Friday, May 7, 2021

What do people do with Catan dice?

Since I have been playing so many Roll and Writes, I decided to revisit one of the first designer R&W I’d ever played, Catan Dice. Other than as a way of fidgeting on my phone, I have pretty meh memories of the game. As I recalled it, it was basically Yahtzee with a Catan-shaped score board. In some respects, it was even more restricted than Yahtzee since you had to do things in order.

So I played it again. And, after years of exploring R&Ws, particularly light, casual weight ones, Catan Dice was actually worse than I remembered. Before, I didn’t like how it completely failed to capture the feeling and interaction of Catan. Now, in addition, I found it dull as a dice game. The one design choice I liked was the knights/jokers. 

However, I decided to look at the variations that existed, including one that was one of Klaus Teuber’s original designs for the game in the first place. 

Catan Dice Plus has players competing to reach ten points first and fighting over largest army and road. Okay, other than not having a solitaire option, this is better in almost every way from the first version that got published. There is some actual competition and tension going on.

Catan Dice Extra has you fighting over the same island on a shared player sheet, as well as fighting over longest road and army. That actually crosses the line to pretty much being a full-fledged board game.

(Oh, and doing some research while writing this, I found out someone made some home brew expansions for the original game. I guess I’ll check that out.)

Honestly, if I had to pick one for multi-player, I think I’d go with with Plus. There’s not enough to the original game and Extra makes me ask why not play the travel edition of actual Catan.

Over the years, I’ve played a lot of Catan, Catan expansions and Catan Spin-offs. I particularly like Elasund. The dice family seems like the lightest and weakest branch. But I am glad that folks keep playing with the design. 

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