Dice Hospital Community Care Kickstarter Review

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion Kickstarter Review

When I joined Polyhedron Collider I caused one major upset.  For a long time the highest accolade that could bestowed upon a game was the coveted “Three For Thee” award, where each of the three members of Polyhedron Collider, with their varied tastes on the hobby, had all purchased the same game.

Dice Hospital was a Three For Three game.

But, now there are four of us.  Making that award slightly less prestigious yet simultaneously making the new, “Four For Four” award something akin to a platinum trophy.

Dice Hospital is a Platinum Game.  So when the opportunity presented itself to play the new Expansion, Community Care, Caezar nearly lost an arm in our collective rush to get it.

Community Care offers three expansions for Dice Hospital, each adding new choices, new complexities and a new richness to the already outstanding game.  They present new ways to examine Dice Hospital with each providing a different point of view and new, interesting challenges.

Maternity

This expansion adds pregnant dice.  Bright pink dice that are mixed into you draw bag and will provide little bundles of joy and great-big-whooping spanners to your carefully built and organised hospital.  When a mother enter’s your hospital, you’ll first have to work out which ward to put them in, after all, they aren’t sick.  Fortunately the expansion skips over labor and we got straight into having baby dice in the hospital.  Tiny little baby dice that sit in the new Paediatric Ward.

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion - Maternity Close Up

Now, this expansion is an exercise in efficiency.  It’s now more about getting the right dice out at the right time more so than in the right quantity.  Mothers always have to be discharged with their babies (Luckily it stops a twins) and they won’t neglect if they are in a ward on their own. This means each pink die is, by extension, at least two dice.  If the base game of Dice Hospital is like spinning plates, the Maternity expansion is like spinning plates on top of other spinning plates.

The Maternity expansion adds a great deal of complexity, not the faffy table admin complexity but the type of complexity that comes from managing so many interlinking pieces.  Like cooking the advanced version of a recipe you’ve followed before.  By adding these new ingredients the end result is so much richer, even if it did take a little longer and was a little more challenging to get there.

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion - Maternity Close In Play


It certainly takes the game up a notch or two so is ideal for those players who feel they have mastered the base game and want more of a challenge.  Our play through provided the highest number of fatality tokens, but also personal bests in number  of discharges (there’s no way to say that without it sounding dodgy, so let’s just move on shall we) and Steve’s all time highest score (and he didn’t even win).

Improvements

This part of the expansion adds a new Improvements board, offering players the opportunity to refine their engine further, maximising their machine to glee inducing efficiency but it also adds an additional intake board. That’s right, even more patients!

During the Activation phase, players can send one of their staff off to earn an Improvement.  As you might expect there are Green, Red, Yellow and Grey rooms, each with a stack of face down tokens for you to pick from.  These tokens get you under the hood of your engine, giving you the capability to fine tune you make your hospital, making it better, stronger and faster.

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion - Improvements Departments Close Up

These tokens might grant you an extra nurse (which is so fantastic) or a blood bag. They might upgrade one of your departments, opening up a huge wealth of options. Now, my Crashcentre can not only recover 4 pips for a very poorly die, but now it will also change the colour of that die for the rest of the round.  Orthopaedics will now heal a green and a red dice as well as the original Yellow.  Each Department can now do more. So much more.

Playing this is like playing as a super doctor.  No injury nor ailment is beyond your scope to heal.  It gives you the ability to make these tiny little tweaks, these tiny little upgrades that take your engine to a new level.  Each game with this expansion provides more uniqueness, more maximisation, new combinations of specialists, departments and improvements.  In many ways it introduces the feelings of synergy you often get from a collective card game, but without the huge drawback of being a CCG.  With it you can do so much!

Until you notice the extra patients that is. 

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion - Improvements Extra Dice

There’s one drawback to this increased efficiency.  There is now an extra little board, just a tiny, innocuous board that sits near the ambulances.  For the first half of the game one extra die is added to the highest ambulance.  The lowest rolled die, obviously.  In the second half of the game three extra dice are added (yup, a whole extra ambulance’s worth of patients), spread over the two highest ambulances meaning there is no escape from those lower numbers.

It’s a great balancing act, and this expansion grants player so much more control over their hospitals but at the same time it increases the work your new super Fancy Hospital has to do. 

The City

The third and final piece of this expansion set adds a new Intake system.  Here you’ll build a small city in the centre of your table before populating it with the sick and injured.  Your first task each round now becomes one of collecting patients to bring in to your hospital.  This expansion is by far the lightest, and is mechanically the simplest as it only affects one phase of the round leaving the nuts and bolts of treating patients relatively unaffected.

That being said, this expansion does give players more control over the game, allowing greater dice mitigation in a roundabout sort of way.  Rather than turn order being determined by ambulance number and the most at-risk patients, it is now the cumulative lowest value of pips, meaning it is more turn order and the severity of your patients is relative rather than arbitrary.  These intake scores can also be further adjusted by available bonus tokens, giving rise to some dickery. 

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion - Collections The City Close Up

Players now have more control over the colour of dice admitted, allowing a focus on specialists and additional departments.  You have more control over where you will sit in turn order, and thus stopping gits like Andy Lewis always robbing you of the Department you really need.

I could almost argue that this expansion actually makes Dice Hospital easier, if it weren’t for the fact that this expansion also opens Dick Move Door.

Dice Hospital Community Care Expansion - Collections Close Up Treated Patients

The base game isn’t bursting with player interaction, so the addition of these small, pin prick interactions are very...noticeable.  It’s the simple things like having more sway in which player is last in the turn order - and will therefore pick up a fatality token if a patient in the city neglects to zero.  Or, if you’re clever (for the record, I’m not) you can manipulate the board in such a way that your opponent collects patients they are less efficient at healing.  It’s great being able to pull the rug from under someone and stealing the first player spot.  Don't get me wrong here, this player interaction comes in an indirect, yet very intentional way.

And yes, it comes with a helicopter (which allows you to move around the city differently) and gives you a reason to actually play with your deluxe ambulances. 


Community Care

The Community Care expansion overall adds complexity without complication.  It turns the difficulty up without adding a host of new bits and pieces.  Each expansion creates a new, different and richer experience all with just a few new cards, tokens and tiles.

The City grants players more control over their game (and their opponents).  Maternity is like advanced Dice Hospital causing more troubles, complications and gives you more to think about each turn.  Improvements allows you to refine and make amazing combinations and chain actions together that make you feel like Dice Hospital Wizard.   

I think the highest praise you can give an expansion is to say you wouldn't ever play the game without it...which is what I would say if we didn't have to wait for the campaign to fund, for it to be manufactured and then shipped, but then!  Then.   Once I have it, I will probably only play Dice Hospital with one of the expansions.


This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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