The Catan Dice Game: Standard Edition
is a quick and simple dice game by Klaus Teuber, the designer of The Settlers of Catan
Playing Time: 15 minutes
This is the third edition of the Dice Game in three years. It's essentially the Deluxe Game without the faux-leather dice cup. This review is largely based on my earlier two.
The Game Components
The Catan Dice Game: Standard Edition comes in a small box that includes dice, a game sheet pad, and rules.
Dice: Six plastic dice, each side of which is printed with one of the major Catan resources (red bricks, brown wood, yellow wheat, dark gray sheep, or black ore) or else gold-foiled gold. The dice are pretty easy to quickly and intuitively read, other than the fact that I sometimes confused gold and ore if the light wasn't bright enough.
Game Sheet Pad: A 50-page pad of double-sided sheets of paper. "Island One" is shown on the front of all the pages while "Island Two" is shown on the back; these represent the two different ways to play the game. Each of these sheets depicts the island of Catan along with the things you can build (roads, knights, settlements, and cities). Each page also contains a list of what's needed to construct all the items. Finally, each sheet contains appropriate spaces for you to mark your score. Like the deluxe edition these sheets are printed full-color and are generally highly attractive.
Rulebook: A small two-sided rulesheet that's printed full color. It contains lots of great illustrations that make it easy to learn the rules.
Overall, the components for the Catan Dice Game: Standard Edition are great quality and very good ease of use. The dice are a bit plain, but otherwise everything is quite beautiful. I've given it a full "5" out of "5" for Style as a result--it's very nice, even without the dice cup that made the previous edition "deluxe".
The Game Play
The Catan Dice Game: Simple Edition comes with two sets of rules. The Basic Game (Island One) is the set of rules that I covered in my original review of this product; if you expect to play with families or more casual gamers, I suggest you read that review, as the Basic Game is more likely to appeal to you.
Herein I'm instead going to review the Advanced Game (Island Two), which has many of the same rules, but varies some in what order you can build things and in how you score (and win).
(I also think it's the slightly more interesting game variant.)
Setup: Each player gets a game sheet.
It shows a map of Catan with potential buildings drawn upon it. A potential road runs around the island, with some branches, connecting up various potential settlements and cities. (I say "potential", because these are all the things that you can build, each in specified places, but clearly you haven't built any at start.) In addition there are nine potential knights--one atop each production hex and two atop each desert space.
There's a staggered start where the first three players roll three than four then five dice, before everyone settles on to six.
Rolling the Dice: On his turn a player throws six (or less) dice. He may then take a second roll, rerolling as many of them as he wants and then a third roll, doing the same.
Modifying Rolls. There are two ways to modify the final roll.
First, any two dice which display the gold nugget may be turned in to get one resource of your choice.
Second, you may use any constructed knight to turn a die into a resource of the type that the knight guards (but only once per knight over the course of the game). If you build both knights over a desert hex, you may use the pair of them up to turn one die into a resource of your choice.
Spending Resources: Once you've got your final set of dice, you can purchases stuff per the usual Catan costs:
- Road: brick, wood
- Knight: ore, sheep, wheat
- Settlement: brick, wood, sheep, wheat
- City: ore x3, wheat x2
Unlike in the Basic Game, you can build items in any order, provided that your road has reached the city or settlement you want to build.
Scoring Victory Points: Victory points are earned in exactly the same way as in the original Catan:
- Road: Might increase your road length by one; the player with the Longest Road earns 2VP.
- Knight: Increases your army size by one; the player with the Largest Army earns 2VP.
- Settlement: 1VP.
- City: 2VP.
Ending the Game: The game ends when a player earns 10VP.
Relationships to Other Games
The Advanced Catan Dice Game is a mash of Settlers of Catan and Yahtzee. Unlike the Basic Game, I feel like the Advanced Game really gives me a sense of Catan and makes me want to play the board game again; that's at least one sign that the dice game has achieved some of its purpose.
This is, as noted, the third variant of the dice game. The original dice game included just the "island one" rules and wasn't as attractive as later versions of the game. The deluxe edition, meanwhile, is identical to this standard edition, except it includes a large dice cup that can be used to store the game.
The Game Design
When I wrote my original review, I said that the Dice Game was a pretty simple game without the breadth of choices (or risk/reward opportunities) of Yahtzee. That still stands, but as I said in my earlier review, this isn't a complaint, simply a statement of the level of complexity for the game.
I did have a complaint about the fact that the Basic Game was completely solitaire and that's well addressed in the Advanced Game. Now, if you're in competition for either the Longest Road or the Largest Army you have to be constantly aware of what your opponents are doing and whether they're within striking distance of victory points you might be counting on.
I also think that the Advanced Game adds a few more options than the Basic Game enjoys. There is now some additional risk/reward when you try and go for one of those competitive victory rewards and you have to constantly weigh whether it's better to get permanent VPs from cities or settlements or to continue competing for points from roads and knights.
Overall, a serious player will definitely enjoy the Advanced Game more than the Basic Game. Though it doesn't remake the Catan Dice Game, it does add a smidgeon of strategy. As such I've given it a high "3" out of "5" for Style: slightly above average and I think a slightly better design than the Basic Game.
Catan Dice Game: The Standard Edition is an enjoyable but simple dice game that's reminiscent of Catan. I personally like it better than the Deluxe Edition that's also available because it's cheaper and you don't have to mash everything into a dice cup (but it's also a tiny bit less portable).