A game about blending whisky in the Highlands may sound thematic but Dyce could very well serve to
point out the differences between theme and setting. The game does indeed have a clear context, whisky
trading and blending in a city, and all details have an authentic origin.
Dyce is a suburb of Aberdeen, although Aberdeen is a coastal city and not part of the Scottish
The whisky barons were entrepreneurs who laid down
the cornerstone of the Scotch whisky world as we know it today.
A grain whisky is a whisky made from grains
other than malted barley.
A single malt whisky
is a whisky made exclusively from malted barley, from one source (distillery).
A vatted malt is a
whisky made exclusively from malted barley, from various sources (distilleries).
A blended whisky is the product of
blending different types of whiskies.
The blended whiskies of the game are not authentic but the names refer to their colors and are selected with a
little Scottish twinkle in the eye.
Green: English Mint (This blend of a Scottish whisky and an English herb could only have been invented by an
Englishman ignorant of Scottish tastes.)
Orange: American Amber (A weaker blend intended for bourbon drinkers with a name that incidentally resembles
that of Amber beer.)
Purple: Wrath of Grapes (Another weaker blend matured in wine casks and intended for continental wine drinkers.)
Black: Black Angus (The strong blend for Scottish tastes. Incidentally, Black Angus is native to Aberdeenshire.)
So far so good when it comes to the setting, but does Dyce really convey the the theme of whisky
trading and blending, i.e. will the players feel like whisky barons and face similar challenges when it
comes to finding the perfect whisky?
Not really, the challenge of the game is not to find the optimal blend but rather to find the best
deals for the already known ingredients and final products. Furthermore, the trading is abstracted into
the location of shops, between which buyers and sellers move. Such game mechanics would probably be
better suited for a simpler business, such as buying cheap nuts and dried fruits and selling expensive
mixes of nuts and dried fruits. (I've always wondered how there can be a demand for such a product but
there is.) However, even then we'd struggle to understand why the seller of such nuts would also be a
buyer of mixed nuts.
No, the theme of Dyce remains weak in spite of its literally colorful setting, but hand on heart,
isn't it more fun to play a whisky baron than a nut seller?