Yahtzee Evolved: A Look at Today’s Best Roll-and-Write GamesJuly 31, 2018
Used as the foundation for Yahtzee and its countless imitators, the roll-and-write mechanism is undergoing a renaissance during our current golden age of board games. Gateway roll-and-write games such as Qwixx and Rolling America are now a regular item at stores like Target and Wal-Mart and it seems like every week there’s a new roll-and-write title being published.
Today’s roll-and-writes offer a much deeper gaming experience. Gone are the days of simply pushing your luck to hit various combinations. Games now feature different paths to victory, along with ways to mitigate those bad luck dice rolls.
While these games begin with dice, paper, and pencil, they’re vastly different than the games of yesteryear. Let’s take a look at five of the best roll-and-write titles out there.
Welcome To …
Set for an official release next month, Welcome To … has already sold out early print runs and it’s safe to say their limited stock at Gen Con this week will sell out, too. In Welcome To … players are building their cities in 1950s American suburbia. Proving that roll-and-writes don’t even require dice these days, Welcome To … uses a deck of cards for all players to use each turn. There’s no down time here, since everyone has access to each card. Will you build that home with a pool? Or hire extra workers to help your crew later down the line?
La Granja: No Siesta
This game draws its inspiration from its classic eurogame big brother, La Granja. In No Siesta, players manage their farms via dice drafting. As you expand your farm you’ll bring more goods to the market and eventually ship them. Each die face has a commodity that advances various tracks on the score sheets while the sombrero die face is used to gain additional scoring discs and trigger the game end. It’s a lighter version of La Granja, meant to give a taste of the original game in a fraction of the playing time.
This is Bruno Cathala’s take on the classic gateway roll-and-write, Qwixx. Here, players roll dice and try to fill in their sheets in a way that scores them the most points. Do you try to fill up your rows of numbers or your columns of colors first? Most importantly, will you tempt fate and collect stars, hoping to double your score without going bust? This 15-minute from a master of game design is full of tense decisions from beginning to end.
An underrated title from last year, Harvest Dice has players tending their individual gardens. Every turn you’ll draft dice and plant a carrot, lettuce, or tomato onto your score sheet. Certain vegetables will go to the market and increase in value, while unused veggies can be fed to the pig. If your pig is happily fed, then it’ll allow you to change the color or number of your dice. Drawing little vegetables on a piece of paper has never been more fun.
Ganz schon clever
Nominated for the 2018 Kennerspiel des Jahres, Ganz schon clever does away with theme and focuses on strictly on game play. Each turn you roll dice and try to place them in the most optimal spots on your score sheet. With six different sections offering bonuses and special abilities, there’s a satisfying sense of accomplishment when your combos begin to trigger in the late game. Non roll-and-write fans will find plenty to like in Ganz schon clever, with its focus on tactical and strategic play. While not available in the U.S. until later this year, the recently released app for iOS and Android is a convenient way to enjoy this absolutely addicting game.