What is this game about?
Roll Player is a dice drafting and manipulation game that focuses on fantasy heroes before they become heroes. You can't have a grand adventure without rolling your stats and equipping yourself first, now can you? In Roll Player, your goal is to collect and place dice to reach the ideal set of starting attributes for your character, while also purchasing cards from a market row that can powerfully impact your game.
Each game of Roll Player is a bit different. There are several races to choose from, as well as different classes, alignments, and backstories. Each of these elements gives you goals to work towards when placing your dice. For your main attributes (e.g. strength, wisdom), you need to hit specific pip totals based on the class you choose. Your backstory encourages you to place dice of certain colors in certain locations on your player board. And your alignment gives you bonuses for where you stand on the spectrum between good and evil, lawful and chaotic. Additionally, the cards you acquire may give you special abilities (but be careful—they might affect your alignment). You can also acquire trait cards that reward you for pulling off certain die combinations, or pieces of armor that give you VP bonuses for collecting multiple pieces from the same set.
How does it play solo?
The solo game is quick, mechanically simple, and smooth. Solo Roll Player is set up almost like a two-player game, except that you are aiming for a high score. The rulebook includes score tiers that give you a sense of how well you played, and the tiers are sufficiently challenging to keep you hooked. (The bottom one is called "NPC." Ouch.) Each round, you draft one die, but be careful—the dice are arranged on an initiative track, from lowest value to highest. if you go for a higher die value, you must also roll an enemy die and give the game a chance to take away market cards you might have wanted to purchase. Your decisions really matter for final scoring, and choices about which die to take can get tense.
I really like Roll Player. Dice can always go against you, but in Roll Player, there are plenty of things to do with them, and that keeps you from feeling powerless. You will find clever ways to flip dice, adjust values up and down, switch die locations on your player board, and generally make progress towards the die values you want. Because each setup is different, you'll also end up trying different strategies each time you play, rather than waiting for the same cards to show up on the market row every single game. The tension between choosing high-value dice and securing the market cards you want also keeps things interesting.
Roll Player is a special game in that it strikes a good balance between offering an array of choices and not overstaying its welcome. It is highly engaging, but it also plays very quickly. I often find myself playing it several times in a row because I'm always pushing to score just a little bit higher, to use my resources just a bit more cleverly.
I find Roll Player highly engaging, but I can see how its theme would fall flat for some. It's nominally a game about fantasy characters, but really, it's all about the numbers—manipulating dice, collecting armor sets, choosing the traits that are most beneficial for scoring. In the end, it's a game about adventurers who never actually go adventuring. For me, this isn't a problem. But you should know what you're getting into when you play it, lest you find yourself disappointed. (For those of you who want to know how the Monsters & Minions expansion affects this aspect game, expect a writeup soon!)
Do I recommend it?
Definitely. It's not pocket sized, but Roll Player is a perfect light, quick solo game. It's interesting, offers a lot of variety, and gives players enough agency to intrigue even those who hate dice games. It's well worth a solo player's time.
Overall Rating: 4 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.