While most of these games can be played solitaire, I did want to pick games that could be played multi-player. If we switched to solitaire, you got a lot more choices of free R&W. However, playing with other folks is a big part of gaming.
Reiner Knizia’s Decathlon - Being from 2003, this is the oldest game out of the ones I picked basically out of the back of my mind. Okay, it’s a collection of ten mini dice games. That’s the game in a set sentence. Honestly, it’s a fascinating deconstruction and exploration of Yahtzee. Its biggest flaw for me is it can run a little long but it’s still fun with plenty of choices and people are still playing it after all these years for a reason.
Okay, I feel like I should also mention Knizia’s other free dice game, Katego. Yeah, it’s not nearly as good.
30 Rails - This is the lovechild of Take It Easy and Metro. (I’m going to steal that line from myself when I finally get around to giving it a proper review) You’re filling in a grid with tracks. One die tells you which piece of track you’re drawing in and the other tells you the column or row. Full of tough decisions that will make you throw the pencil across the room. Minimal art and components with very simple rules but it comes together so well.
Bento Blocks - The only game on the list you can’t play solitaire (but the designer used the same ideas for the really fun solitaire Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician) In the game, you use dice drafting to pick out Tetris shapes to fill in a grid that’s a cross between a bento box and a sudoku puzzle. It’s an idea that I believe will at some point get published and then get a lot of love.
Recycling Route - Using path drawing, set collection and I-Cut-You-Pick dice drafting, you drive through the city and pick up recyclables and garbage. There’s a lot going on in Recycling Route, including the ability to upgrade your truck. It feels like 3/4 of a pick-up-and-deliver game. I wish it had the last quarter but it still an amazing piece of work for one piece of paper. As time has gone on, I’ve come to like it more and more.
Welcome to DinoWorld - Welcome To DinoWorld won last year’s GenCan’t game design contest and I can see why. You are not only creating a map, you are creating an infrastructure of dinosaurs and special buildings. As the game progresses, you assign die numbers to different types of buildings so there’s a lot of variety and replay value. It has the meat of a much bigger game on a one-page, three dice R&W.
I also have learned Welcome To DinoWorld is going to get Kickstarted. My response is what took so long? I don’t know if the free version is going to continue to be available but it sounds like they are doing a lot of upgrades and changes so it might. Regardless, I am backing it.
I freely admit that price can make a big difference in my opinion of a game. The fact that you just need access to a printer, a pencil and some dice to play all five of these games definitely adds some shine to them in my eyes. But all five of them go well beyond ‘eh, it’s free, print it’ They are fun stuff.