Around 2010 Hasbro developed a new type of technology called Wonder-Link. Basically it allowed a set of electronic units to communicate with one another when in close proximity. In theory this technology seemed pretty cool as it is considerably more advanced than you would expect from most electronic games especially since it came out around ten years ago. Hasbro decided to try and cash in on the technology and use it to create new games in some of its most popular franchises. This lead to the creation of the “Flash” series of games that rolled out between 2010 and 2011. A total of three games were created for the series which includes Scrabble Flash, Simon Flash, and Yahtzee Flash. When I first saw Yahtzee Flash I didn’t know exactly what to think. The technology seemed kind of cool, but for the most part I am kind of “meh” towards the Yahtzee franchise. I also didn’t really know why a Yahtzee game needed an electronic component. Yahtzee Flash incorporates some pretty cool tech into the gameplay, but it is a lesson in the fact that adding technology to a game doesn’t always make it better.
How to Play Yahtzee Flash
Yahtzee Flash is a set of games that utilize electronic components. For this reason I will begin by describing how to use the electronic components and then explaining the individual rules of each game.
Using the Electronic Components
To start up the game press the button on each of the dice units. Line up all of the dice next to one another with the button side closest to you.
Choosing A Game: A number will be displayed on the first four dice. To choose one of the games press the button on the dice corresponding to the game you want to play. To return to the menu at any time just hold the button on one of the dice.
Mute Option: To trigger the game’s sound on or off press the buttons on the furthest left and right dice.
Rolling Dice: After you choose a game the dice will be automatically rolled. You will get the option to choose which dice you would like to hold and which you would like to reroll.
All of the dice you would like to hold should be placed next to one another so their sides touch. Any dice you want to reroll should be separated from the other dice. If left separated for a while the dice will automatically reroll. Otherwise you can press the button on a loose dice for it to immediately re-roll.
Game One: Yahtzee Poker (One Player)
In this game the objective is to score the most points as you can from different Yahtzee combinations within two minutes.
To begin the game the dice will be rolled. You will then decide which dice you will keep and which you will reroll. Dice can be rerolled up to two times. After two rerolls or after you decide to hold all of the dice the game will automatically tally your highest scoring combination and add it to your total. The scoring combinations are as follows:
- Two of a Kind – 5 points
- Three of a Kind – 10 points
- Two Pair – 15 points
- Four of a Kind – 20 points
- Full House (three of one number and two of another number) – 25 points
- Small Straight (four numbers in consecutive order) – 30 points
- Large Straight (five consecutive numbers) – 40 points
- First Yahtzee (five of a kind) – 50 points
- Each Additional Yahtzee (five of a kind) – 100 points
After your points are totaled the dice will be rolled again and you will get another opportunity to score points.
When time runs out the game will display how many points you scored.
Game Two: Yahtzee Max (One Player)
In Yahtzee Max you will play six rounds. In each round you will score points from one of the six numbers. Whichever number you have the most of will be scored for the round. You will score points equal to the number multiplied by the number of dice that the number is displayed on. Each number can only be scored once during the game.
The game will begin by the dice being rolled. You will choose which dice you want to keep and which you want to reroll. You will have the ability to reroll the dice up to two times. Any wilds that you roll will count as any number. After the two rerolls line up the dice and the game will tally the score for the number that appears on the most dice.
You will then play another round where you try to score from a different number. Any number that you scored in a previous round will feature a check mark indicating that you can’t score that number for the rest of the game.
After all six rounds have been scored the game will tally and display your score.
Game Three: Yahtzee Wild (One Player)
The goal of Yahtzee Wild is to roll three Yahtzees (five of the same number) in the least amount of time.
At the beginning of the game the dice will automatically roll. You will then have the opportunity to choose which dice you want to keep and which you want to reroll. Wild dice will count as any number so you should keep them.
You will be able to reroll the dice as many times as you need in order to get a Yahtzee. Once you complete a Yahtzee the game will recognize it and will roll the dice to start your next Yahtzee.
The game ends when you have rolled your third Yahtzee. The game will display how many seconds it took to roll all three Yahtzees. At the beginning of each game it will display your current best time to show you what time you need to beat.
Game Four: Yahtzee Pass (2+ Players)
In this game the players compete trying to roll a Yahtzee on their turn before they run out of time.
The game will roll the dice at the beginning of a player’s turn. The player can choose which dice they would like to keep and which they would like to reroll. Wilds will count as any number. The player will be able to keep rerolling dice until they roll a Yahtzee. If a player completes their Yahtzee before they run out of time they will stay in the game. The game will display “Yahtzee” and then “Next”. Play will then pass to the next player who will press the button under “NE” or “XT” to start their turn.
If a player fails to roll a Yahtzee in time the game will display “Out”. This player is eliminated from the game.
The last player remaining will win the game.
To return to the menu press the button beneath the letter “M”.
My Thoughts on Yahtzee Flash
When most people see Yahtzee Flash their first thought will probably head straight to the technology. It is hard not to as in theory the technology is actually pretty cool especially since the game is close to a decade old at this point. Basically the premise behind the game is that you have five individual dice units. Each unit acts as its own dice. Instead of rolling dice the game automatically rolls the dice for you. This on its own wouldn’t be all that impressive as electronic dice that roll themselves have been around for a long time. What is truly unique about these dice units is that they communicate with one another. Each dice communicates with the other dice where it can tell what number is on each dice and whether the dice are next to one another. If dice are placed next to one another they won’t be re-rolled. Any dice separated from the other dice for a given amount of time though are automatically re-rolled.
While the technology may be a little outdated at this point in action this is still kind of cool. I am not entirely sure how the units detect one another, but when it works it is impressive. You basically just have to choose which dice to keep and which to re-roll. The game then does the rest. I will admit that the units are kind of finicky as you have to set them up just right to get them to work properly. I had a quite a bit of trouble getting them to recognize one another at first. Once I got them communicating properly though they actually worked pretty well.
So how does the game use this technology for a dice game? It turns out that the game has four games programmed into the units which you can easily switch between. In many ways these four different games are exactly what you would expect from an electronic Yahtzee. Overall I would say that I had some mixed feelings about these games.
Game one is Yahtzee Poker which feels like speed Yahtzee. Basically you get two minutes to score as many points as you can from different Yahtzee combinations. The game automatically rolls the dice for you as you figure out which dice you want to keep and which you want to re-roll. This game basically relies on quickly deciding which dice to keep and hoping to get lucky and re-roll the numbers that you are looking for. Racing to try and score as many points as possible is kind of fun. This is not much different than your typical speed dice game though.
The second game is Yahtzee Max which is quite a bit like Yahtzee Poker. Instead of trying to roll a bunch of different scoring combinations, this game focuses on the top section of a standard Yahtzee scoresheet. Basically you will get six turns to score as many points as you can. In each round you will score points for one of the numbers between one and six. You will score points equal to the number and how many dice that number is on. This game doesn’t have quite the time crunch as the first game, but it otherwise plays basically the same. You basically want to keep whichever number you roll the most of at the beginning of the game and hope the other dice turn to that number.
The third and fourth games share a lot in common with one another. In both games you are trying to roll a Yahtzee (five of the same number) as quickly as possible. In Yahtzee Wild you try to roll three Yahtzees as quickly as possible as the time it takes to do so is your final score. Meanwhile Yahtzee Pass is a competitive game where each player takes a turn trying to roll a Yahtzee before they run out of time. If they don’t roll it in time they are eliminated with the last remaining player winning the game. These two games basically entail finding the number that you have the most of and then hoping the remaining dice land on that number quickly.
I genuinely have mixed feelings about Yahtzee Flash. I thought the technology behind the game was pretty cool and it works well after you get it setup properly. The four games included on the units are moderately fun. If you like speed dice games where you have to roll certain dice combinations as quickly as possible you will have some fun with the game. The main problem that I had with Yahtzee Flash is that there really is no reason why the game had to be electronic in the first place.
Outside of using technology that is kind of cool, there is no reason you couldn’t have just used normal dice. The electronic components basically do just a couple things for the game. First the game automatically re-rolls the dice. This could easily be accomplished with regular dice and would actually be better as I will get to shortly. Second the game includes a timer which is used for a number of the games. You could easily use a different timer and add the same element to the game using standard dice. The final thing that the electronic component adds to the game is the fact that it automatically detects and scores the dice combinations. This is kind of nice, but it doesn’t justify adding the unnecessary electronic components.
The dice units have a pretty big flaw in their design as well. Basically to get the dice to re-roll you have to separate them from the other dice. The dice do a good job detecting when they are separated. The problem is that they re-roll way too quickly. You need to decide really quickly on what you are going to do or the game will think that you have made a decision. The dice give you just a couple seconds before they re-roll after they are separated. This isn’t too bad as they don’t usually re-roll when you don’t want them to. The problem is that they give you even less time to decide what you want to do with your new number before they roll again. You basically have to decide almost instantaneously what you want to do with a re-rolled dice before it rolls again. This lead to a lot of times where the dice would re-roll even when I didn’t want them to. I know it is a speed game so players don’t want to waste a bunch of time waiting for the dice to re-roll. I see no reason why the game couldn’t have given you a little more time though.
The electronic dice units introduce another issue to the game. In many cases it just feels like the game is playing itself. As you can’t even roll the dice yourself you basically have to just sit and wait for the game to roll the dice. Many of your decisions in the game are pretty obvious. Unless you feel really lucky you are probably best off keeping whichever dice gets you closest to scoring points. You then just have the electronic units re-roll themselves and hope for the best. This is particularly bad in games three and four. In these two games your only real decision comes from the number you choose after the first roll. You then just monitor the other dice and add them to the dice you first chose once they land on the right number. This becomes kind of boring after a while.
Finally Yahtzee Flash is for the most part a solitary game. In fact of the four games only game four can be played with more than one player without some house rules. I really see no reason why the game couldn’t have supported multiple players for the other games. This leads to kind of a dull game as the only competition for most of the games is to beat your previous high score/time. It would be pretty easy to add house rules to add additional players. Basically you could have each player take a turn at the first three games and then have them compare their final scores to determine who won. Not having much for multiplayer games in Yahtzee Flash feels like a waste in my opinion.
As for the components there are things that I liked and disliked. As I said earlier the electronic units can be kind of finicky. You could end up spending way too long getting them to actually connect to one another. When they work though the units work well and are kind of cool. The game was also wise to include a small carrying case which all of the dice units and instructions easily fit inside. That is good because the outer packaging is much larger than it needed to be. I would honestly recommend ditching the outer packaging entirely as the game will take up considerably less space inside its carrying case.
Should You Buy Yahtzee Flash?
Yahtzee Flash is a good example of why it is not always a good idea adding technology to board games. On the surface the game actually seems kind of cool. The technology where the dice units communicate with each other is pretty cool. Once you get them set up properly they work pretty well. The game includes four different games which basically boil down to rolling different Yahtzee combinations. These games are moderately fun even if they don’t drastically differ from any other speed dice rolling games. The main problem with Yahtzee Flash is that the electronic component adds very little to the actual gameplay. With a few small tweaks it would be just as good using standard dice as the electronic units are mostly just used as a timer and for automatic scoring. The dice re-roll themselves way too quickly as well which leads to issues. In many of the games it also doesn’t feel like you are even doing much as you mostly just sit around waiting for the dice to re-roll. Most of the games are single player as well which is pretty disappointing.
In most cases I don’t think I can recommend Yahtzee Flash. It just feels like the game is a failed experiment in trying to use a new technology in an established board game. If you have never liked speed dice games or games like Yahtzee I see no reason why you would enjoy Yahtzee Flash. If the game’s premise intrigues you though and you are a big fan of Yahtzee like speed dice games you may have some fun with the game. I would only recommend picking it up though if you can find it for cheap.