About 3 years ago (7/11/19) I posted about my new favorite mechanism in games – roll & writes. It was pretty new to me at the time, and I was fairly enamored by pretty much every game in that category that I played. The genre has expanded a ton since then – I feel like half the games I see also have a roll and write version! It’s definitely still one of my favorite game styles, but my tastes have also changed a bit since my original list. So, let’s revisit and see where we stand now! This list includes roll & write games, flip & write games, and general “do” and write games (i.e. you may roll and flip).

10. On Tour

Theme – You’re in a band on tour across the country!

Overview – Players write numbers in different locations on their map board depending on the die roll (#) and card flips (region). Once the boards are filled up, players will draw a line along the best tour route (numbers must go low to high, but do not have to be sequential) to score. Highest score wins!

Why It Made the List – I think it’s a simple concept that allows for pretty quick / smooth gameplay. Though you’re at the mercy to the rolls and flips to some extent, there is also still player agency in where you’re writing the numbers and how you plan your path.

9. Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama

Theme – Cute lil forest creatures making paths to their sanctuaries

Overview – Players simultaneously draw paths on their boards according to the path on the card that is flipped. They need to connect sanctuaries in order to score, but they also need to be careful because they need to score more points in each subsequent round, or it’ll end up costing them points in the end. After a certain number of rounds, tally the scores, and highest wins!

Why It Made the List – It doesn’t have a lot of components, but it’s a really visually appealing game, which I like. I also like that everyone plays simultaneously, so rounds move quickly. Unlike a lot of games of this style, it also allows you to skip a card you don’t like to see which sanctuary will score next giving you valuable knowledge, and helping you avoid a card that may not benefit you.

8. Tag City

Theme – Graffiti artists competing to tag the city the fastest

Overview – Players only have a few choices of shapes to draw each turn, based on dice rolls, and they use those shapes to fill in spots on their boards. They are racing to fill in rows, columns, and colored regions on their board first, in order to score more points than their opponents. At the end of the game, highest score is named the city’s best tagger!

Why It Made the List – The theme is great, and really unique, plus it works so well with what you’re doing, in my opinion. You can often feel limited in your options, depending on what gets rolled, but at least early on you have plenty of space on your board, so you can try to set yourself up for the future.

7. Dungeon Academy

Theme – Adventurers making their way through dungeons defeating monsters and collecting rewards!

Overview – Players simultaneously race through their dungeons based on the layout of the dice in the center of the table. They are trying to defeat monsters without running out of health or mana. Players are rewarded after each round, if they successfully make it out, and score based on how they did. After 4 rounds the highest score wins!

Why It Made the List – It’s fast-paced without feeling as stressful as some other timed games because coming out first is not as important as being successful in your run. It has great replay value too because the dice grid will always be different, and there are a bunch of character abilities to choose from too.

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6. Welcome To…

Theme – Architects trying to build the best new town!

Overview – 3 cards are flipped each round and players pick a number-action combo each round. The number goes on a house, and players take the action to, hopefully, improve their score. There are also public goals players are competing to complete in order to score more points. Once end game is triggered, the player with the best town (most points) wins!

Why It Made the List – The game is relatively simple, but gives players room for decision making and small bits of strategy as well. It works well at any player count, and the base game itself is super replayable, but there are also so many great expansions for it as well which are easy to get into once you’re familiar with the original.

5. Qwixx

Theme – Abstract/no theme

Overview – Each turn the active player rolls dice which will determine what number(s) they can write on their sheet, and what other plays might be able to use, if they so choose. Players are trying to fill in their colored rows, but once they pass a box, they can not go back to unfilled boxes, so they need to be careful not to try and move too quickly through the rows, or they won’t score enough points.

Why It Made the List – It’s a classic! It was one of my first roll and write games, and one I will often go back to, especially if I’m looking for something that is light on rules, or easy for me to teach to someone new. This one is approachable and lots of fun.

4. Cartographers

Theme – Map-making, of course!

Overview – Players are mapping out a territory for the Queen, and are trying to best fulfill public objectives. If monsters are revealed during their exploration, though, they must pass their board to an opponent who will try and place that monster in a spot to lose the player points. Players score certain objectives each round, ultimately scoring each one twice. After 4 rounds, highest score wins!

Why It Made the List – Making a map is so much more fun than I ever would have thought, haha! It’s cool to plan out different sections of your map, and hope the perfect card comes out so you can score better on an objective. I’m not usually a big fan of someone else getting my board and controlling where something goes, but it fits well thematically here, and just gives you more of a challenge.

3. Silver & Gold

Theme – Digging for treasure

Overview – Each turn a card is flipped, showing players the shape they can cross off on one of their map cards. Players are trying to collect gold, mark palm trees, and complete maps cards, all to score points. When a player completes a map, they can pick up another to keep working toward more points. At the end of the game, highest score wins!

Why It Made the List – First of all, I love that the map cards are dry erase, very cool. It has a small learning curve, and it’s fun to mark off the cards and feel like you’re digging for treasure. I like that it has a lot of little things to do in it (i.e. collect the coins, score palm trees) that doesn’t overwhelm the overall goal of completing map cards for the most points.

2. Fleet: The Dice Game

Theme – Fishing

Overview – Players will draft dice each round to try and fill out sections of their board. They will be trying to catch fish, expand their boats, earn boating licenses, and improve their buildings, which may give them special abilities or advantages in the game. Player with the most points wins!

Why It Made the List – One word: COMBOS. You can earn bonus actions throughout the game in various ways, and if you get on a roll you can end up compounding action after action for a while, which is super cool. The game is really smooth and lots of fun.

1. Natsumemo

Theme – Planning your fun summer activities

Overview – Each round an activity is revealed, and the active player decides which day(s) it will occur in the current week. Players then secretly decide if they want to attend, and simultaneously announce. Players want to attend events for points, but also want to leave time to do their homework, or they’ll end up losing more points than they can accumulate. Players can earn extra points by earning titles if they do events a certain number of times, or possibly on their own. Once summer ends, the player with the most points wins.

Why It’s #1 – This game is so good. I love making schedules and plans, but I didn’t expect that to translate so well to a game. It feels exciting to make all your plans with your friends, and see how many things you can do, to try and increase your points. However, it’s also fun to try and lock people out of activities so you can earn more points or titles for yourself. Balance homework amongst your activities so you don’t lose points is also neat. There’s a lot going on in this one, for sure, but it works so well and everyone is invested on every turn, which is a ton of fun!