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Game Preview from Origins 2019: Roll and Write Your Way Through Copenhagen

W. Eric Martin
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The original
Another day at Origins Game Fair 2019, another preview of a Gen Con 2019 release SPIEL '19 release that will be demoed at Gen Con 2019, with the game in question being Copenhagen: Roll and Write from Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, and Queen Games, the trio responsible for the Copenhagen board game released earlier in 2019. (The images shown below aren't final, and the name of this game might differ upon publication, but the description below should match the gameplay you'll find in the box.)

Copenhagen: Roll and Write features gameplay similar to Copenhagen, but with players now finishing the façade of their individual building through colors shown on rolled dice, not through drafted and played cards.

In the game, each player has a paper scoresheet that shows a building and five colored lines of boxes. A sheet in the center of the playing area shows various polyomino tiles in those same five colors, with tiles of two and three spaces on one side of a central divider and tiles of four and five spaces on the other side. The game includes five six-sided dice that feature the above mentioned five colors on five of their sides as well as a sixth color that serves as a joker. Each player starts with two red stars on their scoresheet; you can spend one or more of these stars on your turn to re-roll as many dice as you wish.

On a turn, you roll the five dice. If you have re-rolls in reserve, you can use them if you wish. You then choose a group of dice in a single color, then you see the shape of the polyomino that corresponds to this choice, then you draw that polyomino on the façade of the building, with the polyomino needing to "rest" on the bottom of the building area. One space in this polyomino is brick (represented by an "X") while the other spaces are all windows (represented by an "O"). If you created a polyomino of four or five spaces, you cross it off the central sheet of paper as each tile shown on the right side of the sheet can be used only once.


After the first few turns (components are non-final)


Each other player then gets to choose one of the dice that you didn't use to claim that polyomino, then fill in the leftmost empty box of that color on their scoresheet. (In a two-player game, the non-active player chooses two unused dice, assuming that at least two dice weren't used.) These boxes might have a symbol underneath them. If the box has a + under it, then this player can cross off the + on a future turn to add one "phantom" die showing this color to whatever they rolled that round, e.g., if you cross off a blue +, you effectively rolled three blue dice that turn instead of two. If a box has a star under it, then you can cross out that star on a future turn to use the power of that color:

• Red lets you reroll as many dice as you want.
• Blue lets you change one brick space to a window space when you're drawing something into your façade.
• Purple lets you draw one brick space in an empty space of your choice (as long as this space isn't floating in air).
• Green lets you change all dice of one color to another color of your choice.
• Yellow lets you use a polyomino shape that was crossed out on a previous turn.

You can use as many stars as you wish on your turn, say using a red star to re-roll dice to get three blue, one yellow, and one joker, then using a green star to turn all the blue dice yellow, then using a yellow star to let you re-use the yellow five-space polyomino that had been crossed out earlier.

When you fill in a horizontal row in the façade of your building, you score 2 points if all the spaces are filled with windows and 1 point if at least one space holds brick; when you fill in a vertical column, you score 4 points and 2 points under the same conditions (all windows vs. at least one brick). When you fill in predesignated rows and columns, you receive an immediate bonus — either drawing one window in an empty space or crossing off two boxes in one or two color lines on your scoresheet. If you cross out the final space in a color line, you score 2 points.

Gameplay continues until someone has scored 12 or more points. Complete the round so that each player has had the same number of turns, then whoever has the most points wins!


Final holdings in a four-player game, losing to someone who scored 15 points


I played Copenhagen: Roll and Write twice, once with two players and once with four. With more players in the game, more polyominoes get crossed out by opponents, so yellow stars would seem more important, and I pushed for them when choosing what to X off on an opponent's turn — but then I never had a chance to yellow star something as the dice didn't turn up as I wished they did, despite me re-rolling three times. Boo.

The game feels super-combo-y, with you trying to set up the bricks just so, then kick everything off at once by dropping in a polyomino that completes a line or two, ideally giving you one of the bonus "cross off" actions at the same time so that you can complete another line and race to the 12-point threshold before someone else can do so. Things don't always come together for you, but this can be as much a result of incompetent special power usage as unlucky die rolls.

Queen Games is still working on the final graphics and components of this design, so don't expect it to appear exactly this upon publication.
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