Rolling Realms is a game for 1+ players designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published on the Stonemaier Games website. It was designed as an infinitely scaling game, which means as many people as you want can play as once as long as everyone has a play sheet. The game ties together the nine games Stonemaier has published up to this point – Viticulture, Euphoria, Between Two Cities, Scythe, Charterstone, My Little Scythe, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Wingspan, and Tapestry. The player sheets can be downloaded at BGG, or via the Stonemaier website. It’s kind of a living game, with Jamey making edits frequently. As of this writing, it’s up to version 9. (Edit: It has now been updated to version 10. However, as this post was written when version 9 was the latest, that’s the one being covered. I think Wingspan is the only one that was changed.)
In order to play, you’ll just need a player sheet per player, something to write with, and two dice. To set up, select three realms for the first round. This can be done randomly, or in any pattern you like. You can also go ahead and pick three for the second round, with the last three being saved for the third.
In each round, there will be 9 turns. At the start of each turn, one player rolls both dice. It doesn’t matter who rolls them. All players write down the roll on the turn track, then write the number for each die in a different realm that is available. So if you have Wingspan, Viticulture, and My Little Scythe available, and a 2-3 is rolled, you could put a 3 in Wingspan and a 2 in Viticulture. Or a 2 in My Little Scythe and a 3 in Viticulture. And so on. Then you proceed to the next roll.
As you play, you’ll be trying to acquire as many stars as possible. But there are other resources as well – pumpkins, hearts, and coins. These can be spent to do different effects – pumpkins allow you to adjust numbers, hearts allow you to reuse dice, and coins either let you reuse a die or gain a die value for the round.
Each realm in this game is its own little mini game. The current edition is different than the one pictured above, so I’ll go over the current rules.
- Tapestry. Each number corresponds to a different polyomino shape. Draw that shape in the grid. If you fill up a 2×2 square that shows a resource, you gain that resource when the square is full. If you fill up a double row or column (as indicated by thick border lines), you get a star.
- Between Two Cities. Write the number in any square, as long as it isn’t adjacent to an identical number. When you complete a row, you’ll get a set of two resources. The score for this realm is equal to the lowest of your other two realms, but you can only score as many stars as you have filled in squares. So if the lowest of the other realms is 3, but you only have two spaces filled in here, the score here will be 2 stars.
- Euphoria. Cross off the number in one of the two rectangles (each of which contains the numbers 1-6). Then check the sum of that rectangle. If 1-3, gain a coin. If 4-10, gain a star. If 11+, gain a heart or a pumpkin. If you roll a pair, you can mark that number on both sides. That still counts as using just one die.
- Scythe. There are two rows of spaces here, each row with numbers 1-6. Marking off a number in the top row gets you a resource. Marking off a row in the bottom row usually costs a resource and gets you a star.
- Wingspan. There are three squares with different wingspans, each with three slots for numbers. Write a number in a slot, and get a resource if it’s one of the first two for the wingspan. If the numbers in all three of the slots add up to the given wingspan, you score 2 stars.
- Between Two Castles. There are two castles of six squares, each a different shape. A column must be filled bottom to top in descending order (so the biggest number on the bottom and the smallest on the top). When you finish a column, you get a resource or two, and completing a row in a castle get you a star.
- Charterstone. On the top row, there are numbers 1-6, and on the bottom, there are crates. When you use a die to cross off a number from the top row (which also gains a resource), write the other number rolled in the crate below. That other number can still get used in another realm. You can also use a die to cross off every crate that has that number, with each one getting you one star.
- My Little Scythe. There are two hexes, each with numbers 1-6 around them. Crossing off a number in one hex gets you the indicated resource. At the end of the round, you score one star for having collected 7 pumpkins, one star for having collected 7 hearts, and one star per number that has been crossed off in both hexes.
- Viticulture. There’s a row of numbers, 1-6. You can either use a die to circle one (which is a grape) and gain a resource, or you can use one in conjunction with any number of grapes to fulfill a wine order. Wine orders need a total of 10, 11, or 12, and each gives 2 stars.
At the end of each round, you tally up your score (each star is worth a point, and each unused resource is worth 0.1 points). Then you move on to the next round. Resources do not carry over. After the third round, the player with the highest score wins.
Stegmaier designed this game specifically for the COVID-19 crisis. He wanted to make a game that could be played with a bunch of people online, and has indeed been doing Facebook live events where he rolls and everyone does their own sheet. It’s been interesting to watch the evolution of the game from version to version on these videos (which have also been uploaded to YouTube). The game is also pretty fun – it’s quite interesting to see how the different realms interact with each other, and trying to make the decisions of prioritization with just nine turns can be a little tough. As a solo game, it’s a beat-your-own-score kind of thing, which is not ideal. But it’s still fun, and an enjoyable little diversion.
I’m going to do one more of these free PNP posts on Friday. Thanks for reading!