Monday, September 18, 2017

Recycling Route - dice drafting and picking up recyclables

GenCan't Roll and Write Library - Recycling Route

In Recycling Route, you're driving your recycling truck around the city, picking up different kinds of reusable garbage and effectively trying to corner the market on some of them. Along the way, you're going to get stuck with some legit garbage that has to go to the landfill and you might even get to upgrade your truck. Because there's nothing more exciting than a speeding garbage truck :D

The centerpiece of the mechanics is a fairly nifty dice drafting mechanic, where you choose either three dice you can see or three you can't. Seriously, it's a cool take on dice drafting and definitely really pretty pushes the game to the next level or maybe the level above that. You also have set collecting and route building.

Recycling Route is one of the finalists from GenCan't Roll and Write Contest. Which means it's a free print and play and, like most of the entries, you just have to print out player sheets and add dice and pencils. Man, I've been writing that a lot but I kind of have to.

In Recycling Route, the player sheet consists of a map of the city, which is a square grid with some squares already filled in with gray, and a checklist of different types of recyclables as well as truck upgrades and the infamous landfill. You get two player sheets per page because you'll need two for the solitaire rules.

Okay, here's the cool bit. On your turn, you secretly roll six dice and divide them into two groups of three. You reveal one set and the next player chooses either the set they can see or the unknown one. And you get the other. You each write down the numbers on open spaces on your map and then you, the active player, extend your route/drive your truck through the city.

Okay, what you really do is draw a line and extend it each turn. You start on the highest left box and will eventually end on the lowest rate box. At the start of the game, you can drive through three boxes at a time.

When you pass through a number, you check it off on your checklist. In game terms, that means you picked up that particular type of recyclable. Each number is broken down into sets of boxes, and you get a bonus if you complete a set first.

Ones and sixes are special. Ones can either be used to upgrade your truck so it moves faster or is wilds with another number you pick up the turn. Sixes are legit garbage that you have to dump into the landfill. That starts off being negative but ends up being positive points, to keep you from trying to dump sixes on someone. And you reroll sixes after you check them off.

The game ends when all but one player has driven off the map. In the solitary game, the robot opponent uses drones to grab numbers off your map. Either way, most points wins.

Out of the four finalists in the contest (Washington D6, Ada Lovelace and Jurassicco being the other three), Recycling Route just barely edges into fourth place for me. Which _isn't_ to say I dislike it or think it's a bad game. I don't. The dice drafting is great and Recycling Route not only is the only game with multi-player rules, it's probably stronger in that format.

However, it feels the most unfinished and least polished out of the four games. I can honestly picture the other three games having a shot at getting it published. Recycling Route feels like it needs some more refinement.

Between being able to upgrade your truck and picking up different kinds of trash and recyclables, I feel like the game is 3/4 of the way to being a full pick-up-and-deliver game. I don't know exactly how you would add a deliver function and still keep it down to one page of easy bookkeeping but if that was part of the game, I think it would be a big boost.

As it stands, I still think Recycling Route is a good game, made better by being free and easy to make. It is staying in my solitaire binder and will continue to see play. And if I get more multi-player games in, my opinion might get better.

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