Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Being a Lions fan is a gift...
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...and a curse.
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Growing up I really enjoyed a number of the classic games that you could find on most department store shelves. So, I played quite a number of games of Yahtzee and found them fun. However as I grew older I found that the lack of player interaction made it a little boring while waiting for your next turn. It became a game that I would rarely play, unless it was in a solo-player electronic format. But when I heard of this new variant on the Yahtzee system designed by a notable game designer I was anxious to give it a try. Was it an improvement on the original? Read on...

What do you get with Yahtzee Free for All? In the box you get a rulebook, a game board, a deck of cards, a pile of chips and 30 six-sided dice.

How does Yahtzee Free for All work? Each player is given 5 dice. 3 cards are turned up on the board, and each card has a goal on it. (For example: Large Straight, Ones, Chance, and so forth.) Players take turns rolling their dice up to 3 times and trying to complete one of the available cards. If they are successful they take the card and put it on their spot on the board along with their dice. If it was a card from the middle then a new card is flipped up from the deck to fill that space.

On a player’s turn they can either try to complete the goal on 1 of the 3 cards in the middle of the board or they can try and steal a card from another player. A player has the ability to steal a card if they roll the same goal that is pictured on the card but do it better than the player who claimed it. With combo cards (Full House, Chance, Straight, etc.) this means the total of your dice needs to be higher than the original player. However, with number cards (Ones, Fours, Sixes, etc.) you have to have more of the indicated number than the original player. If you successfully steal, you take the card from in front of that player and put it in your spot on the board with your dice (it can still be stolen from you.) If it comes to your turn and no one has taken the card that is in front of you, you put that card in your score pile.

Any turn where you don’t take one of the 3 cards from the middle of the board (whether because you stole a card, or just failed to complete any of the available goals) a chip is placed underneath each of the 3 cards in the middle. Any time a player claims a card from the middle they instantly take any chips that are piled up under that card and put them straight into their score pile. The game ends whenever a card is needed for the middle and the deck is depleted, or when chips need to be placed under the 3 middle cards and there are no more chips left. At this time players move any cards they have claimed on the board into their score pile. Then they add up all the points written on the bottom of the cards in their score pile. Finally, they add 1 point for each chip they won, and the player with the highest score wins.

What does Blott think of Yahtzee Free for All? I’m such a sucker for revamps of classic games, but often I find myself disappointed. This is one of the major exceptions to that rule. I absolutely love Yahtzee Free for All and I doubt I’ll ever need to play the classic again. The player interaction with the card-stealing is just enough to keep things interesting when it’s not your turn. But what I really love is the timing mechanism that has been placed on the game. If players are having really poor luck, and can’t complete the goals, then the chips will disappear fast. And if they are doing great and always taking cards then the cards get consumed fast. Plus the components are just great. The cool hexagonal board that has a slot for everyone’s dice is awesome, and the little chips are great for stacking. My only complaint is that the cards are too thick, and can be difficult to shuffle.

Who will enjoy Yahtzee Free for All? I think that this game is ideal for people who like dice games, especially if they aren’t thrilled with the lack of interaction in Yahtzee. This game can be fun for gamers and non-gamers. Because of the familiarity of Yahtzee it is really easy to teach to players who are young and old alike. Obviously, as with any game loaded with dice, there is a heavy luck factor in Yahtzee Free for All. If you are the type who will be bothered by that, then I suggest you avoid this game. Otherwise I think this game is a winner for almost anyone. I have yet to find someone who doesn’t enjoy this fun dice-fest.

Any parting comments about Yahtzee Free for All? Of course I left out one key aspect of the game...rolling a Yahtzee! Yes, in this game you can still get the same thrill as in the classic game when you successfully roll a Yahtzee (5 of the same number.) There are a handful of Yahtzee cards that are set to the side at the start of the game (make sure you don’t shuffle them into the deck.) If you roll a Yahtzee on any turn, instead of taking any other card you can take a Yahtzee card and place it in your spot on the board. Of course this will add chips to the middle cards, but the Yahtzee card is worth 10 points! It is important to note that, although Yahtzee cards are worth a nice large amount of points, they don’t guarantee a victory like they usually do in the classic game. In fact we played one time where my wife claimed 3 Yahtzee cards and lost because someone else managed to rack up one more point with all the chips he had claimed. It’s these kind of surprise endings that just add to the already great fun of playing Yahtzee Free for All. I recommend you try this game soon!
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Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
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The game was on my radar before but you're review has moved it up a couple of notches on my want list priority. Thanks for the great review.
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Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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1024x768 works just fine - Don't Wide the Site!
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Great review, and I concur about revampings of classic games usually sucking.

Where I disagree with you is that this one is an exception to The Sucky Rule. I didn't find this to be better than the original at all. I don't care for "take that" mechanisms in games and the stealing option is certainly a "take that" mechanic. I like the original because it truly is multi-player solitaire. Doesn't matter if you're playing solo, with two, or with a table full of people. But in YF4A, you really have to play with several people and enjoy the constant stealing.
 
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