Roll and Write Games

Stronghold Games is starting 2019 off with a bang, and has announced 5 new games coming soon in the new year.

Ganz Schon Clever is a fantastic (BGG #295) roll and write game from wunderkind designer Wolfgang Warsch, which took the gaming world by storm last year. In Clever, 1-4 players roll dice in order to fill in spaces from 5 different tracks. Each track has checkpoints which allow bonus fills on neighboring tracks, allowing for some amazing combination moves. Ganz Schon Clever was nominated for the 2018 Kennerspiel des Jahres award, but unfortunately for Mr. Warsch, of the 3 (!) nominated games he designed, the only win that year was Quacks of Quedlinburg. The new english version coming from Stronghold Games will be called That’s Pretty Clever, and is expected to release in April 2019.

CO2 (2012) is a well regarded (BGG #585) heavy worker placement game from designer Vital Lacerda (The Gallerist, Vinhos, Lisboa), and Stronghold is bringing the remastered CO2: Second Chance to stores this March. 1-4 players take on the role of corporations trying to make the planet a greener place, correcting the pollution made standard in the 1970s. The second edition includes a new rulebook and iconography, a more balanced gameplay, a new events deck, and upgraded wooden components. Stronghold has stated that this edition will be printed once, then not reprinted, so get it while it is available.

Astro Drive is a “fast paced card driven spaceship racing game” from designers Mikko Punakallio (Dokmus) and Max Wikström (Space Freaks). 2-4 Players secretly pick movement cards from their hands, then simultaneously reveal. The cards have an initiative number, determining who moves first, movement points, compelling their ship to move forward, and control points, allowing side to side wiggle. Players also have a limited number of energy cubes, which can be spent for either 2 extra movement or control points. Players race over map tiles, avoiding crashing into obstacles, until someone crosses the finish line. Expect Astro Drive in stores in April 2019.

The Violet Morass is a new expansion for the skirmish board game Space Freaks (2017). In Space Freaks, 2-4 players combine different body parts to create the perfect team of freaks, then lead them into the arena for battle. The Violet Morass adds 2 new arenas, the perilous waters of the planet Azorax 5, multiple new head and body parts, as well as some terrifying equipment. The Violet Morass is tentatively scheduled for an April release.

Another anticipated expansion is the Meteo Expansion for the card driven bicycle racing game Flamme Rouge. Flamme Rouge has 2-4 players controlling the speed of their 2 person team up and down hills and around bends, trying to manage cards and jockey for position most efficiently. Meteo adds weather and wind management into the mix, adding more options into this strategic racing game. The Meteo Expansion for Flamme Rouge is expected in stores February 2019.

Walls of York by Cranio Creations and designer Emiliano “Wentu” Venturini was one of the more favored games of Essen Spiel 2018, and publisher Cool Mini or Not has just announced that they will be bringing the title to North America. Walls of York is a 2-4 player game, which combines the feel of a roll and write game with the tactile joy of building blocks. Each game, players create their own landscape from 4 board tiles, after which dice are loaded into a “King’s Tower”, generating the three goals for the game. The start player rolls the Building Die, which dictates a shape of plastic walls all players then simultaneously place around their emerging city. The die will generally dictate 2 or 3 walls, which could be in a straight line, an ‘L’ shape, or a zig-zag. Players use these templates to gradually surround their city, hopefully enclosing the correct number of structures originally dictated by the King’s Tower during setup, then pass the die to the next player and continue. After players completely enclose their city, the Building Dice earn extra coins each roll. Once all players have all finished their city walls, the invasion occurs, and the player with the most Vikings within their walls is invaded, and receives a Viking Invasion token. After two rounds, players earn victory points from coins collected, and lose points for Viking Invasion tokens. Look for Walls of York in stores from CMoN in the first Quarter of 2019.

Well regarded Roll and Write game Sunflower Valley (2017) by designer Wouter van Strien and originally from Hobby World, has overcome initial North American publishing delays and is releasing any day from Playroom Entertainment. In Sunflower Valley, 2-5 players take turn drawing with dry erase markers to create their own mountain valley from a shared pool of dice. Players draw houses, sheep, sunflowers, or railroads by claiming the appropriate custom die, and placing it on the correct colored spot on the playing board, using up both the die and the colored location. Once all of the color locations are claimed, the round ends and the 6 dice are passed to the next starting player. When all spaces on each players’ board are filled, the game ends, and players score for each house-sheep pair, either adjacent or connected by a rail, groups of sheep (flocks), groups of houses (settlements), and mountains surrounded by sunflowers. Houses without sheep loose points, and bonuses go to players with the most sunflowers, the most villagers (earned from houses and sunflowers), and long rail lines. Sunflower Valley comes with a game board, 6 custom dice, 5 dry erase markers, 20 double sided player sheets, a first player token and rulebook.

Eagle-Gryphon Games has started a new Kickstarter Campaign for the reprint of Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age (2014), the followup to Matt Leacock‘s Spiel nominated Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (2008). The Bronze Age had some pretty big shoes to fill for a followup, and The Iron Age did not disappoint, being designed by heavyweight Tom Lehmann (Race for the Galaxy). Roll Through the Ages is a roll and write game, where 1-4 players roll custom dice, yahtzee style, and fill in spaces on their score pad for points. This new edition of the game comes in a more compact box, with wooden peg boards with pegs, 6 custom Empire dice, 1 Fate Die, and the previous Mediterranean expansion has been fully integrated into the score sheet. The Kickstarter Campaign also includes “personal stretch goals” – backers can receive free games, such as Dead Man’s Chest or SIXeS, depending upon how much they end up pledging to the project.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age continues through January 2, and the game is expected to deliver in February 2019.

Thundergryph Games and designer Jordy Adan have announced Rolling Ranch, a new Roll and Write game, coming out at Essen Spiel 2018. In Rolling Ranch, a hurricane has hit your ranch, knocking down the fences and releasing all the animals – it is your job to gather up the livestock, put them in pens and rebuild your ranch. The players roll 2 custom dice, each with a variety of symbols on each face, and all players (2-20 of them) use the same pair each turn. Players can couple an animal (pig, cow or chicken) on one die with a pen number on the other to place that animal type in that pen on their score sheet. Alternatively, players can take the summed resources (wood and nails) on both dice, and work towards building structures on their farm, giving extra abilities. Finally, if two hearts show up on the dice, any pairs of animals in a pen breed, adding one more to the pen. At the end of the game, players score points for animals in pens, scoring more if the pen contains only one animal type. Achievement cards distributed at the start of the game add secret goals for each player. For more details, including the full instructions, check out Thundergryph’s excellent webpage on Rolling Ranch here. Rolling Ranch is due for release at Essen, October 25-28.

Pandasaurus Games announced the release of Illusion, by award winning game designer Wolfgang Warsch.  Following up his success of The Mind, Wolfgang challenges players in Illusion to correct assess color proportions across a selection of card depicting colorful abstract art. Each round begins with starting color card and an arrow card depicting the change of color proportion each subsequent card must display.  Players draw new color cards and insert them in the order directed by the arrow card. The player who detects the error in sequence properly earns the arrow card; if an error is declared incorrectly, the player who placed the last color card gets the arrow card.  The precise portion of each color is labeled on the back of each card.  The player with the most arrow cards are the end of the game is the winner.

Illusion plays 2-5 players, ages 8 and up in about 15 minutes. Contents includes 12 arrows card (three each in yellow, red, green and blue) and 98 color cards.

Pandasaurus Games is also bringing Qwinto to the American market. This popular roll and write game by Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp has been a hit in the European market since 2015. In Qwinto, one player rolls one or more of the dice (colored purple, yellow, and orange) and announces the sum.  All players enter that number on their scoring pad in one of the colored rows matching the colors of the dice rolled. Two rules must be followed when placing a sum in a row: all numbers in a row must increase from left to right; and no number can be repeated in a vertical column. Points are scored based on how many fields are completed in each row and which numbers are in scoring positions.  The player with the most points wins.

Qwinto plays 2-6 players, ages 8 and up in about 15 minutes. Contents includes three dice (orange, yellow and purple), scorepads, and pencils.

 

Look for Illusion and Qwinto at GenCon and in stores this August.

Castles of Burgundy is a classic euro game that sits in the BoardGameGeek top ten, and with a card game version already created, why not create a dice version?  Coming later this month you will finally be able to play Castles of Burgundy the Dice Game,  a roll and write style game.  The core of the game is still there with the familiar hex board, the ability to buy and sell goods, different actions you can take on tiles, and bonuses you get for completing areas of the board.  But now instead of rolling dice and assigning workers to slowly do these actions, now the roll of the dice will immediately let you get silverlings, mark off spots on the board, get goods, and other things.  This means you will be able to play a game very quickly, and still get a bit of the experience you have from the big game.  Look for this game to hit store shelves by the end of the year.

Next we have a new game coming from Cryptozoic based on the highly popular Rick and Morty cartoon called Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game.  This game is a unique engine building game in that you will be using energy from the different levels of the multiverse in order to build and operate you inventions, but there is more to it than that.  If you go into the lower multiverses you will get first dibs on energy to be able to power/build things, but because that universe is more primitive, the things you can build are more limited and more unreliable.  Stay in the higher ones and you will be farther down the list when comes time to give out energy, but you will be able to build the best stuff, so plan wisely.  Whoever can “collect” the most tech by the end of the game will be the winner.  Look for this game to be released in April of next year.

The last physical game we will be talking about is the unique game called Wallet, which uses a literal wallet as the main component.  The story is that you are surrounded by the cops, and to escape you need an ID and some cash form the boss, but he just took off in a helicopter.  Lucky for you, he dropped his wallet with all of the IDs and cash left inside.  So on your turn you will be searching the wallet trying to find a plausible ID and some cash to either get out of town, or bribe the cops to look the other way.  But be careful, there could be an undercover cop in your midst if they find their badge in the wallet.  Rounds are quick at only 10 minutes and the whole game is over in 30 minutes, with the person who scored the most points being the winner.  So if you want to get your hands on this game with a very thematic and unique component, you will have to wait until June of next year.

And finally, we have the two App releases for the day, the first being an update to the Carcassonne app and the release of the updated Abalone app.  Carcassonne is the perennial favorite tile laying game that most games and even non-gamers know about, and it has done very well as an app in the past.  But this new release of the game makes it look stunning by introducing fully 3D tiles to the game.  This will give the classic game a lot of pop and make it look really impressive.  Check out the new version here and then download it from Google play (sorry iPhones) or steam today.

The second app that has been release is Abalone, a classic abstract strategy game of pushing marbles to corner and remove your opponent’s pieces.  The game looks great and bringing it to the app space means you will be able to practice and work on your strategies against an AI before challenging other players.  Plus the ability to vary aspects of the game like how many marbles you need to remove to win, or setting a time limit, allows you to add more challenge to the game if you are a seasoned player.  So if you are interested you can find out more about the game here, and then download it from your particular app store or steam today.

First on the list of upcoming games is the latest is the ever growing genre of Roll and Write games, and that is Harvest Dice from Grey Fox Games.  Play is simple for this one, roll all of the veggie dice and pick which vegetables you want in your garden or fed to your pet pig.  At the end you will score veggies based on what the market wants as well as points for a well fed pig, most points is the winner.  These quick and easy games thrive on fast play times and easy replayability, and you should be able to find this one on store shelves in November of this year.

Second is a new one from Stronghold games called Noria, a first design from Sophia Wagner, winner of the Spiel des Jahres fellowship in 2015.  We don’t know much about the game yet except for that it looks to be a euro-style game with an innovative “wheel building” mechanic.  Similar to how the rondel is built and changed in Crusaders, this multi-layered wheel will have different actions and abilities in three rings so that you actions can be highly customized to your strategy.  You will be using these actions to discover islands, build out your empire, and bribe politicians with hidden knowledge you find.  Another aspect worth mentioning is the excellent art by Michael Menzel and Klemens Franz, elevating the possibility that this game could be something special.  Look for it to hit stores in January of next year to find out.

Roll and write games are starting to gain in popularity it seems, as more and more games with that type of mechanic are released like Dice Stars, La Granja No Siesta, and even OctoDice.  So Flatlined Games is trying their hand at it by creating a roll and write, pick up and deliver train game called SteamRollers.  Like the mechanic name suggests, the active player will roll dice, and on your turn you draft a die to use the value to mark something on your board.  The different options include drawing track, delivering a good from the central board, increasing the power of your engine, or taking an action tile.  Where these things can happen and what you can draw are determined by the dice that you roll, the white dice giving you numbers and the black die a track shape.  The action tiles you acquire give you different options to further manipulate the dice, mess with your opponents by taking dice from them, or giving you an additional action.  Delivering goods gets you points, connecting towns gets you points, upgrading your engine gets you points, and action tiles you have may give or take away points.  At the end the person with the most points is the winner.

This game seeks to bring a fresh take on roll and write by bringing it into the pick up and deliver train game genre, and I think they accomplish that.  The art, while sparse, looks good and has a clean design to it that makes things easy to read.  If you want to know more about the game, or back for your own copy, head on over to their Kickstarter page.

Coming into this week I thought I wouldn’t have much to talk about, thankfully Kickstarter proved me wrong, lets look at this week’s highlights.

First up is a board game accessory, and that is the Hex Chest Remasters from Elder Wood.  These are essentially hand crafted dice carrying cases that allow you to carry 7 dice in a beautifully made wooden chest.  As per their previous projects, the craftsmanship of these are excellent, and they come in a variety of wood colors and an even larger variety of lid carvings to choose from.  Also available in an oblong octogon to hold 9 dice, and you can even opt for inlays over engraving to give it make it really stand out.  They are even offering a flat pack option where you build your hex chest yourself, saving some money and allowing you to customize it how you want.  So if you are looking for that next great dice accessory, check out this Kickstarter page.

Next is another board game accessory and that is MOJO, the digital score keeper device.  This device boats an inexpensive price tag of $10 and while it’s main focus is keeping track of life and other counts in Magic game, it can be used as a score keeper for various other games for up to 4 players.  It also has a nifty option to flip the screen on one side so you can be playing across from someone and both have your personally score easily readable.  Is this device necessary considering the board game scoring apps out there?  The designers think so as this device is the size of a standard card, and is stand alone so you don’t have to mess with your phone or drain it’s battery.  Check out the Kickstarter page if you think you might want one, but be quick, the campaign ends on July 30th.

After that is the first offering from Spiel Press in their new premium roll and write series of games.  In this campaign you will be able to pledge for the Star Maps book and the Blood Royals book. Star Maps plays like the typical roll and write games you have played, where dice are rolled and you pick a die to fill in on your chart.  As you fill things in you will unlock bonus points and try to score the highest.  The big change however is that after that game, on the next page you will have more options to do things, and eventually even a tech tree of special abilities.  This gives the game a legacy feel as you advance through the game taking differing paths as you go.  The same goes for the Blood Royals game where you are battling your opponent for influence on the map, but as time goes on the geography changes, and alliances shift making for a different feel each time you play.  Needless to say I backed this immediatly as the concept intrigues me, if it intrigues you are well than head over to the Kickstarter page.

Following is a new version of Catacombs simply called Catacombs Conquest.  Catacombs is a highly rated dexterity, dungeon crawl type game where you are heroes flicking yourselves to victory, while the dungeon master tries to take you out.  What Catacombs Conquest aims to do is shrink down and simplify the game so that newer players can jump right into the game without having to learn more complex rules.  In this two to four player game and on your turn you simply do three things, draw a card, play a card, and then flick an obstacle.  This simple system means you will be up and running quickly, trying to flick your opponent into oblivion on an ever changing landscape.  Plus, with a price of $24 Canadian, this game has a low cost of entry as opposed to the larger game.  So if you want in on this flicking game, check out their Kickstarter page.

Next we have a trio of games for young children called Numeracy Legends, all aimed at helping them learn different math and game concepts.  In the first game, Numeracy Legends and The Rainbow Unicorn, players are route building in order to collect ingredients to help the rainbow unicorn make their famous cupcakes.  This is to teach children graph theory by determining the best route to collect all their ingredients.  The next game, Numeracy Legends and the Zerda Fox, has kids learning about probabilities as they decide what paths they want to take, when to get more cupcakes or ice cream, and more.  And finally there is Numeracy Legends and the Gluttony Dragon, this is the final game and turns into a once versus many game with the adult as the dragon, and the kids as the heroes.  The players will be drafting equipment cards and secretly choosing battle types in order to face off against the dragon.  This teaches game theory as the kids will be working together to try and defeat a common enemy.  So if you want to get your hands on this trio of games, head on over to the Kickstarter page.

Lastly we have the 2nd edition of the game Argent: the Consortium.  This is a highly confrontational worker placement game where you are all vying to be the next dean of the pretigous magic school.  To do that you need to get the most votes, but the tough part is, out of the 12 that will vote, you know how three are going to vote.  This means you will either have to use the shotgun approach and try to be good at everything, or spend time and energy learning their voting styles to tailor your strategy.  Either way you are going to be sending out your students to various tasks to get new spells, up various stats like wisdom and IQ, purchase new items, or make some money.  The confrontational part comes in with two aspects, first is that you only collect resources and such at the end of the round, not when you place your people.  Second, you can knock people out of their spots, meaning getting to a spot last may be better than getting to a spot first, and risking getting knocked out.  Either way, if you liked the first edition or are interested in this game now, check out the Kickstarter page.