In this series of blog posts in which we highlight game mechanics, we will discuss a different game mechanic each time. We explain what the game mechanics entail, give examples of games that apply this mechanism and give tips if you want to make a game yourself with this game mechanism. Today we zoom in on the game mechanics Roll and Write.
Or look at our previous article about it Deck Building.
Roll & Write
In a Roll and Write, the core of the game is always about rolling dice and filling in something on a (personal) piece of paper based on the outcome. This could be anything. In the most classic example of a Roll and Write, Yahtzee, each player rolls 5 regular dice to make certain sets. The more difficult the set, the more points the player can earn.
Because of the dice, luck is an important factor, but you can make your own luck through strategic choices. Often it is a risk assessment. Do you go for more risk but a chance of more points, or less risk and therefore fewer points. Take for example Qwixx, in this game you roll 4 colored and 2 white dice. By combining one white die with one colored die you arrive at a value that you can tick off on your sheet. However, your value must be to the right of your previous value. In addition, you want to try to make as many values per color as possible, because that is what you get the points for. However, you often have to make the choice to leave a gap, so that you have fewer and fewer options to add new values. If you cannot enter anything, you will receive penalty points. If someone has not entered 4 times, the game is over and the points are counted.
In the current times when the world is undergoing the Corona virus, many people are looking for games where social distancing can be applied. Recently we were asked which games are recommended for a visit to the grandparents. A so-called 'window visit'. We immediately thought of Roll and Write games. If you have 2 versions of the same game, or at least 2 sets of dice, you can play your own game on either side of the window. This way, families can continue to play games together.
Draw & Write
An alternative to the Roll and Write is the Draw and Write. The principle of a Draw and Write is basically the same, but because you work with cards instead of dice, you as a designer can reduce the element of luck. With cards you always have a fixed number of good and bad cards and therefore fewer outliers than with dice. For example, you cannot throw 6 10 times in a row, which is theoretically possible with dice. A good example of a Draw & Write is the game released in 2019: Cartographers
What do you have to consider when making a Roll & Write?
Over the years, Roll and Write games have changed quite a bit. Where you roll your dice at Yahtzee and then have to wait until it is your turn again, the games are much more interactive these days. For example, you may sometimes have to do something on someone else's turn and the dice you choose have an effect on the capabilities of someone else. This is an important way to keep everyone involved in the game.
Most Roll & Write games are very simple and can often be explained within a minute. This is also where a strong force lies in the genre that many people play it. It is very easy to involve new people and in terms of game components it is also very simple and therefore accessible. Of course you can see if you can make a huge game where Roll & Write is an important game mechanic, but then the power of the mechanism does not show. You might be better off using other mechanics (such as worker placement) to make an interesting game.
Don't limit yourself to just dice with eyes. Other symbols can give the game a different dimension. There are even games where, for example, you have to collect resources by means of the dice with which you can buy other things. A lot is possible.
Roll & Writes have really had a big revival in recent years. There is plenty of material you can use as inspiration, but there is also enough demand for a new game. Are you going to design the new Roll & Write game?