I’m not going to lie; I’m a Luddite. I seem to be predisposed to thinking the old ways are the best. I read paper books, I don’t see how Roll20 could improve my roleplaying experience (mostly because I don’t understand it), and I read paper rulebooks. No matter how impenetrable they might be, I view watching a YouTube video as some kind of weakness. This is particularly odd as I often make video tutorials myself. So, I ask myself, why did I agree to try out the Dized app? Surely I’ll think it’s rubbish?
What is the Dized app?
In many ways, my outmoded prejudice makes me the best person to review the Dized experience. If I like it, then pretty much everybody else on the planet will like it too. Unless, maybe, if the only tablets you own are made of stone.
The Dized app is available for Android and iOS. It aims to do away with the rulebook in the box and teach you how to play the game in real time. It presents an interactive experience with examples to follow.
At the moment, the app is in a public beta phase. There are three games available Blood Rage, Kingdomino, and Ice Cool. I tried it out with the first two. Kingdomino I already knew how to play. Blood Rage was completely new to me.
How did I fare? Well for those not worried about spoilers, I think the app is absolutely brilliant. In the case of Blood Rage, never has picking up a new game been so easy.
How does it work?
After you have signed in a chosen your game, you’re asked whether you are playing with a brand new copy. Assuming that is the case, the app takes you through what to do for your very first run through. It will help you through that tricky initial set up phase, which is often a barrier for a first time play of a new game.
You can see how I got on with setting up Blood Rage in the video below.
After you have run through the initial set up. The app then takes you systematically through the key concepts of the game. Blood Rage has a reasonably complicated set of mechanics, and the app takes you through the first few turns, introducing the game’s key concepts one stage at a time.
At any given point you can ask for a recap of an explanation. At the start of a game, Dized will tell you pretty much everything you need to know in detail, but as turns progress, it leaves you more on your own, with the ability to ask for prompts if you get stuck.
In future, the Dized app will also be able to offer a rules look-up service for a game too. The Kingdomino rules set offered small quizzes to make sure you understood a given rules point, which I thought was a nice touch. There is clearly scope for a great depth of rule-teaching content.
Is the Dized app any good?
This is a resounding yes! I think it could revolutionize my gameplaying experience. I’m fully converted and I hope more and more games take this approach to rules delivery.
The rules descriptions delivered exactly what was needed. There was no irritating flicking through the rulebook, trying to find what was required. There was no being unable to fully understand what the correct rule is, and making it up, just so that you can get on with things—always an issue if you have children, with limited attention spans, in tow.
Set up for Blood Rage was smooth and easy. I can see this type of app being massively invaluable for more complex strategy games, where it can be hard to catch all the nuances of the burgeoning rulebook. For some reason, using the Dized app, I found it easier to remember the things that you WEREN’T allowed to do as well all the things you were.
Whilst I think the app would be excellent for complex games, especially if a rule lookup service was available, the app is useful for family games too. As I alluded to above, one of the issues in my house for playing family games is that one of my sons doesn’t want to sit around whilst we work out how to play a new game. We get around this by trying to have a first playthrough without his involvement, but that’s a less than satisfactory solution and can end in him feeling less invested in the game.
The Dized app may make all of that a thing of the past. Being a more visual learning experience, it’s easier, I think, to retain what you are learning. Plus, it’s made even easier by having 2, 3, 4, or maybe even more brains all processing the information at once. I’m not sure which is harder when reading from the rulebook, learning as the reader or learning as the listener. Both are flawed. The Dized app does away with all that. Everybody learns together.
I was massively impressed with my Dized app experience. The playtime of our initial game was slashed. I don’t know about you, but playing the first game of anything normally takes me about three hours longer than the time suggested on the box. Reduced set up time, and it being easy to see how the rules interact with each other, cuts that time considerably.
It also massively improved the first run-through experience. Often when I’ve played a game for the first time, and discovered a handful of rules that I missed or misinterpreted, the post-game wash-up is suffused with the feeling that a game might be good if we played it properly next time. This, obviously, is an unsatisfactory state of affairs. Based on my first game experience of Blood Rage via Dized, the app removes that feeling. All of the players were happy that they understood the game and that rules weren’t being misunderstood. And really, for a rules app, there isn’t much more you can ask it to do.
Overall, I’m super-impressed with the Dized app and am definitely converted. Next time I pick up a new game, I’ll definitely be hoping that there’s a Dized enabled rulebook for it. Much like the Vikings in Blood Rage, thanks to Dized, the rulebook might well become ancient history.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.