Lately roll n’ Write games are all the rage, but how do you separate the good from the bad? Don’t worry bout it. We got you covered.
Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky
Much like Pandemic and Herbaceous, Lanterns Dice takes all the good stuff about the parent game and makes a great streamlined version for play. Lanterns Dice is a fun little hybrid of roll & write and actual physical tetrominos, almost like a sample platter of the great stuff about modern roll & writes. Over a variable number of turns (based on player count), players will roll 4 lantern dice into a tray, and orient them in such a way as to take just one, and each other player just one. I love this method of lantern selection, it allows for some great decision-making. The colour selected is then marked on your player sheet wherever you’d like, and you’re aiming for a number of things as you proceed – earning the emperor’s gifts (which let you tinker with your lanterns/roll), surrounding boats for end-game points, and creating tetromino shapes that you can claim and cover with cardboard pieces for points. Overall, this is a great little puzzle-y dice game that allows for some mitigation of luck of the dice (always a must for enjoyment) and will be a great one for repeated plays. Keep an eye out for it in stores in May!
Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky is designed by Chris Bryan with art by Beth Sobel and John Shulters. Published by Renegade Game Studios, it plays 2 – 4 players in approximately 30 – 45 minutes. Thanks to Renegade for sending along a review copy to try!
So, Brikks is a bit of a cheater in this list because it’s a recent European release, but (like many of Wolfgang Warsch’s roll and writes) it’ll be released in North America through Stronghold Games. Fellow DWP contributor Adam was kind enough to bring me a German copy from Essen last year, and we’ve been playing it a lot! Unlike Warsch’s other devilishly math-y D6 roll & writes, Brikks is a heavily-Tetris-inspired tetromino roll & write (so much that the layout of the sheet is made to look like an arcade game!). Each turn 2 dice are rolled – a d4 for the number, and a d6 for the colour – and then players will select the appropriate tetromino shape and colour from the chart provided. Players then select placement on their grid for these shapes, imagining they have cascaded down not unlike Tetris bricks. Covering colour dots with like-coloured bricks will award you bonus “energy” – and these can be used to mitigate the dice rolls throughout the game, either by rotating shapes or changing them into anything you’d like. Points are gained by hitting certain marks on the energy track, and by completing 2, 3 or 4 lines on your grid. Mostly this boils down to competitive roll & write Tetris and I’m here for it! Just like many of Warsch’s other titles, I’ll keep coming back to this one often.
Brikks is designed by Wolfgang Warsch, with art by Anne Pätzke. Published in Europe by Schmidt Spiele, it plays 1 – 4 players in approximately 20 minutes.
There’s a good amount of roll & writes that are based on tetromino shapes – it was nice to try this quick and easy (yet challenging!) one that has players just placing 2 numbers at a time on a layout of hexes. Over 6 or 7 rounds you’ll be puzzling your way to trying to finish areas of hexes and connecting like numbers to like numbers. This is not as easy as it sounds, friends. While Hex Roller has a fairly basic graphic layout, things are spaced apart just enough to make decisions tricky when trying to make your connections and fill spaces. So while you might be able to connect your 4s and your 7s, maybe others will have to just fall by the wayside! Not only are you aiming to get points by filling out your hex map, but there’s a strange little tracker under all of the other scoring areas for the game end – if you can manage to take numbers of dice that will rearrange to a sequence, you’ll score a number equal to the highest in that sequence! This one’s definitely a puzzle-y balance and a fabulous roll & write filler.
Hex Roller is designed by Rustan Håkansson with art by Christian Fiore. Published by Renegade Game Studios / Frosted Games, it plays 1 – 8 players in approximately 10 minutes. Thanks to Renegade for sending along a review copy to try!
Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
I really dig Roll Player and was intrigued to hear that among the “Roll Player universe” releases in the works was a roll & write! Thanks to my pal Brett Myers, I was able to try it out at the Gathering of Friends, as Keith Matejka from Thunderworks Games sent him along with a pre-production copy. A flip and write with some tetromino goodness (spatially along the lines of Rosenberg’s Second Chance and Patchwork Doodle), there’s some adventuring flavour in this that gives it a bit more of a fresh feeling, a bit more like a “grown-up” Penny Papers. The game’s played over 4 rounds (seasons), progressively getting shorter – in a similar way to determining when to stop pulling cards in Oh My Goods, each season has a number limit and when cards equalling or exceeding that are revealed, it’s time for scoring! There are variable scoring cards dealt at the start of the game which I love, and keeps the game fresh every time – and I love the grouping of scoring cards – for instance, summer will be cards A & B, autumn B & C and so on (like my beloved Isle of Skye). It’s cool and keeps everyone on their toes.
So, what are you actually flipping and writing? Well, it’s all sorts of different terrains to fill your fancy map with – water, fields, trees and village houses. Where you decide to fit these on your map (in and around ruins, mountains and the like) will be guided by the combinations of scoring. Each round a monster card is shuffled into the deck of cards that will be flipped, and the fun part is that you have to hand over your map to a player next to you for them to creatively sketch a monster-like creature into that tetromino shape. Monsters are something you want to surround with terrains quickly, lest you score negative points for their uncovered sides! It’s quite a tricky business. I had a ball playing this, and it’s fun to sit back and see the type of map you’ve completed by the end of the game. Really looking forward to the release of this one.
Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale is designed by Jordy Adan, with art by Lucas Ribeiro. Published by Thunderworks Games, it plays 1 to many, in approximately 30 minutes. It will be released at Gen Con 2019, and is available for pre-order now!