Rolling Dice and Numbering Cats – A Review of Cat Sudoku: Roll for KyotoMay 7, 2020
Ryan reviews the roll & write Cat Sudoku: Roll for Kyoto
Cat Sudoku: Roll for Kyoto is a roll & write game for 1-6 players that is a game-ified variant of the famous paper puzzle Sudoku. In the game you are trying to best place the numbers of your roll on the dice into your grid. At the end of the game (all spaces filled) you score negative points for the same numbers in rows or columns or if the same number is diagonally adjacent. You can also lose points if you fill in too many spaces or not enough via an accident. I should note that some rows and columns have breaks (empty spaces in them) at where a current column and row ends, and if you have the same number after a break, it doesn’t cost points.
Each turn (with the exception of the first where you roll to seed the board with some numbers) there is a chance to assign one dice number to be wild, but each number only has a limited number of times/ways it can be wild. So, as time goes on, and numbers get marked off the number track, it’s harder and harder for dice to become wild.
The game comes with 4 different sheets (that vary in difficulty) each corresponding to a season of the year. You have 25 of each sheet, and due to filling them in with numbers you roll each time, each sheet can be played tons of times without the same puzzle showing up. In a multiplayer game all players use the same dice but take turns rolling (and assigning the wild numbers). The game ends when everyone fills in the last 4 spots (you roll 4 dice at a time) and the game should end at the same time for everyone.
The rules are pretty simple and for the most part written pretty well. However, the rulebook does not tell you how the pre-printed numbers on the Winter sheet work. These numbers are the end of the current column or row and also the start number is the next column or row. Keep that in mind if you pick up this game.
Gameschool Aspect: What Does It Teach?
Cat Sudoku has the same benefits that number puzzles like Sudoku (and its variants). You have to think logically where to place things. What I like about Cat Sudoku is you do this with numbers you roll – How can I best fit these numbers into this puzzle (work with what I got) and get the best result? I also enjoy how the game is scored, you have to think not only in columns and rows but where you place numbers diagonally. What numbers to make wild, maybe it’s not always what will give you the most wilds, but a single number you really don’t want to place. This would be an excellent solo warm-up game to play before school work begins or Math class starts. I do want to mention that it would help if your child/student already understood Sudoku, before coming to these puzzles. It just may be easier to explain the rules.
If you are a paper puzzle lover, you love the puzzles in newspapers, or you buy those puzzle books from the newsstand, the Cat Sudoku may be the ultimate board game for you. I have played many puzzle board games, but this one feels like it should be collected in a book and put in store racks. It has a great puzzle quality to it that you experience in many of those paper puzzle games.It works extremely well. Designer Ta-Te Wu has done a good job with this game, and I hope he does more sets. Though the game plays differently each time on a page, due to your rolls, new page shapes would always be nice.
I do want to mention that I have only played Cat Sudoku as a solo game. I am not a huge solo board game player (if i am going to do something solo then I rather do a puzzle book or play a video game) and in fact only will play one solo game (Orchard: A 9 Card Solitaire Game). However, Cat Sudoku is now a rare game that gets that solo play honor in my house. I thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, my copy of Cat Sudoku will not be found (at least currently) in my game room, but instead in my night stand. It’s a great way to wind down the night, playing this little puzzle roll & write in bed. I just use the box top as a dice tray and the active player meeple cat into the box and place wild dice above it.
Another thing about Cat Sudoku, besides feeling like it should be in a bound puzzle book, it also feels like it would be a great app game. I find this slightly ironic as I’ve said the same thing about Ta-Te Wu’s other game, Cat Rescue. Cat Rescue is another very good game that gets overlooked – it’s a co-op card game game that has a phone app puzzle kind of feel to it.
I definitely recommend Cat Sudoku if you are into paper puzzles, Sudoku or looking for a great solid solo roll and right.
You can order a copy of Cat Sudoku here: https://www.tbdgames.com/product-page/cat-sudoku
Thanks to designer, Ta-Te Wu for sending a copy of the game for an honest review.