- Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
- Box Artist: Miles Bensky
- Publisher: Stonemaier Games
- Where to Find It: The Stonemaier Games Website
Phil: Hey, Luke, listen, we need to talk.
Luke: Sure, what’s up?
Phil: Look, I know you like roll and writes.
Phil: Like… a lot.
Phil: But we’ve been covering a lot of them recently.
Luke: Sure have.
Phil: So maybe, just maybe, we don’t need to review another one today?
Luke: Normally, I would be inclined to agree, but this is a special circumstance. Rolling Realms is, in my eyes, one of the best games to come out this year.
Phil: … Really.
Luke: 100%, my dude. While I’m not always the biggest fan of Stonemaier Games’ titles, this one is-
Phil: Wait, this is a Stonemaier game?
Luke: Yeah, didn’t you hear? Jamey Stegmaier, after people began to quarantine, put this game together as something to share with the board game community (for free I might add) to help give folks something fun to play online with each other.
Phil: That’s fantastic. Alright, show what can be found within Rolling Realms.
Luke: In this one-sheet roll and write, players are trying to gather the most stars but completing the tasks of each realm as fully as possible. At the start of the game, you’ll randomly assign 3 different realms to each of the 3 rounds, with combinations affecting how they’ll interact with each other.
Phil: A nice dose of variability always helps a game like this shine.
Luke: Each round is composed of 9 turns. Someone will roll 2 dice and players will have to use them within the 3 realms featured that round. You cannot, however, use both dice in the same realm unless otherwise specified, so you’ll have to plan carefully.
Phil: What do each of the realms look like?
Luke: Each realm is based on a different Stonemaier product. The Scythe realm, for instance, gives you resources in its top half and makes you spend resources to get stars in the bottom half. The Wingspan realm, on the other hand, tasks you with adding numbers to a section until they add up to the appropriate wingspan.
Phil: That’s very clever, and a smart bit of advertising to boot.
Luke: Normally, this would come across to me as hamfisted, but it honestly all works so well, it’s hard to deny that this was the right direction for the game to take.
Players will also collect pumpkins, hearts, and coins, which can be used to complete certain sections or to use special abilities. Generally speaking, pumpkins allow you to modify dice, hearts let you reuse dice, and coins can generate extra dice.
Phil: I love that pumpkins are one of the resources. I know it’s a reference to Charterstone, but it just seems so out of place here.
Luke: It’s a little goofy, but that’s part of the charm.
At the end of each round, players will tally up their stars, and any unused resources cannot be used for the rest of the game, though you can earn some points from them. After 3 rounds, whoever collected the most stars wins!
Phil: Wow, this game is good.
Luke: Yeah dude.
Phil: Like… you weren’t kidding.
Luke: I’m not the kind of person to get aboard the hype train, but I’ve just fallen in love with what this game does. It has that hilarious element where someone rolls the dice poorly and everyone suffers together. It makes you feel clever when you find a neat way to combine the different realms or use your resources. And it makes you feel like you’re building something new each round, which is just rewarding.
The only tough thing is explaining the game to newcomers; some of the sections are a bit harder to communicate than others, like the Euphoria realm, which can leave players confused for their first game.
Phil: Yeah, some of the abilities are a little wonky as well.
Luke: I know I’ve made a mistake with those here or there, but I think that’s okay. This is a game worth playing multiple times and really learning fully. If, down the road, this became a full release, I would buy it in a heartbeat.
Oh, and one more thing; if folks want to play along with us, myself, Jon Gilmour, Ian Moss, and a bunch of others played this on stream a week or 2 back. By watching the stream and using the numbers we roll, you can try to beat our scores!
Verdict: Rolling Realms is an impressively put together product that makes for one of the best releases of this year in our eyes. And it’s free, and you can play it very easily online, so you have no excuse not to try it out for yourself.