A Gnome's Ponderings

I'm a gamer. I love me some games and I like to ramble about games and gaming. So, more than anything else, this blog is a place for me to keep track of my ramblings. If anyone finds this helpful or even (good heavens) insightful, so much the better.

Archive for Roll and Write

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  

Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

How I define Roll and Write

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
While doing some notes on Roll Through the Agesfor a blog post that I may never bother finishing, I found myself asking what is the line between a Roll and Write and every other side games

And, of course, the answer is that definitions are arbitrary. While there are definitive examples of Roll and Write, like Qwixx, there is plenty of room for people obsessed with semantics to quibble over it. So I’m just worried about my own personal definition.

I found myself asking the question when I realized I had started playing Roll Through the Ages and Monopoly Express (both games I still enjoy) at the same time. While you use a peg board to track resources in Roll Through the Ages, you do track all the stuff you build and develop on a player sheet. And while Monopoly Express makes really nice use of specialty dice, all you write down is your score.

So what do I think is the important part of a Roll and Write? I’m going to say the write. The player sheet has to be an active part of the game and the decisions you make. If you’re just tracking your score, it’s just not the same.

In Yahtzee, you have to choose which scoring how you’re marking each turn. That’s a Roll and Write. In Cosmic Wimpout, you just track points. That’s not a Roll and Write. Not to me at least.

And I’m not picky about the randomizer. Dice, cards, time stamp, some other way of generating random information. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

It may not be a perfect definition since Dungeons and Dragons would qualify as a Roll and Write.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sat Sep 18, 2021 7:12 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My August R&W

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
August came close to ending what has been my monthly learning new Roll and Writes. Which was never an actual goal of mine. It just kept happening August was just a busy month but I did manage to learn a few.

While I was already familiar with Robin Gibson’s Paper Pinball series, I tried a couple boards that I hadn’t tried before.

I’d played an earlier version of Sherwood 2146 but I tried the most recent version this time. I also tried a board from the second season, Squishington Goes to Venus. (Judging by the art, Squishington is a budgie that NASA sent to the planet Venus)

Paper Pinball is a guilty pleasure of mine, a game series that has slowly grown on me. They are very much part of the roll-them-dice-and-fill-in-boxes school of R&W. Which can be brilliant (The Clever family of games, for instance) but I’d call Paper Pinball just okay, if amusing.

I intentionally tried a very early board and a later board. And the differences were definitely there. Sherwood 2146 is so very simple and the decisions border on being mindless. Squishington, while still very simple, actually gave me choices and actual interactions between board elements.

Paper Pinball is still strictly a guilty pleasure but if someone asked me to recommend a board, it would be from season two. I will save season one for when I’m feeling brain dead, which means they will still see play.

The other Roll and Write I tried out for the first time is Stonemaier’s Rolling Realms. Holy cow, that was a completely different experience from Paper Pinball.

The game consists of nine micro-games, each inspired by one of Stonemaier’s larger games. It was developed as a game folks could play together long distance when they are under lockdown.

I’m not going to try to evenly lightly summarize Rolling Realms. It definitely uses the idea of there being way more to do than you can ever get done.

There have been ten different versions of the game, not counting the official version that is coming out. That makes it a little weird for me to access. And I’ll need more plays to really get even a vague handle on how many actual decisions the game has.

The only real issue I’ve had is that fitting all the micro-games and the rules on one sheet of paper leads to rule questions. The published version will have a rule book so that should clear that up.

September looks to be busy too so I don’t know if I’ll get in any new games. Even if I don’t, it’s been a better run than I expected.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sat Sep 4, 2021 6:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

My July R&W

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
At some point, I’m not going to have learned enough Roll and Writes to justify a monthly commentary. I really expected to hit that point before now. But, nope, not yet.

The first R&W I tried this month was Halloween Roll and Fright. I’m not sure where I actually found it. The board is a six by six grid. You roll three dice and assign two dice as coordinates and the last one as a map element. If you roll doubles, you can check off Halloween critters on a list.

It… wasn’t good. Between the restrictions that the dice have you and placement restrictions, I found I actually didn’t have a lot of control or choices.

Next up was a game called Maztec Duel. It was from one of the R&W contests and, from what I can tell, was designed to as PR for a larger game. You used two dice to make several steps of picking out and placing buildings on a grid. It reminded me just a little of Elasund or Blue Moon City in that building took multple steps.

But they crunched the rules down one page. Great for duplexing, laminating and done. But not great for making the rules clear. Even looking at the design forum and other people’s questions, I’m not sure I got it right and constantly looking for clarification dragged the game down.

Then I tried another contest game, Assault on the Colossus. If it wasn’t inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, I don’t believe it. I liked the theme of climbing up a giant monster to kill it but I felt like the dice determined everything and I didn’t have any real choices. There is some dice manipulation but it still felt like there one obvious choice or no choice.

After those three games, Puerto Miau was a relief. A roll and move and write game, Puerto Miau is simply okay. However, it is a fully realized and functional game. Contest games are very much prototypes but it was still nice to play a game where the rules were clear and I had choices.

(At that point, I stopped trying to learn new Roll and Writes and revisited 30 Rails because I was worried it wasn’t as good as I remembered. Fortunately, it was even better)

After that, I started trying Roll and Writes that were more established.

Radoslaw Ignatow’s Time Machine (easily his least inspired title) has you use two dice per turn to set the dials on the time machine. The settings plus connections between dials generate a number which you use to move down the scoring track. Bigger numbers are better but ending on specific points gets you bonus points. I enjoyed it but I felt like had a lot less control than his games with pools of six dice.

As I wrote elsewhere, I _finally_ played Utopia Engine. And it was really good!

The last game I learned in July was Castles of Burgundy the Dice Game. While it doesn’t hold a candle to the full game, I could see how that game inspired the dice game and I did enjoy it. As a solitaire game, my initial impressions are strong.

I know that August see not nearly as many new R&W experiences but there are still unplayed games in the pile.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.con
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Aug 2, 2021 11:08 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
5.05
 tip
 Hide

Utopia Engine justifies the hype

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I’m honestly not sure how many years I’ve been meaning to learn Utopia Engine. It’s been one of the darlings of both the Print and Play and Roll and Write worlds for ages. And I finally got through a game of it.

I have tried playing it a few times over of the years but didn’t seem to click in my head. To be fair, each individual piece of Utopia Engine is simple. It’s that it has a bunch of moving parts. (Well, a bunch compared to a lot of Roll and Writes. It’s not many compared to even a medium weight Euro)

In Utopia Engine, you are an artificer in a dreamy, post-apocalyptic world that feels a little like Jack Vance’s Dying Earth gone steampunk. The world will end but you can stop that from happening if you assemble the fabled Utopia Engine. To do that, you need to gather legendary artifacts that are lost in fantastic lands, activate them in your workshop, assemble them and finally bring the Utopia Engne to life.

Each step in Utopia Engine is kind of like a mini-game. You need to explore the wilderness. You will inevitably have to fight monsters in the wilderness. You have to activate the artifacts you find in your workshop. And you have to connect them together in order to make the actual Utopia Engine.

Now, I can see how someone could find Utopia Engine pretty dry. The basic mechanic is use dice to generate numbers and subtract them. You want a small difference in the wilderness and a big one in the workshop. But after I went through the wilderness and the workshop once, it all clicked and I was into it.

(For some reason, my mental calculator kept thinking I’d be rolling two d10s. Two six-siders compressed the numbers and made them easier to manipulate)

The game actually felt like an RPG campaign for me. Each artifact gave you a bonus power and the biggest monster in each wilderness area can drop special equipment. So, as the game moves forward and time runs low, you also get more powerful.

I ended up liking Utopia Engine a lot. There’s a lot of both storytelling and game compressed into two pages, plus two dice. And I felt I had some actual say in what was going on, particularly once I started getting some of the special powers.

Utopia Engine is now over ten years old and folks still speak well of it and (other than its sequel Beast Hunter) there really isn’t anything else like it. It’s not for everyone but, particularly considering how easy it is to try, I think it’s worth experiencing.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Mon Jul 26, 2021 4:32 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
1.05
 tip
 Hide

30 Rails just keeps getting better

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I recently tried out some shorter, simpler Roll and Writes. Honestly, it was clearing out some backlog, although I am always hoping to find another 13 Sheep.

And the amount of decisions ranged from either limited to not really there are all. Which wasn’t all that surprising. That’s one of the dangers of game designs and these were basically prototypes.

But it made me ask if some of the PnP, R&W games I’d liked before are as good as I thought they were. In particular, 30 Rails. After all, the game has you randomly roll coordinates and rail shapes.

So I pulled 30 Rails to give it another spin. It had been a while. Either I’d have fun or an educational disappointment.

So, yeah, it’s good.

I regularly describe 30 Rails as the love child of Take It Easy and Metro and I see no reason why I should stop.

You have a six by six grid in 30 Rails. After you seed the grid with five impassible mountains, one mine and a bonus spot, you put a station on each edge. Your goal is to connect stations to each other in the mine. That’s how you get points and points are how you measure how well you do in the game.

Each turn, someone rolls two different colored dice. One die determines which column or row you are going to add a track in. The other determines the shape of the track. And yes, you determine which die is which before you roll them.

I just tried several games that used to days as coordinates. Now, you would think that only having to choose a row or a column would make a big difference in your range of choices. You would be wrong. It makes an enormous difference. And, in 30 Rails, if you filled in both the column and the row, that number becomes wild.

There’s actually a lot in 30 Rails that lets you make meaningful choices. You get some say in how the board is set up. Everyone gets an override that they get to use once for each type of dice. Heck, you get to rotate the track shape, although just about any tile laying game lets you do that.

However, comparing using two dice to get a maximum of two options with using one die to get a maximum of eleven options (and a potential wild mechanic built in), that makes the difference between a good gaming experience and a bad one.

I went back to revisit 30 Rails to see if it was as good as I remembered or if experience would reveal terrible flaws. And what I found was that the game was actually better than I originally thought.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Jul 22, 2021 4:31 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Yeah, the game actually works isn’t high praise

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I am going to damn Puerto Miau with faint praise but, the funny thing is, I actually mean the praise. It’s circumstantial but still actual praise.

Puerto Miau is a Roll and Write game that is actually a Roll and Move and Write game. You are moving a pawn across a grid of action spaces, although it wouldn’t be that hard to track the pawn with just a pen, particularly in a solitaire game. (The game does play up to two, though)

In the game, you take on the role of a cat who is stealing fish from the marketplace. The mechanics are dead simple. You start in the middle of the grid and roll a die to see how many spaces you move. You mark off the space where you land because you can’t visit the same space twice in the same game.

Most of the spaces are fish spaces with a number assigned them. Roll over that number with two dice and you get that fish in the accompanying points. There are also some action spaces. These include a guaranteed steal of a random value, erasing a mark so you can revisit a space, extra movement and extra dice when rolling to steal. After 20 turns, you add up your points.

Puerto Miau is strictly okay at best. It feels like the next step in putting a game on a place mat. Is it better than roll-and-move on a linear track? Definitely. Is it much better? Eh.

The game isn’t without decisions, although those really come down to going for low-point fish that you are likely to get or gambling for a high value fish that require a good roll. But, seriously, there are a lot of free roll and write games out there. There are some actual gems but this isn’t one of them.

But…

I have been going through my backlog of Roll and Write games and I’ve played games with confusing rules, no real choices and where luck dictates everything that happens. After playing enough of those, Puerto Miau was a relief. It is actually a functional game.

I’m not actually sure the publication history of the game. I got it as a free Print and Play and it looks like it is still available as such. I’m not sure if it was ever officially published. I do see that there is a card version of it. The Roll and Write version might be simply publicity for the card game.

Honestly, the best use for the game might actually be to laminate it and use it as a place mat. Lord knows worse games have been used that way.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Mon Jul 19, 2021 5:02 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My June R&W

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
June was another good month for me for learning Roll and Writes. As a format, they are ideal limited time and space.

Cat Nap from the 7th R&W contest was a happy little game. It uses the tried-and-true draw-Tetris-shapes-on-a-grid formula with just enough little touches to keep it from being boring. It’s on my list of free games I’d recommend to folks looking for games that easy fun and easy to teach.

On the other hand, Please Remain Calm from the first R&W contest fell flat for me. It’s themed around getting people out a cloned dinosaur park before the T-Rex eats them. In practice, you are actually filling in rows, trying to fill in rows yourself before the T-Rex does.

Please Remain Calm felt like it was two thirds of the way there. I felt like the core mechanic had promise but there needed to be more. The graphic design was clean and nice, though.

I continued my exploration of Chris Anderson’s Tempus games with Tempus Quest Episode 0. Since it was designed to teach the basics of the Tempus system and I already knew them, it wasn’t very interesting but the later games in the series look promising.

And finally, I tried out Roll Pirates in my gradual learning of Radoslaw Ignatow’s R&W games. I quite liked and I think it has solid replay value. I’m starting to wonder if the first two games I tried, Some Kind of Genius and Mixture, are actually his weakest games.

I am fascinated at how, when I really got into PnP, I didn’t care much for R&W but I have come to really dig it. Of course, when I started, actually making stuff was a big part of the appeal. Printing a page off and maybe laminating it or sticking it a file protector wasn’t very interesting.

However, as the playing has become more important, R&W has become more appealing. There is a difference between a PnP experience and a published experience as much as I do enjoy PnP. That said (and I’m not the first to say this), there is much less of a gap between punished and PnP with R&W.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Fri Jul 2, 2021 7:39 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

Roll Pirates - because everyone loves pirates

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Roll Pirates is another of Radoslaw Ignatow’s Roll and Write games where the individual actions are all pretty simple but you get a lot of options as far as how the game develops. I’m starting to think that’s one of his trademarks.

The game has each player play a pirate captain (Arrrr!) who is sailing about the map, finding treasure and developing a reputation. After six rounds, whoever has the most points is the winner.

Like all the games that came out of Ignatow’s recent Kickstarter, a pool of dice is rolled each turn and everyone uses the same rolls. However, it isn’t entirely a multi-player solitaire. (It can be played as an actual soliatire, though)

There are four ways that you can use the dice in the game. You can use them to recruit crew, who you’ll need to move your boat over the map. You can use them to unlock treasure chests, which takes three dice each. You can use them to enhance your pirate captain reputation. And, if all else fails, you can spend dice to take a point penalty. (No, you don’t want to do that. Avoiding penalties is a good idea)

Really, the game is about moving around the map, which takes up half the player sheet. The primary actions, recruiting crew and unlocking treasure chests are all about movement. (Okay, technically you can move onto an unlocked treasure but it costs you points so it’s one of those bad idea)

A big part of what makes Roll Pirates work and a game I want to play again is that the map is too big to go everwhere over the course of 36 dice. In fact, I think a quarter of the map might be more than you cover in game. You seriously can’t do everything.

The other thing that makes Roll Pirates more than just rolling dice and jotting down numbers is that, in the multi-player game, when you claim a treasure, you get to make some kind of attack on another player. This is actually a neat design choice for a couple reasons. You don’t have to go out of your way to make an attack. Going for treasure is an integral part of the game so the attacks will be a part of the game. It also means that games don’t get too scripted since other folks are going to be messing with your plans.

Each individual piece of Roll Pirates is very simple. The game is a simple one. But it gives you the space to explore different things to do with those simple actions. The game has branching choices.

It’s interesting and fun.

Originally posted over at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Jun 28, 2021 5:56 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

The introduction to Tempus Quest was too introductory

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Last month, I tried out Chris Anderson’s Tempus Imperium. It’s a PnP game where you use the date and time to set up the map and then create a list of actions. I knew Anderson had also made a series of other time stamp related games called Tempus Quest so I decided to try the first one.

(And THEN I learned that there was ANOTHER time stamp game, Tempus Infinitum, that looks like a refined version of Tempus Imperium)

Tempus Quest is a series of games or scenarios. After the introductory scenario, it looks like how you do in one scenario will effect what happens in the next one.

In Episode 0-Some Reassembly Required, you are attempting to rebuild a spaceship in a junkyard. Connect resources together to make parts and then connect them to the ship in the middle. There’s an alarm track. You check alarms off if you do something close to guard towers but you can also check them off to change your action.

Having learned Tempus Imperium first, Tempus Quest was really easy to pick up. And I have come to two conclusions.

One, Tempus Quest Episode 0 is probably the best introduction to the whole use-the-datestamp-to-generate-a-number-string idea. It uses a shorter number string and has a clear-cut goal with a clear-cut way to go about it.

Two, I liked Tempus Imperium more and I’m glad I started with it.

It isn’t so much that Episode 0 is flawed but that it hits the whole introductory thing a little too on the nose. Tempus Imperium has multiple paths to victory while Episode 0 has just one. In Tempus Imperium, you have to develop a good income. In episode 0, there’s a checklist of alarms to spend and there seems to be so many that you shouldn’t run out.

Really, I’m punishing Episode 0 for being exactly what it’s intended to be. It’s an introduction and a tutorial. Looking at the next couple episodes, it looks like the complexity level does go up.

But it did leave me wanting to play more Tempus Imperium.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:56 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Cat Nap makes me happy

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Cat Nap from the seventh Roll and Write contest has me in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, it doesn’t bring anything new to the party. I’ve seen all the mechanics before. On the other hand, it all fits together nice and neatly and I enjoyed it.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2627636/wip-cat-nap-entry-7...

The idea behind the game is that you are making a quilt for your cats to sleep on. You apparently own at least six cats so you’re officially a crazy cat person.

The board itself is a grid that has six cats on it, who each take up six or seven squares and there’s a five square cross is the middle that serves as the starting point.

Take two dice that you can tell apart. One determines the shape of the piece your are drawing in and the other determines the pattern.
The first piece has to touch the starting cross and every piece after that has to the touch the side of another piece. And, no, you can’t cover up the cats.

There are a few touches that make the game more than just drawing in shapes. If pieces of the same pattern touch, you lose points. Completely surround a cat and you get points and a one box star. Being able to fill in just one box is actually a strong bonus. Oh and there are some bonus moves of the dice just done work, which is actually pretty standard but still a good mechanic.

The game ends when someone has to pass for a second time or gets a fifth star. You get points from stars, complete rows and columns and not having the same patterns touch. Most points wins and there’s a scale for playing solitaire.

As I said at the start, Roll and Writes that involve filling in a grid with shapes is old hat. Mosaix was doing it back in 2009. Since then, I have seen the concept used more times than I can count offhand. There’s nothing innovative about Cat Nap.

But, you know, I still like Cat Nap and have fun playing it. I particularly like the cats blocking the vid so I actually have to make decisions rather than use the spatial skills I got from Blokus and play on auto-pilot. It doesn’t hurt that I love cats. All the mechanics in Cat Nap fit together and work.

At the end of the day, Cat Nap is a pleasant, family weight game that is free to print and play. It might not set the world on fire but it’s a game I’d recommend to folks who are looking for a free, easy to teach, enjoyable game.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.con
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Jun 7, 2021 11:14 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »