Roll and Write Games

Aporta Games has just announced the next in their continuing line of excellent roll and write games, Trails of Tucana. This “flip and write” variant was designed by Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby, both of whom had previously worked on the critically loved gems Doodle City and Avenue. Tucana also features adorable art by Gjermund Bohne.

In Trails of Tucana, players each have a board comprised of a hex map of varying terrain types, such as mountains, desert, jungle, etc. Along the edge of the map are villages, labeled A-F, and within the island are various treasures. Players flip two terrain cards each turn, and draw a trail connecting those two terrains, ie. Mountain to desert, or jungle to jungle. Eventually these connections will turn into a network of trails across the island. After the deck runs through, points are awarded for connecting villages together, or connecting a treasure to a village. The game ends after 2 runs through the deck.

Look for Trails of Tucana in stores soon, and for more information check out Aporta’s website here.

Medici (1995) is a classic designed by one of the most influential people in board games, DOCTOR Reiner Knizia, and is the distilled pure essence of an auction game. Players bid their points on collections of goods, some they want, some they don’t, earning more points by set collection of those goods. Period. End of story.  Medici inspired an excellent card game version in 2016, and now Grail Games has announced the third in the family,  Medici: The Dice Game.

Also designed by the good doctor, Medici: The Dice Game is a dice drafting, roll and write game, which retains the simple elegance of the original. 2-4 players will spend their turns over 3 rounds filling the hold of their ship, trying to collect the most valuable goods, as well as majorities in each good type. Once again using the stunning artistic talents of Vincent Dutrait, Medici: The Dice Game is scheduled to hit Kickstarter in November 2019. For more information, check out Grail Games website here.

Rome & Roll, a “roll and write eurogame” as it bills itself, is now available on Kickstarter. The game is designed by Dávid Turczi and Nick Shaw and being published by PSC Games.

The game supports 1-4 players and plays in 60-90 minutes. In Rome & Roll, the players use a dice drafting mechanism to perform a multitude of actions, including gathering resources, making conquests, and creating political alliances, just to name a few. The goal of the game is for the players to have the most influence by game’s end..

Rome & Roll has already funded, but about 3 weeks remain in the Kickstarter campaign. If you are interested in more information, check out the Kickstarter page here.

“11 designers come together to bring you 10 new games with a range of player counts, complexities, puzzles and challenges. Every game is playable with a writing utensil and a variety of polyhedral dice! “

Inkwell Games has a current Kickstarter Project for Dice & Ink: A Roll and Write Anthology, a printed collection of 10 Roll and Write games, from 11 different designers. Each game can be played with components people most likely already have in the house: pencils, and standard dice, 6 sided in 3 colors, 4 sided, 8 sided and 10 sided. (Sorry, no love for our underrepresented dodecahedral d12. ) The anthology is being developed by Joey Schouten, one of the leading experts on Roll and Write games. Designers included in the anthology of games include several first time designers, as well as Sarah and Will Reed (Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture) Nathaniel Levan (New Bedford), Robin Gibson (Arcane Bakery Clash), and Behrooz Shahriari (Yogi).

The Kickstarter Campaign for Dice & Ink continues through September 27, and is expected to ship in June 2020. Pledge levels include a digital only version for Print and Play, a bound book, and a set complete with dice.

Pandasaurus Games has announced two new upcoming family-weight games to be released in fall 2019: Wayfinders by Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance (Decrypto), and Silver & Gold by Phil Walker-Harding (Sushi Go!, Imhotep & Barenpark).

Wayfinders is a route-building game in which 2-4 players will take the role of explorers racing to chart new paths through the skies, outfitting their planes with the right gear, and building hangers on islands to stock with parts. The game will feature 3D molded airplane and hanger tokens.

Silver & Gold is a roll & write game with no set turns in which 2-4 players will simultaneously (and frantically) attempt to complete and close out island cards and hit the right bonuses before they can jump to the next card. To do so, players will need to “rain down X’s, rapid fire.” The game will include 60 wipeable playing cards and 4 dry erase pens.

Tasty Minstrel Games has announced an absolute metric tonne of games slated for release in the following months: some new, some reprints, and some just plain interesting. So without further ado, here is the list…

“Planet Earth is overpopulated, but recent technological developments open new possibilities – whole cities hovering high in the skies.”

Dilluvia Project, a game declared “awesome” by our own Jason Levine, is a heavy euro game from designer Alexandre Garcia, originally published by Spielworxx in 2015. Dilluvia is a glorious amalgamation of mechanisms, all coming together into a resource collection, cube management, area control festival where 2-4 players try to best manage a utopian flying city. Players jockey for position around a 4×4 grid of tiles, trying to secure the best resources by pointing to rows and columns. Cube collection leads to control of prime real estate in the city, in which buildings can be placed for points. Even the score mechanisms are unique, with “prestige points” giving the player more opportunity to earn true victory points in this deliciously crunchy mechanism salad. Look for Dilluvia Project to be reprinted this August.

“The journey out west was daunting and fraught with peril, but you made it!”

Old West Empresario from designer Stan Kordonskiy (Dice Hospital) is a tile drafting and placement game for 2-4 players. Tiles can give the player actions each turn, or can score points at the end of the game. Like other tile placement games, everyone is trying to create a prosperous town, where neighboring buildings feed off of each other, generating more points. Look for Old West Empresario to hit stores at the end of August.

Homesteaders is a fast auction game from designer Alex Rockwell, which has garnered understandable love since its release in 2009. TMG has announced a new 10th anniversary edition of this classic, including a new expansion, New Beginnings. In Homesteaders, 2-4 players auction for buildings to place in their burgeoning western frontier town, managing precious resources (9 different types!). Buildings give the player new abilities, income, and point generation, however some buildings require workers to fully function. After 10 rounds, the player with the most points is declared victor, and gets to name their city. The new Homesteaders comes with metal coins and victory point tokens, 53 building tiles, 30 auction tiles, 25 worker meeples, 74 wooden resources, and even a metal start player token.

The new expansion adds a 5th player, more buildings, auctions and components. Look for Homesteaders 10th Anniversary and the New Beginnings expansion in late September.

“Cats all over the world look forward to the Festival!”

Festival of a Thousand Cats from designer Fukutarou is a trick taking card game originally from Japan, which is sought after but difficult to obtain in the west. Tasty Minstrel has gotten the rights to reprint this quirky game, and it should hit western shores in late September. Cards have ranging number values, come in 4 different suits/seasons, and can score positive or negative points. 2 cards to be fought over are placed in the center of the play area, and these cards may have crows (negative points), fish, or milké (an intoxicating mixture of catnip and milk). Be careful – winning too much milké makes the cats sick and both fish and milké points are lost. Players each play one card from their hand, but cannot play the same suits as the scoring cards, unless there is no other option. After all players put in a card, the highest card played wins the higher of the 2 scoring cards, and the lowest wins the lower of the scoring cards. Add to this formula a varying distribution of numbers in each suit, and you end up with a very quirky, interesting take on trick taking.

“Stake your claim, build a mining empire, and keep one step ahead of the competition!”

Rolled West from designer Daniel Newman is the new inevitable roll-and-write version of TMG’s popular Gold West (2015) from J. Alex Kevern. In Rolled West, 2-4 players roll dice to collect resources, in order to make settlements and score majorities for the various terrain types. Players can bank resources on opponent’s turns, fulfill contracts, make sales, or invest in futures. The game comes with 4 custom dice, 4 dry erase player boards, a dry erase score board, and markers.

“Deep beneath the surface of the earth lie gems, artifacts, and other valuable things.”

Big Dig by Shaun Graham and Scott Huntington is a similar 2-4 player flip-and-write, dry erase game, where players flip over cards that dictate what shape of grid squares to cross off (dig) on their board. Digging out areas must proceed from the top or from already cleared areas, and certain areas cannot be excavated, except maybe by blowing them up! Players try to achieve the 3 random goals set on cards, and the first to do so wins. Lots of goals and double sided player boards lend variety to this new roll and write. Look for both Rolled West and Big Dig to come to stores in October 2019.

“Your prehistoric clan needs a little guidance. Hunt, gather, figure out new techniques for doing things and make a little art along the way!”

Dawn of Mankind is coming from designer Marco Pranzo (Historia) and acclaimed artist Kwanchai Moriya. Not a lot of details are known about this title, except that players create the journey of their tribe, involving generations of families. Other players may inadvertently help you along if they proceed along the same story path. At the end of the game, the “story” left by your family translates into points. Dawn of Mankind is due to hit stores in Q4 2019.

Renegade Game Studios has just announced ClipCut Parks, a 1-4 player game designed by Shaun Graham and Scott Huntington (co-designers of Jolly & Roger) which will take scissors the roll & write genre.

By using their snipping talents, players in ClipCut Parks will be attempting to beautify an urban landscape and will compete to build the most beautiful park, ultimately trying to be the first player to complete 5 Park cards. Players will take turns rolling, cutting, and building their way to victory.

Dan Bojanowski, Senior Game Producer at Renegade Game Studios said, “We love roll and write games, and we hope gamers will get hooked into the unique gameplay and the delightful physicality.

ClipCut Parks will be released in October 2019, and you can find more information on Renegade Game Studio’s website here.

It seems like every board game publisher is providing their spin on the roll-and-write genre. The OP (formerly USAopoly) has partnered with Matagot to bring Dungeon Academy to the North American market.

Dungeon Academy looks like a roll-and-write crossed with a dungeon dive game. The game has 16 six-sided dice with different sides representing things like monsters and potions. The dice are rolled and arranged into a 4×4 grid which represents a floor of the dungeon. The floor is revealed to the players which then race to draw a path through the dungeon level. The game is played over four rounds/levels.

“Simultaneous play begins as students race to draw the most favorable route in, through, and out of each Level, taking hits to their energy from encounters with Monsters, while restoring it with every potion. If any player’s Health or Mana is depleted before their path is resolved, they fail the test and forfeit points, or Glory. The student with the most Glory after the four Levels earns the coveted Adventurers diploma to win!”

Each player has a hero which provides them with a special ability during the game. Loot cards provide bonus treasure which players can choose from once they’ve completed their route through the level.

Dungeon Academy is for 1-6 players, ages 10 and up, and will be available later this year. You can read the announcement from The OP here, as well as, learn more from the game’s product page on the publisher’s website.

Roll Player (2016) by Thunderworks Games and designer Keith Matejka is a fantastic (BGG #234) dice placement game which themes around creating a classic d20 RPG character. Now the company has announced 2 new “Roll Player Tales” in the same universe, Lockup and Cartographers.

Lockup: A Roll Player Tale by designer Stan Kordonskiy (Dice Hospital) is a worker placement game taking place within a fantasy prison, originally funded on Kickstarter in 2018. In Lockup, 2-5 players need to assign members of their gang to sections of the prison and collect resources, all without attracting the ire of the guards, who are not beyond searching their quarters and confiscating their goods. Each round, the most powerful characters in a section get the prime resources, and can build the best items. After 6 rounds, the most powerful gang emerges victorious.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by designer Jordy Adan is a roll and write game, where players need to fill in their map sheet according to the Queen’s edicts. Exploration cards tell the players what polyomino shapes and terrain types to draw each round. Scoring cards communicate the Queen’s will, and tell what will score. Cartographers encapsulates the joy of drawing old RPG maps on graph paper, filling in forest, mountain, water, and even monsters, trying to earn the most points in 4 seasons.

Both Lockup and Cartographers are expected to deliver to stores in July 2019. For more information, check out Thunderworks webpage on Cartographers, and the Kickstarter page from Lockup.

Portal Games recently hosted PortalCon 11 in Gliwice, Poland, where they celebrated 20 years of the Board Games that tell stories. At the celebration, owner and Portal head honcho Ignacy Trzewiczek announced several new games and expansions coming from this amazing company in 2019. There are a ton of new announcements, all of which can be read in the press release from Portal, or seen live in the Keynote Address given at PortalCon.

Several new games set in the Imperial Settlers (BGG #145) universe were announced. First on the list is Empires of the North, a standalone card game designed by Ignacy, featuring Scotsman, Inuit and Vikings. Each faction comes with 2 unique card decks allowing a variety of game play styles. 2-4 players can each try to lead their faction to victory by dominating the opposition, developing their economy or defending their land. Also from the big man is Imperial Settlers Roll and Write. Just as the name implies, this new roll and write game takes place in the empire building world of Imperial Settlers, and focuses heavily on engine building, with each big move giving bonuses towards the next. The game includes two modes, one a traditional 2-4 player competitive point scoring challenge, while the second is a new adventure mode. This single player game comes with a pad of 48 unique challenge sheets to complete, each with its own starting points and goals. And just to round out the Imperial Settlers fervor, Portal Games has announced the Imperial Settlers Big Box, a 5 year anniversary of this award winning game, complete with all of the factions and expansions. The Big Box will be exclusively available direct from Portal Games, and includes a plastic insert to hold everything, new commemorative anniversary cards, as well as oft requested single piece faction boards for the Amazons, Aztecs and Atlanteans.

Also coming from the President of Polish Play is a reprint of Prêt-à-Porter, the 2-4 player surprisingly brutal fashion industry board game. Players take turns hiring new employees, gaining managers, designers and models, all in an effort to destroy the competition. This third edition is coming to Kickstarter in 2019, and features new art from acclaimed illustrator Kwanchai Moriya (Dinosaur Island, Catacombs).

Portal also announced new armies for their arena combat board games Neuroshima Hex and Monolith Arena, both from designer Michał Oracz. The Sand Runners are the latest army to dominate the world of Neuroshima Hex, and are a “specialized army of veteran warriors who clashed with the Moloch in the early days of the war”. The Sand Runners feature a double sided HQ tile for versatility, and come with a new Sand Storm tile type. The new army for Monolith Arena are the Academics, focusing on runes, upgrades, and the ability to dramatically weaken their enemy – in fact, their banner directly slows enemy tiles. The Academics armies are few in number, but devastating in ability.

One of the biggest hits Portal and Ignacy had in the past year was the web-integrated Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, and the first campaign expansion, Detective: L.A. Crimes, is coming soon. Detective is one of the most engrossing, slowly enfolding, experiential crime story games made, and L.A. Crimes promises to bring more real life sleuthing, this time in the drug infused world of 1980’s Los Angeles. L.A. Crimes is due to be in stores March 2019, with the new mechanics of Stakeouts and Observation, 5 new characters, and 3 new cases. Also announced was Detective: Alexa Edition, wherein players can complete the 6th case in Detective, all narrated and run by the Amazon Alexa. Portal games has stated the Alexa edition is “part of an effort to bring board games to new players”, making the experience akin to an interactive radio drama. Finally, the world of Detective will be expanded even further by the Detective Signature Series. Portal Games has invited celebrated designers to use the framework of the Detective board game to create their own narratives. The first two master designers picked to frolic in the gritty world of suburban crime are Rob Daviau (Pandemic: Legacy, Betrayal at House on the Hill) and Mike Selinker (Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Lords of Vegas, Betrayal at House on the Hill), both masters of story telling in their own rights.