Speed Review: Trophy Buck
Some people buy board games, some people borrow board games, and some have board games thrust upon them.
The UK Games Expo is a wonderful place for all kinds of gamers. Not only is it filled with wonder and wonderment, games galore, and a fantastic crowd of people, but also, on the odd occasion, you not only buy games but you get given them for free. Thus is how, in 2015, we ended up with Trophy Buck.
Today we are going to look at a speed review for Trophy Buck. A speed review is a review developed to aim to explore a game in a written review, spending less time writing the review than playing the game. Today I am actually trying a new format for the speed reviews on this site, hopefully making the challenge slightly more interesting. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the format in the comments after the article.
What this means though is that, since Trophy Buck takes only around 20 minutes to play then, from the moment we start off with the first title, I only have 20 minutes to write the review. Fun, eh?
Okay, so let’s crack on with this. It’s pointless me yammering on in the introduction if we only have 20 minutes to write the review. Let’s do this!
What is Trophy Buck?
Trophy Buck is a push-your-luck dice game, designed by Steve Jackson and published by Steve Jackson Games, in which you are hunters looking to bag the best and biggest game from your day out hunting. The game, according to BGG (Board Game Geek, or the big internet repository of great board game knowledge) re-implements Zombie Dice, although I will have to take BGG on its word with that. It has been absolute years since I last played Zombie Dice.
How is Trophy Buck played?
In Trophy Buck players take it in turns to roll a handful of dice, looking to get the best possible roll.
On your turn you will pick up three dice out of the Trophy Buck bag (this game comes in a bag, rather than in a box) and roll them. The dice have different types and colours of faces. If, for instance, you roll a number then you get that many points. The dice are colour coded, with brown dice having sides with 2 on them, white having sides with 4, green having sides with 6, and orange having sides with a whopping 8 points.
The number of each type of dice in the bag vary – so there are 5 brown dice, but only 1 orange, making it more likely you will draw a brown. The colours represent the size of the deer as well, with brown being bucks, and orange being the TROPHY BUCK. White and green are somewhere in between.
The other results you can get on the dice include startles and tracks.
On your turn, you roll your three dice, and then it is up to you to choose if you want to roll again. If you do, you pick up any track dice you rolled, plus enough dice from the bag to make your hand up to three dice, and reroll them. There are 12 dice total, so you can (in theory) roll all 12 dice on a turn. At any time you can stop rolling and count up your total, ending your turn.
Careful though! If you decide to keep rolling and get three startles then you lose all of your points for that turn, returning from the hunt with diddly squat.
What is it like playing Trophy Buck?
So, what is it like playing Trophy Buck? Well, Trophy Buck has a few things going for it and a few things going against.
Going for Trophy Buck we have the fact that it is a fast and fun game. It is a filler game, but one with a concept that makes it incredibly easy to pick up. The dice are well made, and the bag is a nice touch, although you do need to keep track of your score on a separate sheet of paper. It always feels good to come out with an epic roll that defies the rules of probability. The game is played to 36 points, which is actually possible to win in one turn (since it is possible to get 48 points I believe, with incredibly lucky rolls) but the odds are, you will have to either split it over several rounds or have a few failed hunts before you manage to win.
Trophy Buck has that push-your-luck feeling (which isn’t hugely surprising since it is a push-your-luck game) and that can be great for building an atmosphere around the table. Once the adrenaline gets pumping it can be something that raises the buzz in the room early on a gaming day morning.
That being said, Trophy Buck does have its downsides – most notably of these is that it is almost entirely luck.
“”Almost entirely?”” I hear you ask.
Yes, almost entirely. There is some skill with calculating the probabilities and dice counting (which is like card counting…with dice), but those only offer a slight hint as to whether you should give up or go for it. Generally speaking, Trophy Buck is a completely random game. It’s fun, but your skill level is nearly inconsequential when trying to go for a high score.
Games of luck have their place on the shelf, and I am personally glad I got given Trophy Buck back in 2015 since we don’t have many push-your-luck games; however, the luck level may irritate some gamers and it is important to consider that before purchasing.
Would we recommend Trophy Buck?
Whether we would recommend Trophy Buck is an interesting question, and we need to take a few key points into account.
Firstly, I got given this game for free. Yep. It’s true and it’s important.
Why is it important? Well, I keep wondering if I would shell out hard earned cash for Trophy Buck if I hadn’t been given it – and you know what? I think I would.
Okay, so Trophy Buck has a different theme, and the game mechanics are simple, but I think it does a good job as a push-your-luck dice game. It is almost as basic as they come, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is quick, and easy, and those are two things it really has going for it.
I think the conclusion is – if you don’t own any push-your-luck games then Trophy Buck would give you a strong foundation in the basics. If you want something with a bit more bite to it though then you may want to start with a slightly more complex game like King of Tokyo instead.
Anyway, there we go – a different format that allowed for the speed review to be in a bit more depth. Please let me know your thoughts of both the format and the game in the comments below.