Copenhagen: Roll & Write (2019) review
Bonjour and welcome to this beautiful city of Copenhagen. Capital of Denmark, this big city has its own charm. Among the treasures it shelters, you will have the opportunity, during your strolls, to notably discover The Little Mermaid of Eriksen. This emblem of the city sits proudly in the port ....
Sorry? What do you mean? Have you ever read that somewhere? But that's impossible, this is a new game. I would not dare to repeat the same sentences and repeat the test. You want me too? Checked ? If you insist. So Copenhagen ... Ah. Yes indeed. We’ll forget all this and start again?
Right now, one of the game mechanisms that is all the rage is roll & write (in other words, " throw dice and write results"). These are simple little games to learn, playable anywhere and generally everyone having a huge success with. Many publishers or designers therefore decide to adapt their great classics in this format. This transformation is often done most often for the worse ... but sometimes also for the better.
Copenhagen Roll & Write is therefore an adaptation of the Copenhagen game. I had the chance to play the latter and I gave you a review some time ago. You can find it here.
For this new version, released during Essen 2019, we find the same team behind. The duo of designers Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen immerse themselves in the charm of this Scandinavian city and called on Markus Erdt for the illustrations. The publisher in charge of this game is also the same: Queen Games. There is no denying that we are on familiar ground. And that's just the beginning.
Indeed, after reading the rules, the game takes us back into this atmosphere. If you've played the board game, the version Roll & Write will be very familiar to you. We thus find our buildings, composed of columns, in order to create the façades as well as possible. The coats of arms are also there. The facade tiles will be used again to efficiently fill our buildings. But then it's the same game? Yes ... but above all no.
Roll & Write requires, the material of the board game gives way to paper and dice. Each player has an individual sheet. The large grid will represent the building (on the right) and new tracks corresponding to the colors of the facade tiles (on the left). Above each, there is its own score track. But that's not all. In the center of the table, you will have previously installed a Facade block. This block will simulate the façade tiles still available for purchase. Finally, exit these pages, making way for the dice. You have a nice set of five dice representing colors.
In Copenhagen Roll & Write, the goal of the game is to have the most points at the end. The game ends at the end of a round where a player has reached or exceeded twelve points. If you don't pay attention, it can quickly happen. It is important to keep this in mind. The game makes the racing side feel more strongly than its predecessor.
On their turn, the active player will roll the five dice. Depending on the result, they will be able to select one and only one facade tile to add it to their building. Of course to collect a tile, they must respect certain constraints.
But before talking about them, a little detour on the facade block. This is divided into two parts. The part on the left, under the infinite symbol, corresponds to the tiles which are always available. On the other hand, those on the right, under the extended X symbols, are for single use. First come, first served.
Facade tiles are therefore the forms that you will use to fill your building. To use a tile, you must have the right number of dice equal to the size and equally that they are all of the same color. For example, if you want a red tile with four squares, you must have four red (or white wild) dice. In addition, the chosen tile must still be available, without it being crossed out. If the chosen tile is in the single use section, you must cross it out after, to indicate that it has been used.
Once you have made your selection, you will draw it on your building. You’ll find the rules of construction the same as the original game. You can orient the tile as you wish and you must draw it on the lowest available square or directly on top of another tile. After drawing, you must put an X (the walls) in one of the boxes of your choice and in the rest of the O (the windows).
You’ll find the same system of notations. If by drawing you complete a row or a column, you immediately score points.
Small subtleties, you may have to unlock a coat of arms by designing your facade. The thing is very simple, you just need to complete a row or column attached to a coat of arms. The coats of arms are fairly strong bonuses that will help you with your goal. Once a coat of arms has been validated, you must tick it to indicate it has been done. Each completed coat of arms gives you one action out of two:
So now is the time to tell you about this little novelty, the capacity tracks. The active player's turn at this time is over. But the others are not to be outdone. Among the remaining dice (therefore not used), and I insist on that, the other players can choose a dice and fill a box on one of their tracks according to its color. The tracks will allow you to unlock bonuses (the +) or capacities (the star) that can be used at any time. Bonuses are used to modify the results of the dice by increasing their number up to two (using up to two bonuses). Capabilities allow rules to be changed while they are in use. However, to achieve this, there must be dice to select ... If the active player uses everything, you can not check off anything. And that's all.
This is how the explanation of this little game ends. I must not hide it, the two games are very very close. One can even wonder about the interest of having created this version. The rules are almost the same, the way to play remains similar, the operating logic could come closer. Copenhagen and Copenhagen Roll & Write are a bit like playful twins. And yet.
Despite these very close resemblances, Roll & Write manages to offer different sensations. Certainly, you lose the interest of touching the pieces of the board game but you win the chance to roll dice, the stronger possibility of controlling it with the abilities. Surprisingly, over the duration of the game, the two games are announced as being identical. In fact, Roll & Write seems less sluggish, less repetitive or even more pleasant to play.
Transportable everywhere, or almost, the game remains limited to four players (maybe because of the length or lack of tiles). It is fun to play it in all configurations, and this time you can even play it alone (even if you lose a lot of interest).
Why “transportable almost everywhere”? Isn't that the advantage of Roll & Write? Normally, this is actually one of their advantages. This is also the case here ... but the sheets of paper are large. This provides undeniable visibility and playing comfort. On the other hand, you lose on the side "we’ll play in a very small corner" and take it anywhere. Even if it is true that there is always a way to mitigate that, the game is less practical than other competitors.
The idea of the facade block is really well instigated. While offering a rendering close to physically pocketing tiles, it accentuates the racing side of the game. The unique tiles can quickly melt in the sun if you take too much too think about them. Admittedly, filling your building with simple tiles greatly lengthens the construction time and further reduces the possibility of victory. But the important thing is to have the pen in the eye and the overview to succeed in beautifying this beautiful city.
It would be an affront if I didn’t talk about the theme, absent, or the fact that there are still no bags in the box (good ok here it is useless). Another unfortunate thing, the absence inside the box of pens or pencils. I always find it difficult to understand that for a game of this type, this kind of accessory is not provided. Japanese publishers do it well, so why not Western publishers?
However, I wanted to come back to one positive point: the size of the box. I already talked a little about it with Clash Of Vikings. Here, Queen Games has created an intermediate box size. This size is quite unique but has the big advantage of not offering anything superfluous. At a time when space is running out on our shelves, and being fed up of empty boxes, we are beginning to be heard. I don't know if this will be a new habit on their part, but if it is, I can only encourage it. Everything fits in the box and when opened there is no vacuum. Hope it lasts. In any case, a good point for Queen Games.
Replayability level, the game offers enough challenge and renewal to allow you to play it again and again. I would even dare to say that you get tired of it less than your elder. Which is quite strange considering the proximity of the two games.
Copenhagen Roll & Write is a good surprise for me. Far from being a simple true copy of the original, it offers different playing sensations. The little tricky side in addition allows you to try to catch the others. Even if it happens quite rarely in the end, it offers this welcome little pressure boost. If we lose out on the tactile tiles, we gain by handling dice and creating our own facade with our pen. This little Tetris side is always present for our greatest pleasure. The size of the box and the fact that it can be more easily transported make it an advantage. Even if the question of duplication is completely legitimate, as is the question of questioning the need for both.
Copenhagen Roll & Write is a clever, simple, transportable and easily playable game (the front block as well as the player cards still take up a little space). For once, given the low price, it would be a shame to deprive yourself. Unfortunately, the game arrived at the height of the, Roll & Write boom. Faced with other serious competitors, with better visibility, the game was put forward with a little less boom. It's a shame because it has real good ideas and interesting assets. Without being an essential in the field, Copenhagen has everything of the great games. It is part of this very pleasant family of games, but drowned in the mass of outings like it. And yet, it is with pleasure when the games are linked.
Technical note 9/10
For a game of this type, the components are adequate. Even if it improves the comfort of play, the size of the blocks and sheets is a little large to facilitate transportation easily. It looks like the game is between two worlds: the board game and the roll & write. The icons are readable, the rules well written and everything is explained quickly. A big plus: the size of the box. But no pencils inside ...
My BGG score 8/10
Very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it.
Relatively similar to its big brother, roll & write offers a little more fun. At a low price, you have great replayability and some light moments of reflection. We can however regret the lack of real novelties which would completely differentiate it from its elder and which would justify its existence. Without being "THE writing game", it deserves in any case more light than others in its category.
Combined score 8.5 / 10
Now it's your turn to play ...