Nokosu Dice: my opinion and review of the ultimate trick game

A real gem spotted by Americans at Asian game festivals, and shared on BGG, Nokosu Dice has built up a nice little reputation in the West. An innovative trick-taking game, with dice and cards that mix together, never-before-seen gameplay, an obscure game that comes from far away: all the ingredients combined to create a buzz in Essen.

How did I get Nokosu Dice?

Let me tell you this. I find myself early on Thursday morning in front of the doors of the Mass, with my friend Sylvain, taking advantage of a skip-the-line with the pro pass. The hunt for Asian gems printed in few copies can begin. We find ourselves in good company since Ben from Recettes Ludiques and the Vind’jeu team run around the aisles with us for a bit. In front of the stand the Japanese publisher Engames, a line of…50 people already. It’s Thursday morning, the show has just opened 10 minutes ago, exhibitors are still setting up here and there, and the 6 huge halls of the Messe are empty.

Except in front of this stand.

We then stand in line, and the editor’s face when he arrives at his stand is incredibly funny. A mixture of surprise, satisfaction and regret: they only took a few boxes, if they had taken 5000 they would all have gone, that’s for sure. There are around 100 boxes available, and with Sylvain we buy a copy of each game (Robotrick, Izu, Toppen) after an hour and a half of waiting.

Back home and a month later after dozens of games, here I am armed to criticize and give my opinion on Nokosu Dice!

(my game is sleeved in the photos)

A trick game like no other

Nokosu dice is part of the trend of trick games (or trick taking in English) which is agitating board game publishers. Moreover, Matagot recently made a special collection. Cat in the box, The Crew, Scout, Gang of Four, St Patrick, Mino Dice, Pass…this category is already stocked with excellent games. But Nokosu Dice manages to stand out from the crowd, with extraordinary features.

The Nokosu Dice box

Nokosu Dice’s edition is nothing special. No theme, completely random illustrations, cheap dice: it’s not for its visual or evocative side that you will play this game. Besides, the sleevé game barely fits in the box. On the other hand, the rules in English are contained in the box, and the material does not contain any text: you will be able to play it without problem. Period reminder cards are included.

The main principles of Nokosu Dice

In Nokosu Dice, we play with cards, numbered from 0 to 7, in 5 different colors. Each player receives between 6 and 8 depending on the number of players at the table.

In Nokosu Dice, we also play with classic 6-sided dice, in 5 different colors. Depending on the number of players, you will have between 4 and 5 dice on a small board in front of you. These dice are drawn at random from a bag, rolled, then drafted between players. A die will not be chosen by the players, and will be placed in a small receptacle : THE super-asset. I’ll come back to it.

We therefore find ourselves with dice in front of us, a super-trump die in the middle of the table, and cards in hand. Cool, now I can explain what it’s all about.

Detailed mechanics

The mechanics of Nokosu Dice are interwoven to direct you towards a goal: to make a given number of tricks, a number which will be determined by the last die in your possession. If at the end of a round your last die contains the number 3, then you must have made three tricks to score the maximum. To make a trick, as in any trick game, you must win the current round, and therefore place the highest number in the requested color at the start of the trick.

But of course we can cut.

How to cut? You remember the super-asset? (English speakers say trump) Imagine that the die placed in the small receptacle of the super-asset is a yellow 1.

  • So for this round, all yellows are trumps (cards and dice)
  • And all the numbers 1 are the super trump (cards and dice)

So we can cut with any yellow, and with any 1. And it’s truly incredible.

I also told you that the dice were placed in front of you. Which means that you partially know what color is left in each player!

Because if you play the purple 3, for example, and you spot purple dice among your opponents, you know that they will be forced to play this die, or a purple card from their hand. And since you are intelligent, you have already understood that forcing your opponents to play dice means taking away their scoring possibilities because the number of tricks to make is the number indicated by the last die you have. (and which will therefore never be played).

But in Nokosu Dice, we can also discard.

You don’t have to cut, you can discard! Throw anything away if you can’t play the requested color!

Finally, I hadn’t told you about it before, but there are two black dice, selectable during the draft: by taking a black die instead of a normal die, you agree to make zero creases. It’s difficult enough as it is but depending on the super trump and the value of your cards, it’s playable.

In a round of Nokosu Dice, each player will play all their cards, and all their dice except 1. We count the score at the end of each round, and we start again. The game ends after 5 rounds.

Good ideas from Nokosu Dice

Already, unlike a blind betting system, like in Mino Dice or Cat in The Box, the Nokosu Dice system is flexible, adaptive. Each round you will change your mind 3 times to find out how many tricks are feasible. Also Nokosu Dice plays on several layers of gameplay at the same time:

  • the dice draft and the anticipation of the super-asset
  • you try to predict your number of tricks based on the dice you drafted
  • you try to stop others from realizing your trick count
  • you plan the cuts and discards, you count the cards


In Nokosu Dice, you will mark the number of tricks made, and if you succeed in your objective (a number of tricks equivalent to the value of your last die), you will score 10 points per player who does not succeed in their objective. So between 10 and 50! Achieving your goal is therefore highly rewarded! And stop others from doing it too!

Zero creases?

The zero tricks strategy is playable but it seems more risky, since unlike other strategies you will not be able to change along the way. The black die can never be played. But it earns 10 points more than the others (so between 20 and 60), it’s up to you!


Nokosu Dice has the potential for an infinite lifespan. Like a game of belote, like a Gang of Four. The game is smooth, the game is good, the game is crazy. It deserves its buzz, you’ve never played this! A feeling with lots of possibilities, with very deep gameplay. Nokosu Dice is a great little game.

My final opinion on Nokosu Dice

I can’t wait to find out which publisher will do something with it in Europe. With a little theme, some card pimping and some quality dice, Nokosu Dice can become a banger. It’s a little bomb of a trick game, which is accessible (I’ve had families play games in evening), clever, obvious. You have to see the surprise and wonder of the players when after two turns they say “ah but can I play a die here?” “wait does red 2 cut?”.

When we play dozens of new board games every month, we are always attracted by those that manage to exist, to offer a new mechanic, or a new assembly of mechanics. Nokosu Dice is one of them. It’s fresh.