Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Yahtzee is best as a solitaire

I recently downloaded a bare bones, no frills Yahtzee app to my phone for those times when I want to play a solitaire game without getting out physical components. I’m sure I’ll add some other, better dice games at some point but for now, this does trick for me.

Playing Yahtzee this way solves what I consider to be its biggest flaw. It’s multi-player solitaire where you have to sit through everyone else taking their turns. Just playing it actually solitaire solves that problem very nicely.

Yahtzee does have other issues. Speaking as a guy who loves abstracts, I think it’s pretty dry and abstract. And it’s ultimately a pretty shallow game, despite having real choices and being a fundamental class in understanding dice and odds.

But it is pretty good for a mass market, everyone-has-played-it game. Which might be damning Yahtzee with faint praise but considering that there’s some really bad mass market games out there, that’s actually saying something.

And that’s ignoring the real big deal of Yahtzee. It has inspired and influenced a ton of other games. Albeit many of them are better, sometimes much better, than Yahtzee.

Frankly, I have a meh-meh relationship with Yahtzee. I don’t think it deserves the hate that it seems to get from a lot of gamers. And I know as a five-minute, brain-checking-out exercise, it will see plenty of play on my phone.

However, I would never suggest it as a game to play with actual other people. For all the good things I can say about Yahtzee (influential, has actual strategy and challenges, portable, easy to teach), it’s not a game I would suggest and I’d only play it if someone was really, really set on playing it. Even if we are just talking about short games that have no theme and are just dice, I can think of better games. (Cinq-O comes immediately to mind)

Even though I know it will get some love on my phone, that doesn’t change the fact that Yahtzee is better as an inspiration than as an experience.

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