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Subject: The Catan Dice Game -- Agricultural Yahtzee and Catan Lite! rss

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K. David Ladage
United States
Cedar Rapids
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Catan Dice
By: Klaus Teuber
Published: Mayfair Games


A Brief History
In my review of Settlers of Catan, I indicated that Catan altered my view of what was possible with the framework of being a board game. Klaus Teuber has taken the concepts that define Catan and applied it over a range of follow-up games that collectively make up the Catan Family of Games. Two good examples of what he has created here are the Catan Card Game (sometimes called Cardcatan in my circles), and the Catan Dice Game (Dicecatan).

The Catan Dice Game comes in two versions: the Standard version and the Deluxe version.

Standard: The Standard version comes with rules, six wooden dice (although the web site indicated that the heavier embossed plastic dice are now used in the standard edition), a pad of score sheets (a seven-hex map of a Catan-style island; the edition I purchased only included Island One; however, the web site indicates that both Islands One and Two are now included in the Standard game).

Deluxe: The Deluxe version comes with rules, six embossed plastic dice, a pad of score sheets (double sided; Island One on one side, Island Two on the other), embossed black leatherette dice cup with lid.

In Dice Catan, you roll six dice. Each die has symbols on it for Brick, Gold, Grain, Lumber, Ore, and Wool. Roll these dice as you would roll dice in Yahtzee:

1. Roll all six dice. Keep any number of dice (0-6) and set them aside.

2. Re-roll the remaining dice (if any). Add these to the dice you kept from the first roll. Keep any number of dice (0-6) and set them aside.

3. Re-roll the remaining dice (if any). Add these to the dice you kept from the first and second rolls.

4. Combine the resulting dice rolls to build things on your score sheet. Pairs of gold results can be combined to become one of any other resource type you want. You may only use the result on each die once in a given turn.

With the resources on your dice you can build:

* Road (1 Brick + 1 Lumber)
* Knight (1 Grain + 1 Ore + 1 Wool)
* Settlement (1 Brick + 1 Grain + 1 Lumber + 1 Wool)
* City (2 Grain + 3 Ore)

Now, how you mark your score sheet and keep track of the game is entirely dependent upon the Island you are playing on...

Island One: Agricultural Yahtzee
Island One is a Yahtzee-like game where you play fifteen rounds. After each round, you score what you built that round. After the fifteen rounds are concluded, total your score. Highest score wins. Like Yahtzee, this makes for a nice solo diversion as well as a competition.

The island has six land spaces surrounding a water space in the middle. Each land space has a knight; each knight is numbered 1-6 and must be built in order. The order is Ore (on a mountain space), Grain (on a field space), Wool (on a pasture space), Lumber (on a forest space), Brick (on a hill space), and a wild (on a desert space).

Each time you build a knight, you get points equal to its number (again, 1-6). In addition, in a future turn, you may transform any one die from what was rolled in the end, to the resource the knight is protecting (wild = anything). Each knight can be used for this purpose once.

The island has a starting road segment, and sixteen additional road segments that you can build. Each road you build must be adjacent to a road segment you already have. Each road segment you build is worth 1 point.

The island has six settlements. These are located along the main path of the road. Each settlement has a number (3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11). These settlements must be built in order from lowest numbered to highest; in order to build the settlement, you must have roads out to that location. Each settlement is worth a number of points equal to the number on it.

The island has 4 cities. These are generally located off the main path of the road. Each city has a number (7, 12, 20, and 30). These cities must be built in order from lowest numbered to highest; in order to build the city, you must have built roads out to that location. Each city is worth a number of points equal to the number on it.

If you can build nothing in a given round, you mark that turn's score as an 'X' -- this is worth negative two points at the end of the game.

Island Two: Catan Lite
Island two is a Catan-Lite kind of a game where the number of rounds in indeterminate -- when a player has 10 points, they win. Unlike Island One, Island Two does not work well in solo play.

The island looks similar to Island One; the water space in the center is replaced with a second desert space. The desert spaces each have two knights in them. There are roads, settlements, and cities; the layout of these features is not exactly the same, but they are similar. None of these features has a number on it. You may build any settlement as long as your roads reach it; you may build any city as long as your roads reach it.

Points are scored:

* Settlement = 1 point

* City = 2 points

* Longest Road = 2 points

* Largest Army = 2 points

Longest Road is scored for being the first player with a road of five segments. Once you have this bonus, others can take it from you if their road is longer -- but not if they tie you.

Largest Army is scored for being the first player with three knights. Once you have this bonus, others can take it from you if they have more knights -- but not if they tie you.

The knights work as they do on Island One. However, in order to gain the wild spaces (the desert), you need both knights in that space. Like Island One, each knight's resource can only be used once.

My wife and I play Catan Dice as a nice filler game. We will generally play one game on each Island and then move on to something else. In this way, Catan Dice is a great little game to kill an hour, or to play while traveling.

If you like quick, simple games that take less than a half-hour to play... this is a great game for you.

If you are looking for something deeper... stick with Settlers of Catan, or the Catan Card Game.

Back when I got my set, I would have highly recommended that you get the Deluxe version; although I can do without the dice cup (neither of us uses it), the deluxe version's heavier dice are vastly superior to the light, wooden dice in the standard edition.

The extra island that came with it was a bonus we were not expecting. Now that these two features are (apparently) available in the standard version, I can see little reason to get the deluxe edition unless you really like dice cups.

House Rule
Two aspects of Settlers of Catan (and the Catan Card Game) that are completely lost in the dice game are:

(a) the concept that settlements and cities provide additional resources; and

(b) the idea that you have to first build a settlement before you can build a city.

In fact, in both Island One and Island Two, you always get six resources, and it is possible to build a city well before you build a settlement -- if you even bother to build settlements at all!

Granted, you will generally have a settlement first... but I have been in many games where either I or my wife built a city first; and this still does not address the point on resources.

For me, this left at least two core elements of the Catan feel out of this game. So, after some thinking, my wife and I came up with a house rule that attempts to infuse the Dice Game with these concepts.

Note: This house rule works for Island Two; it is not very good for Island One at all.

* Start the game with four dice in your 'hand'; place the other two dice in 'reserve'.

* Each turn, roll the four dice in your hand and play per the normal rules.

* After you build your first settlement (which requires four resources), add one of the reserve dice to your hand.

* Continue as before, rolling five dice now, instead of four.

* After you build your first city (which requires five resources), add the other reserve die to your hand.

* Continue as before, rolling six dice now, instead of five.

This ensures that you have to build a settlement before you can build a city. It also rewards you for settlements and cities with more than points -- it rewards you with additional resources! We both love this rule. It plays exceptionally well. The early game is not slowed down anywhere near as badly as we initially feared. And more Catan feel is added to the game!

Ever since we tried this rule, we have not gone back!

Edit: corrected four typos; clarified two sentences.
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Angelo Nikolaou
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Nice review. I just bought the game and intend to try it soon. I suppose I'll try your house rule as well

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Mark Andrews
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I'm looking at the game sheets right now and on both islands, the starting arrow points directly to a settlement. It should not be possible to build a city first. Or a second city without a second settlement and so on. The layout is specifically designed to force you to build cities after the equivalent number of settlements.

I like the increased resources rule though. I'd like to try something like that on Island 2.

Edit: I double checked the rules and I think we've diverged on the rule "a city/settlement NEXT to a road does not obstruct subsequent road building". I took that to refer to cities such as the 7 and 12 pointers (Edit: and the starting settlement) on island one, whereas settlements such as the 4 and 5 pointers are IN THE MIDDLE OF the road, and do obstruct it.

Yet another Edit: Your reading is correct, it's much more clear in the unofficial translation - Thus, may I suggest my version as a possible variant?whistle
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S B Royster
United States
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Excellent variant on the settlement/city rule.

We're not ready to adopt it quite yet, since we ordered the game with an eye toward giving it to her for her 7th birthday. As it turned out, she got enough stuff... so Mom and Dad activated the robber and took it for ourselves. But once she gets the rules down, we will have to implement it.
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