The roll-and-write trend shows no signs of slowing down. Designers continue to create games with all types of themes, from Welcome To … and its ‘50s American suburbia to a re-imagined version of a modern Eurogame classic, The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game. The newest roll-and-write games, including Hex Roller, continue to redefine the genre. Now they add features that mesh with the roll-and-write mechanism, including special abilities, set collection, and other familiar aspects from your favorite games.
Hex Roller from Renegade Game Studios is a nice throwback puzzle. It’s a game in which you roll dice and select numbers to write down on your score sheet. A solid 10-15 minute game, Hex Roller provides a quick challenge for 1-8 players. There’s no theme to worry about, just the puzzle of figuring out the best way to use the numbers presented to you each turn.
The score sheet is a beehive-like collection of hexes with some pre-printed numbers in a few of them. You’ll roll eight six-sided dice (each numbered 3-8) and choose one number to write onto your sheet. The number you write must be adjacent to a number already on the sheet. And you must write all of them down (for example, you rolled four 5s; you’ll have to write a 5 in four hexes).
Learning Hex Roller
You’ll then do the same thing with a second number that’s been rolled. Everybody does this simultaneously and after each turn, all players will have chosen two numbers (it’s okay if you chose the same numbers as another player).
For the standard Hex Roller game you’ll play eight rounds and scoring is done at the end of the game. For each section that you completely fill out, you’ll score the number that’s been written in the majority of hexes in that section. The only exception is the middle hex; here, you’ll also score the number that’s written in the majority of this section, but this time you’ll double it. Areas with any open spaces are not scored.
If you’ve managed to connect two of the pre-printed numbers via an unbroken line of that number, you’ll score bonus points. After each round you’ll write down the two numbers you chose. At the end of the game you’ll get points for any straights you have; you can score two straights and they must begin with the number 3. You’ll score the highest number completed in your straight. So, if one of my rows is 5-7-3-4-5-5-7-3, I would receive a bonus of 5, since that’s the number my straight ends on.
A different spin on roll-and-write gameplay
Like most modern roll-and-writes, there are ways to mitigate results in Hex Roller. Each player can perform three different abilities once per game: you may write down an additional number that you’ve chosen, use a third number from the rolled ice, or write a number 2 in any space (most likely to fill out a section so it’ll score). The player with the most points wins.
While there’s no theme to discuss in Hex Roller, there is a fun little puzzle-style game that’s perfect as a filler during game night. In fact, I like that there’s no theme and no plethora of icons to learn; just roll the dice and write down your numbers. Since it offers simultaneous play it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Thankfully, it’s more than a mindless exercise of copying down what’s been rolled. I liked trying to figure out how to use my chosen numbers. There’s a little bit of push-your-luck here, since you’ll sometimes write down numbers you’re hoping to score later on.
Hex Roller doesn’t do anything earth-shattering in its play or presentation, but it does offer a solid roll-and-write puzzle that has a low barrier to entry and plays quickly enough that it should be welcome in almost any gaming situation.
Thanks to Renegade Game Studios for providing a review copy of Hex Roller.
Ruel Gaviola is a regular contributor to Geek & Sundry, The Five By, iSlaytheDragon, and other sites. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can find him talking about board games on Twitter or Instagram.