Nitro Dice Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 9 and up
  • For 2 to 6 players
  • About 60 minutes to play

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Presumed Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • When the streets are dark and the city sleeps, the best street racers come out to test their skill and cars in a race where every move counts and every mistake could cost you dearly.

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek questionable?
  • Child Geek untested!

Overview

In Nitro Dice, each player takes on the role of 1 of 6 drivers who race the curving streets of the city to see who will be claimed the “best of the best” in the Nitro Circuit. All the cars are tricked out and the cans of nitro are attached and ready. The cars are all equal in performance and the only difference between 1st place and everyone else is the skill of the driver behind the wheel and a whole lot of luck. It’s a race to the finish but it’s more than just going faster than your opponents. This race is going to take as much smarts as it will speed.

Nitro Dice is comprised of 6 ten-sided die (one for each player), 6 Vehicle Condition cards (one for each player), 6 Vehicle Condition markers (one for each player), 12 Nitro tokens, 1 Start/Finish Line card, 1 Garage card, and 96 Track cards. All the components are of high quality, colorful, and durable.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, build the race track using one of the pre-constructed tracks found in the rule book or create your own using the Track cards. There are several helpful guidelines offered in the rule book to help you make tracks that are both fun and challenging. The cards connect at points where streets and curves meet and end. Be certain to include the Start/Finish Line and Garage cards.

Once the track is built, shuffle the remaining cards and deal out 9 cards to each player and 2 Nitro tokens. Players can look at their cards, but should keep them hidden from the other players. Hand out to each player a matching set of one Vehicle Condition card and one Vehicle Condition marker, and the matching colored ten-sided die (will be the same color as their Vehicle Condition card).

Each player now rolls their die. The higher the number, the better their starting position. From the highest to the lowest, place the dice on the Start/Finish Line with the higher values being placed closer to the line and the lower to the rear. Once all the dice are placed, change all dice values to zero to represent the racers starting speed.

You are now ready to start the game!

Example of one of the many different ways you can set up a race track for the game

Ready! GO!

Nitro Dice is played in rounds with three phases per round. All players participate in each phase but player order will shift during the phases based on player position and speed.

Phase 1: Speed Determination 

  • The player furthest forward (the player who has the fewest sections of track to cross to reach the end of the race) goes first, followed by the next player behind and so on.
  • On their turn of this phase, a player increase or decrease their speed (by adjusting the dice value) by 1 for free – if a player discards any two cards from their hand, they may adjust their speed by 2 instead of 1.
  • At no time can a player’s speed exceed the maximum value on their Vehicle Condition card.

Phase 2: Movement

  • The player with the highest speed and is the furthest ahead goes first, followed by the next fastest and furthest ahead, and so on.
  • On their turn of this phase, the player will move their dice forward on the track equal to the selected speed.
  • Each player, on their turn, will play cards in their hand in front of them, resolving their movement and maneuvers, until their turn is over.
  • Any time damage is taken, the player’s Vehicle Condition card is immediately updated to reflect any changes.
  • Once their turn is over, the player can discards the cards played.
  • At the end of their movement, the player has the option of replacing a section of track with a card in their hand to add a hazard (card must be the same type: straight, red curve, yellow curve, etc.)

Phase 3: Hand Replenishment

  • After all players have completed their turn, new cards are drawn – the number of cards drawn is based on position.
  • First position draws 3 Track cards, last draws 5. All other positions draw 4 Track cards – if the player is located in the Garage, they draw one extra Track card.
  • Players can never exceed a hand size higher than the current value indicated on the Vehicle Condition card – players discard down to their hand size limit after drawing cards.
  • If the Track deck is ever depleted, reshuffled discarded cards and create a new Track deck.

Driver’s Education 101

During a player’s Movement phase, there are a number of maneuvers available to navigate the track and even cause hazards. This provides the player a great deal of control during the race but their control is limited to the cards in their hand and how the player uses them. Failure to be able to play the right number of cards or the specific card at the right time will cause the player’s vehicle to take damage.

Each time a player moves onto the next card of the track (not each time they move on a space of a Track card), the player must immediately do one of the following using the cards in their hand:

  • Discard the same card type in their hand (for example, if the player has moved onto a yellow curve, they must play a yellow curve card from their hand OR…
  • Discard any three cards from their hand OR…
  • Take a point of damage

From here, things get very interesting. A player has a number of maneuvers available to them to avoid and even cause problems for their opponents. Moving costs speed and Track cards. So, in addition to the rule stated above, playing additional cards is accumulative which means a player needs to pay close attention to what they have in their hand and what they want to accomplish on the track.

Braking

  • The most simplistic of moves but also one of the most effective as it slows down the car and reduces the dice value.
  • The player discards 1 card for every 1 point in speed dropped.
  • The die value is changed immediately to reflect the new speed.
  • The player cannot reduce their speed lower than the total spaces moved so far.
Drafting
  • If a player is directly behind and in the same lane as another player with the same die value or greater, they will automatically be moved forward one space when the player in front of them moves.
  • If drafted onto a new section of track (Track card), the player must pay the handling Track card cost as normal or take 1 point of damage.
  • The player being drafted has the option of braking which stops them from being moved forward but does not adjust the dice value.
Lane Change
  • A player may shift up or down in a lane while moving at the cost of one Track card from their hand.
  • Lane changes do not count towards the total movement value.

Lane Change example: With a total movement of 4, the player can shift up and down lanes to avoid other players without loosing their speed

Drifting

  • A slightly different version of the Lane Change, Drifting allows the player to move diagonally through space to avoid other players.
  • The player spends movement and pays the cost of one Track card from their hand.

Drifting example: The blue dice has a total move of 5 and can squeeze between players and tight spots in the track by drifting

Nitrous

  • During their movement, a player can spend one of their Nitro tokens for an extra 2 movement.
  • The Nitro token does not change the value on the player’s die.
  • The Nitro token can only be used by the player to move onto two consecutive Track spaces and only on a straight section of track.

Shooting the Gap

  • If a player is blocked by two die in front of them that are side by side, they can wedge their car between them.
  • This manuever costs 1 Nitro token, expending on Track card, and every player involved takes 1 damage.
  • The player gets to choose their destination lane.

Shooting the Gap example: the white dice moves up behind then moves through the two dice blocking her path – one gutsy move

Taking Damage and Hasty Repairs

Eventually, a player’s car will take a scratch, a bump, and a dent because the player does not have the right cards to play or due to another player’s maneuver. Every point of damage is recorded on the player’s Vehicle Condition card which reduces the player’s total hand size and maximum speed. In game terms, every point of damage slows the player down and makes the car harder to handle. There are several ways a car can take damage. Luckily, there is also a way to get repairs.

Note that any reduction in the Vehicle Condition card value automatically affects the player’s maximum speed. The player must adjust their die value if it is ever higher than their Vehicle Condition value. A player will reduce their hand size at the end of their turn.

Damage Through Manuevers

  • If a player cannot pay the maneuver costs with their Track cards, they will take 1 point of Vehicle damage for every card they cannot play and is required.

Rear End Collisions

  • If the player is struck from behind by another player immediately behind them, both players take one point of damage.
  • The player to the rear reduces their speed to the same value as the die value in front of them.
Sideswipes
  • If a player changes lane so they strike another player from the side instead of the rear, they may elect to move that player out of their space and into the next adjacent one in the same direction as they are moving if it is empty, both players take 1 point of damage.
  • Players cannot be moved off the track.
Garage
  • A player may move onto one of the Garage spaces but only if their Vehicle Condition value is 8 or less.
  • A player must move into the Garage with a speed value of no more than 5.
  • A player must lane change to move into the Garage and must do so on one of the three available Garage spaces.
  • Unlike the track, two or more die can occupy the same Garage space – there are never any collisions in the Garage.
  • A player can repair one point of damage for every movement spent (for example, spending a movement of 4 would add 4 to the Vehicle Condition card).
  • Players who end their turn in the Garage are awarded one extra Track card.
  • When moving out, the player closest to the track has priority.

Winning the Game

The game ends during the movement phase as soon as one or more players cross the finish line after completing the specified number of laps. The winner is the player who is the furthest past the finish line at the end of the movement phase.

Game Variants

Nitro Dice is exceedingly flexible and allows the players to make their own tracks for extra challenge and fun. Included in the rule book are the following optional game rules that can be used.

  • Disaster Area: The track is built using randomly drawn hazards. Players take turns placing the hazards on the track.
  • Lap Leader: The first player to cross the line for every lap is awarded 2 bonus Track cards.
  • Nitro Madness: Nitro token may be used for a boost of 3 instead of 2, but does 1 point of damage by doing so.
You can read more about the game, including the complete rule book, by visiting Minion Games.

Prediction

The little geeks in my family will not be playing this game until they are older. While the game itself is not exceedingly difficult and my oldest (age 7) could certainly handle it, the artwork on the box and on 3 of the character cards immediately made my wife and I squirm. There’s just a bit too much sexuality being depicted where I do not feel comfortable putting it in front of my kids or anyone’s kids, for that matter.

Yes, I know I’m coming off as a prude and others will quickly jump in and state that there is nothing wrong with the Anime-like cartoonish illustrations. From an adult standpoint, I completely agree. I find them over the top and silly. From a parent’s perspective, I don’t think they are appropriate for a 7 and 4-year-old little boys who are exceedingly impressionable. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting them in front of a 9-year-old either, which is the youngest the publishers suggest play the game. In the end, it is up to you, the parents, to determine what is best for your kids and no one else, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Here is an example of two of the three female character’s in the game. They are depicted in the rule book, on the back of the character cards, and I must emphasis, nowhere else. In fact, the character illustrations are on the opposite side of the Vehicle Condition cards which means  a player will hardly ever see the illustrated characters unless they flip their card over.

Two examples of the illustrated characters the player’s can control in the game – vavoom

But let’s put this bit of controversy aside as it represents an exceedingly small portion of the game. The real focus should be on the game play itself and not the choice of art direction. With that in mind and after reading the rules, I predict that Nitro Dice will be well received by my gamer friends, adults, and older kids (teens). It’s a thinking game with a good deal of hand management, risk/reward, and player mischief.

Let’s get to the game, play it a few times, and see if it’s a going concern or just another game to put on the shelf and collection dust.

Final Word

I fully appreciate that there are going to be games available to me today that I cannot play with my little geeks due to content, topic, theme, or narrative. This is not a great hardship as there are so many, many wonderful games available to play, today, that it makes this fact nothing more than a bitter-sweet footnote in a long list of wonderful game playing experiences. Still, when you come across a game that you enjoy playing, like Nitro Dice, and you can see the potential enjoyment your little geeks will get out of it, you can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed when you know you have to wait. Until my little geeks are older and mature enough to see the artwork of the game to be nothing more than over the top and tongue in cheek, Nitro Dice will only be making its way to the table when I am playing with my gamer buddies or adults.

Nitro Dice might be a race game, but it isn’t a fast one. You’ll be spending your time thinking through your turn, scrutinizing the track, and deciding how best to spend your cards. This is not a roll-n-move affair and some might be taken back by how long a person can take on their turn. This is especially true when you consider the theme of the game implies speed. For those looking for a fast, on the edge of your seat, racing game, Nitro Dice will disappoint.

Nitro Dice is a wonderful thinking game with strategy and tactics in abundance. The hand management and multiple maneuvers allows the player to really take control of their car and drive it as safely or as recklessly as they like. There is also a good number of ways for players to mess with each other which provides entertaining player interaction and an entirely different level of tactics to use to slow the other racers down. The end result is a game experience that really feels like you are the driver, but just not at 100 MPH.

Players will take their time to decide how best to race ahead or how to do the most possible damage to an opponent!

Gamer Geeks, this is going to be an enjoyable game for those of you who like to strategize and think through your moves versus constantly reacting and playing catch up. The level of control over your own car as well as the ability to reduce the effectiveness of other players through maneuvers and placing hazards makes the game seem almost Chess like in its approach to victory. This game is best played with smaller tracks with multiple laps and with more than 2 players for extra challenge and mayhem. Victory will go to the stronger player, not the fastest car.

Parent Geeks, this is a solid game with excellent emphasis on logical thinking with risk vs. reward. There is also a great deal of fun to be had to push the player’s own luck to cause their opponent much grief on the track. This makes for some great moments where a simple lane pass could end up being a total crash for both players if not played correctly. The player’s will also have to do some serious thinking ahead as all risk management is done through cards and how the player’s use them. The end result is a race game with emphasis on control vs. speed. Unfortunately, and the reason why Nitro Dice is “questionable” from a Parent Geek perspective, the artwork might be frowned upon by some parents because of the age of their children and the sexuality depicted. Judge for yourself the merits of the game versus the artwork and I think you’ll find the game wins out. Keep in mind you can always play this game later as games never go out of style or lose their ability to be played (unlike video games).

Child Geeks, when you are allowed to play this game, expect to be challenged and entertained. This is a neat game that will allow you to plan your moves and race your car as you would want to race it. Want to go fast? Step on the pedal, hard! Want to take your time around the track to ensure you have the speed and control when you need it most? Drop your speed and let the hotheads crash themselves up allowing you an easy victory. There is so much you can do with your car and is in your control, you’ll feel like you are a real driver!

Well, this is a first for Father Geek. I let my kids play games where there are pictures of zombies and monsters, but breasts and a lot of midriff makes me feel uncomfortable. I wonder what this says about me as a person? I’m sure a psychologist would have fun with this one. But isn’t it interesting how we, as parents, have these strange double standards? My wife and I have no problem with images of gruesome zombies (within reason), but flash a little skin (even in a cartoonish way), and we start covering our childrens’ eyes.

Nitro Dice is a very entertaining game and is unique in its way of how the game is played in comparison to other race games. I greatly enjoy it and look forward to the day I feel my little geeks are mature enough and have a good grasp on sexuality. This is a very strange statement as sexuality has nothing to do with the game itself, but it’s there. Presentation is the second most important aspect of a game (the first is the fun value), but it can trump everything if not done right or is done is a way that turns a potential player off. I do recommend Nitro Dice, however, and think it is worth your time – just make sure you have the right audience.

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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4 Responses to Nitro Dice Game Review

  1. Jason says:

    Nice review – in depth and good format and comprehensive. And I don’t think you’re being prudish regarding the artwork, at all. In fact, I think the artwork would be too impressionable for even junior high boys who are generally immature with such images! So I’d question the 9+ age rating, personally. It’s one of my big rants (as my gaming group is my kids) that these publishers have to have art like this when the game doesn’t even need it and would play just as well with other images appropriate for all ages!

    • Cyrus says:

      Thanks for reading, Jason!

      I simply don’t understand the art direction on this one. What does sex appeal have to do with a card game about racing? None.

      A real shame as this wonderful game will not be in front of my little geeks for sometime, nor will I bring it out when I host family game days, or have game groups with mixed ages with individuals below the age of 9. In fact, I even feel compelled to pass it by parents before I even suggest it with older kids.

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