Remember Track and Field? It was an old arcade game which saw endless ports and updates, and was based around various sporting events. You made your character run faster and faster by alternately hitting two buttons faster and faster. It doesn't seem like much of a game in the describing, but once you actually played it, you were an athlete, desperately straining your fingers, not only to win, but to do better than you did last time. That is exactly what Reiner Knizia's Decathlon feels like.
I read through the rules during a slow day at work and found myself thinking, "Hey. That looks like it sucks. I bet all those Euro-Gaming Knizia-philes would convert to FantasyFlightism in a second if they saw just how much randomness there is in this game."
However, last night's gaming night saw both my brother and I absolutely knackered and in the mood for something fresh, but easy. I suggested Reiner Knizia's Decathlon, and my brother accepted.
The system may seem random at first, but after a time you realise there is a strategy underpinning everything. It's a poker-dice/gambling/Pass-The-Pigs kind of strategy, but each event is subtly different. You feel the tension as you run up for the high-jump, followed by a surge of excitment as you roll high when taking off. When at the end you reach the 1500m, you realise how important it is to pace yourself, and it is a punishing test of emotional and psychological stamina.
It's not great, but as a dice-game version of Track 'N' Field, it's a lot of fun. I find the average playing time of 45 minutes to be totally off. After one go learning the rules, you could get through a 3-4 player game in half that time. As a filler, it's fine, but I wouldn't recommend using it as your main game.
Overall Rating using BGG Scale: 6