Roll Player Review

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Thunderworks Games, Roll Player, 2016, dice drafting
Keith Matejka
John AriosaLuis Francisco
2016
Dice Drafting

Theme and What is it?

In the world of RPG’s one can lose themselves in a rich, immersive story. Epic quests and puzzles help shape the character you create from the beginning. Even though RPG’s offer you limitless and potentially endless adventure, there is another excitement that surrounds the very beginning of a campaign. Long before you pick up a weapon and don yourself in level 1 rags. That is the birth of your character. Wait! I mean the creation of your character. I don’t think any of us want to witness the birth of a fictional character. Unless he or she was born from the ashes of a once active volcano or something. But I digress.

Character creation is an event; creating attributes, traits, backstory, strengths and weaknesses. Celebrating when you roll high on those attributes you desperately need to be proficient in and contemplating the short life you might live when your wizard rolls a 1 for his Intellect stat.

As it turns out, a gentleman by the name of Keith Matejka of Thunderworks Games felt the same way about character creation in RPG’s – that it is really an exciting event all in itself. So Mr. Matejka set out to create a board game that pits opponents (or yourself if you enjoy the solo experience) to make the most epic and powerful character you can create.

Roll Player is a game where opponents roll and draft dice to try and achieve a character’s attribute goals and earn reputation to win the game. You can also earn reputation with abilities, armor, weapons and the alignment of your character whether good or evil. Does the game have the reputation to stand up against my infamously bad luck with dice? Let’s find out.

Gameplay Mechanics

Each player chooses one of the character sheets to start. Yes, you can even pick a dragon as your character. Players are given gold and a random Class card that will allow them to choose what class they wish to be. Then they collect a Backstory card and Alignment card.

You will draw Market cards to equal to the number of players plus one. The Market cards are available to buy and give you bonuses towards reputation that you need to win and abilities throughout the game. They feature things like weapons, armor, skills, traits and sometimes outright bonus reputation.

Initiative cards are laid out equal to the number of players plus one. The Initiative cards are chosen in clockwise order from the first player. You will be placing 1 die on these in order from least to greatest. Also, you will be placing gold on all the Initiative cards except for first and the last. This makes for interesting decisions when picking Initiative because maybe you really need that higher numbered die, but it will make you the last player to buy cards from the market. Or maybe you could really use the gold on an Initiative, but have to sacrifice a colored die you might need. There are a lot of possibilities.

Each player rolls starting dice and places them on the player boards to begin.

There are several ways to earn the reputation needed for victory. Let’s break down the order of play and see how you can do so. The “Roll Step” is where the starting player rolls and places one die on each Initiative card from least to greatest. In the “Dice Step”, starting with the first player choose an Initiative card and place that die on the left most space in their Attribute Row. Each Attribute Row has a Goal and Effect. The Goal is the total number you are trying to achieve to get the reputation bonus to that attribute. An example would be your strength attribute is between 14 and 15. You want the dice in that row to equal either 14 of 15 to gain however many bonus reputation it says it offers.

After you place a die in an attribute, you may do the corresponding Effect that it triggers. The Effect could allow you to switch the placement of dice on your player board, reroll dice, change the value of them, etc. After that comes the “Market Step”. This is where you have the opportunity to buy cards to help boost your character and where the Initiative cards come into play. The first person who gets to buy is the one with the lowest number initiative. If you don’t want to buy any cards, you can discard one from the market for 2 gold. The cards may also contain a symbol of an arrow on it.
 Depending on where it is placed on the Market card, the arrow will make you move your marker on the Alignment card. Wherever your marker is on your Alignment card at the end of the game will allow you a set amount of bonus reputation, or negative reputation. 

The last step is the “Cleanup Step”. All unused dice go back to the bag, new Market cards are drawn, and the dice bag is passed to the next player. Rinse and repeat.

Initial Impressions

It quickly became apparent that this game is not a dice chucking game. It really has a Euro type feel to it. The placement and the way you can augment the dice values with Effects was really interesting. As we played through the first few rounds, there was definitely a sense of analysis paralysis because you are trying to set yourself up for the long game. It quickly wore off as the game kept me engaged the entire time as I plotted my possibilities.

Quality of Components and Insert

The one thing that sticks out so much is the thought put into the player boards. Each board has holes cut out on the Attribute Row to place your die so it doesn’t slide around. This is avoids any accidental table bumps or arm swiping that would absolutely reset your game. A beautiful touch I wish more board games would employ. The cards, chits, and dice are all pretty standard. As far as an insert is concerned, there really isn’t one. Just a divider that splits the box into two sides.

Artistic Direction

The art is ok. There is more attention to some card art than others as far as detail is concerned. Really nothing too amazing. I was really pleased how Keith Matejka included male and female characters. By just flipping the player board over you can choose whatever you would like to be. Yet another thing that I wish more board games would employ.

Fun Factor

Even though what everyone is doing is public knowledge, you really are so focused on what you’re doing that it is hard to really know where everyone is. To me that makes it exciting. It’s a nail biting experience right up to the end. The games we’ve been playing with 3 and 4 players are all ending within very few points of everyone. Every game we’ve played has been very close. It’s all really come down to those critical decisions you make rather than simple dice rolls.

Difficulty and age range suggestion

This is a very simple game to learn and to teach. Very easy to explain and get going. There is a lot to think about when making decisions which can cause some analysis paralysis. But I don’t think it’s a burden on the gameplay. Some basic math skills of addition are all you need to feel comfortable; which should make it accessible for kids as well.

Conclusions

Even though Roll Player comes with 73 dice, it defiantly doesn’t play like a game of simple dice rolls. There is a lot to consider with the decisions you make. When I take an Initiative card do I really need the gold or a higher numbered die? If I take the higher number die I will be last to buy from the market. Should I take the blue die on Initiative card 1 because I can get a bonus for using the die on my Attribute Row? These are just some of the questions that arise when picking Initiative. Every step in the order of play lets you make these really fun, critical decisions. I think this is what really makes the game so replayable. The randomness of the dice and Market cards really force you to adapt your strategy throughout the game. I also really like the Tug of War aspect of trying to get the most out of your attributes and cards while trying to stay ahead of your opponents. Because of the accessibility of Roll Players rules and gameplay I can bring this to any game night or get together and be assured of a good time.

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Originally posted 2017-02-16 02:12:15.