end zone. The player who scored points must now decide if they want to attempt a field goal (by using the Kick die) or attempt a 2 point conversion (by either ending a running or a passing play within their opponent’s end zone). Depending on what the player chooses, they can score 6, 7, or 8 points!
The defensive player can also score points in the game, even though they don’t have possession of the football. If the a play ever ends with the football in the offensive player’s end zone, this is called a Safety. A Safety automatically awards the defensive player 2 points.
Downs and the Game Clock
A player only has four downs (four attempts) to move the Football pawn to or past the First Down marker. Whenever the Football pawn moves to or past the First Down marker, the marker ring on the Down tracker on the Quarter/Down card is reset. If the offensive player fails to move the football to or past the First Down marker, the possession of the football is turned over to the defensive player. Optionally, the offensive player can attempt a punt or an onside kick. If the offensive player is feeling really lucky and pressured, they can call for a longbomb play that allows them to throw the football very far with a much higher chance of the play failing. However desperate times call for desperate acts, and such a gutsy move could win the game.
After each play, the marker ring on the Down tracker is shifted. Additionally, after each play is resolved, the total time left in the quarter is reduced by flipping over a Game Clock card. Running plays reduce the time by 60 seconds and passing plays reduce the time by 30 seconds. The Game Clock cards show time increments of 30 seconds each. The only exception to reducing the Game Clock is when a special team play is called (kickoffs, punts, and field goals) or a player uses a timeout. If a player uses a timeout, they reduce their total number of Timeouts left on the Timeout tracker on the Timeout card. Regardless if a special team play or a timeout is called, the Game Clock does not advance after the play is resolved. Once the Game Clock is reduced to zero (0:00), the quarter ends and a new quarter begins. The Game Clock is reset to its maximum time and the marker ring is shifted on the Quarter tracker on the Quarter/Down card.
Overtime and Winning the Game
The game continues until the time runs out in the 4th and final quarter. The player with the most points wins unless both players are tied. If players are tied, the game goes into overtime and sudden death. A coin is tossed to determine who gets the kick and the game is played as normal. The Game Clock is not used, however, and game play continues until the first point is scored. The first player to score during overtime is declared the winner.
To learn more about Dice Bowl Football and read the full rules, visit the game’s web page on the Game Crafter.
I have played Pizza Box Football with my oldest little geek with mixed results. While he enjoys the game’s theme, he starts to get a bit bored with all the necessary table look-ups. Dice Bowl Football removes the tables and simplifies the game play, but still requires the player to put thought into each of their moves. I like this a lot and I think this new approach to calling plays will really appeal to my 8-year-old. Additionally, I think the use of dice should allow my 5-year-old to play the game, too.
The rules are not complicated and shouldn’t take long to teach. I’m guessing only about 10 minutes as the game is very straight forward. Where I will spend most of my time is making sure each of the players understand all that they can do. Pizza Box Football shows its player what is possible using tables and offers the odds of success. The same cannot be said about Dice Bowl Football. The player needs to know the odds and the plays. This puts a lot of control in the player’s hands, but it also gives the player all the responsibility to know what they can and cannot do.
I think this game will appeal to all the players who already enjoy Pizza Box Football, as well as any player who enjoys American Football. Those players who are looking for a game simulation with real team stats and values are going to be disappointed. This game does a great job of recreating the thrill of a real football game, but the players and teams are faceless and generic.
And so, I went about the task of teaching the game to my little geeks. My 8-year-old caught on right away. He is more familiar with football and has played Pizza Box Football a number of times before. My 5-year-old took longer, but he quickly grasped the most basic of moves and plays (run, throw, kick, etc.). Satisfied, I asked them if there were any other questions. Hearing none, I reset the game for their first play. As I did so, I asked each of them their thoughts on the game so far.
“A quick dice rolling football game! I like that we don’t have to use tables and I can just make choices like a real football coach.” ~ Liam (age 8)
“I like how I can make the choices and it won’t hurt the game if you help me read the dice.” ~ Nyhus (age 5)
Both of my little geeks are correct! Dice Bowl Football does play and feel faster. With no table look-ups, the players simple call the plays and roll the dice. And since everything is driven by the dice, the level of reading is at a minimum and it doesn’t hurt the game play to help little geeks interpret the dice values. So far, excellent stuff. Let’s play a game or two and see if Dice Bowl Football makes a touchdown for the win or fails to score any points whatsoever.
Dice Bowl Football was wonderfully successful with the Child Geeks. The only aspect of the game they didn’t like was the Field cards that sometimes got bumped in the excitement of the game play. This wasn’t a hardship, but stopping the game to reset the Field cards did start to get a bit old. Regardless, the Child Geeks hailed the game as “exciting, fast, and fun”. That’s pretty much as good as it gets for the Child Geeks and they enthusiastically approved the game as a result. Players as young as 5-years-old could play the game and played it well. They needed help with the dice and didn’t play as strategically as the older players, but they had as much fun as everyone else.
Parent Geeks also highly approved of Dice Bowl Football and thought it was a wonderfully easy game to learn and to teach. What they liked even more was the level of thought it took to be competitive. At its core, the game is all about rolling dice, but the players must carefully consider what dice they want to roll, judge the amount of risk they want to take, and attempt to bluff with some fancy dice holding. There is guesswork involved, but this can be reduced by simple observation and critical thinking that will result in a logical conclusion. This made the game feel a bit like Poker, according to one Parent Geek. The Parent Geeks also liked how “real” the game felt. Calling the play and rolling dice left them with a very strong feeling that they were coaches on the sidelines, calling plays, and then gritting their teeth in apprehensive excitement to see how the play unfolds. They loved it.
Gamer Geeks were surprised by this game. They certainly didn’t think much of it when I opened the box and my brief game description did little to improve their opinion. It was only when I sat down and played the game with them did they start to take real notice of it. At first, they thought the game was nothing more than random die rolls that felt suspiciously like a “roll-and-move” type game. But they soon saw that the die were the means to determine how well the players were thinking through their moves and reading their opponent. Each die had inherent risk and the players could leverage that for bigger gains or smaller ones as the situation called for. This resulted in some wonderfully exciting play sessions as players would tenaciously fight for 1 or 2 yards at a time, inching the football forward. After the game was over and the table cleared, the only thing left were big smiles from the Gamer Geeks and words of praise.
This is a simply wonderful game and one I now enjoy playing over Pizza Box Football. While I am not a fan of football in general (shocking!), I do very much enjoy Dice Bowl Football. It is fast, strategic, and intense. I have yet to play a game with a Child Geek, Parent Geek, or Gamer Geek that didn’t fully engage me and my opponent. The game play is very simple and straight forward, but the amount of detail and time put into the game’s rules and actions are superb. Just about everything you can do in a real football game you can do in Dice Bowl Football. In fact, the only thing it is missing is real player stats and a halftime show.
The end result is a game with no tables, quick plays, and meaning choices from the very start to the very end in a surprisingly intense and involved game of American Football! Players must think through their moves and risk it all, but play it smart and reserved when the time calls for it. Brash plays and risky ventures do pay off, but the worst thing a player can do is become predictable. If a player’s opponent starts to see a pattern, they’ll be able to out think and upset game plays, winning every time. This forces everyone in the game to be creative, open to new approaches, and be risk takers. I could not ask for more in a game and certainly didn’t expect it in a sports game. Consider me a fan!
If you are looking for a smart and well designed American Football game where the players are put in the position of Head Coach and call all the plays, were luck can be reduced by simply thinking things through, and each move could lead to exciting and intense plays, do make room at your gaming table for Dice Bowl Football.
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.