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Subject: Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: A very unique dexterity dice game rss

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Introducing Krakatoa

Krakatoa is #4 in the EGG series from Eagle Gryphon Games, a series of about a dozen small box games. It's a welcome reprint of a 1983 game that has long been out of print, and having it readily available again in a fine new edition is good news for those who have been hunting for a copy of this remarkable game. The back of the box calls it "one of the most unique dice games ever created", and it certainly lives up to that description!

In this unusual game by Joli Quentin Kansil, you're rolling dice trying to create point-scoring combinations with nine 12-sided dice (dodecas), but with this twist: there's a dexterity element in that you are trying to throw your dice to change dice that are already in play. It's a fascinating concept, with fascinating components, so let's show you more!


The boxes in this series are very small and portable, and in this case the publisher has opted for an erupting volcano on the front cover, to fit with the title of the game and with the theme.

Inside you get:
● 9 dodeca dice (3 each of white, gray, and black)
● 4 reference cards
● score-pad
● rulebook (available from the publisher's site here)


This game works best as a head-to-head two player game, and players take turns throwing the dice five times trying to accumulate points. Note that the white dice are called "Steam", the gray dice "Ash", and the black dice "Lava". Each of the twelve-sided dice has three yellow spots, four red spots, and five blue spots.


I'll start by explaining scoring first, since this is the object of the game. At the end of any given throw, you look at all nine dice and score points according to the reference sheet for each of the three sets (Steam/Ash/Lava). A triple is considered a Volcano and scores 10/5/3 points depending on the colour, two yellows is a Deuce and scores 2 points, and a single yellow is an Ace and scores just 1 point. In most cases, you're trying to roll lots of yellows to get points, or else a triple red/blue.

Flow of play

On your turn, you roll all nine dice to start. Ideally you want to use a flat surface that is slightly soft, like carpet or a felt table. A round consists of five throws as follows:
1. All Dodecas: You throw all the dice (you get one free re-roll if you don't like the initial roll)
2. Any set: Re-roll one set of your choice (Steam, Ash, or Lava)
3. Steam: Re-roll the white set
4. Ash: Re-roll the gray set
5. Lava: Re-roll the black set

At the end of every roll, score points for all nine dice, and add it to your running total. But there's one twist in relation to the rolling: you must hit at least one of the other six dice in the playing area, otherwise your roll doesn't count. And that's where the dexterity element comes in - you are trying to change the colours of the existing dice, to improve the point-scoring combinations! A full game consists of six such rounds, with each player having five rolls in a round.

This describes the basic game, but there are also some advanced rules you can play which give you bonus points in certain situations.

What do I think?

Components: The box is small and portable, and corresponds to the game inside, i.e. a light filler type game. The components are quite impressive - the dice are certainly original and well-produced, and everything from the score-pad to the reference cards looks rather nice.

Theme: This is pasted on completely, although that's not a complaint. The volcanic terms used in the game do add to the flavour, but don't really play a role otherwise as such; it's more of an abstract game.

Game-play: It's unquestionably unique, because on the one hand there is a Yahtzee style re-roll concept, but it's combined with a dexterity element, making it truly original. And there are decisions to be made, especially in deciding which dice to re-roll and which dice to try to change with your rolls. The dexterity element also involves a measure of skill; but for the most part there's a lot of luck involved.

Dexterity: The question can be asked: does the dexterity element actually improve the game or make it worse, especially given the luck factor of the outcome? Why not just re-roll one of the existing dice along with the set you're re-rolling? For those who aren't convinced that the dexterity element makes for a better game, I've come up with a dexterity-free variant which I think is actually more fun than the original. See: The Dexterity-free Variant

Scalability: Krakatoa works best as a two player game, although you can play with more. But there's not much interaction, since what you do on your turn doesn't affect your opponent, so it's more of a solitaire exercise in who can come up with the highest score. You can even have fun playing it on your own as a solo game.


So is Krakatoa for you? It all comes together in a very interesting package, but Krakatoa is simply not something that will be everyone's cup of tea. I imagine most people will find it fun enough to give it a shot, but I'm not sure that many will demand repeated plays. The end result is that this game has the curious distinction of being one of the most unique and original games you'll see, but the size of the group of gamers it will appeal to unfortunately doesn't quite match the degree of its uniqueness. But if you are one of those that enjoys this kind game, you might find yourself playing it a lot, even as a solo experience, in an effort to beat your best scores. It's certainly great that it's been brought back in print in this nice new edition.

So if you like rolling dice, and the sound of a unique game with a dexterity element interests you, you might want to take a look at Krakatoa.

mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews:

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