Posted in Enthusiast Games, Filler length, Solo play review

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write – solo play review

captures the feeling of the Imperial Settlers card game, and Adventure mode is a challenging solo experience

Summary:

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is an Enthusiast¹ level game of Filler length.  It is playable by 1 to many (theoretically, up to 96) players.

Here’s what we mean when we rate game ‘weight’ or level or game length.

This review focuses on the solo play experience.

IS: Roll & Write has a specialised solo ‘Adventure mode’ in the box.  This is a pad of 48 different sheets, spanning the factions and themes of the IS ‘universe’, and the key to making this a quality solo game.

The best bit of this game is that Adventure mode pad – it’s really neat and thematic.  Having 48 different sheets is really neat.

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my first 4 games – Barbarians, Common, Japanese and Atlanteans

The worst bit of Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is that it can be a bit fiddly tracking your ‘people’ each round – since you get them all from one die.  I ended up making tally marks on the main sheet for each round, but a more elegant solution would have been nice.

Review:

I am a fan of Imperial Settlers, but Portal Games’ recent catalogue has been patchy² and I was skeptical about whether this game would be any good.  I was pleasantly surprised – it’s deeper than you’d expect and I found myself needing to stop, think and re-think decisions (and I made plenty of strategic / tactical mistakes, which is a good sign of depth) in my first few plays.

The Adventure pad drags you into the Imperial Settlers universe and you do feel like you’re helping the bumbling Barbarians or fruitful Japanese with their labours.  Part of the advanced rules involves making patterns on your playsheet to gain extra benefits and this adds a welcome layer of variability and replayability to the game.

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It’s enjoyable, thoughtful and easy to learn and play, but has depth too – give it a try!

As mentioned, your pad of 48 unique solo sheets means there’s plenty of replayability.  Also, Portal make extra sheets available to order cheaply online and has some free ‘Print & Play’ promos available online (more here also).

There’s also a typical score ranking system for solo gamers, but the real fun is in tackling the challenges of each Adventure mode sheet successfully.

BoardGameGeek rates this game as 1.90 out of 5 in weight, (at the time of publication of this review).  In my opinion that rating doesn’t reflect the use of the Advanced rules.

Availability

IS: Roll & Write is widely available.  I suggest the ever-reliable Guf ($38).

Footnotes

¹ I consider this an Enthusiast level game if you use the Advanced rules; or a Family level game if you play the basic game.  But play the Advanced game, it’s more fun!

² recent hits: Detective (apparently – haven’t had the chance); massive misses: First Martians (though I actually like it).

“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.”

– Edward Gibbon