Top 10: Roll and Write Games
I couldn’t have done this list a year ago but now I’ve played over 10 of them, and I have even more on my shelf that I need to play. Roll and Write games (or flip and write or flick and write) are a very hot genre of game right now. And while I still need to play some of the classics, like Qwixx, I’ve played a number of them and I’ve really enjoyed the ones that I’ve played. So let’s dive into the list.
10 – Criss Cross
This was one of the first roll and write games that I picked up. I saw it on the Brothers Murph YouTube channel, found here. I really like the simplicity of this game, and how it plays so incredibly fast. All you are trying to do is get like symbols in columns and rows, which is easy enough to do in one of them, but in both can be a bit tricky. And the more you get the more points it is. The main thing you have to pay attention to is that you aren’t blocking yourself into a single spot in two places on the board because you have to place the rolled symbols adjacent to each other. This one also works really well over Zoom or some other meeting software. You can find my full review here.
9 – Metro X
The newest game to the list is Metro X, this one I just wrote my review about yesterday, you can find it here. I like how this game makes you think for something that is pretty straight forward in what you are doing. I think that it works well solo as the game is really a multi-player solitaire as a lot of these games are. Some of the excitement that comes from the game is seeing what cards are going to be flipped over, especially when you really need a skip or maybe that free space card to show up way more often than they do, or they show up at the wrong time where it really doesn’t help you that much. And the components are really nice for the game.
8 – Second Chance
Another one of the first roll and write, or really a flip and write, that I got. Second Chance is a lot of fun and a very peaceful game. I don’t think there are that many board games that I would consider to be really peaceful. Now that isn’t to say that I don’t fine most games to be pretty relaxing or destressing anyways, because I just love games, but Second Chance is really peaceful, which is great. You flip two shapes, and everyone places them on their board, and then repeat that. It is peaceful as you doodle on your board, filling in the shapes that you’ve placed, and while you can plan ahead a little, most people don’t too much. Just a good game overall that you can find my review of here.
7 – Twice as Clever!
There are going to be a number of games from this series by Wolfgang Warsch. While there are older roll and writes out there, Yahtzee missed my list but an obvious forefather, this line of roll and writes definitely brought them into the board gaming spotlight. You are rolling dice in all of them, picking one, setting aside anything lower, repeating the process until you don’t have any dice to roll or you’ve used three dice. Then the other players pick a die to use from those that you didn’t. This version is my least favorite just because I feel like it’s a bit more complex, but mainly for complexities sake. This one has combos but it doesn’t feel like the combos do as much.
6 – Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade
A newer game to me, though not as new as Metro X, this one has a theme that I was really excited for. I like playing pinball machines, though in 2020 it hasn’t happened as often. So when there was a roll and write pinball game coming out I thought it’d be interesting. I’ve written some opening thoughts on it here, but I want to play it more to give it a full review. What works so well for me is the flow of how you fill in spaces. There are the bumpers in the upper section that you can just ping around on for a while, but once the ball drops out of that, it will start falling, so you need to figure out, best you can, how to control that fall, hitting the sides along the way, before you flip it back up. Point scoring is nice and easy, for the most part, and the components are really good.
5 – Clever Hoch Drei
The next of the series by Wolfgang Warsch , and actually the most recent of the roll and writes, Clever Hoch Drei, which I’m getting from Germany, has been a blast to play. This one returns you to a ton of combos in the game, something I feel like is missing slightly in Twice As Clever. But it actually has some really interesting choices in it with how you fill in the sections. I like that this and Twice as Clever also incentivize going for specific things, like rerolls or plus ones, to get even more bonuses. The main mechanics stay the same as well, so it makes teaching it easy if someone already knows either That’s Pretty Clever or Twice as Clever.
4 – Cartographers
I almost missed this one when I was ranking my roll and writes because I have it on another shelf. This one is set in the Roll Player world, which really doesn’t matter. It’s about making a map, but that’s fairly weird how that works or doesn’t work, because there are monsters on the board. But it’s still a lot of fun. There are two things that stand out to me, the first being the scoring system where you play through four seasons and in the first season you are scoring objectives A and B, then in summer, B and C, but when you get to Winter, you are scoring D and A. So each thing gets scored twice, and you have to balance how much you go for scoring, because if you push hard for B in rounds one and two, you might not score as many points later. I also find the monsters interesting. It makes the game less multi-player solitaire because your opponents place the monsters (unless you’re playing solo) and they are going to try and place it in the worst spot possible for you. You can find my full thoughts on Cartographers here.
3 – That’s Pretty Clever
The first and my favorite for the roll and writes that are part of what currently sits at a trilogy of games. I fully expect that there could be more because they are certainly popular enough. I like this one for a couple of reasons better than the others. Firstly, it was the first that I really played of them, which there is a nostalgia factor. But I also like it because it is the simplest. It makes it the easiest to teach in a lot of ways, and playing it over Zoom works well because while it takes a minute to draw out the board, it can be done easier than the others. The dice mechanics are the same, and overall, just a game design that I really like. You can find my full review here for more information on the game.
2 – Sonora
Now, for something completely different. Flipping cards or rolling dice to fill in stuff on the boards is common and normal, Sonora, by Pandasaurus Games, is a flicking game and then you fill stuff in. I think it might be possible to get good at the flicking aspect of it, but you don’t need to be great. No matter where you end up with flicking, you will score points, and that’s fun, and you can generally land it into the large area that you want, you might not get double the area if you can’t flick as well. This game is all about the combos when it comes to filling things in, and there are four areas to do it in. If you wanted, you can really focus on one area, or you can diversify to some extent, and the scoring seems really balanced in all of them. Definitely a really fun game to checkout, and you can find more about it here.
1 – Welcome To
Finally, my number one, still, though, I think that all of the top 4 could be my number one on any given day, is Welcome To. I really like this game, and I’m not even always that great at it. I like building my perfect Stepford neighborhood, with it’s white picket fences and most definitely not anything crazy that will go wrong there, but that’s for someone else to deal with, I’m just building Helmouth on a Hell Mouth, a pet cemetery and probably more cursed things, and that’s just the flavor I add to the game. This game has a lot of different ways to score points and you can push your luck as well, but there’s also strategy as you consider how many of each number have passed by, I always seem to find something else that I want to think about or try in the game each time that I play it. I’ve had this one in my Top 100 games since I’ve played it and it’s stayed strong, you can see why I love it so much here.
Now, I have a few more roll and writes on my shelf to try. I have the Red Box for Railroad Ink, Booomerang, Floor Plan, Welcome to New Las Vegas, and Patchwork Doodle all to try as well. And I had two, Cat Café and Yahtzee that just missed the list. Yes, I still do enjoy the original, Yahtzee, as well, though that game mainly plays itself now.
What is your favorite roll and write game?