I am deep in the throes of a dice game addiction. What began with Zombie Dice has since moved on to Chupacabra: Survive the Night and now the Catan Dice Game. D-Day Dice arrived in the mail yesterday and Martian Dice and Zooloretto: The Dice Game are in my Amazon queue. It is a wonderful and dangerous place to be. So what is it about rolling these small square blocks? While luck is usually the ultimate determinant, I think it’s a combination of the relative ease in understanding the instructions and quickness of play mixed with a bit of risk taking and strategy. If I had the time and a legitimate gaming group I would undertake Arkham Horror or Mage Knight, but for now, dice are my go-to gaming fix.
Catan Dice Game Deluxe Edition is, as the title suggests, the dice version of the Mayfair‘s titanically popular Settlers of Catan board game. The Deluxe Edition includes six resource dice, a pad of 50 double-sided map sheets, rules booklet, and a leather dice cup (not included in the Standard Edition). The map sheets include two separate types of gameplay, referred to as Island One and Island Two, the latter being slightly quicker but a bit more advanced. Both maps depict the Island of Catan, with its winding path of roads, knights, settlements, and cities…all in desperate need of construction.
Each six-sided die is the same, and depicts six different resources: brick, lumber, wool, grain, ore, and gold. Players (1-4) take turns rolling up to three times and use the subsequent resources to build. Building costs vary (i.e. roads cost brick and lumber, knights costs ore, wool, and grain, etc.) and settlements or cities cannot be built unless a road touching it has been built. Whatever was built on a turn has a corresponding point total that is added up and entered into one of fifteen blank squares on the Scoring Track, each representing a turn. Once the last square is filled in, players add up all of their numbers and the individual with the highest wins.
This game has all of the aforementioned traits of an exceptional dice game: understandable rules, relatively quick gameplay, risk taking (should I stay with my roll and build two roads or use my third roll to get a settlement?), and strategy (stick to the standard path or build side roads to high risk, high payout cities?). While some games make watching and waiting for other players to roll an agonizing process (the Achilles heel of other dice games), we actually became somewhat cooperative in trying to figure out the different purchase options a player could make.
The dice are deceptively light for their size, but still good quality. I do worry about running out of map sheets, but I assume more can be ordered, or you could always scan one and print multiple copies. Two huge bonuses for me, the optional solo play (just keep trying to beat your high score) and the fact that all of the pieces can fit into the dice cup (small, self contained packages are abnormally satisfying for me). Though it lacks the grandiosity of its mothership game, Catan Dice Game makes up with portability, replay value, and island-building fun.
Designer: Klaus Teuber
Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy