Keltis und Einfach Genial: das Wurfelspiele

Ok, so you are Kosmos executive. You have a successful duo of family level abstract games, designed by Dr. Tweak-and-Rerelease Knizia. One even won the SdJ! You have already done the base games, expansions, spinoffs, portable tile games, and card games, in both of the properties. You have seemingly exhausted all possible options to milk expand the options available to the consumer. If, only there were a way to release another iteration? If only there were some way to have completionists insightful gamers seek out another game in the line? Wait, what are these cube-shaped random number generators I’ve been hearing about?

Einfach Genial: das Wurfelspiel

Really, this should be called Einfach Genial: das Kartenspiel: das Wurfelspiel. Not because there are cards, but because the gameplay most matches the card game, but, you know, with dice. The 9 included dice have the familiar colors/shapes, and you get a scorepad. Everyone gets their share of dice. On your turn, roll all of your dice, then optionally roll them all again, and then score. Score by looking at the number of symbols on others’ dice that match yours, and score one of those symbols per die matched. Doubles and Triples and Quadruples can be wilds instead. When scoring, there are barriers, so that you may not score 4 of something, until you have 1 of everything. You may not score 7 of something, until you have 4 of everything. First to 7 of everything wins.

This game was first published as part of FFG’s Ingenious Challenges, which includes the tile and card games. There was one minor change, though. In the original, the score track went to 10, but it was still a race to 7. Scoring a 10 gave you an “Ingenious!” extra turn. I have a feeling that the “best” rule set is the one here, as the score track was created specifically for the dice game, rather than serving both a dice and card version in the Challenges box. When/if the good Doctor answers my tweet, I’ll let you know.

How is it? Pretty low on brain power, snappy, tense at the end, and fun enough. Your choices are literally limited to just whether to reroll, and how to use your wilds. I think the 2p game might actually be kind of more interesting, in that you have more aspects to your roll, and therefore the decision to keep or not is a tiny bit more complicated. But not much. Roll Through the Ages, this is not. I did not like the card version of Einfach Genial, but for some reason, probably the snappiness of play, this one works well enough. For a very-light dice filler, I’ve played worse.

Keltis: das Wurfelspiel

My fondness for the later iterations in the Keltis line has been documented. I was looking forward to this version, and I received almost exactly what I thought it was going to be. Keltis, but, you know, with dice. Roll the 5 dice, freeze any, reroll the rest once. Then score. If you roll 2 or more stones on the dice, collect 1 stone. The 5 familiar Keltis symbols are what make up the rest of the die faces, so you will pick one to score. Move your scoring marker up the column matching that symbol, and collect a bonus (stone, extra move, extra turn) if you land on it. Note, that each player only has 4 scoring markers, so each player may only play in 4 columns, or less. Game ends when a certain number of scoring markers make it near the end of the tracks. Players score for stones collected, and the advancement of each of their markers, with typical Keltis scoring “cliffs”.

The game offers two different boards to play on. The first side, has no tricks, just different bonuses at different points along each of the 5 tracks. The advanced side has 3 X’d out spaces in each of the columns. You may not land on these spaces. Combined with the fact that you must accept all of a symbol, or none, you may be regretting rolling another red triangle thingy, whereas before, more is always better.

How is it? I like this one. Again, the decisions are simple (what to reroll, and then what to score) but balancing the different tracks and the stones is important. I thought the advanced board would be a simple improvement, and would be the side I’d always play, but the decision is not black and white. The decisions are more interesting on that side, but it does make the game go a little longer, which was noticeable. Also, since some sections of the columns have multiple X’s in a row, you might need several of a symbol in 1 turn to advance at all. This makes for some tense, exciting moments, but also allows lady luck to rear her head a few more times. Move a long way, or none at all. So, I’m actually not sure which side I like better. The rules also call for playing both, and totalling your score. I might try that next time I play.

“Roll Two Times” is the new “Roll Three Times”

I am getting tired of “Roll 3 Times.” I won’t list the examples, but I think you can figure out which games I am talking about. Now, I know it’s not always 3 times. Sometimes games are “roll and freeze, until you cannot freeze anymore, or you bust.” But, it feels the same. Bohnanza: das Wurfelspiel was a new entry in this type of game this year, but people seemed to enjoy that one. The two games reviewed here feel different to me. Knizia invented a new genre: the “Roll 2 Times!”

“Oh, come on,” you say, “its the same fricking thing!” Yeah, I guess it is. But, to me, there seems a world of difference. It is so boring, watching others decide what to keep or not, multiple times on their turn. But, that is the heart of the “Roll 3 Times.” In these two games reviewed here, you make your decision, see what you get, and then move on. You don’t get a second or third chance to do something about it. In the end, it’s just dice, right? This paradigm makes the games feel quicker, which tends to be what I am looking for in dice games, anyway. I’ll be on the lookout for more dice games like this…

Other Opinionated Gamers on Einfach Genial: das Wurfelspiel:

Dale Yu: I guess this one is OK.  Heck, prior to the veritable onslaught of dice games in early 2012, this might have been above average.  But now, it’s just another dice game.  It’s gone over fairly well with my kids as there isn’t a lot of decision making space in the game.  I don’t need to own this game, but I’m sure that I’ll still play it when the game group is at Luke’s house <g>  I’m waiting for the board game implementation of this dice game… I think it could be a hit.

Dan Blum: I like Ingenious, but I didn’t like the other two spin-off games and I don’t like this either. I don’t ask for much from simple dice games, but a tense decision occasionally would be nice. This didn’t provide that.

Ratings for Einfach Genial: das Wurfelspiel:
4 (I love it!):
3 (I like it): Luke Hedgren
2 (Neutral): Dale Yu
1 (Not for me): Dan Blum

Other Opinionated Gamers on Keltis: das Wurfelspiel:

Mark Jackson (one play): Keltis Dice was pleasant – but it felt like Keltis Yahtzee. There’s no real brinksmanship here – though you’re aware of the other players, you’re really fighting the luck of the dice.

The best of the Keltis spin-off games is still Keltis: Der Weg der Steine.

(Note: we played the “advanced” side of the board.)

Dale Yu: I like this one better than the Einfach dice game (though not enough to give it a higher rating on our rating scale) – there seems to be a bit more going on.  However, I would prefer to only play the “basic” side of the board from now on.  The advanced side looks like it’s going to give the players a few more decisions with the restrictions on movement, etc – but this tends to be a fairly arbitrary thing and really only serves to slow the game down.

I like the push your luck aspect of the stone scoring.  You definitely need to get a few to avoid negative points, and the scoring scale ratchets up to make it worth your while to collect a bunch.  Yet, you can’t forget to keep moving up the regular tracks either.  This is definitely a dice game that I feel is superior to the boardgame which spawned it.

Brian Leet: I have only played once, on the “easy” board, but wasn’t really moved by this game one way or the other. It is a pleasant enough game, and certainly quick enough, but lacks any form of interaction and the re-roll decisions weren’t all that interesting.

Dan Blum: It’s better than the Einfach Genial game, but that’s not a high bar to get over. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but it suffers by comparison with both other recent dice games and the Keltis Mitbringspiel (which the Fluffy one correctly identifies as the best Keltis spin-off, although I’m sure he meant to say “best Keltis game,” period).

I played both sides of the board. The basic side is dull. The other side is more interesting but has a high frustration potential.

Ratings for Keltis:  das Wurfelspiel:
4 (I love it!):
3 (I like it): Luke Hedgren
2 (Neutral): Mark Jackson, Dale Yu, Brian Leet, Dan Blum
1 (Not for me):

About Lucas Hedgren

Lucas Hedgren likes playing, designing, reading about, thinking about, and writing about games.
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