Designer: Keith Matejka
Published by: Thunderworks Games
A review by The Eric Booth
What is Roll Player? Glad you asked. Well, you didn't ask, I did, but just same. Roll Player is a game about “Rolling” up an RPG character and equipping them out for a life of adventuring while trying to score as many points as possible.
Out of all the games I've played, this has to be in the top ten of unique game play. I've played plenty of dice placement games but none like this one. The main point for earning points is your placement of dice on your attributes slots. What you are trying to do with these dice is reach a number either exact, within a range, or at a minimum number for each of the attributes on you character sheet set by your “Class” card. Plus you are trying to match a pattern set forth by your “Backstory” card. While at the same time manipulating your alignment marker to attain your perfect alignment set by your “Alignment” card and score the most points. Plus each attribute IE: Strength, Constitution etc... has a special action you can take when you place a die in that slot. Now I will tell you this, you WILL!!! forget to take these actions during the game as your brain is trying to do the math trying to figure out the optimal die placement on your board. You have been warned! Also you need to factor into your equation that some of the “Attributes” give you a built in +2 or a -2 unless you are the Hoomans. On top of all this, you are trying to get as many dice in your class color as they will score you one point each, for however many you have in your player board.
Each round will begin with a drafting of dice, drawn from a bag, and if you know me, I love drawing things from a bag. This will dictate turn order for purchasing “Market” cards. These consist of Skill cards, used for rules breaking and manipulation. These Skill cards also move your Alignment marker all over the place. And if you're not able to move your alignment marker you cannot use that skill card. Trait cards, used for end game scoring. Weapon cards, which add values to the dice in your attributes. And Armor cards, which are part of a set collection. Or you can just chuck one of these “Market” cards and take 2 gold. Which, by the way, is fairly hard to come by during the game.
This all continues until all the spaces are filled on your Attributes board. Then you will move to the end game scoring phase in which you will realize you've forgotten about that weapon bonus or the +2 or -2 bonus of your specific attributes or that you've totally forgot about your Backstory card and a million other things. Which to me is just hilarious. But this will pretty much only happen on your first play. As you become more familiar with the game, you will find those combos and little things you need to do to maximize your score.
The game does have a few variants you can try which includes a Solo variant which is pretty damn good. It's more of a, see if I can better my score from previous games. But I have no problem with that. It uses a clever enemy die which removes market cards depending on what initiative die you take and what rolls on the enemy die. I think is simulates another player very well. And as an aside, I've created a little Solo game play reference and posted it on BGG.
Alright I've blathered on enough. What do I think of the game? I freaking love it. Seriously, if I could marry it I would. No, not really. But almost. When I first saw Roll Player I was immediately struck by the theme, and yes the theme is very very strong with this game. I'm pretty sure there was no “Paste” used at all with this one. I can't even imagine what other theme this game could be placed in. Be warned, as mentioned earlier the game does require a knowledge of basic math skills. If you are lacking in those skills I feel the game could actually help you become a better math, type person. What really surprised me is all the things that can happen during the game from placing just one die. I'll admit it can become a little AP inducing if you're not careful. But it hasn't been a big problem as yet. Ok, what is my rating for Roll Player? I give it Two Dice placing, Skill taking, Weapon wielding, Armor wearing, Trait scoring, thumbs up.
I would also like to thank Ruth for making this review possible by giving me this game as an early birthday present. My board gaming friends freaking rock.