Casino Yathzee (1986)

One of my favorite old timers!
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I had some fun with Casino Yahtzee but I recognize that it is not going to be for everyone. If you like more strategic games or are looking for more of a traditional dice rolling game, Casino Yahtzee may not be for you. If you are looking more for a game that you can turn off your brain while playing I think you could enjoy Casino Yahtzee quite a bit. If you can get a good deal on the game I think it may be worth picking up.

Originally created back in 1956 Yahtzee is arguably the most popular dice game of all time. Based on the game Yacht, Yahtzee and Yacht are two of the games that are generally credited with creating the dice rolling genre where you are trying to roll different dice combinations. With how popular Yahtzee has been it has spawned quite a few spin off games. There has been at least ten different Yahtzee spin off games created including several that we have looked at in the past: Yahtzee Deluxe Poker, Yahtzee Free For All, Yahtzee Hands Down, and Yahtzee Turbo. In general I don’t have a strong feeling either way about the Yahtzee franchise as I usually have fun with the games but I wouldn’t consider any of them to be one of my favorites either. This brings us to today’s game Casino Yahtzee. Casino Yahtzee is an interesting combination of Bingo and Yahtzee that can be fun at times but fails to be anything more than a very average game.

How to Play Casino Yahtzee

Place the dice tray in the center of the playing area.
Each player takes a gameboard. The players can either attach their gameboard to the dice tray or keep it separate.
Each player takes some black and white chips and places them into their tray.
Chose a player to be the scorekeeper. The scorekeeper will get to start the game.

Playing the Game

On each player’s gameboard there are two different sets of numbers. The colored numbers correspond to the colored dice and are the numbers that you are trying to roll in the game. The white spaces are the score spaces. The arrow on each score space points to the spaces that have to be covered for the player to score the corresponding number of points.

On a player’s turn they will get to roll five dice. The player can either roll all five dice one time, one dice five times, or some other combination that adds up to a total of five dice rolled. When a die is rolled the player checks their gameboard to see if the color/number combination is already covered up. If the number is not covered up, the player takes a black chip and covers up the number.

My Thoughts on Casino Yahtzee

I have to say that the name Casino Yahtzee kind of perplexes me. I am curious why Milton Bradley chose that name as the game has nothing to do with casinos or gambling in general. A more fitting name for the game would have been Yahtzee Bingo as that actually describes the game really well. Basically Casino Yahtzee is what you would get if you combined a dice rolling game like Yahtzee with a game like Bingo. On a player’s turn they choose which dice they would like to roll in an attempt to roll the numbers they need to complete one or more of the scoring zones.

In some ways I have to say that I was a little surprised by Casino Yahtzee. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for the game as it felt like another generic dice game that was trying to cash in on the Yahtzee name. Casino Yahtzee is far from a perfect game but it actually has more going for it than I thought it would. While I am guessing that there is at least one other board game that combines a dice game with Bingo, I can’t think of any that I have played before off the top of my head. Bingo is not what I would call a very exciting game but for some reason it kind of works as a dice game.

Casino Yahtzee is never going to be confused for a strategic game but there is more strategy to the game than you would expect. Most of the strategy in the game comes from players choosing which dice they want to roll on their turn. Players can choose to roll all of their dice or they can instead focus on a couple colors in order to increase the odds of rolling the number they want. Allowing players to choose which dice they roll lets players target specific scoring zones in order to maximize their odds of being successful. Players could also target zones that the other players are trying to complete in order to steal them before an opponent can claim them.

In general I would say that Casino Yahtzee has a light amount of strategy. Players need to put some thought into what colors to target as it will have an impact on the final outcome. For example there is no point in targeting a scoring zone that another player has already completed or is very close to completing. Generally it is best to play the odds and focus on scoring zones that you should be able to complete before the other players. The decisions you make in the game are quite important but the best decision on any given turn is usually pretty obvious. You could make poor decisions that will hurt your chances in the game but you will rarely make a decision that will improve your odds.

While Casino Yahtzee has some light strategy, it still relies mostly on luck. As the main mechanic in the game is rolling dice this shouldn’t come as a surprise as die roll luck was obviously going to have an impact on the game. You could have a really good strategy but it doesn’t matter if you are unable to roll the numbers that you need. There are rounds where a player rolls the same dice five times and still fail to roll the number they needed. Luck could also go the other way as shown in one game where one of the players seemed to consistently roll new numbers every round. This player ended up scoring more points in the game than the rest of the players combined.

How lucky that player was illustrates a potential problem in the game. With how the game is setup, a lucky player who builds an early lead will likely just expand that lead. This can quickly lead to a runaway leader problem. The problem is that if a player gets lucky and covers a lot of their spaces early in the game, it becomes easier to complete even more scoring zones. This keeps compounding as the player’s lead grows and grows. In the game I mentioned earlier at the halfway point we knew who was going to win outside of one of the other players having a miracle fall into their lap. While this is not going to impact every game, I wish it wouldn’t impact any games.

This runaway leader problem is one of the reasons why I think the game decided to implement the bonus point mechanics. While I don’t think they play as big of role as you would think, they do add an interesting risk/reward mechanic to the game. Early on in the game it actually makes sense going for the bonus points if you were already going to roll all/most of the dice. Rolling for the bonus early in the game doesn’t involve much risk as you will at least be able to cover up some of the numbers on your gameboard even if you are unable to complete the bonus. Rolling for the bonus becomes quite a bit riskier later in the game though because it is likely that you will have already rolled all of the numbers for some of the colors. In this case you will be throwing away one of your rolls for the opportunity to possibly score the bonus points. If you fall behind it might be worth the risk as you can score a lot of points if you successfully roll the bonus. If you fail though you likely will fall even further behind.

At the end of the day Casino Yahtzee is a very solid but unspectacular little dice rolling game. I had fun playing the game but it is not something that I would play all of the time. Casino Yahtzee is one of those games that you can sit back and enjoy without putting a lot of thought into what you are doing. The decision on any particular move is pretty obvious where you don’t have to analyze a lot of different options before making your move. Casino Yahtzee also moves pretty quickly with most games only taking 20-30 minutes. Basically if you are looking for a quick little filler game that you can just relax and play, I think you will enjoy Casino Yahtzee.

Before wrapping up I wanted to quickly talk about the game’s components. For a 1980s Milton Bradley mass market game I have to say that I was a little surprised by the game’s component quality. The components are of a solid quality. The dice are engraved which is always a positive and I appreciate that the game included unique dice for each color instead of using the traditional 1-6 dice for each color. The game includes plenty of chips which are thicker than expected. While it might seem simple I love that the gameboards have the black trays which you just slide out to move all of your chips back into the holding tray which makes cleanup a lot quicker.

The only real problem that I had with the components was the size of the box itself. While the components fit into the box pretty snug, the game should have made the components smaller so the game could have utilized a smaller box. Casino Yahtzee’s box is really large where it takes up as much space as several other games. I don’t see any reason why the box had to be as large as it is. If you have a lot of free space this shouldn’t be much of a problem but for people without a lot of space or those who already have a large board game collection, this becomes a problem. Normally I would consider keeping Casino Yahtzee but with how large the box is I can’t justify it taking up so much space.

Should You Buy Casino Yahtzee?
Casino Yahtzee is pretty much the definition of a solid but unspectacular game. At first I didn’t expect a lot out of the game but I ended up being a little surprised by the game. Casino Yahtzee is basically what you would expect if you combined a dice game like Yahtzee with Bingo. Players are competing to be the first player to complete various rows/columns on the gameboards in order to score points. There is some strategy to the game as players need to think out which dice they should roll each turn. Your strategy is unlikely to win you the game but it could prevent you from losing the game. Luck plays a big role in your fate though which is to be expected from a game based on rolling dice. At the end of the day Casino Yahtzee is a very solid but unspectacular game. If you are looking for a relaxing game of mindless fun you can have fun with Casino Yahtzee.

I had some fun with Casino Yahtzee but I recognize that it is not going to be for everyone. If you like more strategic games or are looking for more of a traditional dice rolling game, Casino Yahtzee may not be for you. If you are looking more for a game that you can turn off your brain while playing I think you could enjoy Casino Yahtzee quite a bit. If you can get a good deal on the game I think it may be worth picking up.

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