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Carcassonne: The Dice Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Carcassonne Dice Game: A Quick Review rss

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Steve Finn
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This review is part of a series in which I provide short reviews of games in my collection that I especially like. The evergrowing series is posted here: http://doctorfinns.com/recommendations.html.

Category: Dice Games
For a long time, I was not a big fan of dice games. Ra: The Dice Game was the game that allowed me to see that dice do not have to be a bad thing. So, I started trying a variety of dice games and have begun to appreciate them more and more. However, I do have to be in the mood to accept the role of luck that comes along with a dice game. The games I review in this series all involve dice rolling as the primary mechanic. Dice games will likely never be my favorite kind of game, but in the right circumstances they are great to play.

What's the basic idea of the game?
This game is based on the famous tile-laying game Carcassonne, in which players build castles, construct roads, and farm the lands. This dice version simplifies it basically to building castles, though it adds a large "push your luck" element to the Carcassonne experience.

What happens in the game?
Players take turns rolling 9 dice. The dice faces consist of castle walls, knights, and catapults. Yahtzee style, players roll the dice up to three times per turn, choosing to use dice showing castle walls for construction or putting aside knights as a way to forgo scoring in this turn, but possibly doubling scoring on the next turn. The catapults must be put aside and cannot be re-rolled. Basically, the catapults function as a spoiler (though in the extremely rare circumstance that a player can roll 9 catapults using 3 rolls, he/she automatically wins the game). Also, once you start building a castle, the dice are frozen in place and cannot be re-rolled or even rearranged. At the end of 3 rolls, if you have finished a castle so that it is a collection of appropriately enclosed walls, you score points; the more dice that are included in the castle's construction, the more points you score. However, if you do not complete a castle, you score zero points, unless you stopped with 3 knights, in which case you score zero points this turn, but double points next turn (in addition, you keep one of the dice until your next turn, depriving the other players of an additional die). The "push your luck" element comes from the fact that you might decide to complete a castle and stop your turn or keep rolling to construct a larger one.

Why do I enjoy it?
I'll start by saying that I do not "love" this game, but I do enjoy it for what it is. Basically, I want to counteract the overwhelmingly negative reception the game has received. If you have played Carcassonne, you can learn how to play in about two minutes. While I have taught this to people before they've played Carcassonne, the visual understanding required to "see" a completed castle is challenging to those with no Carcassonne knowledge. The dice are not as clear as the tiles, so I usually grab a few tiles and show new players what a completed castle looks like. Based on what I've said so far, you might be wondering why I am positively reviewing this game; let me therefore get to it. So, on the positive side, the game is super quick and portable. You can play in ten minutes while waiting for a train on a platform (I wouldn't recommend rolling the dice on the floor of a NYC subway station of course). Also, the "push your luck" element is fun, as it always is to me. Sure, there's not a whole lot of challenging decisions to be made, but the lightness of the game is an enjoyable break from thinking too hard in other games. I think you would find this game to be a disappointment if you are a hard core Carcassonne fan because it simply does not compare. However, if this were a game about putting together a robot, or whatever, and you like quick, easy, and light dice fillers, then you'd probably think it's not too bad. Certainly, not a ringing recommendation, but a more positive one than it usually receives.

Note: We use a house rule that makes the game a little more exciting. Normally, the game ends immediately once a player reaches 50 points or more. However, we say that the other players are given a final turn to surpass the temporary winner; if someone does match or exceed the winning score, the "first" winner gets another chance to pass. If more than 2 are playing, you are knocked out after your first failed attempt at passing the high score. So, play continues until 1 person has hung on to their lead after other players are given a chance to pass him/her.
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I like that house rule of yours.
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A Brave New Geek
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I love games though must admit that this is probably the worst non-mainstream game of the last 5 years.
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