We are diving into My City Roll and Write; a brilliant reworking of the innovative replayable legacy game MY CITY by KOSMOS!
For those who aren’t familiar, MY CITY is a phenomenal legacy game that came out a few years back. Designed by the puzzle pro himself, Reiner Knizia, and played over 24 unique episodes, MY CITY is all about building cities in a puzzly, spatial, polyominal way.
Each chapter in MY CITY has a few special rules and restrictions, as well as scoring objectives that trigger certain effects. And these build up over the course of the game. Whatever happens in a give chapter, however, know this; you’ll be changing your game boards forever! Stickers, marker pens……the works! Eep!
BUT! Panic yea not, budding developers. Whilst you would be forgiven for thinking the original MY CITY is a one-and-done affair. Tis not! Flip the boards over after you have finished Blue Petering your boards and played through the final chapter, and there is an eternal game! So not in fact a one-and-done. But rather a best-of-both-worlds game! Huzzah!
And if you are like me, then that is a relief on two fronts:
1. Permanently marking anything jangles my brain like golden bells on Santa’s sleigh. I’ve created an entire side hobby of laminating board game sheets just so I don’t have to (a) waste paper and (b) risk being reminded of an irremovable mistake! Yes, I’m a sheet keeper!; and
2. Sustainability in our hobby is a huge deal. Discarding a game after playing feels wasteful and environmentally threatening. Having said that, however, I know KOSMOS and other publishers go to huge lengths now to source eco-friendly materials and make recyclable components (the EXIT escape room game series being a fine example!). So I can call off Captain Planet and his nature crime busting elements!. Just knowing MY CITY is a collection keeper makes me happy.
Little City Rollers!
Fast forward to this year, and KOSMOS has expanded the My City family by publishing MY CITY ROLL AND WRITE! And being a rolley-writey game obsessive (30+ on our shelves at last count!?), this was an instant OH YES!. And friends, my instinct was firing on all cylinders that day 😊 Because, it’s mint! (and I have been told that in my recently adopted North East, that’s a VERY GOOD thing!)
Now I can’t really tell you what happen in MY CITY ROLL AND WRITE because that would be seriously spoiling the fun. You want to discover what’s inside those 4 envelopes all by yourselves. Like Christmas come early, you want to rip into those envelopes (in turn!), and get building your cities! So I can’t and I won’t tell you any of the specifics.
But I can give you the general gaming gist. Just in case you haven’t played the original, and mainly because I think it’s awesome sauce! Haha
You play 4 Chapters and each one contains 3 games that build up in terms of restrictions and scoring. Just like the episodes in a regular Chapter of the original MY CITY in fact. So using rudimentary maths, that’s 12 games.
Your medium is of course a sheet rather than a board, and your polyominos are formed by rolling custom dice rather than tiles. Two D6 set the shape (by lining up the little semicircle on each of the blue die) and a third the building type. There are also some other icons that become relevant in later chapters. Play is still simultaneous, so everyone draws the shape on their own sheet at the same time.
The basic building rules of the original apply whichever number game you are playing. Exposed stones are bad (minus points), visible trees are good (plus points) and never shall thee build across the river, forest or rocky mountains!
But each chapter introduces new rules and features that you must add into the mix. You can also still skip building up to six times (at a cost), and end your participation in a chapter whenever you want without penalty. (Interestingly, the first time I experienced that feature was in Rustling Leaves, another excellent roll and write by KOSMOS!).
I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t. Because I want you to open the envelopes and be as excited as we were. Which is a pretty high bar, I grant you. But I don’t think you’ll have much trouble – it really is awesome sauce!
Annnnd, just like the original MY CITY, you can play through the campaign multiple times, either solo or with others. Double sided sheets – get in! The instructions clearly show you exactly where the solo game differs ever so slightly, and it’s really easy to follow. Or you can pick your favourite games and play those again. If you’re short on time but high on MY CITY gaming, you can shrink it down even further and play through a mini campaign using the rules for 3, 6 and 12!
My Kinda City!
MY CITY is a hard act to follow in terms of innovation, accessibility, and enjoyment. But this is a cracking game! More campaign than strict legacy, (you won’t be cutting your sheets or sticking things on it), but it doesn’t matter, And, in a way, every pen and paper game is a legacy of sorts. Because, unless you’re using erasable pencils, what is done can never be undone. Okay, that’s my philosophising done for the day! Back to the review!
The dice mechanism to determine the buildings is brilliant as an alternative to the card draft in the original. Knizia could have made this a flip and write with cards so that each building comes up once. But I’m glad he didn’t – I really like how the dice work to create the shapes and types. Plus they are made more random by the rolls – you might not get an “L” shape all game! – so planning is more challenging. My only niggle is that the dice are very light – wooden ones or solid ones would have felt better in hand. But that is the tiniest of things!
I’m lucky to have an in-house gaming partner, so going through the chapters and comparing who is winning (him) and losing (me!) each episode adds that extra personal, competitive touch to an otherwise almost relaxing, puzzly game. With 24 episodes in the original MY CITY, you’ve got a great excuse to meet up over a good chunk of the month/year with your group of course. But with just 12 in this portable little box of building brilliance, I guarantee you’ll be planning your next gaming session of the Roll and Write to start mere minutes/hours after you’ve finished your current one!
And speaking of your group, this game can be picked up and played by anyone. Like the original, it’s a classic case of easy to learn but hard to master spatial puzzliness. Options are straightforward in terms of what you can do every game. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the basic concept, it’s like tucking into a tabletop trifle of tasty add-ons. So accessibility is the concrete foundation. But what you should do is where the magical decision dilemma spot sits! And everything you do is going to impact not just this game, but future games too! And that is polyominal pressure of the most perfect sort.
But if you don’t have a group, or not one you want to share this gem with (haha!), you can play the whole 12 game campaign solo! And I am. And it’s champion. And what’s even better is that I can do it again and again (especially as I have now laminated everything like a boss!). Which I will. Obviously!
Please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publishers for review. I am not paid for my comments, however, and all opinions are my own. I am also not affiliated to or sponsored by any retail store.