To begin, each player chooses one of the four Monster Mats and the corresponding Candy Tracker. Monster mats have a scoring track along the top which indicate how much candy the player has accrued, as well as a guide to the usefulness of the different colored dice for that character. The player chosen to go first receives three Scream Tokens, the second and third players receive four, and if there is a fifth player she receives five. All dice are placed in the dice bag.
The dice in Scream or Die are color coordinated with the player characters. This is because each color die is weighted to be of more use to the matching character. A die matching a character’s color has two matching faces which reward that character, one of which is actually worth double. Of the remaining three colors of die one is completely useless to the character, with no matching faces at all, and the other two have one matching face each. The white dice are only ever of use to the Roller for that turn.
The starting player becomes the Roller for the first round, and blind draws five dice from the dice bag. Starting to the Roller’s left each player has the opportunity to have additional dice drawn from the bag at the cost of one Scream Token per draw. Players may have the Roller draw as many dice as they want and can pay for, but must make that decision all at once. When the each player has had one chance to add dice, and control has gone back to the Roller, the dice are all rolled.
After the roll, and again starting at the Roller’s left, each player may choose to pay one Scream Token each to reroll specific dice. Each player’s rerolled dice are all rolled at once after payment, and after the roll is resolved the next player gets to decide if they’d like any rerolled. Once the Roller gets to reroll or pass the round is concluded and scored.
Players earn one Candy for each die which shows their character’s face. Any die which also has a “x2” symbol earns two Candies. Scream symbols earn the Roller the indicated number of Scream tokens. Play then passes to the left, and that player now becomes the Roller. Play continues this way until one player has earned thirteen or more pieces of Candy at the end of a round. The player with the most Candy at that point is the winner. In the case of a tie the player with the most Scream tokens in their possession is the winner.
The game itself is quite fun. It’s very light and quick, and it gives plenty of opportunity to directly mess up your opponents, an element I particularly like. Really the game boils down to proper management and timing of the Scream Tokens, since without them the game would just be a luck based die rolling game. The game plays well enough with two players, however it really shines with the full compliment of four, making it a great filler or party game so long as your party is filled with ruthless people.
The character art in the game is very cute, with a sort of chibi vibe to it that I like a lot. It makes it seem pretty kid friendly, which it more or less is. Really my only complaints is that it’s weird that there is no playable female character, especially since there definitely is character design already completed of the witch on the box cover. Just as little boys often like to pick boy characters, girls like to pick girl characters. Leaving that out as an option when it could so easily be added seems like ignoring a demographic a little bit.
“Scream or Die” is a fun little dice game with a great betting element that injects it with some strategy and backstabbing. The characters are cute, it’s easy to learn and quick enough to play that you could probably squeeze a couple of games in for a single evening.
Scream or Die is available on Kickstarter now, so go check it out and happy gaming!