Truck Off: Roll And Write

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an alpha-release of Truck Off Roll And Write, which creates the conveniently culinary acronym RAW, over the summer. Somehow I managed completely miss the Kickstarter campaign, but the timing has ended up fortuitous. The retail edition of the game was planned to launch at the less-than-fortuitous time coinciding with the current end of the world. The game is ready, but retail fulfilment has been unsurprisingly pushed back into the fall. That being said, check with your Friendly Local Gaming Store and they may be able to order it in, or you can order copies direct from Adam’s Apple Games’ online store.

I posted a photo of playing this (solo, of course) on social media and a friend messaged me to ask what a Roll and Write is. *blink* Sometimes I forget how many people don’t know the terms many of us take for granted. To be fair, the “roll and write” style of games is a comparatively new phenomenon. So for those who may not know the term, it is exactly what it sounds like. A player rolls dice and uses the results to write their action(s) on a paper or board. It’s akin to the process of “rolling up a character” for a roleplaying game, except it IS the game.

In Truck Off RAW, players are all running their own Food Truck, travelling from venue to venue to make the best sales possible. Each player has their own, individual, map with three starting points to choose from. The active player rolls six dice, and has the option to reroll any single die. Each polyhedral die has a different colour and number of sides (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 20). The number showing on each die is the amount for the sales a player will earn if they travel to a venue matching that die. To travel, you simply draw your path, stopping up to four spaces away from where you started. If must stop at an open venue if possible, but can choose whatever path you want. If your path crosses through an open venue without stopping there, that venue is closed and will not be scorable on later turns.

The game lasts a minimum of 12 turns, with the highest-earning food truck being declared the winner. But the dice rolls are only one of the factors a player needs to look at to win. Each day’s sales are recorded on a linear tracker, in order of the dice size. The first space is a D4, then D6, and so on up to the D20, it then snakes back down starting at another D20 to D4, then back up to D20, with the sixth row ending at a D4. When you choose the venue you want to score, you fill in the next available space matching that die, permanently skipping over any spaces you haven’t scored. As long the game has lasted the required 12 rounds, the game ends when a player reaches the final D4 space. If that space is reached before the 12th round, the remaining players continue until that point. This makes for an interesting set of strategic choices. If you move ahead and end the game too quickly, other players may surpass your sales. If you advance too slowly you may miss out on later scoring opportunities. The other balancing factor is that players can get a variety of bonuses if they fill any three spaces in a row or any three spaces in a column. Ultimately, timing and strategy is just as important as the rolls of the dice.

Roll and Write games present a unique set of strategies compared to many other styles of games, but the other important thing about them (especially during this time of social distancing) is that they are often near-infinitely scalable. In this case, Truck Off boasts a player count of 1-99, and I’m reasonably certain that the 99 is just a limitation of the physically included pages. As long your friends have the map, you can easily play online or look for live stream programs, like the Twitch-streamed Global Game Night (also run by Adam’s Apple Games). The game’s BGG page even has some “house rules” for running larger-scale games.

The solo mode plays exactly the same as group play, except without the racing aspect of play. Without opponents, you are just competing with yourself to get the best score. The only glitch in the rules I found was in the end of the game. A player MUST go to an open venue if they are able, but if they can’t reach a D4 vebnue to end the game, what do you do. There is a rule that if you are unable move to an open venue you just stop and mark an X in the next space on the tracker. I applied that an open venue that can’t be scored at the end. It delays the game ending, but without otherwise breaking the game. There are people who LOVE Roll and Write games, I’m not one of them. I still enjoyed Truck Off RAW and will probably be playing more in the near future.

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