One of my wife’s favorite games is Sagrada. The game play is simple, yet elegant, and it has both an excellent theme (building stained glass windows) and a stunning table presence. Around the same time of its release, a game with a similar mechanic (dice drafting) but completely different theme (high fantasy) was released. This game was called Roll Player and for the longest time, I avoided it because I was under two misconceptions – 1. that I didn’t need a game so similar to Sagrada in my collection and 2. my wife would hate it and not play it. Both of these proved to be wrong, so today I am going to tell you about the game, its current expansion, and its future.
Roll Player is a cleverly named dice game that hearkens back to the idea of rolling dice and creating a role-playing character in games like Dungeons and Dragons. The game plays 1 to 4 players (5 with the expansion Monsters and Minions), ages 10+. It takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes to play and the base game retails for $60 with the expansion retailing for $50. Let’s setup the game!
1. All players roll a die. The highest roll is the Start Player. Place all 73 dice into the dice bag (If playing with expansion add 7 additional dice and 11 Boost dice).
2. The start player chooses a Character Sheet (human, dwarf, elf, etc.) and picks a gender for their character.
3. Each player receives five Gold.
4. Have each player randomly draw a unique colored die from the bag. This determines their Class Card (paladin, cleric, etc.), which they will place on their Character Sheet.
5. Shuffle the Backstory Cards and Alignment Cards in two separate decks and deal one of each to all players, which they will also place on their Character Sheet.
6. Separate and shuffle the Market Cards based on the number of dots in the upper-right corner of the cards. Stack one-dot cards on top of two-dot cards to make the market deck. Deal out the initiative cards equal to one plus the number of players, placing one Gold on each initiative card that is neither first nor last.
7. Each player will draw dice from the Dice Bag equal to number of players plus four. Roll the dice, and place them on the attribute rows of your Character Sheet, going from left to right.
8. If playing with the expansion, find the six Monster Cards labeled 2+, and remove any of the monsters that match any player’s Class color. Gather the Location Cards, Obstacle Cards, and Attack Cards. Shuffle each separately and set aside one card from each of the three categories. Separate and shuffle the Minion Cards based on the number of dots in the upper-right corner of the cards. Stack one-dot cards on top of two-dot cards to make the minion deck. Remove the top seven cards from the deck to the box, and then reveal the top card, placing it face up on top.
1. Roll Phase – The Start Player draws dice from the bag equal to the number of players plus one. He then numerically arranges the dice from least to greatest, placing one on each initiative card.
2. Dice Phase – Beginning with the Start Player and going clockwise, each player will take an initiative card, the die off of it, and any gold that might be on the card. He then places the dice in an attribute row (again going left to right) on his Character Sheet and may perform an attribute action. (For example, placing a dice in the Strength attribute row, allows you to flip one die to its opposite side, i.e., a one can become a six.)
3. Market Phase – Starting with the lowest initiative and going in numerical order, players have the opportunity to buy a Market Card, discard a card from the market and gain two Gold, or go on a hunt (if playing with the expansion).
4. Cleanup Phase – All unused charisma tokens are discarded. One Skill Card per player may be turned upright. The market is reset. The initiative cards are returned and gold is placed on the appropriate cards. The new Start Player is given the dice bag and we return to the Roll Phase.
The game end is triggered when all players have filled all six of their attribute rows. If playing with the expansion, you then gather any combat dice you have earned, and each player has an opportunity to battle the Monster. Final scores are calculated based on dice placement in attribute rows, class color dice, Alignment Card, Backstory Card, Market Cards, and the Monster Card. High score is the winner.
At its core, this game is an abstract game of maximizing your points through optimal dice placement and the cards you purchase. It is a thinkier and meatier version of Sagrada, which is something I like but not everyone will like. What is great about this game, opposed to Sagrada, is that there is a lot more mitigation from unlucky dice rolls. If you get stuck with bad dice, you have a way to move them, flip them, increase/decrease them. Sagrada offers this, but to a much lesser degree. Another aspect that makes this game superior to Sagrada is that you will get to fill your entire board. Sagrada you can be left with holes, due to people taking dice you need or just bad rolls. In Roll Player, every slot will be filled and this is very satisfying.
One of my favorite aspects of Roll Player is the theme. With the various weapons, armors, traits, backstory, etc. this game will ooze theme if you let it. Like any role-playing game, you just have to play along! Another great aspect of the game is the replay value. There are so many different characters, traits, backstories, cards, etc. that each game will be different. The biggest/only negative I had with the game is the conclusion. You spend your whole time making this amazing character, set to explore, quest, and conquer and then the game ends. It’s like the old saying, “all dressed up and nowhere to go.” This is remedied a bit with the expansion, as at the end you get to test out your character and have him defeat a monster.
Additionally, there are two Kickstarter projects aimed for this year that expand the universe of this game. The first one is called Roll Player Adventures, which is a cooperative storybook game that lets you take the characters you made in Roll Player and play with them in this game. The other is the second expansion entitled Fiends and Familiars. In this expansion, you get to have pets (or familiars) and a whole slew of other cards that add more replay value to the game and new strategies to explore. I can’t wait for the expansion, and am tentatively optimistic for the Adventure game, but am reserving judgment until I know more.
Overall, I found this to be a highly enjoyable game and one that I would play whenever asked. It is different enough from Sagrada that I don’t mind having both in my collection. Be sure to check out the creator’s website for a promotional Frogkin character and/or metal coins because everyone loves metal coins and they complement the other quality components in the game perfectly.
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Copyright 2019 Stuart Dunn