The first expansion we designed for Die of the Dead was the Ofrenda Variant. This was designed as something we wanted to release as a free PnP as a gift to our backers, and something which could be played solo, as a solo mode was often requested during the campaign. Ofrendas are offerings placed upon home altars during Dia de Muerto celebrations, and in The Ofrenda Variant, players are drafting Ofrendas to complete their altars, whilst trying to make certain overlapping colour and number patterns.
I always wanted to expans on two parts of Dia de Meurtos for the expansion, the home altar and the xolocuintles, as seen on the back of the steps in the base game. After the release of Die of the Dead we got loads of positive feedback, but also some people who wanted something more thinky, essentially less random output (shake the dice and that’s the result) more random input (shake the dice then choose the result from those shaken). This sent us down the route of drafting dice from the caskets- choosing from the random input. We already had 4 caskets, four different types of ofrendas (candles, marigolds, incense and bread), and so it naturally made sense to combine the two.
Initial playtests were long, but showed that the drafting really worked. After trimming down the number of items to draft, and making it so the dice stayed on the board, it gave a feeling of acomplishment when complete. The ingenious nature we reused components from the base game meant we could release it as a PnP as wanted, and got fantastic feedback. We were also able to take the cerebral nature of limited drafting and turn it into a fantastic solo game, so everyone can enjoy Die of the Dead, even without other players. At the time of releasing the PnP we always wanted to do a proffessional print run so we could have recessed boards for the dice, and more dice so we wouldn’t need rules amendments for 5 players, which is why we’re including this expansion in the reprint Kickstarter.
As with all of Die of the Dead, we’ve worked with our cultural consultant to make sure the game stays respectful to it’s holidays cultrual heritage. Our Altar de Muertos aren’t arranged as they would be traditionally, but for the purpose of game mechanics we’ve kept them layered with Bread, Candles, Marigolds and Incense, in a way to make sure the game is interesting and fun. We’ll be including the information about actual Altar de Muertos below so everyone is informed:
Each one of the ofrendas in the altar have a specific meaning and purpose, the altar is usually made with seven different levels, and each one has the following items (from top to bottom:)
- A cross or a picture of a saint (Día de Muertos is a combination between ancient traditions and the catholic religion brought by Spain).
- Candles and other lights (So the decease can see the altar clearly and find their way back, it is also the level where the souls of the purgatory reside)
- Salt (so the deceased can purify their soul).
- Bread, more specifically, Pan de Muerto, a special type of bread made only in October and November.
- Fruit and Food, usually traditional food and the favorite dishes of the deceased.
- A picture of the deceased whom the altar is dedicated to.
- A cross made with seeds or ash.
Other important pieces of the altar that are important to mention but don’t go in any specific level are water, an alcoholic drink and toys. Water so the deceased can wash their hands and drink. Alcohol, so the deceased can recover their strength. Toys like wooden figures of Xoloitzcuintles or tehuana dolls, dolls that wear a replica of the tehuana dress, one of the most beautiful of the country and the pride of the Zapotec people.
If you’d like to follow us on Kickstarter, for our expansions for Die of the Deda, or to get a copy of the base game, please do so here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radical8games/die-of-the-dead-xolo-expansion-and-ofrenda-variant