Zorro is retiring, and is in search of a successor to wear the mask—will it be you?
What Is The Zorro Dice Game?
The Zorro Dice Game is a dice game for 2 to 6 players, ages 13 and up, and takes about 15–30 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $15 for a copy of the base game, or $23 if you want to include the expansion (which also expands the game to 8 players). There are also some higher pledge tiers for deluxe editions of the game, which will add things like custom meeples, card sleeves, and so on. Although the box says “13+,” I think the rules are easy enough that you could play with kids as young as 8.
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The Zorro Dice Game components. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu The Zorro Dice Game Components
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.
Here’s what comes in the base game box:
6 Zorro dice (black) 8 Hero dice (2 each in 4 colors) 6 pawns 16 Heroic Feat cards 7 Premium Equipment cards 22 Common Equipment cards 4 Scoundrel cards 4 Villain cards Zorro mask (not included in my prototype)
I’ll focus on the base game in this review; you can find out more about what’s included in the expansion and deluxe editions on the Kickstarter page.
The six faces of the Zorro dice. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
The dice are small, custom dice, engraved and painted. The Zorro dice are black and have six faces: charm, leap, dash, grab, thrust, and taunt (the iconic “Z”), each with its own icon and color (though the sword and “Z” are both white).
Hero dice help you focus on one skill. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
The hero dice are colored like the four basic actions: each one has four faces matching the corresponding action, and then one sword and one taunt.
The backs of the scoundrel and villain cards. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
The illustrations on the cards, by Loic Billiau and Adrienne Ezell, portray Zorro and various townsfolk and evildoers in a cartoony style that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You get a mix of swashbuckling and humor, with “heroic” feats that include saving damsels in distress, exposing corruption, and—my favorite—the “unnecessary swinging entrance.” Each of the locations—plaza, market, tavern, and farm—has its own associated feats, as well, as a scoundrel and a villain. The locations are named in the rulebook, but on the cards they’re only indicated with the initials and colors, so it’s not immediately obvious what the letters stand for if you didn’t read the rulebook yourself.
Heroic feats take place at four different locations. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
The heroic feat cards have the location icons on the edges of the card, so that when you place two of them side-by-side, they line up… but not quite. Each card has slightly more than half the icon, so you get a rectangle instead of a square. I’m not sure if that will be changed in the final version; it doesn’t really affect gameplay, but it really bugged my daughter that they didn’t line up perfectly.
The pawns in the basic version of the game are just standard plastic pawns. The funny thing to me is that they’re basically only needed in the final battle with the villain. You’re meant to use them to mark which heroic feat you’re attempting on your turn, but since players take turns one at a time, it’s not difficult to just point at it.
The game comes in the new “Pull the Pin” box style. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
Recently, Overworld Games announced a name change to Pull the Pin Games, with a plan to focus on quick, easy-to-learn games that accommodate larger groups (like Good Cop Bad Cop, their first release from 2014). Their new package design is a slim rectangular box with a magnetic lid—you pull the “pin” (the hanger tab) to slide the box out of a sleeve. The Zorro Dice Game will use this new package style.
How to Play The Zorro Dice Game
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to become Zorro’s successor by defeating the villain (and, if necessary, other would-be Zorros).
Game setup: scoundrels and villains at top, feats and equipment at bottom. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. LiuSetup
Set out the scoundrels and villains face-up, and place a corresponding hero die on each card.
Shuffle the common equipment cards and lay out four face-up on the table. Then, shuffle the heroic feats and place one heroic feat face-up on top of each equipment card.
Give each player a pawn. The player who most recently completed a heroic feat goes first and takes the black Zorro dice.
There are various heroic feats available to attempt. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. LiuGameplay
On your turn, you choose one of the available heroic feats to attempt. Roll the Zorro dice (along with any hero dice you may have acquired). You get 3 rolls total, Yahtzee-style, and you can set aside any of the dice to keep when you’re re-rolling. Each feat has four requirements (generally 2 of one symbol and 2 of another) to succeed.
Common equipment cards give you an extra die result, or allow you to re-roll certain dice. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
If you succeed, you take the heroic feat card, and then you may choose either the face-up equipment below it or the top card from the common equipment deck. (Unclaimed equipment goes to the bottom of the deck.) Then, reveal a new common equipment and a new heroic feat to go with it.
You can also ask for help from one other player before you attempt a feat: if they join you, you may use any of their equipment in addition to yours. Also, after you have completed your rolls, they may take an additional roll that includes any hero dice they have acquired. If you agree to help somebody and they succeed (whether your help was needed or not), you get a common equipment card—either the face-up one if unclaimed, or one off the top of the deck if you prefer.
Win or lose, your turn ends and it’s the next player’s turn.
Completing two heroic feats at the same location earns you a hero die. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
If you complete two heroic feats in the same location, you claim the corresponding hero die. This is also true if you complete a third heroic feat in the same location. When the first hero die for a location is claimed, the scoundrel appears to fight everyone; when the second die is claimed, the villain appears!
The scoundrels and villain from the Plaza. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
When the scoundrels appear, they will attack each player in turn order until they’re defeated or everyone has faced them once. Scoundrels have special abilities that will affect your turn, and they must be faced solo, without asking for help. Each of the scoundrels requires 1 sword and 3 of the symbol corresponding to their location color. If you defeat a scoundrel, you may claim a premium equipment.
Premium equipment is more powerful, and each card is unique. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
Note that you are limited to 3 equipment total, and only 1 may be a premium equipment.
When the second hero die at a location is claimed, the villain appears, which moves into the final phase of the game. The villain will also appear if the last heroic feat is drawn from the deck, in which case the villain of that feat’s color is used.
Everyone has one chance to face the villain (even if it is defeated by a player). In turn order, each player faces the villain alone, and then place their pawn standing if they succeeded or tipped over if they failed.
Green and Black defeated the villain, so now they face off against each other. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. LiuIf only one player was able to defeat the villain, they win the game and become the new Zorro!
Otherwise, if multiple players defeated the villain (or if no players defeated the villain), then those tied players will face off in a duel. In turn order, each player rolls their available dice just like a regular turn, trying to get as many swords as possible. If you are unable to meet or exceed the current record for most swords, you drop out of the duel. The last person left in the duel wins the game! (Of course, in the case where nobody defeated the villain, the new Zorro seems like a poor substitute, but sometimes we get the heroes we deserve.)
Why You Should Play The Zorro Dice Game
The Zorro Dice Game is a pretty light game that definitely fits Pull the Pin’s goal of quick games for large groups. I’ve played with a range of player counts and, though it does take a little longer with more players, it still tends to stay within about half an hour. The rules are pretty straightforward: roll dice, try to match the symbols, and get equipment that makes you better at future rolls. Focusing on feats from the same locations can get you hero dice, which are great for rolling that particular color symbol.
Because the scoundrels and villains appear based on how many feats at a location have been accomplished, the players’ choices can drive the length of the game. For instance, if one single player does 3 feats at the same location, the game could be over in as little as 3 rounds (not counting the scoundrels fight and the villain fight). But if players fight over the same locations and prevent anyone from claiming two of the same, the game could last until most of the heroic feats deck runs out.
The ability to ask other players for help adds some interesting interactions: if you ask for help and they agree, they’ll earn an equipment if you succeed even if you didn’t end up needing their help. If somebody asks you for help, you may be able to earn some new equipment, but you also risk making your rival more powerful. Another option is that, if one player is coming close to claiming a hero die, the other players might cooperate to claim feats at that location so they have a little longer to build up before the villain fight.
At the farm, the scoundrels and villain affect how many dice you can keep per roll. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
One of the interesting features about The Zorro Dice Game is that nobody is eliminated until the end (if there’s a final duel). Even if you haven’t manage to accomplish any heroic feats before the villain appears, you still have a chance to win the game. True, the odds are against you, but who is Zorro without some risky gambles? In some cases, equipment and hero dice won’t be as helpful. For instance, if you’re up against the green villain, then none of the equipment that gives you extra icons will help if they aren’t dashes or taunts. Likewise, any hero dice that aren’t green give you a chance to roll a taunt, but won’t help you get the four dashes you need. I like the fact that nobody’s out of the game, even if they feel like they’re doing poorly.
The fact that the villains require four of a symbol to defeat can also give you a tactical advantage when choosing heroic feats. Depending on the equipment and dice you have, some villains will be easier to defeat than others. You also have to take into account their special abilities and how they’ll affect you and the other players. If you pursue the right feats, you may be able to direct the course of the narrative to your advantage. I’ve had games end with just a single player defeating the villain and becoming the undisputed Zorro, and some that ended with several players in a final duel, putting all their equipment to use in an attempt to pull ahead.
If you like dice games, The Zorro Dice Game is worth a look: the option to ask for help adds a little more interaction than is commonly present in turn-based dice games, and I like the way that everyone is eligible to battle the final villain regardless of how they did leading up to it. It’s easy to learn, quick to play, and if you get the expansion, you could play up to 8 players at once!
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the The Zorro Dice Game Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.
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