“Cubism is like standing on a certain point on a mountain and looking around. If you go higher, things will look different; if you go lower, again they will look different. It’s a point of view.” Jacques Lipchitz
Cubism was a 20th century art movement in painting and architecture made famous by artists like Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Olga Rozanova. Cubist celebrates this movement by having players build installations using dice.
Components / Set-up
All the components that come with Cubist are wonderful. Depending on your taste in art, you may or may not like the artwork. The dice are beautiful. There are eighty dice in the four player colors of blue, purple, orange, and green and one red museum ‘cornerstone’ die. There are twenty-three installation cards, twenty-five artist cards, and nine museum cards. There are five boards that come with the game, one Museum board and four individual studio boards for the players.
To set up, place the Museum board in the middle of the table, and choose one random museum. Choose one of the museum cards for the correct number of players, each museum card has a symbol for 2-4 players. The card is placed face up on the museum board, and the cornerstone die is rolled and placed in the building area of the museum board. The installation cards should be shuffled and three should be placed face up below the Museum board with a draw pile next to them. Shuffle the artist cards and place four face-up with the draw pile above the board. Each player should be given a studio board and the dice in their player color.
The goal in Cubist is to build the most valuable collection of installations for the Modern Art Museum. Players use their dice to build the installations and receive points for each one they finish. Every time they finish an installation they may contribute dice to the museum, which also adds points to their score. When the museum is completed, or one player has finished five installations, the game is over. The player with the highest score wins the game.
On a players turn they perform these four actions in order:
1. Roll two dice from their supply and put them in their Storeroom.
2. Assign dice from the Storeroom to one or more areas (workroom, artist card, storage space).
3. At any time during their turn they may: perform artist card actions, move dice from installation cards, complete or abandon installations.
4. Remove excess dice from the storeroom at the end of your turn.
1. Roll Two Dice
As the first action of their turn players roll two dice from their supply and put them in the storeroom. There may be dice in the storage room from a previous turn. All the dice from either the storeroom or the storage space may be used on the players turn. If a player doesn’t have enough dice in their supply to roll two dice, they must first perform an action from step three, abandoning an installation for example.
2. Assign dice from the Storeroom
Players then assign dice to one of three places: a workroom, an artist card, or the storage space. Dice assigned to a workroom are used to create installations and complete an installation card. If there are no dice in a workroom, the dice is placed showing the rolled value. If there are dice in a workroom, the new die must be placed adjacent to or on top of the previously placed die. If the new die is placed adjacent, it must show a value one higher or one lower than the old die. For example, next to a five you may place a 6 or a 4. A 6 may only be placed next to a five and a 1 next to a 2. A die placed on top of a previous die must be the same number.
A player may also assign dice to an Artist Card. To place dice on an Artist Card, you must place multiple dice at the same time and all dice must be the same value. It doesn’t matter what number as long as they are all the same. The cards show the number of dice needed to claim them by the dice symbols on the card. Dice placed on an artist card stay there until the player performs the action. If another player already has dice on a card, they may be removed by placing dice whose number value is equal to or higher to the dice. Return “bumped” dice to the other player’s supply.
At the end of a player’s turn the Storeroom must be empty and there may be up to two dice in the storage space. Dice in the storage space may be used in future turns.
3. At any time during their turn a player may: perform artist card actions, move dice from installation cards, complete or abandon installations
Perform Artist Card Actions
If a player has placed dice on an artist card during a previous turn that player may remove these dice and perform the action on the card. For example, they may use the Jules Pascin card to let them move one dice from one of their installations to another space in the same installation or the player’s other installation. Discard the artist card and replace it with a new artist card.
Complete an Installation
When a player’s installation matches a plan shown on an Installation Card, they may complete that installation. They return the used dice to the supply and take the installation card. This card is placed face-up in front of the player and one die from their supply is placed in the space(s) on the installation card. Dice from the Installation card may immediately be assigned to the museum, or the player may save the dice for later. Each die placed in the museum awards the player two points at the end of the game. Dice from installation cards may also be placed on workroom installation or on Artist Cards. Once all the dice from an Installation Card are used , flip it face down.
Abandon an Installation
A player may abandon an installation at any time during their turn. They must remove all their dice from the workroom and place them on artist cards or back to their supply.
4. Remove excess dice from the Storeroom
At the end of a player’s turn, they may have up to two dice in the Storage Space but no dice in their Storeroom.
End of the Turn / End of Game
At the end of a player’s turn if they have completed five (or more) Installation Cards, or if the Museum is complete, the game is over. If not, the next player takes their turn.
At the end of the game, players add up their score for each completed Installation Card and any points for adding dice to the museum. The player with the most points is the winner. If there is a tie, the player with the most dice in the museum is the winner.
If you like cubist art, you will love Cubism. If you don’t enjoy Cubist artwork, be warned the artwork is everywhere from the box to the cards, to the player boards. The Artist Cards use the artwork of famous cubist artists and tell you the name of the artist and the artwork. The rulebook includes a short bio of these artists. The graphic design is plain but easy to read, and the writing isn’t too small.
The components are good quality as expected for an Eagle-Gryphon Game. The cards have an artificial linen finish and, though they aren’t handled much, they should stand up to use. The player boards and museum boards are thick cardboard. The player board has a small player aid that reminds you what to do on your turn.
The most impressive components are the eighty-one dice. They are beautiful, high-quality dice that work very well in the game. They stack well and don’t slip as you are trying to build your installations. The pips are easy to read and the colors of the dice fit in well with the cubist theme of the game.
The rules are easy to read and are written in a logical order. There are lots of pictures and a diagram to explain set-up and gameplay. We only needed to reference the rule book to check out how to use the artist cards. There is no player aide on the back, instead there are advertisements.
Learning to play Cubist is easy and fun. The gameplay is simple and straight forward, you roll the dice and decide what to do with them. You can use the artist cards to help you manipulate your dice and mitigate your luck. If you are looking for high player interaction, you won’t find it in Cubist. Aside from taking an artist card away from another player or completing an installation before them, you don’t interact much with your opponents. Higher player counts may involve more interaction, there isn’t much with a two player game.
Cubist reminds me a lot of the game “Blueprints” with its dice building aspect, a mechanic I enjoy in both games. They do remind me of each other, but there are distinct differences. In Cubist, you are manipulating your dice, not dice from a dice pool. You also have a choice of installations to build, instead of focusing on one building. There is a strategy in what building you choose to focus on because of the point value, the number of dice needed to complete it, and the dice values it gives you as a reward. At the same time, you are competing against your opponents to complete the installations and add dice to the museum. I believe there is room in a collection for both games. I enjoy the creative use of dice in Cubist. It creates a neat visual as you build installations. There is an expansion for Cubist that gives you the opportunity to build higher and I think this is a nice addition.
The Artist Cards add a lot to the game; they are sometimes necessary to help you manipulate the dice to achieve your goals. They also add to the meaningful decisions you makes as you decide to put your dice on an Artist Card or your installations. You also aren’t ever blocked from the card you need because you can bump other player’s off with higher numbers. The Artist Cards are very useful to manage your dice and keep you from feeling stuck.
Building the museum is another part of the thoughtful decisions in the game. This secondary scoring makes players think about what installations they will choose to build. Do the build the numbers they need to add to the museum or help you complete your installations. Building the museum also adds to player interaction.
The play time for Cubist is also a plus. It can be played in about half and hour, but may take longer with four players. If you want a quicker game, you can have players roll their dice in secret and decide what to do as other players take their turn.
I enjoy playing Cubist; it is a quick, light game with a neat spatial aspect of building installations with your dice. There are not a lot of games that involve building with dice, and Cubist stands out for this. I also like the quick play time. I have come to enjoy being able to play multiple plays of one game in a sitting. The meaningful decisions, dice building and the Cubist theme combine to create a unique game that can be enjoyed by many types of gamers. I believe this would make a great family game or couples game.
Designers: Steven Poelzing, Alf Seegert
Artists: Franz Marc, Han Zou
Publishers: Eagle-Gryphon Games
Game Length: 30-45 minutes
Ages: 7 and Up