Marco Polo - The Black Dice
We received some feedback from players about the inclusion of black dice in the Marco Polo series and how they are used in the games. Many thanks for bringing this up! We want to publicly address these questions.
As a worker-placement system, the black dice can be seen as “black workers,” and thematically workers are regarded as people. Players spend resources to buy black dice—but “purchasing black workers” is obviously wrong.
Black dice were used in the earliest prototypes of the game and functioned as “wild” (joker) dice. Not only do these wild dice allow extra actions, but they are not connected to a player color, which makes wild dice the most valuable dice in the game. We suspect the authors chose to use black dice as wilds in their prototype because they wanted to reinforce that wilds are clearly neutral and are not permanently associated with any player color. Also, authors often have a limited supply of prototype components, so beyond player colors, this might have been the only color dice they had enough of to use. Of course based on the final product, as the game went through its development cycle, we did not change the color of those dice.
This is our responsibility as the publisher, and we want to sincerely apologize for this oversight that we did not take into consideration. It is our mistake, and unfortunately it is used completely throughout the entire product line—from the dice themselves to the icons, and across two base games, an expansion, and several mini expansions. However, if there is ever a new printing of the game, we commit to changing wild dice to be a different color.
Of course for new games and reprints of any future Hans im Glück games, we will be more mindful and make sure that that this does not happen again!