Skip to main content

Private Die (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🕵️ Play It, Sam. You Played It For Her...

2016, 2-6 players
Complexity: light

Harvey loosened his tie and wiped the sweat off his bald head. In the chair opposite him was a hard woman--bad luck in a tan dress with playful eyes and a devilish smirk. She lit a cigarette and blew a puff of smoke out the side of her mouth. Harvey glowered. This witness had information and he wanted. It was time to roll the dice.

Let's See It In Action

In Private Die, you and up to five friends take on the role of police detectives investigating a murder by interrogating a string of informants or suspects in order to gather clues. Each player has a pool of five dice and a character card that outlines any special powers they have, as well as two clues to start.

At the start of each round, a Witness card comes up. The active player rolls a 10-sided die and adds it to the Witness's number to get the target roll. In turn, each player declares how many dice they want to roll in an attempt to get as close to the target number as possible without going over. If a player busts, they lose two clues and are out for the round. If they roll too low and want to add another die, they can spend a clue to do so.

Play continues until each player has rolled. If any player rolls the target exactly, they get a bonus clue. Then, whoever gets the closest to the target gets one clue for every die they used. If two players are tied, they have a roll-off. They each take the pool of dice that they used this round and re-roll them. High roll breaks the tie. Whoever won the round becomes the new active player, and the next Witness card comes up.

To complicate things, each detective has an ability that makes them unique. Timothy "The Captain" Holmes gets an extra die that can be used for free once per turn as a negative die. Jean "Mama" Koller can force roll-offs. Andy "Ace" Noelker can't lose clues from busting. Additionally, each Witness card also has a condition that changes the gameplay slightly for each round. It might nullify your Detective ability, or make all your even-numbered dice count as zeros. It might limit the number of dice you can roll.

If the Witness stack ever empties, the case has gone cold and everyone loses. But if one player amasses fifteen clues, they win.

As in real life...

What Makes It So Good?

For one, they went all in on the aesthetic. The components are all black-and-white except for some of the dice that have some red in them. Every character in the game has a period-appropriate nickname. The card art has the type of art-deco borders that evoke the movies of that time period.

As far as gameplay goes, it's a very straightforward game that plays quickly, making it a good filler. On top of which, press-your-luck dice games are inherently exciting. There's enough variety in the Witness and Detective cards to keep it interesting on replays, and there are some alternate setups available if you want to mix it up even more.

What's Not To Like?

It's a dice game, and dice games can feel pretty arbitrary, especially to we humans who are terrible at calculating odds in our heads. Apart from that, there's not much to it, so there's not much to not like. Apart from--if you want to get pedantic--the fact that police detectives are not, in fact, private investigators.

It's not the easiest game to find and it's not got the most SEO-friendly title. As far as I can tell, it's only available through the publisher's website.

Is It Expansible?

I believe there is a single promo card available.

Final Thoughts

Light, fun, and exciting.

Tune in next week when we build stained glass windows in Sagrada...

In Acquire-To-Zendo, Kurt is going through his favorite board games in alphabetical order. Read the explainer or see more posts.


Popular posts from this blog

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet

Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition: A Thoroughly Unnecessary Review

 Time to save the multiverse A couple years ago I was blogging about my love of tabletop games and described Sentinels of the Multiverse  as being either my first or second favorite, depending on what day of the week it was. Then last year they announced a new "Definitive Edition" of the base game with expansion content to follow. This would be a ground-up rethinking and rebalancing that would, amongst other things, be mostly incompatible with the existing content. Of which I have a lot. This has been a "shut-up-and-take-my-money" IP for years now, so it's not like I  wasn't  going to buy it, but I was at first trepidatious. I mean, was this even necessary? And then I saw an interview with the creators where they talked about what they were trying to accomplish with the new edition, and I was on board. And then the Kickstarter launched and more information was available and I got excited. After all, as I mentioned in the above-linked write-up, the oldest Sen

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m