This collection of games is great for fans of the roll-and-write renaissance—all you need to bring is a writing utensil and some dice, and you’re ready for Dice and Ink!
What Is Dice and Ink Volume 1?
Dice and Ink Volume 1 is an anthology of 10 roll-and-write games published by Inkwell Games. There are a variety of game designers involved, and the games range from solo games to the “any number of players” type, with a broad range of game complexity as well. (See below for more details about the games.) Dice and Ink will launch on Kickstarter in September, with a pledge level of $15 for a digital copy or $29 for a print copy.
UPDATE: Inkwell Games decided to delay the launch until they had a finished copy of the book to show off, so the launch will be pushed back into September. In the meantime, you can see the preview page by following the link above, and click the “Notify me on launch” button so you don’t miss it.
Dice and Ink Volume 1 Components
The physical version of Dice and Ink will be a 6″ x 9″ book with perforated pages so that they’re easy to tear out. You’ll provide your own writing utensils and dice. There will be multiple play sheets for each game. (Lamination and dry erase markers optional.) The digital version will be a set of PDFs that you print out on your own.
For review purposes, I was provided with a selection of PDF files, though the graphic design of the sheets was not final, so consider everything subject to change. (Note that I printed the games out in black and white, though most of them are actually in color.)
The Dice and Ink Games
Since Dice and Ink is a game anthology, I won’t do my usual how-to-play, but instead will give a quick overview of a few of the games that I’ve gotten to try. First, here’s a quick run-down of the full list of games, according to the Kickstarter campaign page:
- Scrapyard Rollbot by Sarah and Will Reed: 1 player, 10–15 minutes
- Icey Dice by Ryan Hoye: 2 players, 20 minutes
- Little Island Gift Shops By Toni Catino: 2–4 players cooperative, 10–20 minutes
- Coral Relief By Jesse Catron: 1–4 players, 15–25 minutes
- PenSylvania by Nat Levan: 1+ players, 15–25 minutes
- Kuiper Kowboys by Robin Gibson: 1 player, 20 minutes
- Flowers Over Towers By Bez Shahriari: 2–4 players, 10–15 minutes
- Island of Atlantis by Alexander Shen: 1+ players, 15–20 minutes
- Celestial Stories by Grace Kendall: 2–6 players cooperative, 15 minutes
- Lost at Sea by Joe Montgomery: 1 player, 25 minutes
Here are a couple that I’ve been able to try myself.
Lost at Sea is a solo game, though there’s no reason why multiple people can’t all play simultaneously, using the same dice rolls, to see how their scores compare by the end. You’re a young girl, shipwrecked on the giant garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean, and you’ve got a limited supply of water. You need to survive for two weeks, maintaining your health and hygiene, while scavenging for parts so that you can build various items and—most importantly—a raft so you can escape. You get 5 dice each day to assign to the various actions, with some bonuses if you use particular combinations of dice for an action.
Celestial Stories is a creative storytelling game for any number of players. Every player rolls their own die and adds line segments to constellations—but the trick is that after every line, you pass the sheet to the right, so everyone is contributing small pieces to multiple constellations. After the timer runs out, you get to name the completed constellation, and then explain how it fits in with the other constellations in the sky. This game is more about being imaginative and doesn’t have a winner or loser, but instead is about filling up the night sky with stories.
Kuiper Kowboys is about an interstellar spacecraft named Cathedral, flying through space and collecting resources in a never-ending construction project. Each round, four dice are rolled and you assign them to scan, travel, upgrade, and rest. As you can see from the sheet above, there’s a lot to take in on this one. I liked the variety of ways that the dice are used for different effects, and it’s a pretty challenging game. This is another game that is designed as a solo game, but any number of players can play simultaneously, using the same die rolls and competing for the highest score.
Flowers Over Towers is a little unusual in that all players (up to four) draw on the same shared sheet. It’s an area control game about flowers growing over abandoned towers. You choose two out of three dice to grow flowers in a tower, take over a river space between towers, or crumble a tower—and then you roll just those two dice, add it to the third, and pass them to the next player. There are some fun twists in figuring out the best way to use your dice, because once you score a tower, there’s a bonus action for the second place player. There’s also an alternate end condition—if the river is filled, then all the towers except number 8 are lost, and then it only matters who controls that tower instead.
Pen Sylvania is a little lumber town on the river, and you spend dice to explore, cut down trees, haul lumber back to town, and use it to build buildings. In this game, the active player rolls 5 dice and chooses either the 2 highest dice or the 3 lowest; the other players get to use whatever the active player leaves behind. It’s another one that has a lot going on: there are items you can buy to improve your actions, and you can fence in pastures to raise the wild boars you’ll find in the forest. Pen Sylvania is actually four games in one, because there are different sheets for each season, which have slightly different variations in the rules and abilities.
More details about all of the games can be found on the Kickstarter campaign page.
Why You Should Play Dice and Ink Volume 1
Roll-and-write games have really exploded in the tabletop scene in the past few years. It seems like every publisher has been making roll-and-write variations of their existing games, or looking for new twists on the genre, whether that’s using cards instead of dice, or scissors instead of pencils. Dice and Ink is taking a different approach: putting a bunch of games into a single book. It’s like one of those activity pads I had as a kid, except instead of word searches and coloring pages and dot-to-dot pictures, I get 10 different games to play!
Although I’ve only played half of the titles in the anthology so far, I’ve had a lot of fun with them. I prefer the more head-scratchy games like Kuiper Kowboys and Pen Sylvania to the more subjective and freeform Celestial Stories, but I love that there’s a diverse array of games to try out.
Since you provide your own dice and writing utensils, you’re just paying for the playing sheets and the rules, which makes it more economical. I’ll note that the majority of the games only require regular six-sided dice (though in some you may need dice of multiple colors); there’s one game that uses a set of polyhedral dice (d4, d6, d8, and d10). Also, there are some games (like Flowers Over Towers) where each player should use a different-colored pen, but otherwise most games can use any sort of writing utensils. For those of you who can’t get enough of roll-and-write games, Dice and Ink is a pretty great deal, whether you go for the physical or digital versions.
For more information, visit the Dice and Ink Volume 1 Kickstarter page! Although the Kickstarter page isn’t live yet, you can hit the “notify me” button near the top left to get an email when it launches in September.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.