Friday, April 14, 2023

Three games that make me want to play 30 Rails

I decided that I wanted to clear out some light Roll and Writes that had been on my plate in a session with a clip board and a dice roller. Honestly, since they are very light and, to be brutally honest, there’s only one I see myself playing again, I’m just covering them all in one post.

All three games are draw stuff on a grid, possibly the most common format for R&W games.

Easter Egg Roll and Write is a game from Gleason Games and I think (?) I found it on It is identical to their Halloween Roll and Fright. Roll three dice. Two of them will be corrdinates on a six-by-six grid and the third will be the symbol you draw.

And, since it was the same as the Halloween game, I wasn’t surprised that the Easter game was terrible. Having to use two dice to determine coordinates and having no dice manipulation turns games into exercises of frustrations. 

On top of the that, you are drawing flowers, trees and ponds. Spring? Okay. Nature? Sure. Easter as a theme? Really?

Turn on the Lamp is an entry in the 14th Roll and Write Contest. It’s a connection game where the twist was the grid was a ten-by-ten grid and you only had four path shapes. So you roll a ten-sided die and a four-sided die each turn.

Easter Egg Roll and Write did make Turn on the Lamp look good, playing them back to back. But it was ultimately not a satisfying game. The grid is simply so big that you won’t end up using most of it to connect the light bulbs to power sources. And a ten-sided die creates enough variance to annoy me.

The last game I tried was Tabletop Arcade: Roll and Snake, yet another Roll and Write adaptation of the old video game Snake. You roll three dice, choose two, and draw a line that many spaces.

Even thought the grid gets more cluttered in the later rounds, I didn’t find it too difficult. At the start of each round, I’d plot out a route and it was only tricky making sure I didn’t overshoot the last  symbol in a round.

I kept checking and I’m pretty sure I was getting the rules right.

On the one hand, if was playing Roll and Snake correctly, it is honestly too easy. On the other hand, it didn’t annoy me and frustrate me like the other two games.

While it was fun to try out some new games, none of them passed the 30 Rails test: why would I play this rather than 30 Rails? 30 Rails keeps holding its place as a gold standard PnP R&W and a game I’ll recommend to anyone.

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