Fishing. It’s an often thought of bucolic pass time. There is peace to be found in nature, in sitting and waiting, in the tension before a bite and the euphoria of a catch. Well, I’m happy to report that Dice Fishing, is not relaxing at all. Instead, this small box contains something akin to the highs and lows of casino gambling. Less relaxing in the sun or wading through deep water, more daddy needs a pair of 4’s so he can grab himself a longtooth grouper.
Dice Fishing is at is a betting game. Players need dice values equal to or higher than the fish currently in play. This might mean something as simple as getting higher than 9 or something more complex such as getting more than 12 with only even numbers of your dice. However, the catch (fishing pun) is that the player who bids the fewest dice goes first. In Dice Fishing the early bird catches the fish while the late birds are left with worms on their lines (not sure that works but I’m going to run with it).
Players are secretly selecting how many of their five six-sided dice to bid on this latest fish but also considering whether they should use one of the two special dice they also brought on the boat. The D10 and D20 allow you to modify or reroll your dice meaning you might get a second chance at that five you desperately needed. However, each die you select counts towards your total, so is it worth betting everything on a two dice hand or being somewhat more cautious and bringing a D10 as well? What happens if you do bring that D10 and some cheeky person catches the salmon shark before you? You miss out on valuable points, that’s what happens.
Each round of Dice Fishing is a constant weighing of whether you think you can achieve the requirements of the fish card with fewer dice than your opponents. Like all good gambling games, at a certain point, you stop playing the game of checking the odds and start playing the people. Does Tom look like the kind of crazy person to think they can roll a double three on two dice? Or what about Matt, he’s being quiet this round, I bet he’s going to let us waste our time trying to get that double three on two dice and splash all his dice once we’ve all failed. So does that mean I should go somewhere in the middle and hope that Tom isn’t the lucky ducky he thinks he is? Do you see what I mean, each round is this quagmire of choice where the right one never clear.
And once everyone has picked their dice, then comes the reveal. This is my personal favourite moment. The tension of trying to guess at all your friend’s intentions reaches its peak when Tom the daredevil as always has bid only two dice after all but so has Matt and now they need to have a roll off to see who gets the fish. And at this point, you are just excited to see what happens. This reveal is a combination of “Ha. What a fool!” and “Oh, god. What if they actually pull this off.”. And it’s great. Often when others are rolling and you see you are a long shot to get a chance to catch this fish, then you end up caught in the excitement of the dice roll. Just like regular gambling, you cheer for your opponents and hope that the planets align and they pull off that longshot you dare not try.
All of this culminates in somebody winning a fish, at least most of the time it does. On the occasions when it is a dead tie or nobody manages to get the required numbers, then a new fish is revealed and suddenly the steaks have increased. Now we are playing for two fish and the winner gets both. This time you know you need to bid low, you want to be the first to try and get both fish but what if you bid too low and scupper your chances? So should you bid higher? What if somebody else bids low and get the fish!?
And that goes on for 10 rounds. 10 rounds of second guesses, tense dice rolls, groans at near misses and cheers at lucky throws. Dice Fishing, while not the relaxing Sunday afternoon of regular fishing, perfectly emulates the feeling of collective gambling in a safe fish themed environment.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review. If you want more small box board game stuff, then you should definitely read George’s High Society review or if you want bigger things then you can’t go wrong with my review of Zombicide in which is posit the question – is there too such a thing as too many miniatures?