Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Saturday 1 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Roll Player

Game: Roll Player

Publisher: Thunderworks Games

Designer: Keith Matejka

Year: 2016

Roll Player is a game of dice drafting, dice placement and RPG character creation. It's a game that originally passed us by because of its theme, but one that we were eventually introduced to and found its way into our collection. Creating a character for a fantasy RPG couldn't be further from an appealing theme for Fi, but the games mechanisms were interesting enough to overcome theme alone.

Although it released around the same time as Sagrada, a game with pretty similar mechanics and a much more appealing theme to Fi, with her architectural past, it is Roll Player that won us over, so much so that Fi has played it solo - something that we never do! So let's take a look and find out what's so interesting that she could learn the language of Race, Class, Alignments, Traits and Skills!


At the start of a game of Roll Player, each player will be assigned a race (ie elf/dwarf/human) which functions as a player board with space for the 18 dice they will get over the course of the game. They are then also assigned a class, a backstory an an alignment. All of these feature an end game target to reach for bonus points. Each turn the current first player will take a number of dice blind from the bag equal to the number of players +1. These dice are then rolled before being placed onto numbered cards from lowest to highest. As the dice can come in different colours positioning of any tied numbers is decided by the current start player. Starting from the first player everyone will then take a card + die combo, an add it to their player board. The order of the cards will determine who goes first in the market phase.

Whenever you gain a die you will gain an ability depending on which characteristic you placed it on, for example the strength bonus allows you to flip a die to it's opposite side, useful for turning 1s into 6s. You'll have to bear in mind that each stat has a target for you to reach, for example a barbarian might need strength to be at 17 or 18 on the sum of 3 dice, but also your backstory will want you to place certain coloured dice in certain places. Which you prioritise is important for the end game scoring.

Once everyone has placed their dice the market phase begins, the market contains a number of face up cards depending on player count and each player will take turns either buying a card or discarding one to gain some money. The cards come in various forms, weapons give you permanent bonuses, skills give you bonuses you can use once a round, though at the cost of shifting your alignment. Traits and armour both give you end game scoring, with some traits requiring you to have particularly low stats, giving you a nice reward for dumping all your 1s into 1 place.

Once every player has filled their character sheet the game ends and players will score points for correctly filling their character sheet to create the most ridiculously powerful roleplaying character you could imagine. Should you be playing with the Monsters and Minions expansion then you also end the game by having a fight with a final boss! During the game you can defeat lesser monsters instead of visiting the market to learn about the boss' weaknesses and attacks. at the end of the game you will gain bonus dice to fight with should you meant the requirements on those cards. Each player who rolls well enough will defeat the boss, but points are rewarded based on how well you did.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

It's fair to say that Roll Player drew me in with it's theme, a unique one at that, not playing an adventurer, but creating one. If you speak to anyone who plays roleplaying games you'll soon learn that they have 5 character ideas that they are sitting on waiting for the right opportunity, there is something fun about creating an adventurer, even if you never use it.It's this fun that Roll Player taps into. With the addition of Monsters and Minions you actually are getting to use them, which only helps bolster the theme.

The gameplay is solid; sure it's a dice game, but every time you take a dice you get some kind of special power that lets you manipulate something, be it your dice, your alignment, or the cost of the market.  Not to mention the class abilities or skills which let your further change what you can achieve with your dice. I often dislike dice games where 1s are strictly bad and 6s are good, but Roll Player has enough ways to work around this problem to keep me hooked.

Player interaction is low, with only a few skills letting you do more than taking a dice/card your opponent wanted. The expansion improves on this slightly, but only really by having more cards that you can take first to ruin people's plans, some of the boss monster objectives only go to one player too, which makes the game a little more dynamic.

Overall Roll Player is a great game with just the right level of difficulty to keep things tense until the last turn, but also enough help to stop you from losing simply to bad dice luck. If you have ever played Dungeons and Dragons then you will instantly love the theme, though I wouldn't recommend using the characters you create in a D&D game if you want any kind of balance! Monsters and Minions is a good expansion, which does make the game a little more fiddly, but in return adds more depth and purpose to the game.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

I find Roll Player to be a super addictive game. It's a really satisfying, multi-layered puzzle, that is really fun to try and optimise. Something interesting happens on every turn as the gears move and you slowly advance the dice on your board to heir optimal state, using the manipulations, such as flipping your dice or changing their value. It's really interesting to build a collection of skills and traits that work well together and direct your strategy further.

There's a lot of variety in the box, with different Classes, Races, Traits and Alignments all presenting different challenges, and giving you an asymmetric game, compared to your opponent. This asymmetry also means that what is good for you at any given moment, is unlikely to match with what another player is going for, and so competitiveness and hate drafting is kept to a minimum, which is something that I really appreciate.

If the variety in the base game is not enough, then the Monsters and Minions expansion adds even more options to the game, as well as introducing new mechanisms. I wouldn't say it's an essential expansion, but it definitely injects more theme - making it feel as though you're creating this character in order to fight monsters. I like how the expansion adds some additional focus to how you choose to place dice on your character sheet, and also gives you a more interesting option when the market cards are just not very appealing. It's unlikely we'll ever play without the expansion, unless we're teaching new players.

Overall, Roll Player has been a surprise hit for me, where mechanisms really win out over theme!

You Might Like...
  • Roll Player will appeal to those who enjoy puzzly games.
  • Although the theme is minimal, you still feel as though you're crafting something very unique among the other players at the table.
  • The dice draft and draft of market cards provides enough player interaction to make the game interesting, but not to feel directly competitive.
You Might Not Like...
  • As with all dice games there is some luck involved. There's plenty of ways to mitigate it, but it will always be there.
  • If you're looking for theme then you'll need to add the expansion to find it, and even then it feels like more of a mechanisms game than a thematic one.
The Verdict
8/10 Roll Player really took us by surprise with its addictive qualities. It has simple dice drafting and placement mechanisms that appeal to both fans of the theme and people who aren't into RPGs.

Roll Player was a review copy kindly provided to the Board Game Exposure Reviewer Collective.

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