I had the opportunity to see the dice replacement variant in play a couple days ago, in a four-player game. There’s a weird feeling I have, associated with altering the rules of a game for a group of people who know how a game is “supposed” to be played. Kind of like an author knowing their characters.

As the turns passed, and there were about seventy of them before we had to end the game in a draw, I would watch the Resource Cards change hands and constructions be added to the board. Myself, I managed to build the longest road, and I made this cool, peanut-shaped territory dotted with settlements.

In some ways, the game felt a lot slower than before. The dice, while “more random,” somehow lend the game a greater sense of inevitability than previously suggested. The game is more balanced, a fact which I didn’t actually notice until near the end when it was pointed out that our final scores were six, six, eight, and eight.

There were a lot of pieces on the board, and expansion was more cutthroat. It gave me an idea for some custom cards to go with the game. I want to use each of the suits as an indicator of the game’s “season,” and have different effects associated with the seasons. Already this idea sounds weird — seasons change between cards?

I’ll give it some more thought. Anyway, the dice-replacement variant seems pretty effective. With all the players competing for resources, as they tend to, no one seemed to have a clear advantage through the game, or if they did, they were blocked by the expansions of other players. It was a pretty cutthroat game. *grins*