Game: Rolling Realms
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Published: Stonemaier Games
Playtime: 30-45 Minutes
Play Type:Roll and Write
You are given the opportunity to experience a variety of mini-games inspired by the various other titles in the Stonemaier Games’ repertoire. Additionally, other game titles have been added by way of card pack expansions. This was created during the COVID 19 pandemic to allow people from around the world to connect and play with others.
Set-up for Rolling Realms is extremely simple. Each player will take a set of cards with a matching back, a dry erase marker and eraser. In the base game, players will have eleven realm cards, a score card, and a resource card. The realm cards are marked with a different back than the score and resource card for easy sorting. Also, ensure that there is a space for the dice to be rolled that can be seen by all players.
During gameplay, players will be competing to gain the most stars over a series of three rounds. The process of gaining stars is different depending on which realms are in play. Each of the three rounds will have three different realms that players will be using to score points. All players will use the same realms in each round.
Each round is played over a series of nine turns. During these turns, a player will roll both dice. The numbers that appear on the dice will be used by all players during that turn. All players take their turn simultaneously. Once the dice are rolled, players must decide where they are going to use each die. Both dice must be used each turn, and they cannot be played in the same realm. Players may not use the same die twice unless they are using the corresponding resource.
In addition to gaining stars, players will also be gaining resources throughout the rounds. These resources allow players to adjust dice rolls and rules a single time when spent. Players will have a different effect depending on how many resources they choose to spend, as indicated on the card. There are three resources available in the game:
- Pumpkins– These are used to adjust the die value plus or minus one. When three are spent, players may also use an adjusted die in the same realm as another die spent that turn.
- Hearts– These are used to allow players to gain an additional die. When spending two hearts, players may gain an additional die if the dice rolled are a pair. If three hearts are spent, players may gain a die valued the same as one of the dice rolled that turn.
- Coins– Coins also allow players to gain an additional die. If players spend two coins they are able to gain an additional die if the sum of the two rolled equals seven.In this case, the die the player gains must match the value of one of the two dice rolled. Players can also spend 1-6 coins to get a die matching the value spent.
Resources can be a valuable tool to help players manipulate the dice as needed. They are also worth 0.1 point if unspent at the end of a round.
Once players have completed all nine turns in a round, they will score the stars for their current realms and any additional points for leftover resources. After scoring the round, players will reset for the following round by drawing three new realms and erasing the resources from the round prior, as well as the top portion of the scorecard used to record dice rolls. Once players have completed three rounds, they will tally their final score. The player with the most stars wins.
Rolling Realms is a small box game with relatively few components. The base game includes two dice, six dry erase markers, six cloth erasers, six score cards, six resource cards, and sixty-six realm cards (eleven for each player), one mini-golf rulebook, ten mini-golf cards and a mini-golf score card. The mini-golf components are for autonomous play. The components are simple, yet thematic. The dice are blue and green giving the feeling of a globe, fitting for the idea of different worlds or realms. The cards have small graphics that represent the game the realm is inspired by. Additionally each card explains directions for the realm, as well as how to score stars for the realm.
The cards erase well without residue left behind. I imagine over time the markers will need to be replaced, but the markers that came with them are in good shape, and should last for several games without concern.
In the base game, players will find the following realms: Between Two Castles, Between Two Cities, Charterstone, Euphoria, My Little Scythe, Scythe, Wingspan, Viticulture, The Society (Red Rising), Pendulum, and Tapestry.
- Quick gameplay
- Little downtime
- Variable rounds
- Scalable with multiple copies
- Portable and can be played over video chat
- No player interaction
- Some cards are easier to decipher than others
Watching Rolling Realms develop throughout the pandemic was something I really enjoyed, and tuned into each week. The final production lives up to expectations, and has quickly become a favorite game in our household for those days we want a quick game after work. The game is easy to learn and very accessible. Some of the card descriptions can be a little confusing at first glance, but the rulebook goes more into detail and can help clear up any misunderstandings. I like the layout of the rulebook because it is easy to find the information needed and there are a variety of graphics that help better explain the rules and interactions between cards.
There are a lot of variables that make the game enjoyable, but I especially like the fact that the realms interact differently based on which other realms are present on the playing field. The challenge of each round changes based on which realms have been drawn. This keeps the game feeling fresh, despite the relatively simple ruleset. While there is plenty of variety in the base game, the fact that there are a variety of expansion packs for only five US dollars each makes the game easy to add onto if the game starts to become stagnant.
We found Rolling Realms to be especially enjoyable due to the limited downtime and quick turns. Players are all taking their turns simultaneously, so there is limited to no down time. This helps keep everyone at the table actively engaged with the game throughout the entire playtime. That being said, with everyone engrossed in their own realm cards, and with no actions that impact other players, Rolling Realms can feel like a solitary game.
For those who typically play games with very large groups, this game can be scaled to play with more players if there are multiple copies of the game. Only one set of dice would be needed. It can also be played online if every player has access to a copy of the game. The game is also great for playing on the go. It needs very little table space and the game itself is small, and the components could fit in a smaller bag/box if needed. The box is definitely larger than it needs to be, especially without any expansions added.
All those things considered, I would absolutely recommend this game to anyone looking for an easy to learn, lightweight game that provides a plenty of replay value. While the lack of player interaction can be considered a negative, it is seen across many roll and write games. The variable realms, quick turns with no downtime and the opportunity for future expansion provide a winning combination that has made this game a staple in our household.