The time and place is Medieval Europe. You are a monk charged with gathering resources for manuscript production to increase the wealth and prestige of your monastery. This is a very coveted and prestigious position (at least I’ve decided it is). However, you have rival monasteries that want to out produce you. You can’t let that happen, can you? That’s the premise behind Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game. If this game sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game considered to be a dice version of the popular game Biblios. Does Scripts and Scribes have enough to stand on it’s own, or are you better off with one of the other dice games out there. Read on to find out!
In your quest to acquire these precious manuscript creation resources, players will be rolling dice and deciding which of them to draft in a round-robin format. Each turn, the active player first will roll the full set of dice, then players will take turns drafting groups of dice from those rolled and applying the results. As players acquire more of the coveted resources, they will begin to collect gold. Once the game ends (accomplished it one of the 3 ways), the player with the most gold wins.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and I’ve found that old saying to also apply to Scripts and Scribes. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the graphic design in this game. I really liked the cover of the box and thought it was very well done. It helped to set the theme of the game and drew me in. Yet I can’t help to find myself a little underwhelmed when I open the box.
The good is that the game comes with a number of custom dice. There are 3 different types (resource, gold and adjustment) and all use unique symbols that make sense during the game play so players won’t need a reference sheet.
But once you get to the game board and the gold cards, the game loses some of its style. The board, while functional, feels a little generic and really doesn’t push the theme home. The same could be said for the gold cards. They work, but they just aren’t very exciting. They almost look like pies for some reason.
I know Scripts and Scribes doesn’t have a big name publisher behind it, but I was still hoping for a bit more from the bits and design.
How to Play:
Despite my disappointment in the graphic design, I found the actually game play mechanics to be quite well done. And that’s really the most important thing. The game board features 5 resource tracks and one Abbott track. At the top of each track is a 6 sided die. Players place one of their markers at the bottom of each track and collect their starting gold.
On a players turn they start by collecting all 7 of the game’s play dice (not the value dice at the top of the tracks) and roll them. Among those 7 dice are 5 resource dies, 1 gold die and 1 adjustment die. Depending on the result of the gold die, a player has one of four actions to take:
1. Standard Turn: This will be the majority of turns in the game. If the gold is showing a 1, 2 or 3 gold coin, than the players take a standard turn. Starting with the active player, each player selects a die or dice from the pool rolled. If you select a resource, you get all dice showing that resource. So if 3 blank ink pots are rolled, you’d take all three of them and move your marker up 3 spaces on the black track. If one orange quill is rolled and chosen, you move up one space on the orange track.
Your other two options are the gold die and the adjustment die. If you choose the gold die, you collect gold equal to the value on the gold die. If you chose the adjustment die, you adjust the value of one or two of the dice at the top of a resource track. This is important for end of game scoring.
2. Re-Roll Option: This allows a player to spend 1 gold to re-roll all of the dice (except the gold die). They can keep re-rolling as long as they spend 1 gold per re-roll. After that, the turn proceeds as a standard turn.
3. Auction for Resources: One of the more interesting options. Players secretly bid for the ability to take all dice rolled and apply the results. Players place gold cards face down in front of them until everyone is satisfied with the amount of gold bid. Once they are satisfied, the gold cards are revealed and the player who bid the highest turns in their bid and then may apply the results of all dice rolled. After that, play resumes with the original, active player who re-rolls all the dice and does a standard turn.
4. Auction for Gold: In this reverse bidding auction, players bid for the right to permanently remove one of their tokens from a scoring track. Players start at 10 gold, and then try and outbid each other by bidding less and less gold. The last player in the auction collects gold equal to their bid (minimum of zero), and then removes one of their tokens from any scoring track. After that, the active player does a standard turn.
At certain intervals on the scoring tracks there are gold icons, the first player to cross that line on the track collect gold equal to the left most amount. The second player gets the right most amount. Any additional players get nothing.
The game ends in one of three ways. Either 3 tokens have reached the top of any resource track(s), 1 player reaches the top of the abbot track or a player has removed 4 of his tokens (via the auction for gold).
At this point, players gain gold for their position on each resource track (the highest player gets the value die x 3, the second highest gets the value die x 1). The player with the most gold wins.
Despite my initial let down on the components, I ended up enjoying Scripts and Scribes. I am a fan of drafting games (I really love 7 Wonders) so the idea of dice draft was really appealing. During the game, drafting dice was actually a good amount of fun and led to many interesting and hard decisions in the game.
Do you take the resource dice that has 3 of a kind showing or do you take the one resource die that will bump you up to a gold level? Do you take the gold die showing a 2 or take the adjustment die that will let you increase a value die to a 6 on a track you are very high on? Questions like this will dominate your thought process during the game.
I also thought the two auctions were a nice touch. The Auction for Resources was a fantastic bidding war where players try and psych out their opponents. Since cards are played face down, you only know how many cards your opponents are bidding with, not the value. Someone could place 4 “1 gold” cards down and make you think they are higher value, thus causing you to overbid on the auction. It’s a really clever mechanic. And since gold cards are actual victory points, you have to balance bidding with spending your victory points. It’s a calculated risk that must be assessed.
The Auction for Gold was an interesting choice that I think works better in higher player games. In a 2-3 player game, you are most likely to be in the running for almost every track and thus will not want to remove any tokens. However as the player count increases, you are most likely going to be forced into having to abandon one or two tracks to focus on others. In this case, removing a token for money can really pay off.
Speaking of player counts, I found Scripts and Scribes to play much better with 3-4 players than with 2. While the game works with two, it’s a little anti-climatic. Since all of the resource tracks pay out for the first 2 players, competition isn’t going to be as fierce. Half the time you will be content to get the second payout. With 3-4 players, someone will always be left out of the money and this makes the game a lot more tense and exciting.
I’ve found Scripts and Scribes to be a well thought out, highly interactive game that also plays quickly. While it won’t be the main course of your gaming night, as a nice filler game at the heavier end of the spectrum and is quite enjoyable.
After a number of plays, I ended up really enjoying Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game. If I have the right number of players and I’m looking for something lighter, then this one makes a good choice. I haven’t been able to play Biblios yet, so I can’t really compare it to that game, but Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game can definitely stand on its own. The turns are quick, downtime is minimal and there is a lot of player interaction to be had. All this are great points for a game.
I do find myself wishing that Dr. Finn’s Games would re-release this one with an updated look, mostly because I really enjoy a great looking game. That being said, the components won’t stop me from enjoying this one. Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game makes a great game if you are looking for something a bit meatier than your standard dice rolling games. And with it’s low price point, it’s an easy one to pick up on a whim. Check this one out today.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $25.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A highly interactive euro game with some fun dice drafting. I just wish the components were more exciting.
• Needs at least 3 for the most fun
• Components feel a little bland