Dice Hospital Review
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
- Classic Theme Hospital meets board gaming
Players: 1 - 4
Playing time: 45 - 90 minutes
Designed by: Stan Kordonskiy & Mike Nudd
Published by: Alley Cat Games
Dice Hospital is a dice rolling, worker placement game that looks familiar to anyone who played the game Theme Hospital in the 90s. In this fun tycoon style game you will be in charge of the wooden workers that nurse the extremely sick dice patients back to health. It's the perfect example of turning a scary, feared environment (a hospital) into a fun and enjoyable game.
- 4 Hospital boards - 24 Department tiles - 24 Specialist cards - 5 Ambulance cards
- 4 Player Reference cards - 8 Hospital Administrator cards - 63 six-sided dice in 3 colours
- 1 opaque bag - 41 Meeples - 1 Score tracker - 1 Round marker - 8 Score markers
- 1 First player token - 16 Blood bag tokens - 14 Fatality tokens - 15 Event cards
- 15 Medical Report cards (solo mode)
The game components are all high quality with no serious issues to report. It would have been nice if the box insert to hold all of the components was a bit better due to the vast amount of them. It's hard to keep everything organised in the box as the insert is flimsy and there are too many hexagonal tiles for them to be put in a baggy, but this a slight annoyance more than an actual issue. The artwork is simple but effective. I love the use of the dice in the artwork, dice in hospital beds and on stretchers is a fun use of the theme.
A lot of the components are made with a thick card that has been cut exceptionally well, making it really satisfying when you add a hexagonal tile upgrade to your player board and they fit perfectly. The medical Meeples are all wonderfully intricate with each of them holding a teeny syringe in one hand and a little clipboard in the other, making them look extra qualified for saving lives.
The cards are all finished with a glossy texture including the ambulance cards. You might have seen fancy 3D printed versions of ambulances during your search to find as much information out about this game before you buy it, but unfortunately, I don't have them. The 3D printed ambulances were included as a stretch goal in the Kickstarter campaign but, unlike a lot of Kickstarter add-ons, you can actually purchase a Dice Hospital Deluxe Add-on expansion which includes the ambulance and other upgrades that were available during the campaign. So, if you want to inject an upgrade into your copy of Dice Hospital, it's definitely worth picking up.
Dice Hospital is a worker placement game where players have to act fast over 8 rounds to try and heal as many sick patients as they can. Discharge patients quicker than they're coming in to avoid any deaths because no room for a patient means they can't be treated and will be heading straight for the morgue.
Each player starts the game with a basic hospital, three nurses (workers) and three dice (patients), one of each colour, already in their hospital waiting for treatment. Each round players will be able to choose between an upgrade or a specialist for their hospital. Upgrades will come in the form of new rooms that slot into place on the player boards and will allow you to heal patients more efficiently while specialists act as extra workers for you to use each round and usually come with a special ability. Making the decision on which one to pick each round is tricky. An upgrade that will be perfect for you this round might be completely useless in the rounds after that, while a specialist is useful as a worker for all rounds, their special ability might not always be.
Once the game is set up, it's time to determine just how sick new patients wanting treatment are going to be. Place the required amount of ambulances in the middle of the play area and hand out the relevant amount of dice to players. Players will then roll all of their dice, rerolling any ones or sixes and set them out on the ambulances in ascending order. The lower the number, the sicker the patient is. You might think, why would I pick the lowest set of dice because they need the most treatment? having lower numbered dice may fit into your strategy better and you get a bonus blood bag token which allows you to change the colour of any dice in your hospital which can come in really handy when you have one untreated dice left but no way to treat that specific colour. After all of the ambulances have been set up and chosen, players then choose an upgrade for their hospital.
Now it's time to treat your patients. Using your workers efficiently try and treat each patient at least once, otherwise, they start to deteriorate at the end of the round. This isn't always a bad thing though as some upgrades allow you to treat dice of the same number simultaneously so, you might want to hold off on one round to get an even better option the next round. If you heal a dice to over 6 then that patient enters the Discharge Lounge and will be discharged at the end of the round. You get more points if you discharge more patients at a time so it's really important to nail down those combos.
This process is carried out over 8 rounds and the player with the most points at the end is the winner. Make sure to minus points for patients in the morgue too! It's also good to note that the worker placement phase of the game can be done all at the same time as you're working on your own board so can't mess with anyone else's strategy. This is a much faster and efficient way to play but I find that it takes some of the charm away from the game. As much as I don't like a game that drags on, I love to see what other players are doing and what combos they're pulling out. The great thing is you can play it either way, depending on your preference.
Easy to learn game with complex decisions.
Fun theme that is family friendly.
Can be quick to play or longer depending on your preference.
Allows you to think of fun, satisfying strategies.
Thematic appeal and nostalgic if you were a fan of Theme Hospital.
Balanced at all player counts.
Great quality components with the option to upgrade them even more by purchasing the deluxe upgrade expansion.
Includes a solo mode, which is great if you can't get a gaming group together.
Hospital upgrades are random so you might never get what you need and some rounds it feels like you can't cure dice.
Not a lot of variations in specialist abilities, once you have played a couple of times you've seen them all.
Setting up the ambulances can become very mundane.
I'm a big fan of Dice Hospital. I absolutely adore the theme, it's fun and playful and reminds me of games I played when I was younger. It's a classic worker placement, which is a genre I'm very fond of but with an added dice rolling feature. I enjoyed the complex decisions that I was tasked with making because picking the correct strategy was really rewarding in the long run. Getting 8 patients discharged at the same time is super satisfying! At the beginning of my first playthrough I was so careful not to lose any patients, they had to be cured at any cost right? That plan soon went out of the window when I found myself sacrificing one patient to benefit three others! The positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
Even though taking turns takes a bit too long in Dice Hospital, I much prefer it compared to all players doing it at the same time. Doing it this way seems unsociable and I feel that I may as well be playing the solo mode. I've played at various player counts but I think 4 has to be my favourite. It's much more interesting and makes the ambulance choosing a lot more engaging. I think the variety of specialist abilities is a little poor and after playing a couple of times there were no surprises. Even though it's not a necessity at all, I think I will end up purchasing the Deluxe add-on expansion (mainly for the 3D printed ambulances).
Overall, I'm very happy with Dice Hospital and I'm looking forward to seeing what expansions Alley Cat Games bring out.
Disclaimer: Dice Hospital was kindly gifted to me from Asmodee UK to review but all opinions are completely my own.
Dice Hospital is also no way associated with LEGO nor does any LEGO come with the game. It was solely used for prop purposes.