Raising a family of gamers means always being on the lookout for games that kids can play but also challenge them to do more than just go through the motions of simple mechanisms. It helps if the game is fun for adults too! So we were delighted to receive a copy of Dice Bazaar and try it out with our families.
Dice Bazaar uses what our hobby likes to refer to as Yahtzee-style set collection. We assume that most of you are familiar with the game Yahtzee but if you haven’t paid attention to the last six decades here are the basics: you roll dice and try to match certain combinations, or sets, of those dice to obtain points.
In Yahtzee every game uses the same, monotonous sets of dice combinations for scoring. A few years ago, Roll for It! gave us random goals but those were still a predetermined deck of cards. Fedor has taken the next step forward and incorporated “Price Dice” which allow random sets to be obtained each time a player completes another one. This gives a unique experience every time we play the game.
These games also tend to have a push-your-luck element to them. Meaning that you can try to improve your dice roll by rolling again. It’s called pushing your luck because, as we all know, dice hate us and are likely to give us a much worse outcome the second time.
However, where Dice Bazaar differs from typical Yahtzee-style games is that it allows us to have more control over the outcome of our dice. Instead of simply re-rolling we can make a strategic decision to use points we’ve already earned to alter a single die to any number we wish. This allows calculated sacrifice rather than blind sacrifice and is probably the single element that sets this game apart from other similar styled games.
Let’s be honest, there’s not a whole lot of theme to rolling dice. However, good designers can use their mechanisms and artwork to elevate the theme. That is exactly what Fedor Sosnin has done here. The name chosen to represent his game starts us off in the right direction. According to dictionary.com, a Bazaar is a marketplace or shopping quarter, especially one in the Middle East. This setting provides a great foundation for the spending and trading of dice at the Bazaar. Even the inclusion of the Price Dice reflects how markets are always fluctuating. It’s quite ingenious, actually, and makes us appreciate the game even more.
Many times games don’t know who their audience is, but Dice Bazaar knows exactly who should be playing it. This is a lighter family game and the art reflects that. It’s cute and cartoony, perfect for children and suitable for all ages. The art also fits the theme well. Immediately we enter into a middle eastern marketplace with items we can purchase appropriate to that area. The purchasable items look great and the empty table with pottery shards and broken cups shows an attention to detail that we at Pub Meeple like to see.
The layout is simple with each item having its designated place. The iconography on the board and cards is intuitive and make sense. Children easily identified with the symbology and understood what each card did and what each area was used for.
Try this game if you like:
- Catan Dice Game
- King of Tokyo
- Roll For It!
- Zombie Dice
Disclaimer: The review copy we had was a prototype so final production may vary.
- The boards are good quality and thickness.
- Cards are good quality, especially for a prototype.
- Card size is nice and they fit on the board but aren’t too small.
- The dice look like anything we would expect to buy in a store.
- Overall table space required works well for four people.
- The box seems a bit large for what is in it. This is probably due to the player board but we wonder if it could’ve been done with 2-4 interlocking pieces to fit in a smaller box.
- We would’ve liked to see the card artwork extend to the edge of the cards instead of the white border as it would blend better with the board. The round corners also clashed with the square artwork. Again, this may be due to prototyping.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND RATINGS
This is a great game that we can bring out to family gatherings that’s not Yahtzee. It’s easy to pick up. Fun to play. And simple enough to allow for social interaction. There’s also just enough depth for an engaging experience for both hardcore and casual board gamers alike. We’ve already bought it and recommend others do so as well. Throw out those mindless family games and add something better to your collection!
There are two levels on which I appreciate this game. The layout is clear and the rules are short and simple so breaking this out with my 5 year-old was no problem. Watching her manipulate the dice on the board and making decisions was really fun for a gaming dad. But it’s not a game she will grow out of. Being able to sacrifice points for potential rewards provides a level of strategy I feel dice rolling games naturally lack; and while this mechanism will probably be harder for the youngest of players to grasp, it is exactly the kind of decisions that engage players of all ages. Perfect for our family, definitely a buy for me.