Back in 2015, publisher Tasty Minstrel Games released a route building and set collection game called Gold West. This western themed game had players competing as prospectors mining for precious metals in the Frontier.
Fast forward to 2019 and Tasty Minstrel is back at it again, this time taking advantage of the surging popularity of the roll and write genre. The aptly named Rolled West seeks to distill the Gold West experience down to a quick playing roll and write game. Did they succeed? Let’s find out.
Rolled West is played over 6 rounds, with each player taking a turn with 4 phases. On a player’s turn, they roll all four of the resource dice and choose one to be their terrain type this turn. The other three dice can then be spent in one of four different areas to earn points:
- Claims: Use wood to build camps and settlements on the terrain chosen for the turn.
- Contracts: Turn in a specific number of resources (from 4-6) to fulfill a contract. Only one player can claim any contract.
- Boomtown: Each Boomtown building can be built by only one player, with each building giving the player a way to earn bonus victory points at the end of the game
- Shipments: The easiest way to spend extra resources, a player can ship out gold, silver, or copper for victory points.
A player is also allowed to bank one resource for a future turn instead of spending it. Additionally, the rest of the players may bank one resource when it is not their turn.
At the end of the 6th round, players total up their victory points from all four areas, including bonus points from the Boomtown buildings and majorities in the Claims section. The player with the most points is the winner.
Having never played Gold West, I can’t really compare how Rolled West feels vs it’s older brother. Regardless, I found that Rolled West feels like a complete game and never struggles to stand on its own. Despite the small packaging, the game offers players a large way to earn points on their turn.
Which is one of the most enjoyable parts of the Rolled west experience. Players must decide if they are going to focus heavily in one area or spread their resources around in different sections. As you dedicate more resources to an area, the points also get much more lucrative. For example, the most expensive contract requires 5 gold resources, but earns you almost double the victory points of the cheapest contract.
Which brings up the other strong point of Rolled West, action optimization is key. With only 6 turns in the game, you must make sure you’re not only scoring every turn, but making sure you’re being as efficient as possible with your resources. I think I’ve finished every game wishing I had just a few more turns. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on what your fellow players are doing, as they can claim stuff you are working towards, or steal majorities in the claim area.
That being said, you will be at the mercy of the dice, as expected, in Rolled West. However, the ability to bank resources was inspired and definitely helps mitigate the luck of the dice a little bit. I especially enjoyed being able to bank during an opponent’s turn as it helps to keep players engaged throughout the game.
Finally, the components with Rolled West were a bit of mixed bag for me. I really appreciated the dry erase markers and board as opposed to printed sheets. Yet I found the boards to be a little too small for my tastes and I felt like I was struggling to see and write neatly. The game could also use a player aid for the Boomtown buildings as we were constantly passing around the rulebook so players could see what each building did. The icons weren’t wholly intuitive for new players.
Rolled West dives into a sea that’s beginning to become saturated with roll and write games. Nonetheless, it does just enough to make it stand out and not feel like it’s rehashing what others have done before it. The game is a large bag of point salad, so if that’s in your wheelhouse, it’s definitely worth checking out as there are many paths to victory in the game. But for a 15-minute filler game that’s very portable to boot, Rolled West is worth a look.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A solid roll and write board game that offers players a lot of way to spend their resources.
• Boards are a bit too small
• Player aids for Boomtown would be much appreciated