Roll Player Board Game Review – Thunderworks Games

Roll Player Board Game Review – Thunderworks Games

The notification ping sounds for the fourth time as you stand in front of the mirror in your third outfit change of the last twenty minutes. The bed and floor look like someone set off some kind of glitter bomb in the room, if the glitter was a mixture of chainmail, leather armour, boots and swords. You move your foot slightly to steady yourself and stand fairly heavily on a six sided dice, comically showing the number one and laughing at your critical fail. This causes you to fall backwards, grab the blanket on your bed and pull the entire contents on top of you including the once again pinging phone. It lands gracefully and predictably on your face and you’re able to read the previous four sent messages. They’re short and concise.  

We’re in the Tavern, where are you? 

We’re going to the basement, Where Are You?  

There’s some rats in here, WHERE are you? 

THERE’S A HUGE RAT HERE, WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU???!!

You sigh, because as everyone knows, you take Roll Player Games very seriously and you just can’t rush character creation..

Overview

Roll Player is a dice manipulation game with the chance to purchase variable player powers and set collection in order to influence your final scoring.

Mainplay

Roll Player has a few things going on when you play, firstly there is the dice selection piece where you are choosing dice from a limited pool to add to your character sheet and depending on where you place these dice, you’ll then be able to change or move them accordingly. Powers include being able to change the values of the dice to physically swapping them with others on your mat. You can switch dice to the opposite side or reroll the dice entirely or you can take a bonus that will mean that items will cost less in the store. It all depends on where you are choosing to place your hard earned dice. Since you are all choosing from the same set of dice, there can be a options to try to scupper other players as you go. Then you’ll move to the shop phase, where you’ll be given the chance to buy equipment, armour and traits and buying order s based on who took the lowest valued dice in the previous segment. All of the equipment comes at a cost, however you can always forgo the chance to buy in order to gain gold for the next round. Some of the cards that you buy will change your characters tendencies in the game, switching their attitudes slightly and this will again potentially affect the final scoring in the game. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the overall totals of all the dice to see how they square up against your attribute goals. Every is all about making the most of your dice so in turn you can make the most of your score. There’s a reasonable amount of information to keep an eye on to make sure you are maximising the potential end game and so it will take a few games to fully understand where you should be concentrating your efforts.

Winning 

Once all of the dice have been placed by all of the players then you’ll move to calculate who has the highest score based on several factors of the character sheet, the traits and equipment that has been purchased. Then that person has to get a shift on and actually meet the rest of their team at the local tavern. 


Looks 

 
Clean, well presented and so much chunk you’ll feel you’ve been to the chunky chips restaurant and ordered the chunky vegetable soup with chunky chips, chunks of sweetcorn and a chunky toffee banana milkshake. There is something really satisfying about how Roll Player looks end of game, when everyone’s board is full to the brim. I defy you however not to spend ages just swirling your hand about in the bag of dice for longer than you need to when it is your turn to pick. The iconography is very distinct and removes the chances of confusion as you play. Most importantly, the game boards are clear enough so you can see the state of play for other players without having the need for a telescope or magnifying glass, and since you are directly competing for a lot of the game, this is a very important consideration. I’m a big fan of the character art and that the boards are double sided with different art on each side. The illustrations on the various Traits and Equipment cards help to really make the overall aesthetic of the game shine once you are several rounds into playing. Once the game is in full swing and you have a selection of dice, cards and coin on the table, Roll Player has a surprisingly decent looking table presence.
 

Learning  

A decent sized tome of a rulebook that does well to explain turns, with clear explanations that will have you up and running very quickly. Roll Player is a relatively easy teach and it’s worth running through a couple of dummy rounds before you start to play properly. It’s going to take a few turns before you figure out how you want to strategise against other players and figure out the best way to approach the market but I don’t expect too many return trips to the rule book once you get up and running. Of course, Thunderworks have done what every caring and considerate design company does and put a round reminder on the back of the rulebook.

Timing

You’ll be looking an hour to play through a game at smaller numbers, but I can see higher player numbers creeping towards 90 minutes before they are finished. During the turns there will be a lot of simultaneous play so higher player counts won’t add hours to a normal game.  

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve encountered a game which is all about the stats of the character that you play, but doesn’t actually involve you stepping out of the character creation part of the game. On paper, it maybe shouldn’t work, I mean, how interesting and gripping would creating a roll play character possibly be? Surely the randomness of the dice itself is going to kill off any potential fun? Luckily there are a couple of things that do work in its favour. The first being that the game is all about both mitigating your results and manipulating dice rolls in order to achieve the required stats that you’ve been dealt. It means that in any given game, there is a subtle different in what players are trying to achieve, be that trying to gather certain coloured class dice for end scoring, or where on the attribute board you’ll need to place the dice. The addition of the marketplace also allows players to gain points away from the main character board, and this is something important considering the entire game is based around random rolls and how you as a player do the best with what dice you have chosen. Secondly, Roll Player offers randomness on repeated plays with Class, Backstory and Alignment cards that will change on every game. This means that no two games of Roll Player are really ever going to be totally the same, with your goals changing every time you play and so you can quite comfortably sit a new player down with an experienced player, safe in the knowledge that the game offers a level playing field. I also appreciate that here is a competitive game where you are actively able to influence the actions of others, and in some ways make life more difficult for them as they try to achieve their character stats. It makes a change from a four player solo game where you only interact at the end of the game and the winner has gained the crown because they know how the system works and the best way to score points. Honestly I’m struggling to find something I don’t like about. I guess not being able to use skills again once they are done can be frustrating? If you don’t like dice then you might not like this? Those expecting some actual combat might be disappointed? Damn, I reckon Thunderworks might have rolled a six with this one.

Any Tips? 

Make sure you collect your gold when you can, there are several points in the game that you can and they really can be a game changer to helping you buy the right equipment and collect the sets of armour for big point gains.
Designer – Keith Matejka
Development  – Eric Schlautman
Graphic Design – Luis Francisco
Illustrations – John Ariosa
 

This review is based on the retail version of the game we purchased. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.

 
The majority of the games that we are play are going to take a reasonable number of sessions and playthroughs to fully understand every possibility that they offer. We hope this write up gives you an idea of whether or not this game is something that you will consider playing or even add to your collection. Our Six Degrees of Expectation have been written to make it easier for you to find out what is important to you as a player. Even if we don’t like something, hopefully it helps you to decide if it is something that you should find out more about. We always suggest you check out a gameplay video to give you a better understanding of the game as it is played. 

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