When my mother was teaching me how to play Yahtzee as a kid I always had problems grasping what the game was supposed to be. It's not until someone finally described it to me as "poker with dice" that it finally made a bit more sense to me. Shortly after that I started getting better at the game, able to beat my parents with fair regularity considering my age. What it says about my childhood that I understood poker better than a Milton Bradley game I leave up to the reader.
Expanding upon the "poker with dice" concept Yahtzee is a simple game but somewhat hard to describe. You pick up a cup with five dice and roll them. Look at what you rolled, pick which dice to keep or what will be re-rolled and do this three times total. At the end of this you take what you rolled, putting it into your scorecard. Your aim is to make various poker type match ups, from full houses, three or four of a kind or just matching dice of the same number. The only special rule is a Yahtzee, a five of a kind that's worth a whole lot of points.
The basic game can be a little frustrating when all you need is a three of a kind but you just can't do it as the dice won't cooperate. However when playing with the bonus modes this frustration is mitigated by the fact that they add in bonus dice. These are like wild cards, dice that allow you to pick what number is displayed on their face. By simply holding onto one of these you can usually make three, four or even five of a kind happen with fair regularity. Heck there's one achievement, that for getting three Yahtzee's in one game, which is fairly impossible without this.
Obviously all you're looking at while playing this is the board, a cup that rolls the dice and Mr. Potato Head making noises like the hollow headed fool that he is. With little to watch you're really going to need someone interesting to play with or be happy by yourself, just relaxing and hopefully listening to some music of your own while rolling your days away.
While bringing this classic game to the Xbox Live Arcade service the guys at EA really did some nice stuff. Games feel quicker than tabletop versions, easy to pick up (or learn for newcomers) and this is yet another game where the bonus modes not only help matters but they make them infinitely more enjoyable. However let it be said now that this game isn't for everyone. Not only is it somewhat slow but it's not a very tactile experience since it's almost all based upon luck with little strategy. Even the best laid plans are destroyed by a single bad roll of the dice.