Review - Rolling Realms by Jamey Stegmaier

Some of you may remember way back in 2020 when a little thing called the global pandemic was in vogue, most of the world was in some kind of lockdown or other and previously sociable board gaming types found themselves without their groups to play with.  Enter Jamey Stegmaier, who, in the midst of this lockdown crisis came up with a free print and play Roll & Write game.  Rolling Realms as it came to be known, was conceived as an infinitely scalable roll & write game that could easily be played over video conferencing.  So how does it stack up?

Rolling With The Times

Jamey Stegmaier has a reputation for creating and publishing some of the most beloved games of recent years, his hit 4X strategy game, Scythe and the ever popular Wingspan by Elizabeth Hargrave have helped propel Stonemaier Games to the forefront of the board game industry. Normally Stonemaier Games is associated with lavishly produced fully formed board games with an emphasis on strategy and medium weight complexity with strong thematic elements.  So when Rolling Realms was announced, it seemed to be a surprising departure from the regular full sized games to which we’d become accustomed, and yet here we are, and I have to tell you, I love it!

A Realm By Any Other Name

The concept is simple. Players each have a set of eleven realm cards, a score card and a resource card.  A selection of three random realm cards is made with all players using the same combination of cards. Each realm card is based on one of Stonemaier Games other game titles and, as such, employs a method of scoring based on that theme.  For example, the Wingspan card has players fill in three spaces from left to right on up to three wingspan bird cards.  For each space the players fill they receive the depicted resource, either a pumpkin, a heart or a coin.  If they fill all three spaces on a single bird card they score a star, with a bonus star awarded if the total of the numbers on the spaces equals the wingspan measurement on the card.  The rules for each card are printed on the cards themselves so there’s no need to refer to the rule book while playing and the oversized D6’s make it easier for everyone around the table or over a webcam to see what’s going on.  The winner is the player with the highest number of stars after three rounds.

Likes

  • Dry erase cards are superior to paper sheets… change my mind!

  • Clear iconography and an uncluttered graphic design make it easy to see what’s happening.

  • Simple, fast and fun!

  • The mini games on the cards are thematic and a joy to play.


Dislikes

  • A few cut corners in terms of quality.

  • Those tiny eraser cloths!



Final Thoughts

Rolling Realms plays like a tribute to Stonemaier Games’ catalogue, allowing players to revisit their favourite realm in a cornucopia of board game goodness.  But while the game itself is definitely enjoyable, there is a sense that not all the stops were necessarily pulled on this one.  The artwork is relatively simple and doesn’t evoke the sense of polish and wonder that Jamey’s other games elicit from players.  The marker pens are fine, but just plain white with no branding or colour variation to make them stand out, and the tiny cloths the game provides were difficult to get a grip on with my giant monkey hands so trying to erase a small mistake often resulted in creating another as I would end up erasing something else as collateral damage. I can’t shake the feeling that this is a game Jamey Stegmaier felt he had to make rather than one he was passionate about.  That having been said, I’m definitely picking myself up a copy, the game is just too much fun and has such a breadth of variety as well as a few nods to other games I love. Rolling Realms knows exactly what it is and, as with previous Stonemaier games, it manages to run circles around its rivals.  If you’re looking for a solid, engaging roll & write experience, then look no further, as Rolling Realms comes from great pedigree.


Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope you found it informative? Will you be picking up a copy of Rolling Realms?  Feel free to share your thoughts below or head on over to our Game Kings Gamers page to join our fantastic community of tabletop gaming fans.  See you next time!

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