Monday, April 06, 2009


The following is a review of the dice game "LCR" I posted on Amazon earlier this week. In case you haven't picked up your set yet, I thought I would advise...

Dumbest Game Ever Also a Lot of Fun, April 6, 2009

Durability: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Educational: 1.0 out of 5 stars

This game requires so little brainpower it may be possible to play in your sleep...or possibly while driving (but you didn't read that here).

If you're looking for something challenging, strategic, or mind-bending, this is NOT it. LCR ranks right up there with "War" for the most mindless recreational games of all time.

That said, the game can also be a lot of fun *IF* you play it with something besides the thin plastic wafer chips that come with the game. I would NEVER advocate gambling with your children, but we do find that if you substitute pocket change for the chips (quarters work best, not surprisingly), the level of interest and excitement skyrockets. Incidentally, if you are playing with adults, a currency less round has the similar effect.

As it happens, games of skill and strategy are fun to play in and of themselves, and on the merit of besting someone at something - outwitting, or outperforming a competitor. Games of chance, however, are only fun if there's a "chance" you will lose your shirt...or potentially win someone else's, which, as those of us who have ever been to Las Vegas know all too well, is less often the case.

A normal LCR game functions like this: You roll the special dice, reallocate your "chips" based on the roll, and pass the dice to the next person who does the same. There are no strategic decisions to make. There are no game-altering "reverses" or "switch chips with the person on your left" commands or cards to add interest. Only three dice and a series of reallocation rolls. I imagine government money is distributed in the same fashion.

So how do you win? One of the sides of the dice has a big "C" on it. This stands for for Center. The L and the R, as you may have guessed, stand for Left and Right. Eventually, after the dice have taken a number of tours around the table, all of the "chips" will end up in a big pile in the center. The last person left with a chip/coin/finski wins the middle pile. There are a number of variations on this simple theme, but I'm sure you get the gist of it. Roll and do what the dice tell you to.

There are no decisions to make, only rules to follow, so the game is essentially a dumbed-down crap shoot. It's not educational in the least, if that is important to you, but perhaps for the simple lesson that, if you are playing with "chip" substitutes, you may learn that games of chance don't usually end well. In fact, most of the people at the table end up losing. I suppose there is something to be learned from that if your children are using their own money. But we usually end up bankrolling our kids, which ends up bankrupting us after a couple of rounds.

If the game doesn't sound all that exciting from this review, I apologize for the lackluster tone. I personally prefer games of strategy and skill to games of chance. Still, LCR is a wonderful way to get the family all gathered around a table for a couple of hours of laughter and togetherness. Some people really get anxious toward the end, screaming on every toss as the final chips are making their way to the center pile. The people you play with will determine whether this is a fun game, and the people we play with make it so every time. Plus, I'm usually pretty self-medicated on cheap red by the time we break out the LCR, so it ends up being about the perfect speed.

For the relatively low price of the dice, you get hours of mindless family fun in a portable plastic tube. Definitely worth the investment in my book, and worth a closer look. If you're interested, you can buy them online - just run a search on Amazon or Google for "LCR." They're also available in a number of specialty games stores.