The past week was a good week for gaming. I got to play Verdant, Race for the Galaxy, Crokinole, Burgle Bros 2, and Bullet❤️ in addition to the games I’m going to talk about today. I hope to play more of each of those games soon, so you can look forward to my thoughts on those in recaps and reviews.

Rolling Realms

Rolling Realms, was designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published by Stonemaier Games in 2021. Rolling Realms was Jamey’s Coronavirus lockdown project. He leveraged his community to develop and play this little roll and write game via Facebook Live. I remember seeing the videos come and go, and I think they were great distractions for those who needed them at the time.

Like many roll- and-write games, Rolling Realms gives every player the exact same setup, the same input, but lets players diverge in their choices, with the player who earns the most points being the winner. Rolling Realms can scale up to any number of players, you’re only limited by the components you have. Rolling Realms is available as a free print and play, so if your group exceeds 6, or you want an activity to do with your friends and family who are scattered to the four winds, this is available to you.

Rolling Realms contains 6 sets of 11 realms. Each game will have one player select the 3 realms that will be in play for the round, then, everyone pulls out the same realms. One player will roll the two absolutely massive dice, then, each player will utilize the two dice, choosing one realm to activate one of the numbers rolled, and a second realm to activate the second number rolled.

Players will acquire resources, spend resources to modify the die values rolled, and earn cascading bonuses to earn victory points (or stars). At the end of 9 rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.

All 11 Realms that come in the box play differently, and are vaguely reminiscent of Stonemaier Games’ other games. The Scythe realm has you marking off a top row action to earn a resource, then, if you have the resource available to you, spend it to also mark off the bottom row resource. The Tapestry realm has a 6×6 square grid, and each number has a different shape associated with it. You fill in the grid with shapes and earn points on the rows and columns you complete.

A full game of Rolling Realms is supposed to take place over 3 rounds, with each round consisting of 9 turns. Each round has you tackling a new set of realms, meaning on your first couple turns you’ll be doing a lot of learning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that every realm is different, I love the variability. But if your first play of Rolling Realms is at the end of a long day, and after you’ve finished a different game, your mushy brain might have trouble with the changing rule sets.

Overall, I liked Rolling Realms. It was easy and inoffensive. The production quality is great, and if you’ve played a lot of Stonemaier’s games, you’ll find yourself reminiscing over each of the bigger games that are featured here. Stonemaier seems keen on supporting this product, as they currently have 8 micro expansions based on other games (A Feast for Odin, Ark Nova, and Honey Buzz to name a few). Each expansion adds 6 copies of a single new realm, but I suspect there will always be more realms coming out to keep the game fresh.

Rolling Realms is fast and fun to play, and considering a version of the game is available as a free print and play, there’s no reason not to give this one a try if it sounds even the least bit interesting to you.

One Deck Galaxy

Remember that time I said I wasn’t a solo gamer? I think it’s time to give up the act. Given that I only backed 3 crowdfunding projects in the last 3 years, and two of those were solo focused games, I might have to start admitting that I actually enjoy playing a board game by myself.

One Deck Galaxy by Chris Cieslik and published by Asmadi Games is the follow up to One Deck Dungeon, a game that crams a whole lot of game into a tiny box, and a deck of cards.

The name is a bit of a misnomer, in that there’s more than a single deck of cards in the game. One could argue that the 5 unique player characters, 5 unique role cards, and 5 unique enemy cards constitute a deck of their own. The One Deck name refers more to the single stack of cards that depict the locations and events you’ll need to colonize or study. The deck of location cards slowly depletes and once that deck runs out, your foe becomes more dangerous, pushing you closer to losing.

For those who haven’t played One Deck Dungeon, here’s the lowdown. Each turn, your character generates a pool of dice of varying colours. Also each turn, during the discovery phase, four location cards are turned face up in front of you (if there were already cards there, they don’t get replaced, it just fills up to ensure there are four face up cards). During the action phase, you roll all your die, then assign them to various locations. Most of the locations in the game will have either small coloured squares with a number, which means you must put a die of the matching colour with a pip value equal to the number, or exceeding it), or a rectangle with a number in it (which means you must put multiple die of that colour into that rectangle until the sum of all dice meet or exceed that value). You can also assign dice to your spaceship for various effects, like generating spaceships, or researching location cards, which will allow you to take them out of the discovery zone, and tuck them behind your spaceship for their science value.

Once all your dice have been assigned, you resolve them. Each location will tell you how many influence completing each row will net you. You tuck a card from the one deck behind the location card to count its influence, and if any location’s influence meet or exceed its threshold, you get to claim the card! Either tucking it to the left of your character, boosting your die pool for the next rounds, or, tuck it below your character card, earning you a tech that you can use to manipulate your dice in future rounds.

And that’s the basics of the game. Each foe has their own card with rules on how they act. The Neeble-Woober colony fleet can suck die from the supply onto their card, forcing you to pay certain resources to release them, and every 3 turns they earn a new colony. If the number of colonies they have doubled your character’s federation level, you lose the game.

Uh, I lost this game. Real fast. I failed at increasing my federation level at all, and the Neeble-Woobers stole all my blue die. I know from playing One Deck Dungeon, that this game can feel really hard, and even impossible when you first start, but there’s a skill ceiling to work up to. Yes, there’s lots of luck in the game, but learning how to mitigate that luck is what makes this game interesting.

I know I’ll be returning to One Deck Galaxy soon to explore the other characters and foes. I imagine, just like Bullet❤️, some characters will do better against certain foes than others.