Roll & Writes! It’s a genre that is super popular and with the launch of Joey Schouten’s Pour Decisions and Postmark’s Voyages, we’re sure there will be loads of Roll & Write releases in the coming months. While we’re generally not the biggest fans of the genre, this week we actually played two Roll & Writes, Welcome To… on BoardgameYogi’s stream together with ProZD, and the Dinosaurs Island Rawr & Write.
My main complaint about Roll & Writes is that there is a lack of tension. This is mostly because most Roll & Write games are pretty solitary affairs giving you no indication of how your opponents are doing. Luckily the two Roll & Writes we played this week solved that problem in their own way.
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We played Welcome To… on Board Game Arena which alleviates the tension problem by always showing you the score of your opponents, which makes it an exciting race because you know how you’re doing. Sungwon mentioned this during the stream and it suddenly made me realize why I always felt Roll and Write feels more like an activity than a game. This is not to say that activity-feeling games are bad but I now understood while I felt this way.
The Dinosaur Island Rawr & Write adds player interactivity by using dice drafting and dice placement on a central board to give the game interactive elements. I would also say it’s pushing the limits of the Roll & Write genre because it uses two sheets per player and it has several phases during a round which make it feel more like a euro game than a Roll & Write game. It’s an interesting choice to make such a “heavy” Roll & Write and I’m eager to see if I like it better than Duelosaur Island in the long run because I was enjoying myself a lot during the first play.
The second point why I generally don’t like Roll & Writes, and the one that inspired this comic, is that a rules explanation of a Role and Write feels like you’re learning to fill in a (tax) form correctly. Since there are only a few physical components, you’re just learning where you should cross off things, which doesn’t make for an exciting teach. This is even worse in Roll & Writes like Ganz Schön Clever, which includes several different mini-games that combine into your final score making for a pretty long and disjointed rules explanation without any thematic glue to hold it together in your head. I’m curious if there are any Roll & Write games that overcome this and how they go about it. Maybe you can help me find one?
Hadrians Wall is a flip and write, but plays more like any other Euro. As you progress along various tracks you trigger new benefits. When you chain a whole string it is very satisfying. There isn’t much interaction, but we do like to narrate our play for some of it. You do battle the Picts at the end of each round, so it is a chance to see the progress of other players, too. The simultaneous play keeps the game moving and there seems to be little down time.
Rome and Roll is another with quite a bit of interaction. There is dice drafting and you are competing for certain buildings. You are also building on a central board as well as personal boards.
I LOVE Hadrian’s Wall, but based on this post I’m not sure Heinze would. It sounds like the worst example of what he’s talking about in this comic… which is exactly what I like about it! The appeal of Roll n Writes for me is not that tension throughout the game but the satisfaction of the final big reveal where I see if I made better use of the resources than the other players did. I actually like games that others dismiss as “multi-player solitaire.” Maybe I’m closer to that accountant in the comic getting excited about all the math I get to do…