Time to divide the Spoils of War

Spoils of War dice game

You’ve done your ransacking, now it’s time to split the Spoils of War.

The first time I saw a version of Liar’s Dice was in the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Will challenges Davy Jones to a game aboard the Flying Dutchman to find the location of the key to the Dead Man’s Chest.

With it being such a common game, you’d think I would have encountered it long before seeing that movie. But I hadn’t.

Since then though, I’ve come across a number of iterations of Liar’s Dice.

The latest iteration of the game was published last year by Arcane Wonders called Spoils of War.

In Spoils of War, players are victorious Vikings dividing the spoils of treasure from their exploits. There are all sorts of treasure to be had – from weapons and armor to jewelry and dragon eggs (yep dragon eggs). Plus there are magical artifacts scattered among the loot.

But to get their share, the Vikings have to come out on top in each round’s dice challenge.

It’s a game full of guessing, bluffing, bidding, and set collecting.

The real question though is, “is it fun?”


How to play Spoils of War

Spoils of War is like a souped up version of Liar’s Dice. The central aspect is that all players secretly roll their dice and then make guesses about how many dice show certain numbers of pips.

To set up the game, each player gets a number of dice (depending on the number of players), a dice cup, $70 gold, and a screen to hide their money behind.

Spoils of War dice game

Everything is nicely organized in the game box.


Each round is played in a few steps.


Step 1: Treasure Setup

The game is played over 3 Stages. To begin a Stage, players shuffle that Stage’s deck of cards and create 3 face down Treasure Piles of those cards (each stack also having a certain number of cards depending on number of players).

The Viking Chief takes one of those Treasure Piles for the Stage and sets out the cards by type. All normal Treasure cards are placed face up and the artifact cards are kept face down (they have an orb on the back of the card to show they’re artifacts).

There are 5 types of treasure that are identified by colored banners at the top of the card: Armor, Artifacts, Weapons, Jewelry, and Dragon Eggs. And there are 4 different items of each type. For example, Jewelry includes Crowns, Armbands, Rings, and Pendants.

The Gold value at the bottom of each card indicates what it’s worth at the end of the game.

Spoils of War dice game

The first round of the game showing 9 Treasure cards up for grabs.


Step 2: Roll Dice and Bid

Once the Treasures are displayed, all players roll their dice and keep the results hidden from other players.

The Viking Chief decides who will Bid first. A Bid consists of saying a quantity of dice and a value of dice he believes have been rolled among all players. For example, he may say there are “Six 3’s”.

The next player to the left can either challenge that player’s Bid or make one of his own. If he chooses to make his own Bid, he must increase either a higher quantity of dice or a higher value, or both.

Then it moves on to the next player and so forth until one player challenges the Bid just before him.

Spoils of War dice game

It can be tough deciding what number and value of dice to bid.


Step 3: Place Bets

Once a challenge is made, all players secretly place a Bet.

To do so, they first take their betting disk and choose which side to support – either the Challenger or the Declarer. Then they decide how much of their gold they want to bet (they must at least bet $5).

Spoils of War dice game

Which side of the challenge will you choose – and how much will you bet on it?


Step 4: Reveal Bets and Dice

When everyone has chosen their Bet, they simultaneously reveal them.

Next everyone reveals their dice and finds out who was right – the Challenger or the Declarer. If there are at least as many dice of the value bid, the Declarer and those who support him win. If not, the Challenger and his supporters win.

Spoils of War dice game

In this case, the Challenger won and was the only one to win! (The Declarer said 8 two’s. and there were only 7.)


Step 5: Divide the Spoils

Any players on the losing side must turn in their gold to the Treasury. The winning players get to keep their gold and place their coins back behind their screen.

The winner players then get to pick the Treasure cards they want, starting with the winning player who bet the most gold. That player gets to take 3 Treasure cards. The other winning players get 2 cards each going in order of highest to lowest bid.

All Treasure cards are placed in front of player screens so all players can see who has taken what. Normal Treasure cards are placed face up and Artifact cards are kept face down. A player may look at their own Artifact cards at any time because those cards have special powers which are listed at the bottom of the card.

The special powers are things like…

At the end of a round, any leftover Treasure cards are piled to the side face down. The player who successfully bet the most becomes the Viking chief for the next round.

Spoils of War dice game

The winning highest better gets 3 cards and other winners get 2.


End game

The game ends after 9th round.

Players have a final chance to play Artifact cards at this time. Then players remove their screens to reveal their remaining gold and count up points from their cards. In addition to the gold value shown on the cards, players also get gold points for certain sets of cards — which are listed on the player screens so players can easily remember while picking Treasure cards.

A set of all 5 different treasure types is called a Conquerer’s Hoard and is worth 8 points for each full set. If a player has 3 different items of a particular Treasure type, they get 6 gold points for a partial set. A full set of all 4 items of a Treasure type scores 12 gold points.

The player with the most gold points wins the game!

Spoils of War dice game

Many successful wins can add up to a lot of Gold Points. This player ends with 50 from the value of cards + 12 for two partial sets (armor and jewelry) + 12 for a full set of dragon eggs + 8 for a Conquerer’s Hoard, for a total of 82!


Can the whole family enjoy Spoils of War?

Spoils of War dice game

The game is played over 9 rounds with the most valuable treasures coming in later rounds.

Everyone we’ve played Spoils of War with has enjoyed the game.

The basics of the game are very simple to understand and players of all ages can pick it up quickly and enjoy.

But since Spoils of War adds in more elements to the simple dice rolling and guessing, it’s not set for youngsters. Yet we still think the recommended age on the box of 14+ is too high. We’d suggest a range of 10+ because of the twist of the other elements that set the game apart.

The first added element that’s great is having spoils (Treasure cards) to vie for. When players roll and start bidding on the dice, it’s helpful to know which cards are available. But when that really comes into play is when picking sides of a challenge and putting in your money (“betting”). Because the player who puts in the most is going to get the most cards. And that’s very helpful in making the most sets for bonus points.

Another added element that we really enjoy are the Artifact card abilities.

The special abilities from the Artifacts are unique and give a fun twist to the game. Getting to peak at another player’s dice, taking extra cards, stealing treasure from other players, rolling extra dice, or re-rolling dice, or even seeing another player’s bet before making your own. They all add a lot of fun to the game.

Spoils of War dice game

There are a lot of fun twists in using Artifacts.

Picking face up Treasure cards from the Spoils is great for knowing what you get for points and completing sets. But picking face down Artifact cards are a big draw as well. Oh, the choices!

I guess I should also clarify the “betting” part better because we wouldn’t classify it as betting like gambling. Instead we consider it more just bidding on how much you think you’re right. But since the game already uses the term “bid” for making guesses at the number and value of dice, the term “betting” is used for choosing which side you think will win in a challenge.

Of course, seeing as how poorly I choose the winning side in a challenge and therefore am constantly loosing the money I put in, maybe I should change my perspective.

It’s true, in our first play of Spoils of War, I was on the wrong side of 8 challenges in a row! The only challenge I picked the winning side for was the final 9th round!

I just got lucky that the 3 cards I got in the final round made a partial set, so I ended the game with some points. It was an extremely poor outcome for me and one I don’t ever want to repeat.

The good news though is even with that first meager performance, it didn’t sour me to the game.

That’s because there’s still fun in the playing of the game and not just the outcome.

Spoils of War dice game

The variable set up is great too. There will always be many Treasure cards that won’t be included in a game. You just don’t know which they’ll be.

I’ll also add that the production value is very high (with one exception).

The quality of the cards, tokens, and cups are fantastic. The cards have great artwork and even the cups have a cool imprinted design on them.

We also love the screen we hide our money behind since it includes a player aid showing the steps of a round as well as how sets of treasure score.

Spoils of War dice game

The player screens are awesome.

The only thing we’re disappointed in with the production are the dice!

Since the dice are central to the game, we’d expect them to be top quality as well. But almost half the dice in the game we got are deformed in some way.

If all the dice had a deformity, we’d think that’s part of the Viking theme. Maybe that’s how Viking made dice.

But since the rest of the dice are normal, we see it as a production problem.

Spoils of War dice game

Unfortunately many of our dice are deformed (mostly indented on the side with 4 pips).

It was easy enough for us to switch out the bad dice with some good, balanced dice but not everyone will have extra dice at home to do so. Plus, the dice in the game are smaller than standard dice in most games.

The good news is that a bunch of deformed dice hasn’t spoiled the game for us.


How does Spoils of War score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Spoils of War dice gameAs I mentioned earlier, Spoils of War is a game that everyone we’ve played it with had enjoyed. Even one of our friends who says he hates dice games had a great time playing it.

Since there are 9 rounds in a game, we have yet to play Spoils of War in back-to-back games. So we haven’t had immediate calls for “let’s play again” after finishing a game. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a desire to go at it again.

Spoils of War has earned a permanent spot on our game shelves since it’s a game that will get called out to play frequently.

We’d like to thank Arcane Wonders for a review copy of Spoils of War



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