The Splitter dice game is a small box 15-minute roll-and-write. According to the box it plays 1-12 players aged 8+. I think the age is about right. And while it is definitely possible to play with 12 – and probably more – I have only played it with 1-4 players.
At the time of writing the game wasn’t yet available via comparison site Board Game Prices. But you can get it direct from publisher NSV (linked below) for around 10 euros. Very cheap. But then there’s only two dice, four pencils and two pads of sheets in the box. The game makes no attempt to hide its abstract nature.
Teaching the Splitter dice game
You won’t play many games more accessible than the Splitter dice game. Each player takes a sheet from either pad A or B (see below) and a pencil. Players take it in turns to roll the two dice. Not that it matters, because all players use the result in exactly the same way. You do this 22 times, until you’ve put a number (1-6) into each of the 44 spaces.
So, to the clever bit. Down the centre of each sheet is a dotted line – with exactly the same pattern of boxes either side of it. You have to put the two numbers rolled into boxes that are in the same place on either side of the central line. So if you put one number top left, the other has to go top right. What you’re aiming to do is collect sets of numbers (orthogonally) that exactly equal themselves (so two twos, three threes etc). Each will score you as many points as the number (so three points for a set of three threes) – but only if there are exactly three. Meaning things can get pretty tense near the end as you fill in the final boxes.
Sheet A has two boxes marked with stars. If you manage to make a scoring set including a number in these boxes, that set score double. Sheet B has two stars, but also three heart spaces. If you manage to get the same number into each heart space, you get bonus points.
The four sides
These are me, plus three fictitious players drawn from observing my friends and their respective quirks and play styles.
- The writer: The Splitter dice game works. It’s simple to teach and the rules are clear. But that’s because there is so little to it. Elegance is all well and good. But for me there needed to be a little bit more. A sprinkle of pizzazz to make the game stand out in a busy market.
- The thinker: What at first felt like a clever game soon degraded into a ‘who will get a few lucky turns at the end’ random-a-thon. It might actually be better for me if it ended a few turns earlier, before the sheet filled up. But as it stands? Really not for me.
- The trasher: I don’t remember playing many more heads-down, interaction free games than this. It doesn’t even matter who rolls the dice! It’s actually quite funny at the end as people cuss and swear as their sets get destroyed, or fail to be completed, as the final few numbers pop up. But there’s literally nothing you can do to affect them.
- The dabbler: I quite enjoyed this one. It’s very simple and doesn’t look like much on the table. But once you get going and are chatting about what you’re doing, it’s pretty fun. Yes, there’s a lot of luck. And no direct interaction. But you soon diverge from what others are doing and the right group will have fun comparing sheets and seeing how everyone does. And it is super fast, perfect for filling little gaps between games.
Fans of the game call in clever and simple – a return to the old days of less complex roll-and-writes. While detractors talk of the frustrating lack of any dice mitigation as the luck becomes overwhelming. Add in the simple scoring and lack of much else, then those looking for depth seem to find Splitter lacking. But those looking for simplicity are often charmed.
At least one person in each group I’ve played with has mentioned how terrible the name is. While the lack of theme is understandable, the name really doesn’t work or sell the game. Sure, the page is ‘split’ – but its dull at best. At least it got people shouting “Splitter!” in a Monty Python fashion, which I guess should count for something.
As the game has no interaction, and simple scoring, it works perfectly well as a solo experience. In the other direction, there’s no reason you couldn’t play this with a room full of people. It’s unlikely that, after a few rounds, people won’t have diversified at least a little bit. So I see no reason why it wouldn’t work perfectly well with the ’12’ players alluded to on the box – or even more.
Conclusion: The Splitter dice game
The central mechanism behind Splitter is a clever and well implemented one. And I certainly think roll-and-write fans who like a very quick, easy to learn game should check it out. But for me there just isn’t enough going on to get it off the shelf. I would personally rather reach for a game such as Dizzle every time. Slightly more rules overhead, but with genuine interaction and – for me at least – a lot more fun and replayability.