I’m ending my week of tiny, affordable and family friendly tabletop game reviews with a look at the Catan: Dice Game.
The original board game of The Settlers of Catan was, for many people outside Europe, their first taste of the possibilities of tabletop games beyond the usual suspects of Monopoly, Risk and other perennially popular, but somewhat imperfect and dated games.
The dice game takes the basis of Catan – exchanging goods to build roads, settlements and cities, along with hiring knights – and applies it to the Yahtzee-esque, push your luck formula of rolling a set of dice three times, though here you use the dice to collect resources. Combinations of goods rolled allow you to expand your territories and gain more points, with the aim of the game being to have the most victory points at the end of the game.
Though The Settlers of Catan board game was a great gateway game for me 20 years ago, I do find it has issues with game length – and can also frustrate due to the sometimes cutthroat nature of the game (especially when the robber is frequently rolled!). Though most of the interesting stuff in Catan happens ‘off-table’ with negotiations between players, sometimes a lack of resources will drag the game out tediously. The randomness of dice rolls works against it in this way, though I’d much rather play Catan than, say, Monopoly – just as an example. You’d think that I’d really dislike a version of Catan that is nothing but dice, but in fact I find Catan: The Dice Game to be a really satisfying and enjoyable experience.
The game length is perfect, not outstaying its welcome – as I find the original Catan game does far too often – and it’s extremely straightforward both to teach and play. Though it can feel like you’re playing solitaire (and it is perfectly possible to play alone), with you developing and drawing on your own little island on your paper game sheet, it’s still a fun little game with a decent amount of choices to make, which is refreshing. I must admit, I do have a soft spot for roll and write games in general – so that also helps. Let’s face it, it’s always fun to throw dice around, isn’t it? Even more so when you’re creating a new civilisation!
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