I decided to try out two different Roll and Write games that I had gotten from PnP Arcade, City of Muziris and Grand Opening. And the experiences ended up being a fascinating contrast in coherency.
Conceptually, City of Muziris is very simple. Roll a single die to generate resources. Trade those resources to get a single type of good. Get as much of that good within a time/turn limit.
However, I had way too many questions about the rules. Does buying goods tick off a space on the countdown? On the shops where you can buy two goods at a time, does that count as one or two uses of the shop? Is there a bonus to filling a ship before you run out of time? (The second question completely changes how you play the game in particular)
Now, City of Muziris is simple enough that I should be able to infer what rule interpretations work the best, particularly through trial and error. I admit that. But there isn’t any indication it’s worth the effort.
The Grand Opening, on the other hand, had clear rules that showed how the three actions interacted with each other. I had no problems learning and playing the game.
It’s also the sixth game I’ve learned from Dark Imp Games. The more games from them I play, the more appreciate the company. The games are decent but the presentation is really solid. And that isn’t damning them with faint praise. Being able to make games playable is a big deal. You’d think that would be the minimum entry requirement but it sadly isn’t.
I do play a lot of prototypes and design contest entries. Issues with rules, I expect them from those. Not from something I paid money for.