As a long time Valeria fan I was very excited when Daily Magic Games announced three new small box Valeria games, including Dice Kingdoms of Valeria.
Of the three new games, this roll and write game feels the most like a Valeria game and features mechanics that will seem familiar to fans of Valeria: Card Kingdoms. But how does it stand up as a game on its own?
Read on to find out.
Disclosure: Thank you Daily Magic Games for sending us a review copy of this roll and write. Links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Learn about Dice Kingdoms of Valeria
Dice Kingdoms of Valeria comes from designer Levi Mote and features artwork from Mihajlo Dimitrievski aka The Mico. It was published in 2022 after a very successful Kickstarter. Retail copies should be showing up in stores right now with an MSRP of $30.
This roll and write game lists one to four players on the box but works well with up to five. Games tend to run under an hour even at the highest player count.
In Dice Kingdoms of Valeria, you take on the role of an Earl managing a small dutchy in a time of war. You must rapidly build up and expand your kingdom, by hiring citizens, building up your castle, creating a network of roads, and clearing the land of monsters. All of this is done in the hope that your dutchy will be declared the Southern Capital of Valeria and you’ll be awarded the title of Duke.
You accomplish this through a roll and write system that has your citizens (and the citizens of all other players) generating resources during the harvest phase and then choosing one of three actions, Recruit, Build, or Slay, filling in pips on your player boards based on the die value and colour chosen, and perhaps tossing in a bit of magic for a boost.
For a look at the player sheets, dice and other components in this Valeria based roll and write, check out our Dice Kingdoms of Valeria unboxing video on YouTube.
There’s not a lot to see here. You get six dice, four of which are standard dice in four different colours with regular pips, and two of which are D6 dice with the numbers one to six written (which should look familiar to fans of Valeria: Card Kingdoms).
You also get some cards and two thick pads of player sheets (each player will use one sheet from each pad each game).
The cards include reference cards (great for teaching the game), end game scoring statues in two sets, and event cards for solo play. Finally, you have the instructions which are very clear and well written and use a larger than usual font which I appreciated.
The overall component quality here ranges from good to excellent. I really appreciate that they used the same style of D6 dice here as in Card Kingdoms as the dice are used the same way. I was a bit disappointed to see that the coloured dice didn’t have tiny symbols on them instead of pips but that’s a really minor complaint.
How to play Dice Kingdoms of Valeria
You start a game of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria by giving everyone one of each of the two player sheets. Players write the name of their new dutchy at the top of the page. The statue cards are sorted by their backs, each stack gets shuffled and then the day statues are placed on top of the night statues to form a deck. Six statue cards are flipped face up and placed where everyone can see them.
Determine a start player and give them the start player statue meeple. In this game, everyone gets the same number of turns and this start player token helps you remember who started things off.
On a player’s turn they take all six of the dice and roll them, then complete two phases.
The first phase is the harvest phase in which all players take part, not just the active player. You look at the results of the two D6 dice, the ones with numbers and not pips, and compare them to your citizen track in yellow at the top of the first player page. Citizens that match the individual numbers on the dice, as well as the sum of both dice, then activate.
Citizens come in four types and you can have at most two pips filled in for each citizen. Each citizen type has a corresponding building in the next section of the sheet, each with multiple spots to fill in. For each citizen that activates you fill in zero to two pips in the corresponding building based on how many of that citizen you have.
Filling in these pips can lead to a chain reaction that has you fill in other pips on other parts of the board, but more about that after I describe the second phase. Note you must activate citizens in numeric order, which due to combos could mean that you add a pip to a citizen in the middle of the harvest phase and that citizen can then activate that phase.
One final note on harvesting, if the dice roll generates nothing, so that you have no matching citizens with pips or you have already completely filled in the corresponding buildings, you get to fill in one pip in the building of your choice.
After all of the players are done harvesting, the active player gets to select one action. They pick either the yellow, red or green die to use for this action and have the option of adding the blue magic die to whichever die they chose. The colour of die chosen determines which action you are doing and the number on the die tells you how many pips to fill out with that action.
The yellow die lets you Recruit more citizens, which will then get you more during the harvest phase. Which citizen you can hire is determined by the value of your die. Note to get the higher numbered citizens you are going to have to use magic (by adding in the number on the blue die).
The red die lets you Slay monsters that ravage your lands. There are four different monster tracks at the bottom of the player pages. Each of these tracks is further broken down into different die range sections. You spend a red die and then mark off the far left box of the section corresponding to your roll. When doing this you also immediately get one gold which you use to fill in the gold chart on the first sheet.
Players receive end game points for every monster that they are able to defeat (a.k.a. every monster track that they’ve fully filled in). The first player to defeat a monster group gets the most points with any other players that defeat that same group getting fewer points.
The last option is to use the green die to Build. Building lets you fill out road pips on the overland map on the righthand player sheet. Here your die total lets you fill in that many pips but those pips have to start off from an already filled in area and must continue along the same path. You can’t split up your build pips to fill in two different areas of the map. In addition, when you reach a domain (a.k.a. any of the buildings on the map), you must stop and forfeit any leftover pips.
Filling in a domain gives you either an instant Recruit action of a specific citizen type or it gives you a way to modify the dice by either adding or subtracting one or by flipping the die to the opposite side.
While filling in pips in either phase you will activate a number of special spaces.
A black circle is a normal space and does nothing after filling it in.
A Gold Circle has you also mark off a pip on the Gold Chart
A Green Square has you do a one pip Build action.
A Blue Meeple with a Sword and Shield lets you fill in a spot on The Wall that surrounds your city.
A Red Shield has you take a Slay action for one pip but you don’t get a gold reward as you do when spending a red die.
A Black Plinth lets you take a statue card from the six face up statues. These statues award you points at the end of the game for a wide variety of things, such as the number of each citizen type you have, how many monster groups you’ve slain, how much gold you have, how many bridges you cross on the map, etc.
A Purple star is worth one victory point at the end of the game.
Filling in a special space could lead you to fill in another special space which could lead to yet another.
For example, you might Slay a monster which (in addition to a gold) gives you a free Build. That Build may have you fill in a Meeple. That Meeple has you fill in a spot on your wall which might be a Shield. That Shield lets you slay another monster (this time without getting any gold). That monster may give you a free citizen. You fill in your free citizen and your action is done.
The game continues until any one player fills in the last spot on three of the four buildings on their first player sheet. At that point, you finish out the round, and everyone totals up their points.
Points are awarded for each statue you have collected, the number of stars you have filled in on both sheets, the number of domains you reached on the map, and the value of the monster groups you have slain.
The player with the most points wins!
What I just described are the rules for playing with two or more players. Dice Kingdoms of Valeria also includes a solo mode which plays a bit differently.
In a solo game, you only have twenty turns. Each turn starts with you crossing off a tree on the first sheet. This is your timer. Once you cross off the last tree that indicates the last turn of your game.
You then roll the dice and complete a harvest phase as normal with one additional rule. If you roll doubles on the harvest dice you need to draw a random event card. Most of these will have you voiding, or crossing off things on your player sheets. While you still need to fill in these items to say continue a build action or slay a monster they give no reward, they are treated as black circles.
Events are punishing but you will only have to face a maximum of six of them each game. There are boats on the first player board, cross one of these off each time you draw an event, and if you have crossed off all six you no longer have to draw events.
After the harvest phase, you do an action phase as normal by selecting one die and potentially adding the blue die to that one to take one of the three actions.
Then before your turn ends you roll the harvest dice again and do a second harvest action. This is a standard harvest action and cannot cause any events.
The game continues until you have taken all twenty turns. Note the usual end game trigger of filling three buildings does not apply here.
Total up your points as normal and check in the rulebook to see how well you did. A total of eighty points or more means your dutchy becomes the new Southern Capital of Valeria. However, anything under sixty points means you lose your dutchy (with a couple of other scoring ranges in between).
Dice Kingdoms of Valeria is one of the best roll and writes I’ve played.
Let me start by saying I’ve been a fan of Daily Magic Games and their Valeria games since first trying out Valeria: Card Kingdoms at Origins Game Fair the year it came out. I did a demo in their very purple booth and was instantly hooked and bought a copy (along with a cool Duke Mico the Monster Slayer promo card) before we even finished that first game.
Since that time I’ve picked up most of the expansions for Card Kingdoms and I’ve also picked up quite a few of the other Valeria games. So when I heard about these new small box Valeria games I immediately reached out to Daily Magic to try to get review copies as I was excited to see new things being done with the Valeria license.
I’ve also been a fan of the game designer, Levi Mote’s work going back to our reviews of Horizons and its Extermination expansion. I don’t just dig Levi because he made a good game that we enjoy but also because of how willing he was to talk about the game and take our feedback on it and how he’s continued to engage with our content since. Even to this day Levi often joins us for our live podcast recordings on twitch Wednesday nights.
Now with those biases in mind, I have to say that Dice Kingdoms of Valeria is one of the best roll and write games I’ve played.
The thing is that I think this opinion would stand even if this was the first game I had played by Levi and if I didn’t have as much experience with other Daily Magic Games.
However, what I’m not sure about is if I would love it as much if I didn’t already love Card Kingdoms of Valeria, because the one thing this new small box Valeria game does, that the other two games in this new series don’t manage to pull off, is to feel like the original game.
The Harvest Phase in Dice Kingdoms plays just like the Harvest Phase in Card Kingdoms, with all players getting stuff based on a 2D6 roll and using both the values of the individual dice and their sum to generate resources. It’s just that in this game those resources happen to be pips that you get to fill in.
Another thing that ties this game in with the Valeria universe is the use of the same icons over multiple games. If you’ve played earlier Valeria games you know blue means magic, red means battle, and gold circles stand for gold coins. The iconography and colours in Dice Kingdoms of Valeria are going to be familiar and thus easy to remember for any Valeria fans.
Moving onto the gameplay, it’s tight and solid as long as you are playing properly. I say that because, for the first three plays, we played totally wrong. Instead of players choosing one die to take a single action each turn we were having players spend all three dice and then choosing which one to add the magic die to.
While this actually worked rather well and the game was still fun, the downtime got to be really bad especially later in the game. We were also starting to notice that the end of the game was turning out the same for every player. Everyone had all the citizens filled in, everyone had explored most if not all of the domains, etc.
Also, don’t forget to get that gold when you spend a red die, we messed that one up as well, which led to another example of Levi being awesome and approachable as we questioned why the Gold Path was so long.
What I think is noteworthy here is that had we never realized we were playing wrong I would still be here writing up a positive review. But, when the game is played properly, it’s even better, way better.
With only taking one action each turn this game really zips around the table, especially with only two players. The game is quick enough, and there are enough statues, that you can even play it with five players and it works perfectly fine, something Levi actually suggested when we were interacting online.
This lack of downtime is improved even more by the traditional Valeria harvest system of having everyone generate something every time the dice are rolled, which is a mechanic that I’ve grown to love.
If I had any complaints about this game it would be in regard to the player sheets. These are only one sided and are very thin. During our unboxing, I note that I wish they were two sided, but once playing for the first time I learned why they aren’t. When playing Dice Kingdoms of Valeria, if you use markers of any type you will get bleed.
For most markers, this bleed will show through to the other side of the paper, but with the wrong markers, say Sharpies, this bleed will go right through the sheets and mark up the surface you are playing on (much to my mother in law’s chagrin, and yes, we learned this the hard way).
Another issue that came up with marking the sheets is that there are some symbols you need to still be able to still see once they are filled in/ We quickly learned that lighter coloured markers are better for still being able to find those point scoring stars, etc.
My kids are actually obsessed with having a different coloured marker for each pip type but I don’t recommend this as it can slow the game down. However, I have to say that having a special colour that is used just for the stars will help speed up end game scoring.
So far everyone I’ve played Dice Kingdoms of Valeria with has enjoyed it, and everyone I’ve played the game with wrong thought it was even better when we later replayed and used the proper rules. Of the three new small box Valeria games that were just released this is the one that feels the most like Card Kingdoms of Valeria and the game length is just perfect for potentially playing a couple of games in a row.
Before I wrap things up, I do want to talk about the solo mode in Dice Kingdoms of Valeria. I’m not much of a solo game player but I did give this a shot and it’s pretty solid. It’s super quick, taking only about ten to fifteen minutes to play a full game. The solo rules are simple enough but I found there was just enough going on that I would lose track of which part of the turn I was in, this was especially true with the second harvest phase.
I also think, in every game I played I finished at least one round by picking up the dice and starting the next one without marking off a tree, giving me extra turns. I really felt like I needed to play solo with someone else there to catch me when I screwed things up.
If you are long time fan of Card Kingdoms of Valeria, or you enjoy other die based resource generation games, like Space Base or Machi Koro, I think you are going to really enjoy Card Kingdoms of Valeria.
If you are a long time Valeria fan in general, this is a great addition to the series. One that feels like it fits in well, lore wise, design wise, and mechanically.
If you dig roll and write games this is one of the best I’ve played so far. I strongly recommend you check it out, whether you know anything about the previous Valeria games or not.
If you don’t tend to like dice games due to the high randomness factor, you may still want to check this one out. Of all of the dice games that I’ve played this has some of the most ways to mitigate the rolls.
This includes using the 2D6 bell curve for resource generation, picking between multiple dice to select your action, the ability to add magic to those dice, and the various domain powers that let you flip, increment, or decrement the dice. Of all the dice games I’ve played this one feels like it gives you the most agency.
Personally, I’m loving this game, as is my usual gaming group, and I don’t expect that to change. Up next for me will be checking out the Dice Kingdoms of Valeria: Winter Expansion which gives you two new player sheets to use while playing.
So far of the three new small box Valeria games Dice Kingdoms of Valeria sticks out as being the closest in feel to the original Valeria: Card Kingdoms game. This is also true even if you consider all of the other Valeria Games out there. I think it is extremely easy to transition to this game from Card Kingdoms (or potentially to Card Kingdoms from Dice Kingdoms).
Besides that though, this is just a solid roll and write that will be fun for people who dig these kinds of games even if they’ve never played a Valeria game before.