Review – Rollings Realms

Rolling Realms arose out of the endless video chats of the pandemic; a short game that everyone on the call could play all at once. In this roll-and-write, each player uses three ‘realms’ at a time, with each realm providing different ways to score. One pair of dice is rolled for everyone, with each player deciding how to assign those two dice to their realms (only one die per roll can be used on each realm). The game proved sufficiently popular that Stonemaier Games decided to publish it for real.

All realms involve marking something off on the realm’s dry-erase card based on what the roll of the die was. Marking might gain you resources or victory points. Resources (pumpkins, coins, and hearts) can be used to modify later die rolls or gain ‘phantom’ dice. Pumpkins add +/-1 to a die, hearts can copy one of the rolled dice, and coins can just add a new die. A player’s resources and victory points are tracked on dry-erase cards of their own (circle a resource when you gain it, cross it out when you spend it, that sort of thing). Over the course of a round, the dice will be rolled nine times, so an average of six activations per realm, plus however many extra dice are bought with hearts/coins.

How the realms work beyond those basics can be quite different. One realm lets the player assign the number to ‘castles,’ gaining resources for filling up columns and points for filling up rows, with rules about where different numbers can go in relation to each other. Another first has the player mark resource/VPs at the top of the car (to no immediate benefit), then later mark at the bottom of the card to gain the benefits of all of the marks at the top. A third lets the player mark the correct spot in one of two sets of boxes, then gain a benefit based on the summed value of what’s been marked in that set of boxes so far. That sort of thing.

Rolling Realms plays really well. There’s ‘luck’ in how the dice turn out, but everyone has the same inputs – it’s still just what you do with them. The overall game is pretty simple, but individual realms can be a bit sneaky in how they work. Early turns are pretty straightforward. But if you can accumulate enough resources there can be a lot of options closer to the end, as you can add and modify dice to hit needed targets – but where best to deploy those resources? I liked it, and my younger children liked it (the game has strategic choices so it impacted how good they were at it, but they still had plenty of fun).

Also, if you’ve played Stonemaier games before, there’s a little extra bit of fun because each of the realms is a prior Stonemaier game, and the scoring method on the card usually relates to that game. The Tapestry card has the player draw on a 6×6 grid based on the die roll, trying to fill in different sectors for resources and row/columns for points. The Viticulture card has the players color in grapes based on the die roll (gaining resources), and then combining grape values to make wine for points. The Scythe card has two rows, and the player uses their die to mark the top row and gain a resource and then spend a resource on the bottom row to gain a point. That sort of thing.

One possible ‘downside’ is that Rolling Realms is definitely in the “multiplayer solitaire” category, and I know there are some gamers who just aren’t into that. There is, as with most Stonemaier games, an actual solitaire mode (it’s mini-golf themed, with its own rulebook and cards and dry-erase pad), but I don’t generally play solo tabletop games, so I’m not in a position to evaluate that.

Rolling Realms comes with enough dry erase markers, cards, and wiping cloths for six players. The dice are oversized and have clearly visible pips, so everyone will readily be able to read them from the other side of the table. And at $20 (that’s full price, not with a discount) it’s an attractively-priced package. Definitely worth checking out if roll-and-writes tickle your fancy.

Promotional consideration was received in the form of a review copy. Strange Assembly may earn commissions from affiliate links in this review.


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