What are roll and write games?

Roll and write games at their simplest level are often a few six sided (D6) dice and a score pad, where you roll a number of those dice, maybe holding some dice and rolling again, before scoring your roll on the score pad. Following a few rounds of rolls before deciding a final score, the most commonly known game would be Yahtzee.

In Yahtzee you have five D6 dice and a score pad where you look roll sets and runs of numbers, similar to hands in rummy or poker. Once you have scored a category you can’t score it again, so sometimes you have to compromise if you don’t quite get the ideal roll. You can also hold some dice after a roll and have a second roll with the remaining dice.

Educational roll and write games

The classic word game Boggle is a roll and write game, where you roll to create the grid of letters you need to create words from. You could use something similar with a variety of word and number games, perhaps rolling numeric dice with mathematic symbol dice to create equations players must solve. Or simple number or letter sorting for younger players.

Creating travel versions of board games

Roll and write can be used to create smaller more portable versions of board games with more components and cards, such as the Catan Dice Game, which uses some custom printed dice with resources on the faces in place of the resource cards. Then uses a printed score pad to fill in for the board and the roads, settlements and city buildings. Choosing what to build with each roll of the dice over a set number of turns, to build your score over the game.

Great for print and play games

Roll and write games are a good choice when creating print and play games as someone can simply print your score sheet and play with existing dice they might have, or pick up a fresh set for the game. They can also laminate the scorecard so they can reuse it with a dry wipe pen.

Rolling Village by Diego Maggio, is a good example which uses a pair of D6 dice to decide the column where the player needs to draw an icon representing a building project and also to decide which projects they can build. Then the player chooses the row to place it in to suit their needs. The sum of the two dice also decides which row will be scored during the scoring phase.

Designing your own roll and write game

Roll and write is a great place to start designing your own games, as you can reuse dice you already have or get a set of blank dice. Then draw up your own score cards and rules, playing the game as you go and making changes to it until it’s perfect. You can also distribute your game as many print and play do via PDF files online. If you wanted to sell physical versions of your game it can be easy to produce with only a set of dice, rule book and box potentially.

You can always piggy back off of the sets and runs of Yahtzee for a roll and write game, substituting the numbers for characters to theme the game around something like pirates, zombies, space exploration or anything you can think of that might be fun. You could also change up what dice are used to have different number of sides or add additional interesting categories for the rolls.

Written by: Stephen Keable