I decided to celebrate Christmas by playing some Christmas-themed Roll and Writes. The two that I rolled with were The Cuboid’s Proud Christmas and Giftbringer.
(I had planned on also trying out Pohutukawa Christmas but its rules are literally missing step four. I suspect it’s a formatting error but it f you want me to learn a game, there needs to be a basic level of clarity in the roles)
The Cuboid’s Proud Christmas is themed around decorating a Christmas tree. Mechanically, it’s actually all about creating sets of dice. Two twos, three threes, etc., a set for each ornament on the tree.
I like dice manipulation and this game is _nothing_ but dice manipulation. Rerolls, flipping dice, adding or subtracting, etc. Every turn is a puzzle.
I don’t know how well it would do with more than two or three players and I’ll have to play it more to see if it’s balanced. However, I like the moving parts.
When I first looked at Giftbringer, I felt that it looked like a Radoslaw Ignatow design. Then I looked at the designer and felt very observant.
Giftbringer is set in an alternate dimension where the Vikings have gifts instead of pillaging. It uses the Take It Easy paradigm of everyone using the same die rolls on their own board.
Over the course of ten turns, you use a pool of four dice to recruit Vikings (who supply gifts to give and can carry milk and cookies away) and pay for moving across the map to deliver gifts.
Giftbringer is all about managing resources, both the die rolls and your Vikings. There may be an optimal path across the map but the random factor of the dice keeps the game from being solved.
Giftbringer _might_ be simpler than Proud Christmas. It is definitely more intuitive. It’s a game that you can plonk down in front of folks and get the game going in two minutes. And, as a family holiday game, that’s a big plus.
I have heard folks say that free PnP games are a gift to the community and I agree with that. Both Proud Christmas and Giftbringer are definitely gifts and I appreciate both of them.
That said, I will say that I do think that Giftbringer is the stronger, more polished game. I have already started recommending it to folks as a way to celebrate Christmas.