#009 Dice Fishing: Roll & Catch (2016 & 2018)
Designer: Satoru Nakamura
Artist: Mamiko Taguchi
Publisher: Homosapiens Lab & March Hare Games
Player Count: 2-5
You're probably familiar with some of these games: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, Star Wars: Rebellion, Caverna: The Cave Farmers, Arkham Horror: The Card Game, and Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island.
Now it's Dice Fishing: Roll and Catch 's turn to carry the torch and continue the tradition of having a colon in its name. No longer is the colon reserved for big grandiose games. Dice Fishing has brought the colon to the masses in this simple, fast, and highly approachable game.
Dice Fishing: Roll and Catch is a quick 2-5 player auction/bidding game where players bid with and later roll with dice! Hopefully, you'll catch some fish while you're at it.
In 2016, ダイ公望 (Lord of the Die-angler) was published by Japanese publisher March Hare Games. This year, Taiwanese publisher Homosapiens Labs licensed it and redesigned it (slightly). There's even a in a mini six-card expansion with five more fish and a bear! As our good friend, Detective Mills, says...
What's in the box?!
I first thought the graphic design was quite bland--lots of black, gray, white, and splashes of tan. However after my first play, I realized that this graphic design choice really works as it brings the super colorful dice into focus and makes them pop on the table--instead of being lost in a sea of colors. The dice are the focus of the game, and it was a smart design decision to keep the color focus on them.
The local fish of Japan & Taiwan!
On your turn
1. Reveal the new fish card! Flip over the top card of the fish deck and place it face up in the center of the table. (If there are any previously uncaught fish from previous rounds, place the new fish card on top of all of them.)
2. Make your wager! Players simultaneously and secretly select which dice they will use this turn. You may use the player shield or your hand to conceal your dice.
3. Reveal your wager! All players simultaneously reveal their dice to everyone.
4. Fish! The players calculate who fishes first, second, third, fourth, and last. The player who wagered with the fewest dice, fishes first. If multiple players wagered with the number of dice, the player who used the fewest special dice (d10 & d20), fishes first. If multiple players wagered the fewest dice with the exact same dice, they all fish at the same time!
5. Catch??? The first fishing player (or players) roll their dice. If the value of the rolled dice equal or exceed the target required number (while meeting the specific conditions), the fish is caught! Otherwise, the player (or players) with the next lowest wager attempts to catch the fish.
If multiple players are fishing simultaneously, the player whose rolled dice value is closest to the target required number catches the fish!
If the players are equally close to the target required number, nobody catches the fish and the player with the next lowest wager fishes next.
If nobody catches the fish, the fish is added to the next round. The next fish card is flipped and placed face up on top of all previously uncaught fish from previous rounds. The winner of this round catches all the face up fish. Caught fish are placed face up next to the player's player shield in view of everyone.
Play continues until all the fish have been revealed and attempted to be caught. If nobody catches the last revealed fish, then it remains in the center and is never scored--the one that got away! Players add up all the hooks (located at top of the fish cards). The player with the most hooks is crowned "King of Dice Fishing!" Expect to hear boos, hisses, and cheers.
Special Rules of Note
Fish cards have special conditions that must be met in order to catch the fish. Thankfully special conditions have simple iconography that is easily understood without a player aid.
The d10 and d20 have some special rules that need mentioning. They can be used in three different ways: number, reroll, or lure. This must be declared prior to rolling. The special dice are unlike the d6s. d6s are always returned behind the shield at the end of a round. The d10 and d20 must rest one round before returning behind its player's player shield. After one round of resting, the d10 and d20 are returned behind the player shield and may be used again.
Number: The d10 or d20 is rolled as normal, and their value is the face up numeric value. The zero face value on the d10 is valued as ten.
Reroll: The d10 or d20 is rolled as normal. If an odd number is rolled, the active player gains one reroll. If an even number is rolled, the active player gains two rerolls. Rerolls are handled in simple Yahtzee or King of Tokyo fashion. The active player may reroll any number of their dice. You CANNOT chose to reroll the d10 or d20 that was used to gain the reroll ability. That dice has been used already.
Lure: The d10 or d20 is rolled as normal. If an odd number is rolled, the active player gains 1 point of modification. If an even number is rolled, the active player gains 2 points of modification. This means you can alter the value of one rolled die by adding 1 or subtracting 1. If you rolled an even number, you can alter one die by 2, or two dice each by 1. You can even alter the value of the other special die. For example, if you used the d10 for its lure ability and the d20 for its preroll ability, you may alter an odd number on the d20 by one in order to get an even number and 2 rerolls instead of just 1!
I'm not crazy about the Fresh Water Fish expansion. The base game comes with 15 fish cards. Each game 10 are randomly drawn and used as the fish deck. The remaining 5 cards are returned to the deck. The expansion adds in 6 more cards. This time you shuffle all 21 cards together and randomly select 13 cards for the fish deck. The remaining 8 cards are returned to the box.
Changing the card count from 10 to 13 adds some extra length to the game that really isn't necessary. At 13 rounds (one card per round) the game begins to slightly outstay its welcome. After dozens and dozens of plays, I seldom saw a close ending. Usually one player runs away with the game. Of course that usually happens around rounds 8 to 10, so two more rounds isn't that bad to power through. However, going all the way to 13 felt a bit too long for my taste.
This leads to one other problem I noticed--scaling. If you're playing at the full player count of 5, the game usually becomes more balanced and the scores are tighter. If you're playing at 3, the cards tend to swing in one player's direction. If you're playing with 2, why don't you have more friends around?
The expansion also adds three "take that" cards. OMG do I hate (and secretly love) that bear! The Taiwanese black bear eats a random fish from every player except the player who caught the bear. The salmon and sturgeon both cause an opponent to lose a random card. I don't mind this too much as it can allow for players to catch up and knock some fish out the leader's pile; however, it can also allow the leader to get even further ahead and make it impossible for the other players to catch up.
I love fish. While I'm thankful that the rulebook included all the names of the fish, I would have preferred the names to have been on the actual card. A small gripe but I felt it needed mentioning--especially as it's supposed to be celebrating the local fish of Taiwan and Japan.
Every time I finished teaching a learning game with new players, they demanded to play again--every time. It's more of an event than a game, as you tend to not care about winning or losing as much as catching that one fish with that one miracle roll. Every game I've played someone screamed, someone booed, and someone cheered. Gambling, sorrow, frustration, jubilation, and revenge explode out of this box. Nobody expects to fall in love with this game at first glance, but most do. After almost every game a new player would ask me where to get this game. IT'S THAT ADDICTING. But it'll make you want to flip the table at times--especially with James' ridiculously lucky rolls. (Why I oughta...) I hesitated with giving Dice Fishing: Roll and Catch CardboardEast's first 5 rating, but I love this game too damn much not to do so. It works with kids, family, and non-gamers. It's an excellent aperitif, mid-games snack, or closing dessert for those big gaming nights, and it's fantastic for those quick pick up games at conventions. It even goes down well with drinks and friends. It's not a perfect game, but I love it despite of its flaws because it consistently brings smiles, laughter, thought, calculation, cheers, anger, and heartbreak to the gaming table. What more do you want out of a gaming experience?
I love it! I love heavy games, but sometimes you just need to gamble, chuck some dice, and laugh. Every game will have cheers, shocks, anger, frustration, and laughter. IT'S A BLAST! It's a great little family game and great for drinks with friends. I hesitated with giving Dice Fishing CardboardEast's first 5 rating, but I enjoy this game too damn much not to do so. I wouldn't recommend this game at 2. Go for the full 5 player count and get ready for a great time. I highly recommend Dice Fishing: Roll and Catch! (5 out of 5 = I love it!)