At every company, there’s some guy trying desperately to figure out a way to harness a current wave of consumer demand and somehow direct it right onto the doorstep of the company. “Even better…”, that guy explains to rest of management, “If we can deliver something on *that* demand that our customers will gobble up and that will drive their demand up for our *other* established products, we’ve gone above and beyond! A cross-promotional windfall!” Well, it looks like someone at Stonemaier put that guy in charge of roll and write game development and Rolling Realms was the result. It’s meta game of sorts that mostly serves as an advertisement for the rest of the Stonemaier product line, as each card in this roll and write game is named after a different Stonemaier game title.
On the plus side, Rolling Realms is a pandemic friendly, easy to learn, and quick to play roll and write that plays as easily over zoom with 20 people as it plays in person with a few people around a table. Every card presents a different way to earn victory points as it’s filled in, and in a standard game, 9 cards from the supply of 11 varieties are chosen and used (3 cards per round x 3 rounds).
Environment sparing bonus: the cards are all laminated and dry erase markers are provided, so you can play unlimited games without killing endless trees. The Tapestry card gives me a headache with its Tetris like spatial relations exercise, but otherwise I enjoyed all the cards and their creative use of point collection.
Despite its positives, Rolling Realms does not make the cut for my recommendations list. I played many, many games of Rolling Realms to give it a fair shake, and here’s the thing – it’s a perfectly adequate roll and write game. But in this modern era of board gaming, there are a ton of roll and write games on the market or in development and adequate just doesn’t cut it. Add on the creepiness factor of the cross-promotional marketing gimmick (BTW, can anyone tell me why the card for Red Rising is named “The Society” instead of RR?) and yeah…just no. Keep the game if someone gives it to you I suppose (I’m probably keeping mine), but don’t go out and spend your own money on Rolling Realms when there are so many other better roll and write games out there you could buy instead. I’m talking Cartographers. I’m talking Hex Roller. I’m talking Qwixx and Quinto. I’m talking Railroad Ink. I’m talking Noch Mal. And for the ultimate challenge, I’m talking Fleet or Hadrian’s Wall.
As a final note, I want to let you know that I’m very sad I finally met a Stonemaier game that didn’t bring me joy. I mean, it was inevitable that it would happen someday, but it’s still sad. I've been reviewing games from Stonemaier for a few years now. I got drawn in by Scythe initially (amazing area control game) and then, with each new game the company released, I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would be awesome. I really respect Jamey Stegmaier as a designer and a business owner and I'm rooting for his continued success. And so far, it's all worked out, because I've fallen in love with each Stonemaier game that's come my way, outside of Rolling Realms. For example, Tapestry and Between Two Castles are amazing, as are their expansions, and I urge you to give them a try. Also, I hope Jamey doesn’t listen to any more bad ideas originating from the guy with the marketing gimmick idea that was behind Rolling Realms, whether he was one of the voices in Jamey’s creative imagination or an actual employee at the company.
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Players: 1 - many
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): about 20 minutes per game
Game type: roll & write, dice rolling
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.