Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 45-60min
tl;dr: Yahtzee meets Cricket (the darts game, not the days-long version played with a bat) in this dice-chucker with a couple of fun twists.
Getting to the Game: Learning Rollers Deluxe is very quick, especially if you're already familiar with the turn structure of Yahtzee or King of Tokyo. The rules fit on a single double-sided sheet, with helpful examples of strategy and mechanics.
Setup is as simple as grabbing one of the six player boards and all the cardboard tokens of a single color. Each player also gets 55 coins (10 tokens of 5 value, and 5 tokens of 1 value), which are used to pay off players who lock down dice rolls you haven't gotten to yet.
Playing the Game: The object of Rollers is to be the first player to earn 5 points. Points are earned in one of two ways - either be the first person each round to open and close all 5 dice values on your player board, or have the most money when the round ends. Your strategy in this game will come down to picking a direction to go after your first couple of turns each round. Like other dice games you've probably played, Rollers asks you to roll all 6 of its custom dice up to three times. You're allowed to set aside the dice you like from each roll, attempting to whittle down your final outcome to the required number of values on your player board.
Like Cricket, you're going to score by "opening" the dice values with a single 1, two 2's, three 3's, etc. When you end your turn, you will place a token over the values you've opened, needing only a single additional die of that value to then "close" it. If you're the first player to close all 5 values on your board, the round is over, and you get two points.
Once you've closed a number, any time in the round you roll that number again, you force other players who have not also closed that number to pay you for each die of that number you keep. For example, if you've closed 4's, but neither of your two opponents have, for every four you roll, each opponent is gonna toss 4 coins your way. At the end of the round, whoever has the most money gets a single point.
Once a round ends and points have been awarded, everyone clears their board (saving their points earned), money is redistributed, and play begins again.
Overall, Rollers is a mechanically solid game. There aren't any confusing powers or dice manipulation to get in the way of the pure satisfaction of rolling dice and seeing them all come up exactly the way you want. On the flip side of this, it's a game solely about rolling dice and keeping the good ones, so randomness reigns here. The coins provide a nice way to balance some of that out in the early turns - if you're not rolling what you want, odds are you're rolling enough to close out some of the easier values, and you're making some money from those who haven't yet.
Additionally, Rollers provides a couple of cool mechanics on the dice themselves. The player boards only go up to 5 for the dice values, and you're playing with six-sided dice. The face where the 6 would normally go is replaced with a star on the 5 green dice, which acts as a wild. This helps mitigate some of the randomness associated with just throwing dice around. The singular red die doesn't have a wild face, replacing it's "6" face with a lightning bolt. Rolling this "zap" means that you can't keep any of the dice you just rolled (dice already set aside from a previous roll are still safe.) One of our players rolled a zap in their first two rolls of the dice, meaning they were forced into keeping their last roll as-is. Again, your tolerance for variance is going to dictate whether you can laugh that off as unlucky, or whether it will sour your whole round.
The only problem we ran into during our games was length. It takes 5 points to win the game, and only 3 points are distributed every round. A perfect round would be over in 4 turns, and in our experience it was between 5 and 6. With 3 or 4 players, this feels about right, as someone is going to score in two rounds pretty quickly. We played with 5 and 6 players, and nobody was consistently lucky. A 6-player game could go as many as 13 rounds at the worst, which would in fact be pretty terrible. The game play is fun, but doesn't keep its sheen past more than a few rounds. Rollers Deluxe expanded the player count to 6, which is great if you have a larger group that wants to stick it out. 3-4 players feels like the sweet spot for this game, and for a typical family of four that's looking to vary up game night, Rollers certainly delivers.
Artwork and Components: The artwork on the player boards has the wood-and-felt feel of a casino, and with the addition of the coins, it certainly feels like that was the intention. The issue is that the game doesn't really deliver on any kind of gambling mechanic. There's no press-your-luck elements here, as you're capped at three rolls. You're never going to lose your coins on your turn, so there's no tension apart from willing those dice to come up on the side you want.
The components here are serviceable, but not outstanding. Our player boards came out of the box slightly warped, and the cardboard tokens used to cover up the dice values came in non-reusable plastic baggies (a huge drawback for this reviewer - resealable component bags should be the norm). The dice, however, feel very nice and look great. It was mentioned during our games that the coins should be actual poker chips, come in more varied denominations, and the player boards would feel great if they were slightly thicker. These are minor quibbles, though - what comes in the box feels good to play with, and overall the game is priced very well for what you get.
The Good: Rollers is a fun way to spend time throwing dice around, and has the added benefit of not needing to be strictly paid attention to. It's a fun family night game, and if you have kids on the younger end of the age recommendation for the game, it's a perfect way to introduce light strategy with some really fun elements.
The Bad: Length can be an issue at larger player counts, and there's not a lot of depth. Dice mean randomness, which can be a turn-off for some.
Score: Rollers does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it very well. For a Friday night, family-game-night game, this deserves a spot in your rotation. I'm giving Rollers Deluxe a score of A Good Bet.
See more reviews from Nicholas and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html