Written by Rory J Somers, Edited by Caezar Al-Jassar
97 people played 43 games of Dice Hospital as part of the first wave of Third-Party blind
Playtesting. I was privileged enough to be given access to that data to see how these experienced and family players got on with the next game from Alley Cat Games.
In Dice Hospital the aim of the game is to cure as many patients as possible, where dice (D6) are the patients and the pips are their health.
Players will use departments of their hospitals to increase the pips, and upon exceeding 6 pips, the patient is discharged from the hospital. The more patients a player discharges in a turn, the higher their score that turn. Of course, any patient’s left unattended and untreated will lose a pip, and should a patient ever score below 1, unfortunately; a doctor will be having a conversation with that die’s nearest and dearest.
Choice of Ambulances
The first choice in the game a player will make is which ambulance load of patients to accept into their hospital. And this is where the analysis starts.
There will always be one more ambulance card than there are players, where ambulance 1 has two spaces for dice, ambulance 2 has 3 spots, and ambulances 3 – 5 all have space for 4 D6.
At the beginning of a turn, dice are rolled, and sorted and arranged upon the ambulance cards, with ambulance 1 having the lowest scoring, dice and ambulance 5 having the highest scoring dice.
2 vs 3 vs 4 player games
In the many 2 player games that took place, the prevailing playtester action was to take the 2nd ambulance, containing 3 patients, all of which would have middling scores in theory (I know, I’ve rolled 9 D6 before and never got anything above a 3 but law of averages here people). From turn 6 on wards we can see a clear shift in moving towards Ambulance 3, more patients, which in theory, are easier and quicker to heal and discharge.
In a 3 player game we see a slightly different story, generally Ambulance 2 is the most consistent choice, with a move to the higher value and higher number of patients in turns 6 and 7. But then in turn 8, a sharp turn back towards Ambulance 1 and 2 – which in itself is a little surprising, as these are the lowest yield and hardest patients to treat and discharge in one turn.
In a four player game (max player count) we see a far more even spread of Ambulances. There is slight trend in ambulance 2 and 3 in the first third of the game and then a shift ambulance 4 from the mid-point. Oddly, and conversely to a two player game the “easy” ambulance (5) is generally low throughout the game as a choice, with just a sudden spike in the very last turn.
Your strategies change as you play more games
The above are some very top level views of the game, what can be more revealing though is game in game differences. We’ve all been there, when your first play through of the game you’re just finding the pace and mechanics of the game. In game two you have a better idea of strategy and tactics, by game 4 or 5 you have a solid idea of what to do, how to do it, and how to win.
Here we’ll look at a few of these game on game difference to see how players progressed through the game:
In these example 3 player games, Player One transitions from the final turns high yield ambulances, to a more even spread, picking up 2 and 3 for the majority of the game and a more gentle increase in the later turns.
Player 2 almost flips their tactic, claiming higher yields in the middle rounds in game 1, to taking picking up more patients in the opening and closing turns.
Player 3 won both games. Winning the first by 10 points, and the second by the skin of their teeth with just 1 point in it. The most notable thing here is the consistency, particularly in the second game. Now, bear in mind that there will always be one ambulance not collected by a player, so even the last player to choose will still have a choice. In game 2, Player 3 repeatedly took Ambulance 1, giving them an advantage in the next round of the game: Hospital Upgrade & Bonus – in that they would get first pick of Department Upgrades (rooms) or Specialists followed by first pick of the bonus cards.
Steady, easy and flexible wins the race
A similar pattern is repeated and extended here in a 2 player game. Game 1 is more erratic choices, with ambulance selection becoming more consistent over games 2 and 3. Each of these games had a pretty fair margin. Both players aim for a final turn spike in patient intake in each game, but the steady and controlled collection of patients wins.
With the exception of the first game, each of these were pretty high scoring and very close, and the main thing they have in common is their uniformity – particularly player 1’s last two games.
From the above data we can see that there is no clear path to victory, we can see that a range of play styles were tested, that despite the initial view that most players implemented the last turn kicker for a big influx of patients, those that played multiple games tended not to do this.
That's it for the first in a two part series analysing the blind playtesting statistics of Dice Hospital! We'll be back next week looking at the qualitative statements made.