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     CUATRO
                             NORIS Spiele
                        2-4 Players aged 8+

This game by Jürgen P.K.Grunau uses the catchphrase "Throw the dice, skilfully, place the tokens
cleverly, 4 in a row wins".  It is quite catchy but one must wonder how dice can be thrown skilfully
unless by which the author means make sure they land on the table. Seriously it is not the way, skilfully
or haphazardly, that you toss the dice, it is the decisions you make once they have been rolled - which,
if any, to keep, which to roll again.

The game is a mixture of mechanics from other good games. It uses the basic dice rolling, saving,
re-rolling and completing combinations from Yahtzee and the roof top scoring from several other games
(memory just went right out the window as I started to type).

The English translation of the rules, in the rule book that comes with the game, may be either slightly
wrong or slightly poor in translation, or of course, I myself may be the mistaken one. They say that the
players have a maximum of five attempts each of their turns to try to roll one of the possible combinations.
The part that confuses me is  where it says that the player can choose to place matching dice in front of him.
What is meant by matching dice ? In other conversations I would say that, for example, a pair of 2s, would be
matching dice but a 1 and a 2 and a 4 wouldn't be. 

However if, continuing the example, I was attempting to roll a straight (1,2,3,4,5 or 2,3, 4,5,6) I may be
tempted  to keep the 1, 2 and 4 in the hope of rolling a 3 and a 5 with the  remaining two dice. To  me the
rules are saying I cannot do this, but I think that is an error in translation as the dice rolling is based around
Yahtzee and that is a legal move in Yahtzee.  If I am wrong then I apologise to the author, Noris, the
translator, and to you the reader, but it does make rolling a straight a darn site harder than it should
be if you cannot save dice towards it.

In Yahtzee you only have 3 throws of the dice maximum and you can pick up previous dice that you saved
if you decide to change your mind over which combination you are going for. Here it is not explained whether
you can use previously saved dice or if you cannot, but it does give a good explanation about being able to split
the combination to your benefit, as in splitting a full house of, for example two 3s and three 4s so that you either
use the pair or the triple.

The game when played using the regular Yahtzee dice rolling rules works very well and is a most enjoyable way
in which to spend an hour or so at 20-30 minutes per game.  The board is made of 6 x 6 squares, each of which
bears one of the six symbols that equate to the 6 possible combinations of dice rolling. After a player has finished
rolling the dice they have to place one of their roofs (these pieces are colour coded per player - Red, Green, Yellow
and Blue) on the appropriate space. If you kept a pair (2 of the same number) then you must place a roof on one of
the Orange - 2 spot spaces. 3 of a Kind has 3 diamonds in a line on a Red background etc.

If the space is empty then you can just place your roof onto it. If the space is occupied, by a roof or roofs of any colour/s,
then whether you can place your roof depends on two things, the height of the roof and the number of times you rolled
the dice - it is thus imperative that you keep count  of each player's dice rolling.

Not being able to place a roof on your turn due to bad judgement or unlucky dice rolls means that you will have to
lose one  of the roofs from your supply. This is a nicely designed penalty as it isn't a game breaker but it does leave
you short on options  if the game is very tight. This mainly causes  problems in a 4 player game.

Overall this is a neat game, well made, bright and colourful thus pleasing on the eye, and can be played by young and old,
experienced and novice with an almost equal possibility of success.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015