Reviewed by Herb Levy
ROLLING AMERICA (Gamewright, 1 or more player, ages 10 and up, 15 minutes; $10.99)
In the Winter 2015 issue of Gamers Alliance Report, contributor Joe Huber reviewed a clever dice game called Rolling Japan. At the time, he lamented that the game wasn’t easily available here in the United States. Well, it seems someone was listening because now the game has made it to American shores in an appropriately revised and renamed version: Rolling America.
Rolling America is a Hisashi Hayashi design. Instead of Japan, the game “board” (and I use the term “board” very loosely as there is a pad of 100 double-sided sheets) is a stylized map of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) divided into six differently colored regions. There are also 7 six-sided dice (one in each of the six region colors and 1 clear “wild”) and a bag to hold them.
All 7 dice are placed in the bag with two randomly removed and rolled. The resulting numbers are used by ALL players. For a colored die, players must choose one unmarked (empty) state in the matching colored region and write that number there. If it’s the clear, wild, die, than that number can be placed in any state in any region. Easy enough but then it begins to get a bit more challenging with the “neighboring state” rule.
When placing a number, the new number must NOT be more than 1 higher or lower than the number of neighboring states (even those crossing colored borders). So, for example, if you roll a 3, ALL states bordering the state where you are putting that 3 MUST show a 2, 3 or 4. If you are unable to comply, you MUST put an X on the state. If a neighboring state is still blank, though, that’s all right. If you are bordering a state that already has an X on it, that’s OK too, as is a bordering state with a “guarded” number.
Three times in the game, you may “guard” a number. This means, you can ignore the “Neighboring State Rule”, put any number in a state and circle it to show that it is guarded. For further placement purposes, that number does not count.
As the dice are rolled and the map fills, there are a few more tricks available to you. You may “color change” (that is change the color of a rolled die to a different color more to your liking) three times during the game; you can also “dupe” which allows you to do the same number TWICE in the same region. (Duping a wild die allows you to use the number twice in ANY two regions!) This power, too, is limited to three uses.
After six dice have been pulled from the bag, the round is over. All dice are returned to the bag and the next round begins. After 8 rounds, any empty states receive an X and players count up their number of Xs. The player with the fewest Xs wins!
Rolling America comes packaged like Gamewright’s Qwixx game, another quality dice game. As with Qwixx, the game plays quickly and its small size makes it easy to take with you but, unlike Qwixx, this game is suitable for solo play. (It would have been nice to have a slightly bigger bag to make it easier to pull out those dice but, hey, the bag has to fit in that small box and not a big deal.) Another degree of separation from Qwixx is that Rolling America is more “mathematical” and more puzzle-like because of it as players need to grapple with those number restrictions which puts Rolling America a level or two above Qwixx (on the “complexity” scale).
It’s hard to make geography fun in a game. It’s even harder when you add numbers to the mix. Rolling America manages to beat those odds in making a game that works, is fun and entices you to play again and again. Let’s roll! – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy
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Spring 2016 GA Report Articles