Roll Player - satisfying dice placement in smooth game
Game: Roll Player
Designer: Keith Matejka
Publisher: Thunderworks Games
Player count: 1-4
Set-up time: 5-7 minutes
Play length: ± 30 minutes
Win condition: beat your own score and title
how the solo game works
Next to the market and discard pile, a trash pile is added: cards that go there can never re-enter play.
You will have to roll a yellow enemy die, depending on what initiative card you choose.
— Leftmost card (lowest die): do nothing.
— Middle card: roll enemy die. 1-3 corresponds to market cards from left to right, put the corresponding card on the trash pile. 4-6: do nothing.
— Rightmost card (highest die): rolls 1&2, 3&4, and 5&6 correspond to market cards from left to right, put the corresponding card on the trash pile.
Solo play is explained in a clear way at the back of the rulebook, set-up is exactly the same as in a two player game, except for the trash pile and enemy die.
missing in solo
No mechanism is lost in solo play: dice drafting, dice rolling, set collection and dice placement are all unchanged. One market card – diplomacy – has to be set aside because it doesn't work in solo play. There is a push your luck element added when selecting an initiative card because of the enemy die.
The game is practically unchanged in solo, and there is no automa to manage. There is hardly any upkeep in between rounds. Rolling the enemy die after selecting an initiative card and following up is quick and intuitive. I love drafting the die at the beginning to find out which class you get – you still get to choose between the front and the back to adjust for the race you picked to play with. Player boards are double sided so you can play with either male or female version of the race you picked.
The artwork and even theme of the game wasn't for me at first. It took some really enthusiastic IG friends before I started playing this one, and I still don't like playing the Orc or Dragonkin. I don't like the illustrated humans either. Give me my Halfling any day, but I must say I got used to the illustrations. Still a very long way from my favourite artwork, but that doesn't stop me from liking the game.
And, I'll just mention it here: this is not a cheap game. I've seen prices up to 60 euro (but you can get a copy cheaper if you look hard enough), and the expansions are around 50 euro. It is more a word of caution than a negative, because I think this game offers great value for money, but it might make the game more inaccessible to some.
You might want to select a class, backstory and alignment yourself instead of drawing them, just for the fun of it.
Roll Player has fluent gameplay and excellent dice manipulation options, which I think is really important in a dice game, to mitigate the luck dice come with. And here I like the luck factor, because I can strategise against it. The backstory combined with the luck of drawing dice, the alignment card combined with the fickle market deck, and the push your luck element added through the enemy die make this a relatively quick but definitely thinky puzzle.
Know that there is one excellent expansion available that will turn this basic and quick thinkiness upside down. The Fiends & Familiars expansion is about as expensive as the base game, but comes with a ton of components and adds mini familiar player boards, annoying creatures to screw you over during the game and an epic monster to test out your hero's skills at the end of the game. I personally don't think you'd need the Monsters & Minions expansion as well (which, by the way, I couldn't handle in terms of artwork), I'm at least not inclined to buy that one, but with my Fiends & Familiars expansion I will officially never get bored playing Roll Player.