Bored? Game! Space Cadets:Dice Duel


As a seasoned ‘clueless board gamer’ trying to enter the world of many dice and much fiddly token thingys, I am always up for a table top challenge (however much I may hate every minute of playing a game without a gamepad). So when I was presented with Space Cadets:Dice Duel, I saw the amount of dice and the amount of small fiddly bits and instantly thought, ermergerd.

The game lets you command a small starship which is definitely not a Defiant from DS9, OK… so maybe it was in my head. You play the game with two teams with up to eight people, each taking control of an area of the ship. Engineering generates power for each part of the ship; the Helm moves the ship across the board; weapons include big bastard torpedos for capping your enemy’s ship galactic gangster style; sensors can lock onto the enemy ship so the torpedoes will hit, and also uses jammers to stop the enemy from locking on; shields (my personal favourite) does what you’d assume it does, and protects your ship from damage; and then there is the tractor beam, you can launch mines, pick up crystals and move the enemy ship across the board. I had a trial game with Susan when I was given the game, but thanks to the NaturalMotion board game club, I managed to get the full complement of eight people to help me boldly go where no board game had gone before. You would think that my previous experience with the game would have helped, but in space, no-one can hear you scream when the dice won’t roll the four you need for your shields to protect your ship when you’re under heavy fire.


This game is frantic… seriously frantic (a word I would normally approve of as it contains my name). It’s played in real time and there are no game turns, meaning that dice are rolled, lots and lots. You basically have to keep rolling until you get what you want from your dice. Everyone is rolling dice. Engineering is rolling dice for the areas that need it, they then give one of the dice to the area that needs dice and then the area(s) that have been given dice than have to roll more dice until they get the dice rolls they need. (Are you still following me? Because I’m not sure I’m following me anymore). It’s dice-tastic, basically, but that’s not a bad thing. It does help to recreate the frenetic pace of what I would imagine a real space battle would be like, in fact, when I go back through watching Star Trek: TNG on Netflix, I’m going to check each frame that Geordi LaForge appears in to search his hand for dice.


The game board itself is actually quite minimal, but don’t be fooled by appearances. What it does really well is help you imagine that you are engaged in an epic battle with your friends against your bitter enemies (who may also be your friends, but not for the duration of the game). Just like the best board games, it helps to inspire and challenge your imagination. On reflection, I feel like I needed many years of Space Cadet academy training to play this game properly. You really do get involved, and care about letting your crewmates down through your inability to roll the number you need (imagine me yelling ‘three’ in a similar way to James Tiberius Kirk yelling ‘Khan’ when I need a four). It’s surprisingly stressful: one of the guys on the team who won said after our game of Space Cadets:Dice Duel that they wanted to go home and play Dark Souls 2, just so they could chill out a bit. When arguably the toughest video game out here seems like a walk in the park galloping through the daisies in comparison to a black grid and lots and lots of dice, you know that Space Cadets:Dice Duel is not for persons prone to heart attacks (feel free to quote that on the cover of the box in future editions of the game).

I was on the team that lost. My ship may have been blown to bits, but if we are Space Cadets, then maybe it was all just a training simulator, and the other team’s captain rewrote the program so they could beat my fearless squad during a Kobayashi Maru-style test. If you completely understood everything about that last sentence, then this is the game for you… although a game that might be played best with a steaming cup of calming camomile tea… with a couple of valium crushed into it.

Designers: Geoff and Sydney Engelstein
Publisher: Stronghold Games
Mechanic: Action/movement programming/dice rolling
Number of Players: 4-6-8 (Best with 8)
Length of Game: 30-60mins
Complexity: Medium



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2 responses to “Bored? Game! Space Cadets:Dice Duel”

  1. Arkayla avatar

    I can’t think of any other reason why you and you’re team of talented, handsome officers could possibly have lost bar the other team heinously cheating.

  2. waywardcloud avatar

    I really enjoyed playing this the other week. It’s a nice streamlined version of the original Space Cadets. Maybe a bit more like Red Dwarf than Star Trek. Great review!

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