Board Game Mechanics – Roll/Flip and Write
This is a mechanic that more people are going to be familiar with because we have a game that has been in this mechanic for a long time, and that is the game Yahtzee. But Yahtzee only really covers the roll part, so how are roll and write or flip and write games evolving, or if you aren’t familiar with Yahtzee, how do these games work?
So in a roll and write, you, on your turn, or on the collective round of the whole group, are rolling some dice and filling in a spot on your own personal scoring sheet. In Yahtzee, this could be the total of the number of sixes rolled in a round, or 40 points for a large straight. In Railroad Ink, it’s adding in railroad track, or in Criss Cross it’s adding in shapes or symbols to your board. You do this either until everything is filled in, like Yahtzee or Criss Cross or for a prescribed number of rounds. At that point you either add up your numeric scoring values, Yahtzee, or you take the shapes and symbols and compute their scoring.
Now, a flip and write is extremely similar in how it works. The main difference is that you are flipping cards that people are using to fill in their area. This can be filling in a shape like in Second Chance or Cartographers or it can be numbers or some sort of other action like filling in bubble like on a test, such as in Welcome Too… These games do have, for the most part, a similar end scoring mechanic where you are then converting what you’ve done into points and adding up that total to see who won.
The core mechanic, though, of filling in a number, symbols, bubbles, whatever it might be on a sheet that is then used for scoring is consistent across both if you are rolling dice or flipping cards. The main reason that you’d use cards over dice is for additional consistency that you can get from the cards. It makes it less random than rolling a die, where, if you are unlucky, you could end up rolling a six every single time, which would be amazing for Yahtzee but pretty poor for most other games. So some of the games will use the cards to help with that consistency, especially in the case of Welcome Too… where the numbers go into the teens, so even with a twelve sided die, you’d have much wider variability. Also in that game, you can choose from one of three different options in terms of cards that are available and those three different options are pairs of cards, so it would be considerably more confusing with dice.
So, what are some roll and write or flip and write games that I’d recommend:
Second Chance – This is a flip and write game that is very simple, it’s just about filling in shapes on your board to see how full you can get it. So every player has a shape, eight square shape (kind of like Tetris style) that they put on their board. Then two cards are flipped and players put down one of those two shapes touching a previous one on their player board. That continues until a person can’t fill one in, and than that player gets a “second chance” which is a card that only they can use. If they can use it, they are in the game, if not they are out of the game and count up their open spaces. At the end, once all the cards have been flipped or everyone is out, whomever has the fewest open spaces left is the winner of the game. Very simple and very fast, it’s a fun game you can sit down and play multiple times. And the game encourages, but doesn’t require, that you doodle in the shapes that you are putting down on the board.
Cartographers – You are a map maker who is filling in various terrains on your map. But mainly, you’re doing it in a way that will make the scoring work. This again uses Tetris like shapes but there is more going on, it’s not just how much you can fill in. Instead, you’ll be looking to see four different scoring objectives that rotate throughout the game. You go out map making in spring, and you score objective A & B, summer – B & C, Fall – C & D, and Winter – D & A. So you’re thinking about what objectives will be scored coming up, but also knowing that while you might not score much for A in the spring, you don’t want to ignore it through the rest of the game because you’ll score objective A again in the winter. Plus, there are monsters, and while you putting everything else on your own board, the monsters tell you which way to pass your scoring sheet and your opponent puts it on. Any open spot next to a monster at the end of a round is a negative point. So if you aren’t careful, it is possible to get negative points in a round.
Welcome Too… – Now, I know the sequel to this game is heavier, Welcome To New Las Vegas, but I haven’t gotten a chance to play that one yet. This one is all about building your perfect 1950’s neighborhood with the white picket fences and everything being great. To do that, you are using one of three sets of cards, in those sets one is always going to be a number which will have to be a house number on your streets, and those house numbers have to go up numerically. And the other is some special power or spot you can fill in, maybe you numbered a house with a pool so you build that pool or maybe it’s a park or you improve property values or most importantly, you build those white picket fences. This game has a lot of good decision making points because the house numbers need to be always increasing, so while you can put in a 15 at the top of the row and a 12 three spots earlier, you now need a 13 and 14 to be able to connect those houses, which you might need to complete one of the building permits. So there are a lot of challenges and interesting decisions in this game, even with that said, it isn’t that heavy and goes very fast.
Are you a fan of roll/flip and write games? They are certainly having a moment now with a new one coming out seemingly every week. Do you prefer the thinkier roll and write games or the ones that you can just play really relaxed?
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