Behind the Scenes of Rollers

Rollers With Tony

June 28, 2017:

Press your luck dice games have been a staple in many gamers’ collections for decades. In fact, one of my earliest games, outside the standard game closet, was Sid Saxon’s CAN’T STOP. It was the luck of the dice mixed with bit of scoring strategy that made this game so appealing. Many games since have gone on to meet the needs for the love of rolling dice.

A few years ago, we were in Chicago for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, to meet with game designers and inventors as well as having a booth at the public event. As Chicago is home to so much history for the toy and game industry, it was only natural to meet with some of the local folks and inventor teams too.

While at a meeting with Big Monster Toys (BMT) they presented a number of great games, including the prototype for Rollers. We were hooked on this game pretty quickly. There is a sense of familiarity with the game, mixed with a bit of strategy based on how you score your dice after your 3 rolls.

One of the great things about working with BMT is that they were involved through the entire process of development. During development play testing internally, we determined that we wanted to change things up a bit. So, reaching back out to BMT to discuss some of our thoughts, they quickly went back to play testing too.

The final results were well worth the exploration on both sides. The game is loosely based on the dart game of Cricket. In Cricket, players are throwing darts to ‘close’ the numbers 15-20 and the bullseye. If one player has a number closed and their opponent doesn’t, they can collect or ‘hit them’ for points equal to the number shot, on subsequent turns until the opponent closes the number. Therefore, you can’t win unless you close all your numbers and beat your opponent in points collected.

Originally, Rollers was developed more like the Cutthroat Cricket variant, whereby you are attacking or assigning your opponents with points rather than collecting points from your opponents. During testing, we felt that it is more fun to collect chips/coins from others, and that there should be more of a press your luck element in the game. After some further testing and exploration, we ended up with the addition of the Zap die, which wasn’t in the original version.

Since five of the dice have one side that is WILD (stars) the scoring of the dice during your turn remains quite flexible. For ‘opening’ a number a player must collect the same number of dice as the number they want to open, such as two 2’s or five 5’s. Then, in order to ‘close’ a number players must save one more die in that number or a WILD star. Once closed, players can begin collecting chips from their opponents that still have the numbers open. This ability to assign the stars as any number allows players more flexibility and strategy in trying to close out first, for 2 victory points, or be the one who collects the most chips that round, for one victory point. First to five victory points is the winner.

Once these core mechanics of the game were well worked out, we began to explore the best way to visually and physically execute the game. We initially developed the game with an alien theme and story, but eventually presented a playful medieval castle theme at Toy Fair to the trade. Although the game lends itself well to theming, the base game is great as is, and that is what Target fell in love with and wanted for their stores. Therefore, what you will find is a clean, non-themed design for the final product which is now available as a five player game in Target.

Another one of the beautiful things about this game is the ease of ability to jump right in and play. It is not a hard game to figure out and is also a great socializing game, in that it plays well with families or friends that are also talking or visiting, sort of a ‘beer and pretzels’ game. The game plays well with multiple generations, as the familiar aspect of the rolling and scoring appeals to many. Though the game launched as an exclusive for Target, later this summer we will be releasing a 2-6 player Deluxe Edition into the Specialty market. This new edition of the game will have updated art, with more of a casino style feel to it, and can be played with up to six players, allowing for even more fun and competition.

For more information about Rollers or to watch a video on how to play, visit: usaopoly.com/term/videos/how-to-play.