Don't L.L.A.M.A. Dice (2022 Top 20) - Number 16
The goal of Don't L.L.A.M.A. dice is absurdly simple. Get the least points. Roll the dice, get rid of any cards you can and pass the dice. Simple, simple game. The English name of the game doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, since the original German acronym meant that L.L.A.M.A.ing had to do with getting rid of points. But I digress...
As a Reiner Knizia game, it is no surprise to that it has extremely lean rules. Players start with 6 random cards - llamas or 1-6. There is a single card with a black back for each of these cards; these start in the middle of the play area. Each player rolls the three dice on their turn. If a player currently has a matching card to a die roll, they may discard a single card per matching die.
The goal to get rids of all cards is hampered by the fact that other players may get through all of their cards faster, and you must always either get rid of a card or take an available matching card from the center.
Players could also read the likelihood of not getting rid of a card and decide to only get rid of one when they could discard two or three.
The interesting parts of the game comes from the choices created by the game and the player wanting to push their luck. First of all, the dice have different numbers on each but each one has two llamas on it.
If a player rolls 3 llamas, their turn is over but they may turn in a chip. Chips come in singles and tens. At any point during the game, a player may turn in ten singles for a ten chip. Play passes to each player in this way, with a player choosing to either roll or pass. If a player passes, they take chips for the points on cards in front of them. Llama cards are worth ten.
One of the things that can and will happen in this game is that a player may roll the dice and not be able to either get a card or take one from the middle. In this case, they have caused llama drama and every player must immediately score the points in front of them. However, the player that caused the llama drama must also score all points remaining on cards in the middle. Play continues in these types of rounds until one player has reached a score of 40 or more points. The player with the lowest score wins.
The decision space really falls in the area of seeing when and where players will push their luck. Unlike L.L.A.M.A. and Pickomino, I believe this game blends luck and a simple ruleset to the finest. There is very little player interaction in this game, but I'm fine with that because the joy comes all in the player decisions and what things have already happened. Players will regularly be confronted with a situation where it is in their best interest to stop and pass but they will choose to press their luck in order to try to win. And it's completely up to them, no one else can ruin that in the same way for them.
I have enjoyed playing this game with family, friends, and new acquaintances. It's an easy game to teach and you can still have light conversation in a larger group while playing. When my copy gets worn out, I'll be seeking out a new one. I know this game isn't for everyone, but I have had a ball with it.
Don't L.L.A.M.A. Dice by Reiner Knizia, published by Amigo Games
Artwork by Rey Sommerkamp & Barbara Spelger
Time 20 Minutes