Artistic interpretations of different medias across several different mediums has become commonplace in today’s entertainment industry. Books into movies, movies into video games, video games into books, books, movies, and video games into board games and card games, it’s all been done a thousand times before, and it’s going to continue being done until the end of time, because they sell themselves. It’s not often however that a board game gets released as a card or dice game, but it’s not unheard of. One in particular that I would like to talk about is Catan: Dice.
Joy in the little things
Catan: Dice is weird in how it plays both exactly the same, and totally different from regular Catan. First, each player has their own sheet of the map, which is their own island, meaning no player can interact with another player. There is absolutely no player interaction in this game, allowing it to play up to as many players as there are paper map sheets.
For resources, the game includes six dice, each with a different side corresponding to a different Catan resource. The sixth side of each dice features a ‘Gold’ resource, which you can exchange two of for any one resource of your choice. This is a system that takes away from how the resources get ramped up in the later games of Catan, where cities are everywhere and people are drowning in a single resource. This system almost feels more fair.
The Development Cards are replaced simply by Knights, and each Knight can provide you a one time exchange of a specific resource. As for actually building, the map has a beginning point, and you have to start from there. Otherwise, the game plays just like a regular game of Catan.
There is a flip side to the map sheets as well that allows for a different game mode, where instead of playing first player to 10 victory points wins, each Road, Settlement, Knight, and City is worth a certain number of points, and players each play 15 turns, and the highest score at the end wins. This has a bit different of a feel of pacing, but ultimately is still not bad, and recommended for those who are new to the game (though neither game mode is complex).
So little for so much
It’s weird talking about something like Catan: Dice in such a light, but the game is legitimately amazing. It’s everything that you look forward to in a game of Catan without the player interaction, in an extremely compact and easy to transport container that has virtually zero set up, and is easier to teach to people than the actual game of Catan. Additionally, everything you learn from Catan: Dice translates over to regular Catan.
Catan is not the only game to have done a transportable version of their game well, Bang! Dice is another extremely well done game. Your cards are replaced with dice that each have their own unique effects (taken from the cards in the original game naturally) and you play a regular game of Bang with it. It’s astounding that games like these exist, while we also get games that have translated over horribly.
An example of this is the thousands of “different” versions and variations of Munchkin. This may be an unpopular opinion, but Munchkin has literal hundreds of add-ons, all of which break down to being the exact same game, the only difference being theme. And that’s fine, if theme is your thing than power to you, but if the game play doesn’t improve one way or another, or if it’s not more personally convenient, than it’s a collector’s object and warrants little excitement.
After all, games are made to be played, right?
Catan Dice and Bang Dice are just two great examples of translation in the game industry. There truly is beauty in simplicity, and these two games have proven that to me time and time again. While collector items do exist within these two game franchises, these are not one of them, and if you enjoy those games you will love these variations.