Catan Dice Game from Mayfair Games is actually two games in one. The game comes with six dice, as well as several pads of paper. The first game utilizes the green side of the paper in which an island reminiscent of that from Catan is represented. The island features roads, settlements, cities and resource hexes with knights in the middle.
On a player's turn, he or she rolls all six dice, then may set some aside and roll the others. Finally, the player may roll a final, third time any or all of the dice desired. The dice contain the various resources from Catan such as sheep, ore, bricks, wheat and wood as well as gold. If a player rolls two gold, he or she can substitute them for one other resource. Players then can spend their resources to claim the various roads, settlements, cities and knights on the paper by crossing them out. Most structures and roads have point values, and players write how many points they scored that turn. Players can also use the resources from one of their knight hexes as a one-time wild card. After 15 turns, the player with highest score wins.
The second game, found on the red side, plays in a similar fashion as the first game, though players can compete for things like longest road and largest army, key concepts from the original Catan board game. Additionally, the second game ends when one player is the first to gain 10 points.
Both games are quick and fun games that nevertheless provide some real competition. Because of the multiple dice rolls each turn, there is an intense push-your-luck mechanic here that really draws players in. Since games play out in a 15-30 minute time frame, Catan Dice Game is perfect for a little light gaming. Families and fans of the board game will really take to this exciting dice version of Catan.
Ages: 7 and up
Time: 15-30 minutes
Also from Mayfair Games, Flea Market sees three to five players compete to be the first to earn $45 by buying and selling junk. The small game board is a trail with an auction block in the middle. Beside the trail are various numbered spaces. Junk tokens with different numbers are placed randomly along the trail on top of the spaces. Players are given their own player color token and their own pair of colored dice.
On a player's turn, he or she is the auctioneer and rolls three white dice. When the number rolled matches one of the junk items, it is then placed upon the auction block. Each player then secretly rolls, and is allowed one reroll, to determine his or her bid. Players can then bid the amount of money from their roll on the item or not. Once a player buys the item, it then goes into his or her pool. When the auctioneer rolls the junk number of an item that a player owns, it goes on the block and may be sold to another player. The first player to make $45 wins the game.
There is a bit more to the rules, but that is essentially how Flea Market is played. It's a game of playing the numbers — which junk items do you want to buy? Wise players will leverage their money on items that have optimal rolls, numbers somewhere in the middle of 3 to 18, the possible numbers rolled with three dice.
The game is a bit too random for grown-up gamers, but children should take to the fun theme and loads of dice rolling.
Ages: 8 and up
Time: 30 minutes
Also from Mayfair Games, Extra! Extra! is a worker placement game set in the fast-paced world of newspaper publishing. Three separate boards make up the game board, which represents the hustle and bustle of a newspaper office. Each player is given a player board, which represents the newspaper that he or she is trying to fill up with stories, and two reporters. Players then agree upon a scenario to play.
Each turn, the game board is populated with news stories from around the world on the news desk and from the wire service. Players collect $400 to play their reporters, and can then play a stringer card to claim a story. Next, players take turns placing their reporters on spaces throughout the game board. Players can attempt to claim story cards, sell advertisements for more money, take a story tile to fill up their newspaper (which must be paid for in story cards), gain additional reporters and more. Depending on the scenario, players also conduct interviews for bonus points or take more actions.
When placing reporters, other players can knock them out and take their spot. Players can place money beneath their reporters, forcing other players who want the spot to exceed their money to knock them out — leading to bidding wars. Depending upon the scenario, players will continue with these steps until one player has filled up the necessary newspaper pages. Players then count up points they scored from their stories and bonuses, and whoever has the most is the winner.
There is a lot more going on in the game, and this is just a bare bones overview of the rules.
Extra! Extra! has a very interesting and engaging theme but unfortunately it just comes across as too busy. It is essentially a race to complete the scenario conditions, and while it can sometimes be intense and the bidding wars for spaces can be fun, the game just feels overly complex with its myriad action spaces (many of which just don't seem terribly important) and tons of little rules and exceptions. The game just never really captures the imagination like it should.
Ages: 14 and up
Time: 1-4 hours, depending on scenario
Cost: $64.99 (the game can be found online in the $45-$50 range)
Cody K. Carlson holds a master's in history from the University of Utah and teaches at Salt Lake Community College. An avid player of board games, he blogs at thediscriminatinggamer.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org