Friday, August 16, 2019

Yahtzee, Ducks, and Dice

When I ‘make’ a copy of a Roll and Write game, I like to either laminate it or put it in a plastic binder sleeve. Then I can just use a dry erase marker and play that copy over and over.

The down side of that approach is dry erase markers tend to be smudgy. Which is fine for doing things like checking off boxes but it’s a pain for games that require more finesse. Games that require me to write little numbers or letters are frustrating. (Six Sided Stout, as an example)

So, from that perspective, Ducks in the Pond from the 2019 Roll and Write Contest is perfect. It’s pretty much nothing but checking boxes. Which, quite frankly, is why it was one of the first games from the contest I tried out. I didn’t even bother printing it out, I just drew the boxes and put that paper in a sleeve.

Ducks in the Pond is a game about being a bird spotter who specializes in ducks. Over the course of six days, you try and spot as many ducks as you can, resting on the seventh day because counting ducks is hard work!

Okay. Brutal honesty time. The theme allows for a design that I think is quite visually nice but doesn’t really have anything to do with the mechanics. Mechanically, the game is a Yahtzee variant. Not that I have any problems with that. Yahtzee is an okay game in and of itself and shines as a really good starting point for other, usually better games.

To get points, you fill out two rows of dice combinations. One is triples and the other one is other stuff, like full houses. Unlike Yahtzee, you don’t automatically get rerolls. Instead, you get some limited dice manipulation. You can pay a die to do something to another die. A one lets you adjust another die up or down a pip. Three let’s you reroll. Two dice can be a wild. And you can pay a six for the next day to be sunny.

Okay, this is actually the most interesting part of Ducks in the Pond for me. You get six dice on day one. Every subsequent day, you get one less die with only one die on day six. But paying a six lets you get six dice the next turn. Which is kind of a huge deal.

I’m not sure what to think of Ducks in the Pond. Frankly, it’s more luck-based than Yahtzee. After all, you have to use dice to get any rerolls and not being able to a six to get six dice in your next turn can be catastrophic. 

On the other hand, I have had fun with it. You are so strapped for resources, each round is a puzzle to figure out how to get the most out of a roll. And it’s so quick that the luck factor doesn’t bug me. It’s good for one more time. 

On the third hand, there are a lot of quick little dice games out there in the land of free PnPs. There’s nothing in Ducks in the Pond to make it stand out in the crowd. It’s just another tree in the forest.

Eh, Ducks in the Pond free to download and doesn’t require any construction. I’ve enjoyed it enough I’ll make a nice copy at some point. If you think you’d like it, check it out.

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