Over the course of the past decade, the roll (or flip, or flick, or pick your mechanic here) and write games have exploded in popularity. Sure, the genre has been around since the days Yahtzee was invented, but we’ve come a long way since this dice chucker was one of the only games in town (pun intended). Today, we not only have a plethora of roll and writes to choose from but even thematic ones that try to immerse the players. If you are looking for the next roll and write for you to play, we’ve got you covered. Note, this isn’t an exhaustive list, we each just picked some of our favorites. Did we miss your fav? Let us know in the comments below.
The Best Roll and Write Board Games
Next Station: London
Chosen by Brandon
Flip a card. Draw a line. Is that it? Well, yes and no. Next Station: London may very well spark a new series of games that introduce new city metro maps and task players with developing their lines better than all opponents. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Next Station provides plenty of strategy within the confines of a card draw system and the puzzle is fantastic. Add in player powers, objectives, a new name for your city, and continue to enjoy the ride. Its layers are subtle, its restrictions more so, but there’s enough to provide a little brain burn during your trip through its system.
Vengeance: Roll and Fight
Chosen by Tony
One of the more recent roll and writes is also one of my favorites. Vengeance: Roll and Fight, published by Mighty Boards, is a game that combines elements of strategic planning, combat, and luck. Each player takes on the role of a vigilante, seeking retribution against the crime boss that wronged them. The gameplay is divided into two phases: the planning phase and the action phase. During the planning phase, players roll their dice and allocate them to various actions, such as moving, attacking, or using special abilities. Each action requires a specific combination of dice, so players need to plan ahead and strategize to make the most of their turn. During the action phase, players use their dice to move around the enemy’s stronghold attacking henchmen, snipers, and even the crime boss. The game is played over a few rounds, with the players earning experience points to spend upgrading their character. For me, Vengeance: Roll and Fight hits the sweet spot of thematic elements, quick playing rules, and variety that no matter if I’m playing solo or competitively, is one I’m always happy to play.
Rajas of the Ganges: The Dice Charmers
Chosen by Andy
This is the roll-and-write version of a great Euro (Rajas of the Ganges by Inka and Markus Brand) and I actually prefer the roll-and-write over an already great board game. I reviewed this game for Board Game Quest in 2022, and my appreciation for this game has only increased since then. As I explained back then, Dice Charmers offers fun strategic choices about the balance between efficiency and speed, all while also having to worry about whether your opponents are going to outfox you. It makes the game fairly tense for a seemingly innocuous roll-and-write. I found this especially true in the two-player game, where each player chooses twice, so thinking about what the other player will take between your first and second draw (and thus influencing which die you take first) can create some really painful-yet-fun dilemmas. Unlike the typical roll-and-write, this is most definitely not a solitaire game in disguise. You can try Dice Charmers out for free online at https://www.yucata.de/en/GameInfo/RajasDice.
Chosen by Jason
You cross stuff off, you get points, and you get internet mobs to give you colorful nicknames (Editor’s note: that last one is more of a Jason thing than an actual feature of the board game) It’s a fantastic game if you love combos and figuring out how to be efficient. Because if you can be one thing, it’s efficient. I don’t play many roll and writes, but this one is a satisfying cut above the noise.
Chosen by James
A lot of verbs and write games tend to be a singular idea repeated each turn. Rolling Realms, with 11 different realms with different mechanics offers a lot of combinations that makes for a more varied experience. Each round will have players spending nine turns completing as many objectives as possible on the three realm cards in play. And with each turn only giving you two dice to allocate to your realms you can start to see how this puzzle can draw you in. If you want thematic, this game brings it in only the most superficial ways. However, I felt that the large player count (1 to 8 in the box, but as many as you want with print and play options), variability, and accessible play makes Rolling Realms a solid choice for most gamers.
Space Invaders Dice
Chosen by Marcus
I was going to say Yahtzee, because it was the first thing that came to mind, but Tony threatened to take away all my games if I did. Truly, the gravest threat. I will go for a bit of nostalgia instead with Space Invaders Dice! It’s a fairly accurate representation of the classic arcade game of the same name. The invading aliens roll dice that block where you can shoot, while you attack back chaotically with your attack dice trying to take them out before you are obliterated by their slow march down the “screen.” The aliens even move faster (giving you fewer attacks) the more of them you defeat, just as in the original. It is a bit of a weird game, but I like it.
1-4 Players • Ages 6+ • 10-20 minutes
Chosen by Brian B.
Twilight Inscription, the roll and write interpretation of the 4x epic Twilight Imperium, takes the imposing two-sheet layout utilized in Hadrian’s Wall, laughs at it, and hits you with FOUR sheets. Ok, it is not as intimidating as it looks. Each turn you pick which of the four sheets you will activate. This creates a truly unique roll and write as players can chase completely different paths—one can become a warmonger, while another explores the galaxy while a third tries to generate trade. Twilight Inscription also includes player interaction in the form of wars and voting on agendas. If you would like more information on Twilight Inscription, here is my full review of the game.
Dice Kingdoms of Valeria
Chosen by Christopher
Dice Kingdoms of Valeria is a roll and write in which you play as an Earl attempting to improve your castle and Duchy by recruiting citizens, building roads and buildings, and clearing the land of Monsters. It really hits the sweet spot of Multiplayer Solitaire with each player even having something to do during the active player’s turn, instead of sitting and waiting for your turn. The turns are fast and the rules are easy to learn. It is the first roll and write not named Hadrian’s Wall that I have liked. See my full review here.
Chosen by Andrew
Today’s “roll-and-write” genre is filled with 1-to-2 hour games filled with combos and a few dozens of pages worth of rules. And don’t get me wrong, they definitely have their place. But imagine, if you can, way back in the olden days of board gaming in 2015. Qwinto was the cutting edge of R&W games. Three dice, various colors, and a small sheet of paper to put numbers into. But they have to ascend left-to-right and you can’t repeat the same number in a column. Qwinto is dead-simple to teach but has a surprising amount of strategy and push-your-luck. It landed itself on the Spiel des Jahres recommended list in 2016 and is too often forgotten in the land of giant roll-and-writes today.
Long Shot: The Dice Game
Chosen by Brian B.
This is a recent roll and write that my wife picked up on a whim for me because she saw it at Barnes and Noble. I recalled there was a kickstarter but didn’t back it probably because I already invested too much into Kickstarter and Gamefound that year. We played it for family game night and loved it. The horse race betting theme is what drives players to either play it safe and go for the “sure thing” or go all in on a “long-shot” to score big. Players have plenty of options after rolling to see what horses advance. Plus, there are lots of options you’d expect from a good roll and write like buying horses, betting on them, and other scoring and gaming influencing horse positions and scoring mechanics. The true mark for this game was when I brought it to GenCon last year and our BGQ family played it Wednesday night and many ended up buying a copy and expansions that week at the Perplext booth.
Chosen by Matt
This is my favorite from an excellent series of roll-and-write games from designers Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, with the others being Fleet: The Dice Game and Motor City. In Three Sisters, players are managing their own backyard gardens, primarily by planting corn, beans, and pumpkins. In addition, they can expand into beekeeping, cultivating fruit crops, and growing perennials. Players will also need to choose the right tools in their shed to enhance the various areas of their garden which will ultimately earn wheelbarrows full of points. Each round, you’ll be drafting dice from a rondel for two purposes: for planting or watering your crops and for carrying out the associated action of the space you took the die from. What really hits the spot for me in Three Sisters is the wealth of satisfying combos that can be pulled off when things really get going in your garden. It’s quite rewarding when simply watering some pumpkins can trigger a chain reaction that leads to harvesting raspberries, collecting honey, and planting a crocus all at once. Riddle and Pinchback have managed to put out three solid roll-and-writes with intriguing themes, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.
Zombicide: Gear Up
Chosen by Chris
Over the past year or so my favorite roll and write has easily been Vengeance: Roll and Fight. But that’s already been picked by one of my not-so-esteemed colleagues. My second pick would be Long Shot: The Dice Game. But since that game was picked by another (potentially even less) esteemed colleague, I’ll have to go deep into the collection and pick another newish game: Zombiecide: Gear Up. This is a flip and write, cooperative game where you’re playing Tetris to kill a hoard of the oncoming undead. It’s not complicated at all and isn’t a game that you’re going to want to play a ton back to back (despite having solid replay value), but it’s fun, and drawing Tetris shapes over decaying zombie bodies is a thing I never knew I wanted until I started doing it. Honorable mention here goes to The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game which is a fun reimplementation of the original. Someone also has to give a shout out to Yahtzee on this list. That’s not a “cool” pick these days but Yahtzee is still kind of fun in its old-school, push your luck, roll and write simplicity.
Chosen by Spencer
My pick could have easily been Railroad Ink, but since I’ve talked about that quite a bit in the past, I’m going to put the spotlight on my other favorite. In Dungeon Academy, each player has their own sheet with 4 blank dungeon maps. In each round, 16 dice are rolled that correspond to the blank spaces on the players’ sheets for that round. Players then have 1 minute to trace their way through the same dungeon, attempting to slay monsters, complete objectives, and exit the dungeon as fast as possible without dying. Between rounds, players draft loot based on how quickly they finished the dungeon. Loot provides special abilities and special scoring conditions. Additionally, each round, new monsters and challenges (such as dead ends and banana peels) are added to the dice pool. This game is fast and exhilarating but also requires a high degree of skill under pressure. Every character has a unique ability and starting health/mana. With the added mini-expansions, there are a ton of different monsters, challenges, and loot to play through.
Chosen by Tahsin
Roll and write games go way back. Here we’re talking pre-World War II and even further if further research is demanded. The latest take with flipping cards to generate a random set adds something different that was missing from many dice games before 2018, the chance to integrate themes of exploration, building, upgrading, and even route construction. These just happen to be the elements of some of the most enjoyed and classic Euro games. Just like every hobby goes through phases, the Roll-and-Write genre hits the pinnacle with my favorite, Cartographers. This flat-Tetris wannabe dishes out enthusiasm and painful puzzling with each play. One could say that it gets a little samey after a while, but that’s only because players aren’t using the new expansion maps and rules. There are other games that offer a horde of boxes to check, but Cartographers is the only one which ends with a feeling of artistic accomplishment. The addition of having opponents modify your precious map with their grubby little monster scrawls just adds to the priceless joy of each play. Yours truly will continue to say “No thank you!” to the flashy new R&W’s. I’ve got a kingdom to map out!