Rolling Realms is a game that we have due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games decided to make a “roll and write” he could teach people from all over the world and play online. Rolling Realms has players earn stars in different ways by playing a series of mini games over 3 rounds. The game sounds like it began as something to do while gamers couldn’t meet in person, but has progressed into a published game that is actually pretty good.
What’s In The Box?
- 2 Dice
- 66 Realm Cards
- 6 Dry Erase Markers
- 6 Score Cards
- 6 Resource Cards
- 6 Eraser Pads
How’s It Play?
In this roll and write game players take turns rolling 2 dice. They then use the results to mark off things on their cards and generate resources and possibly earn stars.
Before game begins, each player takes a set of 11 realm cards — each set is identical for each player, just with a different colored back. In addition, each player takes 1 resource card, 1 score card, 1 dry-erase marker, and 1 eraser pad.
To start a round, one player shuffles the 11 realm cards and randomly draws out 3 of them to use for that round. All other players find the matching 3 realm cards in their own deck and set them out in front of themselves. Each round then consists of 9 turns, where players take these turns simultaneously.
1. Roll the Dice – On a turn, any player rolls the 2 dice and shares the results with all players. Everyone writes the rolled numbers on their score card in the first available spaces from left to right.
2. Activate Realms – Each player uses the results on each dice for a different realm card. You cannot activate the same realm more than once per turn. You can spend resources at anytime while activating realms.
If you are unable to use a die’s result on a realm, you can instead gain a resource. This usually doesn’t happen, nor do you want it to happen, it just provides a way to gain something instead of nothing at all.
Each realm card has a different way you use the result of your rolled dice and a different way that you gain resources. Players can spend their resources before, after, or in between activations. All players simultaneously activate their realms, so there is less time waiting.
Now lets check out each realm card to better understand how each card holds its own unique system.
Between Two Castles – Fill squares in from the bottom up. Numbers on top need to be lower than the ones below. Whenever you complete a column, gain the resources listed. Stars: Score 1 star per completed row in a castle.
Between Two Cities – Fill in a square with a value from your dice. You can’t place identical numbers orthogonally adjacent to each other. You gain the listed resources when you complete the row or column. Stars: You score stars equal to the lower score of the other two realms used this round. The score cannot be higher than the number of filled squares in this realm.
Charterstone – Use a number to mark a building and gain a resource, note the other rolled die on the corresponding crate OR when 1 or more crates are filled, instead use a number to mark ALL crates matching the number. Stars: Score 1 star per marked crate.
Euphoria – Mark one number in either area, then gain the resource or star based on the sum of all marked number in that area. If the dice make a pair, you may mark that number in both areas and gain resources or stars for both. Stars: After marking a number, if the sum of all marked numbers in that area is between 4-10, score 1 star, with a max of 6.
My Little Scythe – Mark a hex and gain the corresponding resource. Gain a coin when you complete a pair from one hex to the other. Stars: Score 2 stars each time you gain the 6th resource of any resource type on your resource card for this round. Resources gained and spent during the round are still considered gained.
Pendulum – Either outline an octagon using your rolled number without gaining any instant benefits, OR mark a specific number in an hourglass. Gain the contents of all outlined octagons when you complete an hourglass. Octagons remain available as benefits for every hourglass you complete. Stars: When completing an hourglass, score stars for each outlined octagon with a star in it.
The Society – Fill cards in any order, 1 number in each card, cards can have multiple of the same number. Each card number must be lower than the number directly above. Gain a bonus when completing a row. Stars: Score 1 star per set of completed cards, a set is a mini card pyramid. Cards can appear in multiple sets, if you fill in all cards, gain a 6th star.
Scythe – Mark a number in the bottom or top row. You gain resources from the top row, but you must spend resources in addition to using a die to mark the bottom row. Instead of marking the bottom row with a die, you can mark the top row and gain that benefit, then pay the cost of the corresponding bottom row and also mark that bottom number. Stars: Score 1 star per marked bottom row number.
Tapestry – Fill in a full shape, rotating or flipping the shape is allowed. Shapes can be used multiple times, but must fit insides the grid and can’t overlap with other completed square including the pre-filled brown squares. Gain the resource in the background when you complete a big square. Stars: Score 1 star for each completed big row and column.
Viticulture – Either gain a grape and the resource under it OR use the sum of exactly 1 die and the value of at least 1 previously gained grape, crossing it off, to fill a wine order equal to or less than that sum. Stars: Score 2 stars per marked wine order.
Wingspan – Fill a square with a number, left to right, within each bird. Then, gain the resource or star below that square. Stars: Score 1 star for every filled square with a star below it, and score 1 star for every completed bird whose sum equals its wingspan, the number printed on the bird card.
As you collect resources you will circle them on your card. You can then spend resources for benefits and then cross of those used resources. These resources can be used at any time. What do they do?
2 pumpkins – adjust a die value + or – one.
3 pumpkins – Adjust a die value by +/- one and then use it in a realm you’ve already activated this turn.
2 hearts – If the rolled dice are a pair, gain a die of that value.
3 hearts – Gain a die of the same value as either of the rolled dice.
2 coins – If the sum of the rolled dice is 7, gain a die of the same value as either of the rolled die.
3 coins – Gain a die of value X (1-6)
As you can see each realm represents one of Stonemaier’s games, and each holds its own way to gain resources and score stars. Players will roll the dice and then decide on how to place the results on the realms they are playing with. Resources will be used throughout Rolling Realms to change the results of the dice or add more values. Really, the more values you put out, the better you will do, but strategy of where you put them will also really help.
After 3 rounds, players add up their total stars and each left over resource is worth 0.1 of a star. The player with the highest score, wins Rolling Realms. Sometimes the game ends with the same amount of stars and the player with the most remaining resources then wins, so it can be a tight game throughout.
The core idea in this game is the realm cards. They are designed off of all the Stonemaier Games with each one representing each title. Each realm is unique and scores differently giving the game different synergies when certain realms are played with others. They all try to mimic the game they represent with its theme or mechanic used in that game. You don’t need to know anything about any of the other games to play this one or do better when playing this one. Although the game doesn’t include future Stonemaier games, I think they will be able to easily add expansions representing those titles.
For me, Rolling Realms has some great roll and write mechanics. The use of 3 different resources that lets you exchange them for additional bonuses also keeps the game streamlined, as its only 3, but also lets players do what they might want to do. Change values on dice, or add additional ones, things like that. The use of resources in addition to where you play your values is pretty much the entire game, and the strategy of this game.
The components are really nice. Oversized clunky dice, nice sized cards with dry erase capabilities. The art isn’t bad, but not really my style. I feel like for a game that is to highlight the Stonemaier catalog, it would have represented a different style of art to better promote all the other games. But Rolling Realms is a roll and write, and there really is minimal art needed in the game.
Rolling Realms is of the lighter variety, its quick to teach and play. Each realm is like its own mini game and players need to decide which mini game to invest their time into. The game includes a strategic fast experience, which is good if that’s what your wanting.
Ultimately, Rolling Realms is not a bad game, but for me the theme makes the game less desirable. If the same game is made with an actual theme, I would like and enjoy the game more. I tend to enjoy most Stonemaier games, but for me this one is a miss. I would still play the game, but its not one that is calling my name and gets me excited to get the game to the table. The game is solid in its mechanics, and easy to get to the table, but the theme and the lighter complexity game makes it not for me.
You can pick up Rolling Realms at the Stonemaier Games shop or your FLGS.
Images via Stonemaier Games
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