Roll for Great Old Ones in the pipeline. With Wutaki, a successful Kickstarter project from Hodari Games has already been delivered this year. Just in time for the beginning of the new year, another project will be launched. David Rimbach wanted to develop a roll and write that would be suitable for people who don't really like roll and writes. We received three of the game's four scenarios as Print&Play and tested them before launching the Kickstarter.
The Cthulhu Mythos is the basis of numerous board games. A Roll and Write with this topic is now available from a German publisher. Here the players take on the role of investigators and must work together. Your job is to prevent the cultists from completing the ritual and preventing the Ancient Ones from entering our world.
David Rimbach himself is not a big fan of Roll and Writes. The novelty Roll for Great Old Ones is meant for everyone who hasn't been appealed to by Roll and Write games before. We also tested the game in our editorial office against this background. André has already played and can play many a roll and write Roll for Great Old Ones compare with other genre representatives. For me it's the first game with this mechanic.
Since the game has not yet been published, individual aspects may still change.
The setup before the fight
seven sets. That's all you need to know how to build the game completely. The first scenario adds nothing. Later scenarios may contain changes during construction.
All receive an investigator board and decide together on a scenario. Each character has an individual skill that sets them apart from the rest.
For the dice pool, a D12 and a D6 are placed in the middle. Each participating person adds another D6 to this pool. Now that you have placed the "Roll", you only have to prepare the "Write" for each player.
Prevents the ritual
You can choose one of three difficulty levels for each game. This dictates how many clues you must collect to close a Dark Seal. When all have closed their seals, the group wins the game. Each scenario may include additional victory conditions. Once the cultists have completed the ritual or all characters have been defeated, the game is lost.
At the beginning of each round (except the first), the ritual progresses. How far it progresses depends on the number of people and the ritual level. The closer it is to its completion, the faster it approaches it.
Now all the dice in the dice pool are rolled. The players now discuss which D6 they would like to choose. The D12 and the unselected D6 later determine the actions of the cultists.
The value of the die you have chosen is entered in two different of the six possible actions. Here you have to form sets of a size between two and five. If such a set is filled according to the rules of the respective action, you can fill it out. The rules depending on the action are: four numbers ascending or descending, pairs of the same numbers, five different numbers or four even or odd numbers.
In some fields there are symbols that increase experience, unlock "free numbers" (an additional number of your choice) or allow you to collect clues. If a number is entered in such a field or a cross is made, the corresponding effect is resolved immediately.
If someone does not like any die value, it can be re-rolled. This action can be carried out 63 times by each player, so that you are never at the mercy of the luck of the dice. Every second reroll incurs a penalty. Rerolls are always possible for every dice (including those of the cultists). For example, the performer can gain insanity, which, if accumulated in excess, can result in the character's death.
Madness can activate both abilities and weaknesses. Weaknesses have a negative impact in certain situations. Abilities are powerful and can sway gameplay in the party's favor.
When all of their actions have been performed and all additional effects have been resolved, the cultists perform their actions. The D12 specifies which action is carried out and the D6 determines the strength. The cultists also have symbols in some boxes. Above all, these unlock additional actions, but they can also advance the ritual or inflict madness on the investigators. At the end of each round, a check is made as to whether the victory or defeat condition stated on the scenario board has been met. If this is not the case, the ritual is pushed forward again and the round process begins again.
Per topic to hit?
The roll and write game Roll for Great Old Ones has two obvious strengths: the cooperative gaming experience on the one hand and the appropriate thematic embedding on the other.
Sure, you could put a Cthulhu theme over any board, card, or dice game to appeal to fans of the franchise, but no one has dared to do that with a roll and write so far. Possibly because a real thematic discussion between mechanics and storytelling factor is not an easy balancing act in the end and the dice game category is not known for its great storytelling anyway.
The title has hardly any competitors worth mentioning in the genre. Although there are many - and also many good - dice dice games, at best Pandasaurus Games "Dinosaur Island Rawr 'N Write" or recently Fantasy Flight Games Twilight Imperium spinoff "Twilight Inscription" could keep up thematically - what with roll and write games is a fundamental challenge. The majority of the genre representatives rely solely on its mechanics, sometimes even looking more than boring. This may work for the most part, but rarely provides a breath of fresh air.
The fact that David Rimbach, of all people, succeeds in this is remarkable. The idiosyncratic style of illustrator Daniel Jamie Williams (Hunting me; Doom & Gloom) contributes to the expected Kickstarter-Success of the title. The Great Old Ones themselves would have to have their dirty fingers in the game so that Roll for Great Old Ones' crowdfunding doesn't significantly exceed its financing goal.
Roll for Great Old Ones doesn't want to get lost in a lot of little things, but rather adapt the game options derived from the basic theme as accurately as possible. So there is a real detective feeling - just like you know it from the "big" Cthulhu board games. The fact that the author also allows players to live out the cooperative component is practically the accolade for this roll and write game.
Number of people: 1 to 4
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 60 to 90 minutes
Long-term motivation: good
Genre: connoisseur game
Core mechanisms: roll and write, cooperative play
Author: David Rimbach
Design: Daniel Jamie Williams
Official Website: Roll for Great Old Ones (Kickstarter)
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 25 euros/10 euros (PnP)
Since we printed all of the game material ourselves and “stole” dice from other games, we naturally do not rate their quality. What we could print out was clearly laid out. Even if the optics certainly has potential to polarize, we liked it in the test and offered a good change from the otherwise often gloomy depictions and illustrations in games with a Cthulhu theme.
The icons are clear and internalized after the first game. After studying the rules for the first time, there were hardly any unanswered questions and after a first game and a short exchange with David everything was clear. Before the final rules are published, no final judgment can be made here either. Since it cannot be assumed that the quality will drop before the game is delivered, you can already count on clear and easy-to-understand rules.
The biggest criticism comes from the genre: The game is not really themed, at least not in a direct comparison with "real themed games". Due to the selected mechanism, you are of course also severely limited here. It is much more important that the game also works. And it does.
The process is easy to understand and does not cause any problems with unnecessary intermediate steps or dealing with certain phases in small steps. With the exception of phases three and four, all of them can be dealt with in just a few seconds.
The choice of dice is then the most important decision in each round. In the solo game, the selection is made quite quickly. This phase in the multi-player game offers more options and therefore more exciting decisions. Due to the personal tableaus and thanks to the different actions and additional actions that can be unlocked here by the different dice values, all players have to keep an eye on their tableaus. It can be ruled out that an alpha player pushes forward.
In order not to forget the various actions, free numbers and other effects that you unlock by entering the dice values, you may have to have an additional piece of paper ready so that you really keep track of things by noting these things down.
The moves in which you create large chain reactions of actions and additional actions in particular feel really good.
The actions of the cultists are dealt with quickly and do not require many rules. If in doubt, roll the dice. Unclear situations do not arise here. Even with scenarios two and three, which we only played with the scenario tableau and without the scenario-specific rules, everything was clear except for two small aspects.
Of course, due to the "roll" part of the game, you sometimes have to rely on a lucky hand when throwing the dice. You can always find something to do with your own activities. Especially with more people there are enough cubes available. If the values do not match, there are enough opportunities to hope for a new value thanks to the reroll campaign. Depending on how well this is going and the likelihood of the desired outcome, this can still be a little more costly to achieve.
Gameplay is enjoyable and fits very well with what the game has to offer. It doesn't overwhelm its time. Even if only the same actions can be carried out in all scenarios, the scenarios feel different enough to offer an incentive to play here over a longer period of time. In the long term, more scenarios are planned in addition to the four initially available. Even on the lower difficulty levels, success is not guaranteed without being "unfair". This also contributes to the fact that one likes to return to the game.
In the end it can be stated that David Rimbach with Roll for Great Old Ones has reached its goal. As a Roll and Write newbie, the game definitely won me over. The luck with the dice, which usually puts me off other representatives of the genre and generally from games with intensive use of dice, is only a small aspect here. Good decisions when selecting and using the dice are more important and the additional actions unlocked in this way have more influence on the course of the game than the dice.
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