Kick The Box
Review of Cubist deigned by Alf Seegert and Steven Poelzing
Play Time: 10 minutes per player
# of players: 1-4
“Those are the prettiest dice I’ve ever seen!
“Those dice are amazing!”
“I need these dice!”
These and similar remarks are the first as soon as I open the box and pass out the bags of dice to each player. Not only are some of the components to Cubist gorgeous, but it is a solid dice building game that is just as enjoyable to play as it is to look at.
Cubist is a victory point chasing game. Players take turns rolling two dice and than placing them in their workrooms trying to build one of the three face up interior sculptures or “installations.” There are a couple of rules that one must follow as they try to erect their masterpiece art sculptures of dice.
The rules of the dice placement are easy. In order to place a die next to another one, the die already in play must display a number value one higher or one lower than the die you are choosing to play. For example, if there is a five in your workroom, than in order to place a die adjacent to it, it must be a four or a six. In order to stack a die on top of another die, it must be the same number.
When installations are completed, they do two things. They gain you victory points that will be totalled up at the end of the game, and they will give you a bonus die. These extra dice can be used to help build installations, or placed on Artist Cards, but if you can get them into the museum in the center of the table, than they will score you extra points at the end of the game.
This game is a perfect blend of strategy and luck. Just like any game with dice, if the Dice Gods are on your side, you will do well. But, if the Dice Gods are not happy with your sacrifices to them this week, than the unlucky rolls can be troublesome. Luckily, this act of evil intent can be mitigated with the use of the Artist Cards. These cards will give you different abilities. They could allow you to pull a specific dice from your supply, add or subtract pips from a dice you have saved, or something as useful as copy a die that a fellow player has in their storeroom and them losing that die.
To be able to use the Artist Cards does take a little pre planning though. You have to use doubles or triples, dependant on what the card calls for, and place them on the Artist Card
that you wish to use in the future. You cannot place them and use the card in the same turn. This gives other players a chance to thwart your perfect plan. They can place the required amount of dice on the Artist card if the pip count is the same or higher than the dice on the Artist Card. For example, if you have a pair of Snake Eyes on the artist card, than a player can use a pair of snake eyes or higher to knock the dice on the Artist Card back into the owner’s supply.
The iconography in the game is, for the most part, intuitive. All the Artist cards icons are self explanatory except for two. I have to check the card index in the rulebook every time they come into play. Even after several playthroughs, it is a little annoying having to look up the same thing every game. With that said though, the rest of the iconography and layout is perfectection.
Even with it’s minor flaws, I’m loving everything about Cubist. The Artist Cards allow for some interesting choices. Do I use the doubles that I rolled to stack on top of one another in an installation that I’m building? Or do I place them on an Artist card that I may need in the future with a chance of them being wasted because another player decided they needed that card worse than I did?
No matter the player count, there are always three installation cards that are face up at one time that everyone is trying to build. So, the strategy with four players, does change a little bit compared to two and three player games.
Cubist doesn’t have a lot of player interaction or ‘take that’ actions. One of the Artist Cards do allow you to ‘steal’ a player’s saved dice, but other than that, the cards are used to affect your own dice. Building an installation before another player is able to complete it, does lend itself to providing a ‘take that’ feeling. The first person that builds any installation, takes that card, and it’s rewards. No one else can complete it. Any players that were trying to build the same one are stuck with an incomplete installation. Any dice that are placed in a player’s installation can not be rearranged without the use of an Artist Card. Their only choice is to completely demolish the installation and start another one.
I do wish there were more museum and installation cards. The nine Museum Cards and twenty-three Installation Cards doesn’t hamper the replayability, but I would like to see more options. You do only use one Museum Card per game, and with four players, on average, you will probably see around thirteen to possibly seventeen out of the twenty-three Installation Cards. Even though the order that they appear will be random every time, it is inevitable that certain ones will start to feel like they come up every game.
I’ve been enamored with this game since I’ve received it. How long will that love last? Only time will tell. I’ve played it probably close to twenty times with different people and still not bored with it. Almost everybody, from experienced gamers to gamers with very little interest in the hobby, have enjoyed the game. A gateway game that is easy to teach, easy to learn, and a lot of fun. What more can you ask for in a game?