You play a whisky trader, who buys, blends and sells whisky. You do this by setting up shops in the
Scottish city of Dyce and attracting buying and selling whisky barons there.
The whisky is represented by colored cubes. Pure whiskies (blue, red and yellow) can be bought for
1-3 pounds, mixed into blended whiskies (green, orange, purple, and black) and sold for 4-6 pounds.
The whisky is sold and bought by whisky barons. Each whisky baron has a random line of dies, telling
their preferred colors and prices.
The city of Dyce contains 5x5 spaces. Take turns to place up to two items in any empty spaces.
An empty shop for the cost of 1 pound.
A colored cube, telling what you want to buy/sell in your shop.
A white cube for the cost of 1 pound, making your shop more attractive to the whisky barons.
When all players have passed, each whisky baron moves 1 space closer to the shop that buys or sells a
preferred whisky (or, in case of a tie, the shop with the most white cubes). When a whisky baron reaches a
shop, the owner buys or sells according to the current die value.
The game ends after five rounds, in which at least 1 blended whisky was sold.
0.9: Limited components, possibility to replace already placed
0.8: Less money and victory points for selling
0.7: Two placement actions per turn
0.6: Multiple turns with pounds for passing
0.5: Discount cubes to compete with prices instead of volumes
0.4: New shops placed every turn and removed only if unable to trade
0.3: Hand limit to prevent hoarding, starting cubes to speed up start
0.2: Whisky baron actions after full rounds instead of individual turns
0.1: First draft
The complete rules are available in the PDF file to the right. In the following sections, I will describe how they came
The die lines
The die lines are the central part of Dyce. The die rolling adds randomness to the game but since
the dice are arranged in dice lines, the players can see the future values and predict when and where
they will enter the game. Thus, the players are faced with a random environment but keep the control
and can adapt their strategies accordingly.
Dyce features a chronological resource conversion from blue/red/yellow to green/orange/purple and
potentially black. Thus, it's necessary to add early needed dice early in the game to mitigate the
risk of a waiting game if only later needed dice are available at the start or, even worse, a runaway
leader if there are not enough early needed dice for all players. The simple solution was to arrange
the initial order of the dice and place the early needed dice first in line.
The bag serves two functions in Dyce. First, it lets the dice be drawn at random, ensuring a
variable setup. Second, only 16 of the 20 dice are in play at the same time so each time a die has
been used and removed from the game, a new die may enter the game, ensuring variability during the
The move priorities
The movement of the whisky barons had to be simple and intuitive to keep the game quick while also
ensuring a quick turnover of the dice to prevent the game from stalling. The proximity rule, where a
whisky baron moves to the closest shop, fulfilled all those criteria. The castle rule, where a whisky
baron moves towards the castle, make some city spaces more valuable than others and besides being
thematic, it rewards long-term strategies, where the players pick central city spaces instead of the
spaces that the whisky baron reach first when they enter the city. The clockwise rule, where a tied
whisky baron moves left, captures all remaining cases.
But how to introduce competition between shops? One idea was to compete with volumes, letting
shops with more goods be more attractive. However, if the game would be so long that the players
could start building inventories of many whiskies, it would probably overstay its welcome. Price
competition is better, where the players can place pounds on the shops to make them more attractive.
Incidentally, it also serves as an interesting balance between engine and catch up, as players can
use pounds gained to be more competitive but at a price.
Nevertheless, the competition priority was placed second after proximity, to prevent whisky barons
from moving back and forth, causing the game to stall. For the same reason, a whisky baron with
nowhere to move simply discards the current die and lets through a new die rather than waiting for a
shop that may never appear.
The predictable moves of the whisky barons also make shop placements predictable. If you need a
certain whisky, simply place a shop in the space that the whisky baron will move to next, meaning
that the first player has an advantage. The addition of the competition priority let the players
place shop in alternative spaces and add pounds to beat the closer shops, meaning that the last
player has an advantage.
To avoid this, the players may take several turns in a round (or pass and earn pounds),
introducing a balance between actions and money.
There are many possible rules for shops. Should they be temporary or permanent? Should they trade
all whisky colors or just one? Should trades be optional or mandatory? Should failures to trade be
The decision to make them permanent and single-colored encourages a long term strategic placements
instead of short term tactical placements. If you place a blue shop in an area, you'll have to take
into account its prospects in the future turns as well. You may get a blue whisky this turn but what
if all other blue whiskies will be sold in future turns?
The decision to make trades mandatory on penalty of a lost shop is more controversial but is
linked to the two first decisions. You must think in the long term and place shops that give neither
too little whisky, nor too much. The punishment to lose not only the shop but also any pounds placed
on it may sound harsh but such punishments are necessary to prevent the player scores to be too
The victory points
First I wanted to keep the victory condition simple and let it be money. However, as money gets
abundant, the tension from never having enough disappears. In addition, the whole idea of predicting
the other players' preferences and adapting your own strategy also disappears as all players will go
for everything. The solution was to reward blending partially with money and partially with
victory points (worth 5 pounds, i.e. the average of a high value die).
A game should end when it's most fun. It should also end in a way that the best player wins rather
than the player that happen to be in the lead. As Reiner Knizia expresses it, the players should be
able to focus on the goal (blending whisky) throughout the game, not the winning (earning pounds
should be a resultat of blending whisky well). However, a race to a certain number of pounds would
result in weird optimization end games, as players start passing to earn short term pounds instead of
investing in long term pounds. The same would happen if the game would end when all dice have been
Instead, the first criteria was accomplished by ending the game after a certain number of rounds
with blending (not a certain number of blends). Also, the second criteria was accomplished by valuing
not only pounds but also unblended whiskies and pounds still on the board. This means that all
players can potentially end the game with a blend, or at least be rewarded for their attempts to do
so, and are thus encouraged to blend to the very end.
To be published.
Draft Rules (PDF)
... and Rejected Rules
There are of course also ideas that will be rejected and here I will explain why.
Location vs Bidding
The priority order for whisky baron movements is proximity first and pounds second.
This values location higher than bidding. But what if pounds would have the highest
priority? Then they would have to move directly to the shop instead of one square at the time
or they would risk moving back and forth as bids increase and never reach their goal.
Mechanically, this would also work but the game would be more about bidding than location and
the spatial element would be diminished. Eventually I decided that Dyce was a game about
location first with bidding only as a tie-breaker.
Slow vs Fast Movements
Should the whisky barons move directly to a shop rather than one space at the time?
This may sound like a way to speed up the game but much of the spatial game would then be lost.
Paradoxically, it would even make it more difficult to attract whisky barons at other parts of the board.
The fast movement will always benefit shops in a whisky baron's immediate vicinity.
The slow movement on the other hand allows players to start attracting whisky barons before they can
blend a specific whisky, waging that they will have the necessary whiskies by the time the whisky baron
A player rarely needs more than one cube of a color on the hand, nor more than one cube of a color
on the board. Thus, those limits were tested to ensure that all players would have enough cubes.
However, not only did those limits add unnecessary rule overhead but they also added unnecessary
restrictions, preventing players from preparing "big blends" or denying other players colors.