Have you ever played Yahtzee or Bingo? Then you have played a roll and write game. Roll and write is exactly as it sounds. During a roll and write game you will roll a die or series of dice and write down data interpreted from the rolls you make. There are a lot of popular hobby games out that use this mechanic. For example Railroad Ink, Cartographers, Welcome To.. and the newest big release game Twilight Inscription (A Twilight Imperium themed WnR).
For the case study of roll and write we are going to have a look at Voyages by Postmark Games. Voyages uses Roll and Write throughout the game as its main mechanic. In Voyages the players use 3 six sided dice to roll. Unlike Yahtzee all players will use the same roll. This use of roll and write more closely resembles Bingo where all players use the same numbers. Unlike Bingo all the players in Voyages use the same player sheet. So to sum that all up, the players all have the same numbers and the same sheet with a hex grid on it.
Roll and write games can scale quite easily
Voyages much like a lot of other roll and write games then gives the players agency in how they use the rolled numbers. Two of the dice in voyages are used to move and the last is used to preform "duties" aboard your ship. The two numbers players choose for moving one is going to be direction and the other will be the amount of hexes you travel. With the three variables you can see that each players sheet may start in the same place but they will quickly diverge int very different paths. This is the heart of the roll and write mechanic. You can present an equal playing field of some sort(shared rolls and/or player sheets) then the players will make their choices throughout the game and then compare scores or sheets. Roll and write games are best served presenting a few different strategies that players can incorporate into their games as the more variety you add into the game the more replay value it can have. Postmark Games has done a great job of this and community engagement. Voyages has had several official maps released and also a ton of community created maps for players to use. Postmark even provided the assets to the Kickstarter backers to create official looking maps for the game.
Roll and write games can scale quite easily especially when there are individual player sheets and shared die rolls. This makes a roll and write seem more like Bingo or Keno to me, however there are a lot of streamers out there that do run large scale roll and write games and they are quite popular. Much like a trivia night these are all about the hosts and can be super fun way of promoting a new roll and write.
There are a lot of interesting variations on the roll and write theme. Some offer more interaction between players than others and some really lend themselves to great solo play. When done well roll and write can be a game on its own or an interesting addition to other mechanics. Please join the email list and come back as we continue on with The Game Mechanics.