Corinth – Rolling dice in ancient Greece
Finally, the ship docks in the port of Corinth. Now supplies are available for the market again. I wonder if the pots I’ d like to buy are there. They’ve really become in short supply lately. If I were a wine or cloth merchant, I would have no such problems. But I had to specialize in the fragile pots. Well, there’s nothing I can do about it now. Apparently the way to the harbour is blocked, some goatherd had to move all his goats through here. Why is this happening now?
Corinth by Sébastien Pauchon is the first Roll & Write from Days of Wonder. It is published by Asmodee. In the classic manner, you throw dice one after the other and cross off the corresponding fields on a sheet of paper. The one who does this best, or who has the most luck, wins in Corinth. The game itself is not new, it is based on Yspahan. What makes Corinth different from other Roll & Writes is explained in our review of the game.
Corinth is too late
I think it is no secret when I say that as a gamer I like Roll & Write games. Now, of course, it is clear that a Corinth had to make its way into our board game household. But unfortunately Corinth is too late and leaves me split in two. On the one hand there is the game mechanics that Corinth uses: It’s neatly executed, with no obvious weaknesses. It’s fun to explain the game to new players, because everything works so well together and is broken down to the essentials. No chain reactions that I have to pay attention to, like in a That’s Pretty Clever or the dependencies in a Harvest Dice. This is what makes Corinth stand out from the mass of Roll & Writes.
But exactly this mass is also the Achilles heel of Corinth, because when playing I miss the wow effect. The game just flows along. No question, I felt well entertained in all games, but nothing more. And that’s simply because Corinth should have come earlier, before I got to know games like Welcome To… or Silver & Gold. Even a Qwinto gives me a more comfortable feeling than Corinth ever did. And this even though Corinth is well-prepared overall.
The equipment at Corinth is actually quite outstanding. Nice big and heavy dice and a really thick block. Plus the comic book illustrations typical for Days of Wonder, which make a very good impression. But why Corinth doesn’t have pens, even though there’s room for them in the once again perfectly designed inlay, I still don’t understand. But as an old Roller & Writer I always have pens flying around somewhere.
Everything feels so smooth
The rules are also reduced to the bare essentials and clearly structured. The low downtime between the players makes Corinth a good game, but I miss the interaction or the feeling of being able to make a difference. Too often I feel played by the game, while with other Roll & Writes I feel that I have a freedom of choice. Maybe it’s not always the best, but I have one. And this is also reflected in the playing itself: After a few games I always somehow do the same thing, it just feels very repetitive.
When it’s my turn, I take dice from the open display and then cross off as many goods as I have taken dice. The trick: Not all goods are always available. After the active player rolls the dice, they are placed on a tableau. The tableau offers space for 6 different dice values. – So from 1 to 6 – But not all dice are always available. The highest dice value is always placed on the money field and the lowest on the goat field. Now the other dice are placed on the other fields oil, wine, cloth and spices in ascending order. And all too often not all goods are occupied or there is an imbalance in the distribution of goods.
This makes Corinth interesting, but also leads to the feeling of being at the mercy of others, as already described. In 90% of all cases I take the dice where I can cross off most of the goods. The later it’s my turn in the order of selection, the worse the dice are and most of the time I only have one dice at my disposal. So I would have preferred something like I find in Encore! where all players can pick from a pool.
Corinth including mini-game
It can even happen that I can’t even choose any dice at all. Then I can walk one field with my governor, but this is only a minimal compensation for dice. Because the governor only brings me something if I include him in my strategy. The governor is a game in the game. I can also take dice and then move my governor on a separate section. I have to take care that I don’t visit fields I have visited with him once again. Furthermore, I must always go exactly as many fields as the number of the selected dice shows, no more and no less. At the end I get the bonus from the field where the governor comes to a stop. This can be extra goods that I can check off again, money, goats or extra points for the governor’s score.
But even this does not allow Corinth to take off. I take the governor with me from time to time to get the missing goods after all. Or I use him, so that I can use a yellow cube when throwing the dice. This dice is not available to the other players during the drafting. However, it happens very often that this dice is of no use to me. Because somehow it always lands on the side that offers the least advantages in the end. That is where the luck factor hits relentlessly.
The bottom line is that Corinth seems to be targeting the same audience as the previous Days of Wonder games like Ticket to Ride: New York or The River: Beginners. For me as a frequent player and Roll & Write fan, Corinth just doesn’t offer enough. The game is too smooth and therefore for me it is just one of many and not the dice game that everyone has to play at least once.
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