There are a ton of great reviews and reviewers on BGG, so I am trying to format my reviews in a way that differentiates them a bit. I like to call my format a "quick hit" review, in that it briefly explains a little backstory about the game, outlines 3 positive aspects about the game and then 1 negative (3 up, 1 down). Also I will bold the main points of the review so folks can scan and get the highlights of the review even quicker if needed. The aim of this format is that people can get a general feel for if they want to look more into the game and check out some of the other great video reviews on the site. A few other examples of this format can be found in my reviews for Morels, Forbidden Island, Jaipur, Dominion and Monopoly Deal. Feel free to thumb any of these if you find them helpful.
Trophy Buck from Steve Jackson games is the perfect game for a quick hit review, because it is so quick and light itself. You grab dice out of a bag and roll them to see if you can take down a monster buck. Is this hunting-themed game on target? Or does it miss the mark? Let's get into the 3 up, 1 down and find out
1. Fold me up, take me out, I'm portable - Trophy Buck comes in a very nice camouflaged dice bag. It's made of a canvas-type of material and easily holds the 12 dice that are included with the game. In fact, if you have other light dice games, they would make a great fit in the Trophy Buck bag, making it a nice addition to your game storage solutions. The bag is pivotal in the game because you have to draw dice blind during your turn. It is much easier to grab these dice out of the wide-mouthed bag than a cup or some other container. The camo motif adds to the theme, and personally I prefer the hunting theme over the other Steve Jackson dice game Zombie Dice (which is for all intents and purposes the same game just re-skinned - so if the undead is your thing, go with that one).
2. When a gateway needs a gateway - Trophy Buck is not Twilight Struggle. It's not Ticket to Ride. It really isn't even Yahtzee, but it definitely isn't LCR. You draw three dice, chuck them, keep the antlers and the startles, and re-roll to your hearts content or until you have spooked too many deer. It doesn't get high points for strategy, but it really succeeds in getting people around the table and playing quickly. It is a great game to bring out with a lot of people, just don't expect a lot of difficult tactical and strategic choices. For that reason, it is a solid choice to bring out with folks that you aren't sure if they would be receptive to a game or not. If they are, then maybe playing Trophy Buck would open their eyes to some heavier fare. If they are not, then there wasn't a lot of time and energy lost getting out the game.
3. Fun/Time ratio - Trophy Buck is a ton of fun packed into a 5 minute game. The real charm of the game comes from the people playing it and their reaction to everyone's rolls. Some good-natured razzing really ups the laughter at the table, and because the game is over in a couple of minutes and you can start a new one right away, no one's feelings should be hurt. This game really nails the category of "super light filler" and is a good way to get in a solid amount of fun in a short time.
1. Gamers need not apply - As I alluded to in my second up, Trophy Buck is not going to win any game design awards. It is admittedly a light game. I could see a gamer's gamer that wants to sit down and have a lengthy, strategic game be downright annoyed with Trophy Buck. You basically have 2 decisions the entire game - to continue to roll, or to collect your points. It is purely a push your luck game, and I know that the word "luck" is one of the foulest 4-letter words in certain circles. For gamers that are in that circle, Trophy Buck most certainly is not for them.
To sum it up, what Trophy Buck does, it does well, but when it comes down to it, it just doesn't do a whole lot. This game would be a great filler at the beginning or ending of your game night, but there just isn't enough meat to it to really hold a lot of attention for a long time. The components are great quality for the price, and it would be a nice stocking stuffer or gift for the hunter in your life (I could see this one passing some time at deer camp), but it just isn't a game that I can get overly excited about. That being said, if you are looking for a simple push your luck game that plays easy with a large number of people, Trophy Buck hits the bullseye. My rating of Trophy Buck would be a 5 out of 10 on the BGG scale. It's not the king of the forest, but I don't think that's what its intention is.