Posted by: gschloesser | August 31, 2011

Catan Dice Game

Design by:  Klaus Teuber
Published by:  Kosmos / Mayfair
1 – 4 Players, 30 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE:  This review first appeared on the Boardgame News site 

The Settlers of Catan juggernaut continues to roll.  Not only has there been dozens and dozens of published scenarios for the original game, there has also been numerous stand-alone games and even a popular card game version.  Of course, it should come as no surprise that a dice game version was inevitable.

The Catan Dice Game does a good job of remaining faithful to the atmosphere of the original.  Instead of a central board, each player receives a sheet depicting six tiles arranged in a circular pattern.  There is one tile for each type of resource, as well as one wild tile.  Scattered about the tiles are various towns and cities that can be constructed, all of these connected by roads, which also must be constructed.  Each item constructed earns victory points, with more points being earned for construction that is further from the starting tile.

Each turn, players will roll the six dice up to three times, setting aside dice after each roll, if desired.  A player may re-roll set aside dice if he desires.  Dice depict the common resource symbols found in Settlers:  lumber, wheat, sheep, ore and brick, as well as gold.  The object is to accumulate a set of resource symbols that will allow the player to construct buildings, roads and/or knights.

Once finished rolling, the player will utilize the resources to construct the next road, building or knight along the path.  The path does branch at several points, so players do have some options, but the side paths are dead-ends, leading to the site of a town or city.  Ultimately, all players will progress along the same path, but on their own sheet.  Thus, there is no competition for territories, or for being the first to construct in an area.  Sadly, that eliminates much of the tension that is present in Settlers.

Building costs are the same as in Settlers, and a player may make several builds during his turn, marking them on his sheet.  He cannot build a town, city or knight unless he has constructed the road immediately preceding it, but he may bypass a building in order to continue constructing roads.  However, settlements must be constructed in order, so a player cannot rush ahead to the more valuable buildings.  After building, the player marks the points scored on the score chart on his sheet.  If nothing was built, the player marks an “x” on his chart for that turn.

Knights act as “resource jokers”, allowing the player to convert one die into the resource matching the knight built.  While this can be quite useful, and multiple knights can be used on a turn, each knight can only be used in this manner once during the course of the game.  Gold is the other “wild” resource.  If a player rolls two gold resources on a turn, he may trade them for one other resource of his choice.  Rolling just one gold is useless.

The game ends after each player has completed fifteen turns, which is easily tracked via the score chart.  Players tally their points, subtracting two points for each “x” on their chart.  The player with the most points is victorious.

The Catan Dice Game does a decent job of maintaining some of the atmosphere of Settlers.  The familiar resources are present, as are the items being constructed.  Absent, however, is the tension caused by the competition for expansion outlets and desirable areas.  When you add this to the absence of trading and the robber, you have a game that has been sapped of most of what makes Settlers so engaging.

Perhaps I’m jaded, but I find many dice games play in the same manner.  Roll the dice a few times and hope to get the symbols you need.  Use those symbols, score some points, and continue.  Sure, all have a slight twist, and an effort is usually made to paste-on a theme, but at their core, many of them feel the same.  Sadly, I couldn’t help but get that “same old, same old” feel from the Catan Dice Game.  There really isn’t much new or different to set the game apart from the rest of the genre.  And if the game doesn’t offer anything significantly different, why bother?

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Quick and easy. It does have a flavor of Catan but tastes like Yahtzee. (6/10)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: