Catan: Dice Game – Review

Catan Dice Game by Mayfair Games

So today is my birthday, which really only matters because my wife had me grab a couple of random games at the game store as an early birthday present. There were a lot of cool-looking games of course (I love random games, I’m usually willing to try anything) but I wanted something that would be fun and easy and not involve a lot of stress. Here I’ll review the first of two games I picked up.

Catan: Dice Game Basics

I have to assume that most people are familiar with some form of the Catan games. Settlers of Catan is one of those highly-replayable games that tends to either become a standard of a game group or a complete burnout. I think our group eventually reached the latter as we rarely play the game anymore. Some people have said that the addition of Cities and Knights was the culprit as it was really fun at first but added new elements that after some amount of play became aggressive and tedious. Still, if you have never played Settlers of Catan I do recommend you try it.

Luckily the Catan game I am talking about today has little to do with the previous incarnation. A player needs not to have played Settlers nor do they need to know anything about it. The fact of the matter is that having played Settlers will more likely stilt your perception of the dice game than add to your enjoyment.

The only real connection between this game and the other Catan games is that they both involve resources and building things, and those resources and the things you build are the same in each. How you go about building and what you get for building are very different.

The Rules (Or, How to Let Dice Fall from Your Hand to the Table)

Dice for the Catan Dice Game

Catan: Dice Game is about as simple as they come. The basic rules are easy to learn and can be picked up in about five minutes by just about anyone.

There are 15 turns to the game and on his or her turn a player rolls the six resource dice. The results of the first roll can be rerolled, in whole or in part, through up to two additional rolls. The object is to end up with resources that combine into things you would like to build.

There are four different items that can be built: Roads, Knights, Settlements, and Cities. Roads and Knights can always be built but Settlements and Cities can only be built if you have roads leading to them. Each player is given a scoring sheet that depicts where the roads lead and as roads are built a player fills them in to keep track of which they have built.

Catan Score Card

Roads are always worth one point while Knights increase in value as you build more of them, as do Settlements and Cities. However you need to build the lowest value Settlement or City first even if you have a road that leads to one which is more valuable.

Building a knight gives you a resource; this is not an extra resource but allows you to change one die to the resource of your choice after you are done rerolling. A knight also provides two gold (a resource that does nothing by itself), which can be used for any other resource; one gold is never worth anything.

Each turn you fill in the box for that turn with the point value of everything you built and then pass the dice. If you built nothing on a turn you put an “X” in your box and this counts as –2 points a the end of the game.

That’s about it. Very simple and very fast moving.

Yahtzee Catan!

Even before playing I compared this game to Yahtzee and then noticed at The Geek others had as well. The comparison is not only inevitable but is also very fair. There is no real interaction between players (the only exception being a player taking a big risk if they are behind) and essentially a player can play alone to see how well they do.

My mother had an electronic version of Yahtzee and people would take turns playing a whole game before passing it to someone else and the simply compare scores. You could just as easily do that with this game.

Is Catan: Dice Game a Good Game?

I personally like to think of things more along the lines of who will enjoy a game and who will not. The Catan: Dice Game is not a gamers game. I don’t see too many hardcore gaming groups getting this and spending any real time playing it. At best it works well as something quick and easy to do between other games or while you’re waiting for a friend to get back with food. It’s fast (half hour tops) and relatively fun since you’re rolling a bunch of dice.

The game does feel fairly random since it is, after all, dice. It’s hard to hide the luck factor in a dice game. Still, there are choices to make and risks to take and someone who screws up and makes poor decisions can lose a game.

The lack of actual interaction poses a problem for a lot of people. Some people will feel that there is no reason at all to be playing with a group since one person’s turn has no real bearing on another person’s turn. The only advantage I can really see to this is that players have no reason to get upset with one another. If your gaming group tends to get heated it could be a good “cool down” game.

Who Will Like This Game?

Well, my wife likes it. We use to play a couple other dice games while watching TV or doing other things, and this game reminds us of that. Also, the fact that the game is completely portable (being just dice and score sheets) is a good plus. Players can bring it camping or pull it out at a party that is getting dull. And, as I already said, anyone can pick up and play this game.

In Conclusion

Is this a great game? Well, no probably not. It’s a neat little game that will be worth it to players who want a simple dice game. It will probably not be worth it to players that are looking for a new Catan game however and I can’t recommend it in that regard. The good news is that players can hop over to PlayCatan and check out the dice game (as well as Settlers) and decide if they would be interested in spending real money on an in-your-hand-real-world-version of the game.

So, while I don’t see this being the next big thing in my gaming group (in fact the very idea is laughable) I’m not sorry I got this game. Feel free to sound off here about what you think of it, if you have played it or not!


    so its yahtzee without the fun of yelling yahtzee at the top of your lungs?

    i love catan, i usually play a few games a day at, but i cant really imagine the dice version being that exciting. asobrain does a have a lot of cool maps for their version called “xplorers”, if youre looking for something to spice up a regular game of catan.

    i couldnt get the game to work at the link you posted, which could be a problem with my computer or the site, so i couldnt try it out. (you also have it linked incorrectly, you have the address for your blog before the, so it searches for a page within your blog)


    I fixed the link. It should work now.

    In the end this dice game has nothing more to do with Catan than the fact that is uses the same resources. Still, if you like dice games this isn’t a terrible one.


    Check this out! New rules for Catan: Dice Game that make it a bit more like regular Catan.,en_US/