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Rolling Realms Roll-and-Write Game Review.

Rolling Realms

WBG Score: 9/10

Player Count 1-6 (more with other copies or print outs)

You’ll like this if you like: Ganz Schon Clever, Riverside, Hadrian's Wall.

Published by: Stonemaier Games

Designed by: Jamey Stegmaier

It’s the end of March 2020. Lock down has just begun, and people are starting to feel isolated. For the publishers, group play-test sessions to develop new games become a thing of the past. But video calls opened up a world of opportunities for game developers to play with gamers all over the world in mass numbers.

Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier games, due in part to the changing world around him, and I imagine his “always making a game” brain, chose this time to bring the world, ‘Rolling Realms’. A free to download, infinitely scaling, one page print out, roll-and-write game. Jamey took to Facebook live to offer rules explanations and play-throughs for people stuck at home. It gave people the opportunity join in with a live game and find some human contact. I for one found great solace in this and would like to thank Jamey for what he gave to the community.

In each session, the game developed, with new rules, tweaks, and developments based on the feedback Jamey received from the playing public. A mass play test was being done live in front of all our eyes. Jamey never had the intention to publish the game, this was just some fun, and his way of giving something back to a separated community. You can still download this free version here or play via a web link here. All you need is dice!

As the weeks went by, the game continued to develop, and eventually got a new name. ‘Rolling Realms’ became its final title after someone who played along with the game suggested it to Jamey in the live chat. This truly was a community project. The game was well into its later stages of life, now in its tenth and eleventh version. Fast forward a few months and Jamey put a message out to his email subscribers asking if anyone would be interested in a full published version of the game. The response was positive and here we are. A full printed version of Rolling Realms, with massive dice, beautiful pens. All the usual Stonemaier gloss! (except of course the matte rule books)

Dice shown with a regular sized dice from Rory's Story Cubes, Adventure Time, for scale and general awesomeness.

Now, with the final version of the game hitting retail, it's a strange feeling seeing, touching, and playing a game that existed only in home made printed form before, and meant so much to me and so many others during that strange time back in lock-down. Now in full Stonemaier final production form.

I was unsure if this needed a published version. I was unsure if I wanted it. The well used, creased, old print-outs offered some sense of comfort to me. The print-and-play version was effective, elegant, and fun. But with this full version of Rolling Realms now in my hands, I can safely say I am so happy this has been made. The game is not more fun in this version. It’s the same game! (although with an awesome solo mode!) But it’s certainly prettier! The pens and dice are so good. It’s hard to explain what difference is made by a good pen, but it’s a lot! It feels more of an event when you play this game with this version. This is a great example of what production quality can bring to the tabletop experience. What a pimp up this has had!

Playing Rolling Realms, like many roll-and-writes is great example of the pleasures gained from cascading turns. If you have not come across this term before, what I mean by this is that as you build up your resources in the game, your abilities to take multiple turns increases. Doing “A“ elicits the opportunity to do “B”, which in turn could mean you can do “C“ too!

Cascading turns are very satisfying, and any game that uses this mechanic well is always a winner for me. It feels like you are being more efficient. Taking multiple turns instead of one. Feeling good during games is a number one priority for me. Cascading turns is a great way for everyone to feel good!

In Rolling Realms, each player is given 11 realm cards. Each realm represents one of the other Stonemaier games. I wish their was a Rolling Realms realm card. Although that could be a bit Inception. One player will shuffle their cards and draw three to play with. All other players must then find those same three cards to use so each player has the same three cards ready for round one. Each realm works slightly differently, but they can be easily explained using the rule book, and have clear and simple rules printed on the card themselves. Even on game one, you will be up and running within a few minutes.

Each player will also be given a resource and score card, a pen, and eraser pad. One player will then roll the two dice and the game begins! But before I get into that, a word on the dice and pens. Even if you haven’t played many games that use dry wipe pens before, I am sure you will be able to feel the difference with the pens provided in this game. They feel comfortable in your hand and write well with a nice fine (but not too fine) tip. The pens leave a nice solid dark line wen used. Not that washed out faded line so many others give you. It's just a pen, I get that, but it feels nice! It feels Stonemaier.

Now, onto the dice. They are huge! Jamey originally wanted to have even bigger ones, but felt they didn’t roll that well, and could cause damage to some people tables. Being in possession of my own giant D20, I can vouch this is the case! So, in effect, this is as big as dice can get without those two real issues becoming a problem. That’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?

OK, onto the game! You will roll the two dice nine times, each player uses the same dice faces shown each round to activate two realms. You cannot use both dice for the same realm card. You will then draw three more realms from the remaining eight realms and go again. Rinse and repeat one final time with three more realms from the remaining five and then score your total points.

To see how each realm works you can check the full rule book or you can play along with Jamey here. But I will go through them briefly to give you an idea. Each realm has a style and theme that follows the Stonemaier game that it‘s named after. All-be-it in a very light way! The idea being that you are rolling dice through all the realms created within the Stonemaier universe.

Between Two Castles.

In this realm, players are looking to place die values in columns, ensuring each die is below a number of a lower value. Each completed row will gain you resources. Each column completed across each individual castle will gain you a star. This is a nice simple realm and a good one to start with when teaching the game. It is also a good realm to explain about using your bonuses seeing as there are ten spaces to mark a number and only nine rounds to do so!


Charterstone has a fascinating way to use the dice. There are spaces, laid out horizontally to mark each possible dice face from one to six, each one gaining you a resource when you do. There is a crate shown under each dice symbol. In this crate you must mark whatever dice face was shown on the other die, the turn you mark the number above. Ideally you want to mark the top row number when the other die shows the same number as a previous round when you also activated this realm. This is because in order to gain stars, you must mark off the bottom row crates with a dice face that matches one of the numbers you placed here; and you can mark more than one crate per turn if the numbers there are the same. For example, if you marked the six when the other die showed a one, you would put a one in the crate below. If when you mark off the three and four, the other die face again was a one, a one would noW appear in three crates. If on a later turn, one of the die faces rolled shows a one, you can use this one to mark off three crates and gain three stars in one move.

Between Two Cities