1.2: Sheets, Spaces, and Values

This section is going to be all about terminology, about abstracting to concepts, and naming all of the bits and pieces we are handling and dealing with when we play roll-and-write games. Well, everything but the dice, that is.

In the last section we mentioned a score pad, a pad of scoring sheets that players of games like YahtzeeHarvest Dice, or Qwixx, must be familiar with. These sheets of paper are glued together at one end, so that players can tear them off to hand them out when playing. These score pads highlight the disposable nature of roll-and-writes well, but there are dry-erase scoring boards as well, as seen in On Tour or the deluxe version of Qwixx. These scoring boards or sheets are where players do their writing. No matter the material, though, we’ll call these scoring sheets or boards ‘player sheets’.

Some games, such as Let’s Make a Bus Route, use one single sheet for all players. In these cases we can call those ‘communal sheets’. Communal sheets are rare, though, and present a way to make unique roll-and-writes at this moment. Either way, we will be abbreviating the thing the player writes on as a ‘sheet’ from now on, and make distinctions between shared or personal sheets where needed.

The designers of the game also, very helpfully, provide us with where to write on the sheets. Spaces where we are supposed to write we will call, very imaginatively, ‘spaces’. Spaces can come in any form: boxes, lines, stars, hexes, anything really. Some spaces you draw shapes in, some spaces you cross off, some spaces you write numbers in.

Fig. 1.2.1: A pair of ascending tracks like those found in Qwixx.

Spaces can be arranged in various ways. Firstly, we have the ‘track’, which is a line of spaces attached to each other. Games such as Qwixx and Qwinto make use of these. Often tracks are ascending, or have to be filled in a certain direction. Using tracks helps players understand this at a glance, as opposed to using separate spaces loosely arranged in a line. Figure 1.2.1 shows a pair of tracks like those found in Qwixx, but not coloured. Players can fill in spaces on this track from left to right, in the direction it ascends in, as indicated by the arrow. When a player fills in a space, they are not allowed to fill in spaces to the left of that space: the player must always go up. The dotted line under the bottom track indicates the range of spaces the player is no longer allowed to fill, as the player has crossed off a six in that track.

There is also the ‘grid’, which is what we call, well, a grid of spaces. With grids we make use of a 2-D space, often moving around in it by writing, or only allowing players to use spaces adjacent to already filled spaces. The Penny Papers Adventures Series as well as Noch Mal! are good examples of roll-and-writes that use grids.

Fig. 1.2.2: Two sections from the player sheet of Ganz Schon Clever, both featuring networks. Numbers have been removed from the networks for anti-piracy purposes.

Finally, we have the ‘network’. Networks are like grids in that they feature a grid of spaces, but it combines both the idea of a grid and a track. Each horizontal, vertical, or diagonal serves as a track, but are otherwise connected like a grid. Often in these cases, adjacency does not matter and it is all about filling the right lines. Ganz Schon Clever as well as its sequel Doppelt So Clever both use networks.

Figure 1.2.2 shows two sections of Ganz Schon Clever. The yellow section awards players when they fill in a complete track. Vertically, players score points, as indicated by the red arrow. Horizontally, indicated by the blue arrow, players can score either free values to place immediately, or the ‘red fox’, which is part of a scoring mechanism unique to the Clever-series. The sole diagonal, in magenta, allows players to get a bonus die to use in their turn. The blue section works in the same way, but awards a number of points determined by the number of spaces in the network filled also, shown above the yellow arrow.

What or where we can write depends on the ‘value’. A value is basically the result of the dice, or chosen die/dice, taken together. A five and a two could be a value of seven. A white three and a blue three could be a value of blue six. Anything can be incorporated in the idea of a value: numbers, shapes, icons, colours, and so on.

Usually values consist of multiple objects at once, with some showing where you can write, and others what you can write. Often crossing out serves as an always present value. For example, when you play Qwixx and add a red two and a white three, the colour red tells you you can only write in the red section, and the number tells you which number you may then cross out in that section.

Values can be mitigated by either changing them, such as subtly changing a die up or down by one, or by being allowed to select a sub-set of values. For example, in Qwixx, the player rolls two white dice, one red, one blue, one green, and one yellow; a white die can be combined with any other die to add those values to those of the white die.

Values are then, to return to the diagram from the last section, something we can mitigate and assign to a space, which we then write. If we slot in all of these ideas and concepts into the diagram, we get something like this:

rnwdiagram2Of course, that also means we can get a bit more technical and precise in our definition of a roll-and-write, even if it gets longer:

A roll-and-write game is a game in which players roll dice, the results of which form values. Values can be mitigated by players and tell the player what and where they may assign it. The player than assigns the (chosen) values to a space on their sheet and writes the value in that space. The written values are then used to score.

In later stages we will be able to trim this down a bit more, luckily, as the definition is becoming a bit unwieldy. We will be exploring values more in the next section on randomization and randomization methods, where we abstract away dice from the equation, and luckily also a lot of words from that definition.

Continue to 1.3: Randomization >