1-4 players, Competitive, Dice Drafting
Designer: Keith Matejka
Artwork: JJ Ariosa
Publisher: Thunderworks Games
Overview of Gameplay
In Roll Player you are pulling dice out of a huge bag FULL of dice, taking turns drafting one of them and then placing said die on your player board in a specific spot. Placing the dice is critical as each horizontal section has a specific ability that you can use to manipulate other dice or areas of your character. ALSO you have to be careful where you place to try and attain a particular total number based on the dice placed and what your character requires to gain more points.
This is a very thinky game. Not in the “omg this is sooooo complex” sense, but more in the “omg there are sooooo many options and I don’t want to make the wrong choice” sense. There are 6 different rows with three dice spots each and you have to place dice from left to right in each row. Placement is strategic, color of dice is strategic, the number of the die placed is strategic. The end of the game is triggered when each player fills up all 18 dice slots on their boards. You then count up all the different ways you get Victory Points and whoever comes out on top wins.
Component quality here is for the most part really good. The cards and tokens are all of a high quality and the player boards are punched so the dice fit into little square slots which is cool. They are also cool how you can add different class cards to the board to create different kinds of characters. The dice are…pretty meh though. They don’t feel all that great in the hand, the colors are not exciting and they are just basic pip dice. For a game that’s number one focus should be the dice, they are my least favorite component of all. And that’s a shame because there are A LOT of them. But as it is just reaching into that bag to pull out some dice is like, “oh I pulled another pink one”. Granted, the way the game is designed is mostly about utilizing the numbers on them but I just wish they were more custom.
The box is on the smaller side but it holds everything perfectly snug. All the dice go into the large dice bag and everything else fits in there pretty good even though there really isn’t an insert to organize. BUT the game isn’t overpowered with tons of components so set up and put away is pretty breezy.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I love the artwork on the cards and the boards and the theme is basically you are creating a character. You start by picking a Race which is printed on each board like orc or human or elf etc. and then you choose three cards based on a few different things. One is your class like Cleric or warrior and this card has different values of dice totals you need to achieve to maximize your points. Another is your alignment which shows your characters personality which is yet another way to gain (or lose) points. The last card is the backstory card which shows the positions that certain colors of dice need to be placed to get even more points.
So overall the theming is fun, designing your own character and visually the card artwork is very nice however I still think the dice themselves are pretty bland.
So the rulebook itself isn’t all that bad but man this game is a complex one to get down. And mostly just for a couple reasons. First the actions on each player board. When you place a dice you can immediately take a very specific actions depending on what row you place the die in. These actions are represented by iconography on the board which are not all that hard to remember what they do IF you even remember to do them at all! The biggest issue with this game is that there are too many things to remember to keep track of. Not only does this create some intense AP even from people that don’t normally suffer from this terrible affliction but you end up forgetting some of the things and then only later remembering cursing yourself to the high heavens.
The second thing kinda rolls from all the actions, It’s the end game scoring. Yep there are a million things to keep track of and then at the end of the game you need to score all those things. There are just so many things to score it’s overwhelming, even more so than trying to remember the actions for dice placement or where to place the correct color or which number of dice to place where, constantly having you add and re-add the total of the dice already placed to make sure you got it in the correct spot.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
Which leads me into the fun, I just did not have fun with this as a base game. I love drafting and dice drafting is also really fun but this one devolved into a number crunching game of matching the color while at the same time making sure you don’t forget where to place AND taking the action….if you even need it. The manipulation of those actions is yet another confusing layer that overall, “works” but getting there is complex as all get out, like the Penrose stairs.
Also the game is sooooooo repetitious. You draft, pick your die, place it. There is a market section that allows you to buy gear which is actually very enjoyable, my favorite part of the game actually. I do like how the gear works to incorporate bonuses based on you class (If it’s drawn) and trait cards can give end game bonuses if certain requirements are met. But other than that you are rinsing and repeating that until all the spots have been filled up, and it feels like it takes forever. And since you can see exactly how close you are to the end it makes it feel like it takes even longer to get there.
On top of that the table talk is certainly there as you can kinda screw your opponent by taking a particular die they wanted or a market card they might have been after but honestly unless you need to use it yourself you would never do that. Otherwise you will be spending a lot of time really thinking about how exactly you want to place YOUR dice with no real mind going to your opponent.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
I would say solo all the way here. With the way there really isn’t any meaningful player interaction you might as well play solo, but even then you are just competing against an arbitrary number ranking system trying to get as high a score as possible. Not my favorite end game system for sure for a solo game but at least there is one.
Replayability is actually decently high though. There are a great many different cards that make up the three variables that are added to the player board so this changes up things……but what it changes lies in the very heart of what I dislike about the game, which is the numbers needed, the colors placed and in what order. The only fun aspect is manipulating that personality token to try and get the most points but that is such a small part. THAT SAID, if you enjoy all those things then I can for sure seeing you going wild for the massive amount of replayability held within.
So the expansion Monsters and Minions DOES improve the game slightly for me. It adds in a whole ‘nother layer where you can actually hunt down some minions basically utilizing your gear and abilities in hopes of gaining some treasures which ultimately will aid you in your final battle against the big bad monster. There are quite a few different monsters to choose from as well, and as you progress you character you will go on these hunts to battle smaller monsters in hopes of finding out secret info about the big baddie. This info is only for the person that had slain the minion so basically that person now knows something about the end monster that will aid them and not the others.
That is awesome. Like the way these mechanics work and the secret info is critical if you want to not only succeed, but ultimately come out on top with the most points. Now this doesn’t change the base gameplay or anything so you still have all those mundane placements and movements BUT now you are actually working towards something in the game other than just filling up your board. There is still the end game tally of a million vp’s with the monster also contributing to that but I love the battle and the tension if the monster will bring you out on top or not.
I would say this expansion is a must buy expansion if you plan on getting the game.
Positive Final Thoughts
I think the idea of the game is pretty great, designing your own character. Building up the stats and the different personalities and attributes is neat. The Monsters and Minions expansion is a MUST BUY if you plan on getting this game for sure as what it adds feels like it completes a game that was lacking something however……….
Negative Final Thoughts –
I would not recommend the base game by itself. There are just too many things to remember to do when placing dice and the end game scoring if overwhelming as well. Actually that’s a good word to describe this game, overwhelming. Also the dice are just so bland for a game that revolves around its dice.