Ever since the simple roll-and-write dice game Qwixx was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres in 2013, people have been trying to invade the territory held solely by Yahtzee for so many years. While Days of Wonder is traditionally known for their big boxes, they are joining the fray. Corinth is an update of the 2007 Spiel des Jahres nominee Yspahan, a dice-based board game that came about a long time before “roll-and-write” was a thing. Does its new incarnation stand out in a crowded genre? Let’s find out!
The game has a theme, I guess, of shopping? All you really do in this game is roll dice and check boxes off on a piece of paper. I guess goats are used as a commodity, which still seems…. neutral.
On the surface, all roll-and-writes are “the same”. One player rolls some dice, and everyone makes some marks on a scoresheet, until the game ends. What’s unique about Corinth, however, is that while many roll-and-writes are simultaneous, Corinth has turn-based gameplay that revolves around the very specific way dice are allocated.
Each turn, the active player rolls nine dice, and then first places the highest number in the top spot (Gold) on the central board, and then places the remaining sets of dice in increasing numerical order, starting from the bottom (Goats). This means that Gold and Goats, the two in-game resources, are relatively easy to obtain, but then the four different market areas (green, purple, blue, orange) become increasingly more difficult to obtain (as seen in the image, no dice were placed on blue or orange), reflected in their point values.
Players take turns grabbing a set of dice, typically to gain resources or to check off areas in their markets. If you don’t like any of your options, you can use the pip value of the dice taken (instead of the quantity of dice) to… make a guy (the Steward) walk around town and do stuff for you, on the top right part of your scoresheet. Additionally, gold and goats can be used to buy buildings as extra actions, which give bonuses and sometimes extra points; gold can also be used to buy extra yellow dice or to make the Steward hurry up or slow down.
All of this comes together and works very well. The game is easily to explain, with the only awkward rule (the dice placement) immediately becoming clear after the first turn of dice assignments. Turns are fluid and fast, with games lasting usually no longer than twenty minutes. There’s even some direct competition, as three of the markets give bonuses for finishing first, and players are contentiously drafting the dice from each other. It’s… fun! Kind of. I mean, it works. It’s just nothing new.
Corinth has the same problem that so many games right now have. There are simply too many new games coming out. The standard is now very high. More of the same is not good enough. Qwixx worked because it was so incredibly simple, and the simultaneous play made it lightning fast. That’s Pretty Clever (nominated for 2018’s Kennerspiel des Jahres) showed that you could add considerable complexity to roll-and-writes, as long as there is a big payoff. Corinth adds a lot of complexity – not in the context of board games as a whole, but certainly in the context of roll-and-writes – with zero payoff. It all works fine, but it’s not any more fun than something as barebones as Qwixx or Qwinto – maybe even less.
On top of this, the MSRP is ridiculously high ($25) for paper and dice; other roll and writes are much cheaper. For example, Qwixx has an MSRP of less than half of the price! Games that work well but do nothing more are games that I can no longer easily recommend, particularly at high price points.
Thank you to Asmodee North America for providing a review copy of Corinth.
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