Type: Roll & Write
Time to play: 20-30 minutes (Teaching: 5 minutes)
Best played with: 1/3 Player (1-4 Players)
This is a pretty clever game – literally! Okay, I had to get that translation joke in. I started getting to know this game through the app and through a number of podcasters saying that this is the role and write to check out (this or “Welcome to”!). As this is the first roll & write though that I have covered on this blog, I will spend a quick minute just to highlight the genre and the deviations for this game.
A roll & write is simply a game mechanic familiar to many through Yahtzee – you roll some dice and you write the results on a piece of paper. You will write down the results in a form of your choice but with constraints – specifically you will try to complete certain sections of the score sheet but each time you make a choice you will be more constrained in the future by only writing once in each spot.
In Yahtzee the limitations are simple – if you pick three 5’s you can’t have three 6’s in the next role. In all these games the biggest cost is the failure to use certain dice. Now Ganz Schön Clever is different because you have six dice and they all have different colours. The roll happens first and then you pick a dice to use. Once used, you discard dice with a lower value and roll again. Twice more and you will then reroll the whole set of dice and choose from the lowest three (if playing solo – offering discarded dice to other players if playing competitive)
That all sounds more complex than it is. Once you get used to the format of rolling and selecting, you will then have to start to maximise your score. There are five different panels one for each coloured dice. The white (sixth) dice can be used to replace any colour and in combination with the blue.
Filling in these scoring panels requires different rules – some are just matching numbers, some are just collecting the values of the dice roles, and some collect the values but in increasing value until a six is included! This adds complexity, but goes further because each table offers benefits from getting to a certain point – getting certain combinations which offers a bonus dice or a simple addition to another table.
There are 5 bonus dice available here and you are going to want every single one of them – in fact for the solo game you are going to need them for the maximum points score.
So the divergence of solo and competitive play here is the maximisation of your own score given dice you can (and some you cannot) control, whilst in solo you will target a pattern and hope that the dice come together for a score of 280+ and especially 300+.
The competitive play will require you to roll with the punches but I suspect the ultimate optimisation, given any dice would be the same. 300+ is the aim and there are some great memes of players trying to achieve 300 through immense concentration and repeated plays.
This is a fast playing little game and the solo app is a fantastic game for a commute or just a little brain burner as you try to plug in the dice. If it’s the first time playing it, then definitely keep plugging away before reading my thoughts on the optimum approach to score 300+.
One warning though, each player is playing essentially a solo game for 3/4 of their round and so I find that too many players in this game could start to slow it down. It’s capped at four, but just something to be mindful of if you like to keep downtime low (on a relative basis – this is a short game after all!)
- If you like roll & write, this is a must for the collection and new players should try this as an entry to the genre
- If you find abstraction frustration, then this lacks theme and Welcome To or Railroad Ink sound like better options
- If you win, try again and see if you can break 300!