Game Buzz: Cubitos
Before you ask…no, this game is not about Schwamm Bob Quadratische Hose. It’s
Cubitos is a 2-4 player game from designer John D. Clair and AEG. It’s a race game where each player is trying to win the Cube Cup. The game is a die drafting game where you are rolling the dice and using the symbols to get better dice and move yourself around the track.
Each player has two cube runners, as well as a player board, a phase token, and nine starting dice. A set of 8 cards will be chosen, either based on a recommended set or chosen by players. Each of these correspond to a set of dice that are kept in some cardboard cubes. Choose your racetrack, and place a runner at the starting line and another in the bleachers. Each player puts their dice in their draw zone, with the start player adding the start player die to their roll zone.
At the start of each round, all players move dice from their draw zone to their roll zone so there are 9 dice (this can be increased in later rounds). There will frequently be dice left over from the previous round that you didn’t use, so just add to that. If there aren’t enough dice in your draw zone, move dice there from your discard zone.
Next, all players roll their dice. Any hits you roll are moved to your active zone unless you bust. Busting happens if you roll no hits and there are already at least three dice in your active zone. After rolling, you can push or pass. If you bust, you move all active dice to the discard zone (as well as any dice you wish from the roll zone), and also advance up the fan track, which could gain you a credit or increase your roll zone size.
After all players have passed or busted, you move on to the run phase. Here, you use any abilities granted by the dice in your active zone. You then move as many spaces as you have foot symbols and buy new dice. Once done with all this, you move all dice in the active zone to the discard zone. The start player die moves clockwise when all have completed this step, and you start a new round.
The game ends after a round where someone crossed the finish line. The person who got the furthest wins, with extra rounds played if there’s a tie.
I don’t know if you can talk about this game without talking about Quarriors. If you’ve never played Quarriors, it’s a similar pool-building game with dice, where you’re drafting new dice with different abilities, then rolling them to kill each other. I’ve played a few times, and when the novelty wore off, it was not really any fun for me anymore because of the double randomness – you draw dice from a bag, then roll and hope you get something good. Cubitos seems to fix that problem by allowing you to decide which dice you want to roll, and adding the push-your-luck aspect that gives you an opportunity to reroll. The die faces don’t look as cluttered, which is a very good thing.
At the same time, this is a race game which carries its own baggage. Most race games I’ve played end up causing problems for players who get behind early. There’s a mechanism in place here where players who get too far behind get to draw more dice for the round, and different terrains can be an equalizer. Overall, I think this is one that looks like it’s making an effort to solve some of the problems that came before it, and I look forward to giving it a try in order to see how successful it is.
That’s it for today. Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!