Private Die - Preview

Private Die – Preview

Roll your way to solving the case before other detectives in this game of dice, clues, and gumshoes.

Title Publisher Genre
Private Die Mystic Ape Games Dice Game

In The Box

Private Die is a game that dice lovers will immediately appreciate for the sheer volume of d6 goodness included in the box. 30 six-sided “Interrogation” dice plus one custom d12 used for “Witness” rolls give you plenty of action in each round, plus a big pile of clues represented by 65 tiddlywinks in this prototype. There are also 18 small cards to represent witnesses, and a set of six large cards for each detective in the game. The art style on the cards and the logo appears to be drawing from the classic noir detective stories that authors like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett made famous.

We can only guess right now as to what Mystic Ape plans for the production value on each component, but the greatest opportunities are in the clue markers and the card design. Cards and clues are in motion constantly throughout the game, so having something of high quality and durability is important. The custom d12 is only custom in the sense that it is numbered from 7-18 and should otherwise be pretty standard. Of course it will matter that the dice selected for the final version of Private Die are of the highest quality, since they are the game’s core mechanic. The manual included with the game was clear and made it easy to sit down and play without a lot of head-scratching.

How It Plays

Private Die does something clever with the standard push-your-luck mechanic by connecting it to the theme of a detective questioning suspects. Each player randomly draws a detective card at the beginning of the game that grants a special ability, occasionally paired with a handicap. We would have liked the handicaps to be more pronounced, perhaps as optional rules for more advanced players. The other stack of cards contains witnesses who must be questioned, meaning that new cards from this deck are drawn fresh each round. Witness cards are a mix of bonuses, handicaps, and quirky one-off rules that will affect the results of all rolls in a round.

The basic idea is that each round consists of a witness roll, using that special d12. This becomes the number each player attempts to match by rolling a number of interrogation dice. Much like real life (or at least in all the detective stories we watch and read) if you push a witness too hard or not enough, you’ll come away empty-handed. The equivalent in Private Die is choosing how many dice to roll on your way to matching the witness’ number, taking into account your own abilities and any special qualities a witness may possess. Clues are won by rolling interrogation dice for a combined number closest to what’s shown on the witness die, and can be spent to roll an extra die in the event you come up short. Going over the target number is the equivalent of blowing it with the witness and results in losing clues.

The winner is the detective who collects a target number (15, or 12 for a shorter game) of clues through multiple rounds of interrogation. Rounds are fast, and the combination of lucky rolls and smart maneuvering makes Private Die more than the sum of its parts. The core mechanics are solid and there’s plenty of room to expand with additional detective or witness cards. We came away impressed with the game and can’t wait to see how it comes together in its final form.

Private Die will be funding soon on Kickstarter from Mystic Ape Games. Read more details here about the campaign and consider chipping in to help make it real.