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The Curse of the Ruby Rhino
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Behold the Ruby Rhino! The most coveted of ancient treasures stands inches from your grasp but a curse makes it nearly impossible to capture. Roll the dice and try your best to corner this elusive jeweled beast. Watch out for a bevy of fake gold that will get in your way. Hang onto the ruby rhino all by itself and you've not only broken the curse -- you've won the game!
The curse of the Ruby Rhino dates back to the 16th century when King Maximus Gluttonus IV stole the jewel from the tomb of the great Pharaoh Andaway in a desperate attempt to find a belated anniversary gift for his wife, Queen Beatrice. Little did the king know that the Pharaoh placed a curse on the rhino so that anyone who took it would have all of their riches turned into worthless counterfeits. Disgraced by the curse (and abandoned by the queen), the penniless king eventually buried the Ruby Rhino along with his fake fortune in a secret cavern that was recently unearthed by brave adventurers. Little did they know that there is a simple way to break the curse...
- 20 fake gold coins
- 2 custom dice
- 2 dice roll legends
- 1 ruby rhino
- rules of play (English, Spanish)
Average Rating: 3.2 in 2 reviews
I was a little skeptical at first because the game instructions didn't seem to make for a fun game. Well I was wrong. My three kids age 12, 7, and 5 played with me for 2 hours. They were rolling over laughing and even I felt determined to win the ruby rhino. Easy game to play and I can see taking this game anywhere because there isn't a lot of pieces or room required. We will definitely play this again and again. Had such a good time with the kids and it brought a lot of smiles and uncontrollable laughter.
I’m starting to have a negative vibe whenever I realize that the main mechanic of any game is die rolling. A famous game, L-C-R, simply has players roll dice and move chips around in a completely random fashion – yet has many fans! But for me, I have to say that simply rolling the dice with no decision making at all tends to rub me the wrong way. Doing this for lengthy periods of time only worsens the process – it’s the game that never ends.
Unfortunately, this is how I feel about the Curse of the Ruby Rhino: A Dastardly Dice Game (Gamewright, 2007 – Ken Brunson). The back of the box claims that the game takes ten minutes, but the game takes considerably longer than that and feels even lengthier due to the excessive tedium. The components are top notch, and the theme of hunting for treasure sounds fascinating; but it all fails when you realize that each turn you simply roll dice and mechanically follow instructions. Even the children playing the game got bored during the dreary, mind numbing game play.
A treasure box is placed in the middle of the table, and a certain amount of coins are dealt to each player, depending on how many are in the game. The remainder of the coins (if any) is placed in the box along with the precious “Ruby Rhino”. The last person to see a real-life rhino takes two special six-sided dice, and the game begins.
On a player’s turn, they roll the dice and follow whatever combination is shown on both dice. If one of the dice shows a skull and crossbones, then they simply take no action, and play passes to the next player. If the player rolls a “double” – two items that are the same, they take another roll after resolving the action. Actions include:
- Putting one, two, or all coins in the treasure chest.
- Taking one, two, or all coins from the treasure chest.
- Taking two, three, or four coins from the person on their left. If the person on their left doesn’t have any or enough coins, then the next player gives them coins, etc.
- Take zero, one or two coins, and the Ruby Rhino from whoever has it.
- Take or Put the Ruby Rhino in/from the treasure chest. The round ends as soon as one player has the Ruby Rhino and has NO coins. This player then immediately scores points equal to all the coins in the treasure chest. Another round begins, until one player gets fifty points, at which point they win!
Some comments on the game…
- Components: Here the game scores major points, as the game has
high, wonderful production values. I’m not sure why they picked a
ruby “rhino” of all things, but it keeps the theme lighthearted and
enjoyable for children. The coins are oddly shaped golden cardboard
tokens with humorous pictures on both sides, yet still retaining a
hint of authenticity. The dice are high quality, with the symbols
(which are quite easy to understand) etched into them. Everything
fits into a clear plastic insert in the colorful smallish box. This
insert is then removed, and the box bottom is used as a treasure chest
– which it looks very much like, with the insides of it being covered
with pictures of coins. The only annoyance about this cool treasure
box is that it can be quite difficult to ascertain if there are any
coins in it without dumping it – the coins are camouflaged against the
ones printed inside the box.
- Rules: There are four pages of rules that mostly show the
multiple combinations between the two dice. Two reference sheets are
also included with the game, although we found them quite unnecessary;
as it’s very obvious what a player should do whenever they roll the
different symbols. Kids will easily pick up on the game, as they
continually are mostly taking coins from their left-hand neighbor or
the treasure chest.
- Chest: This is an odd thing, especially when it comes to taking
coins from it. There is an equal chance of taking coins from the
chest and putting them in, yet the chest is empty for a good bit of
the game, unless someone rolls the 1/36 chance of putting ALL their
coins in. This is because players will often roll “put coins in the
chest” when they have none. Either way, the chest will often have few
coins in it at the end of a round, awarding the winner only a few
points. Considering that there are only twenty coins in the game, it
would be a nigh miracle for a player to score more than ten points a
round. And you need fifty points to win! We played a round that
took more than fifteen minutes, and the winner scored no points
because the chest was empty! This is a poor design feature, and I
think players should play the first person to ten points!
- Length: This is the game that never ends, or so it seems while
playing. The only way to win is to get the Ruby Rhino and have no
coins. Yet it seems that the player with the most coins is the one
who constantly has the Rhino, or the Rhino has been put back into the
treasure chest. Having a player do nothing on 1/6 of their rolls,
when the skull and crossbones are rolled, doesn’t improve the game
play, and there are really only two viable ways to win. Have no
coins, and roll the “take the Ruby Rhino only combo”, which has a 1/36
chance. Or, already have the Ruby Rhino, and have other players take
all your coins (a much more likely scenario. When this is combined
with the fact that a player needs fifty points, the game continues
far, far, past the ten minute time mentioned on the box.
- Fun Factor: I suppose that some people would get enjoyment out of
rolling dice and moving coins around. Unfortunately, there is no
tension in the game, and it’s lucky enough to frustrate the most stoic
of players, or patient of children. How is it fun for a child when
they have no coins, and prepare to roll the dice, only to roll three
or four times in a row, taking half of the coins in front of them.
This isn’t because of any decision that they have made, but simply
because they rolled dice unluckily. No one that I’ve played this
with, from the youngest child upwards, has enjoyed it.
Great components cannot save The Curse of the Ruby Rhino from what it ultimately is – an overly long, dull game that will fail to capture the imagination of any players. It’s basically a variation on L-C-R, just with prettier components and a pirate theme. Sadly, this is one chest that pirates should avoid plundering; they’re better off spending their time playing Yahtzee, where at least they can make some meaningful decisions.
Tom Vasel “Real men play board games” www.thedicetower.com