Criss Cross: Will Make You Roll, Roll

Criss Cross game
Criss Cross game

Criss Cross is one of the latest roll and write games from legendary designer Dr. Reiner Knizia. Roll dice and group matching symbols in rows and columns to score points. Use careful placement to outscore your neighbors, and layer in advanced rules for even more brain-burning fun. Grail Games of Australia is the publisher of Criss Cross; it plays 1-6 players, ages eight and up.

Setup 

Each player receives a score sheet and pencil. Then everyone draws one of the six shapes from the dice in the highlighted space in the top left corner of the score sheet. All players must enter a different symbol. Don’t worry about the shaded diagonal row for now; it’s used for the advanced mode.

Two dice, a pencil, and a scoresheet

Gameplay 

At the start of each round, a player will roll both dice and announce the symbols rolled. Players then draw the symbols on their sheet. The symbols must be entered into two empty spaces that are horizontally or vertically next to each other. However, you don’t have to write next to any previously drawn symbols on the sheet (from a previous turn). Keep all score sheets visible to other players.

Once everyone has marked their sheet, pass the dice to another player to roll. Continue for twelve rounds, then it’s time to score. In the event you can’t place to symbols next to each other, sit and wait for others to finish.

Hand drawing a three-lines symbol on the Criss Cross player sheet

Final Scoring

Scoring is quick. Each player evaluates the five rows and five columns, then scores points for combinations of matching symbols within those lines. A pair scores two points, a triplet scores three points, quadruple scores eight points and quintet scores ten.

In order to score, matching symbols must be next to each other without anything between. Evaluate each row and column and write scores in the corresponding right or bottom boxes. Write the grand total of all scoring boxes in the lower right box.

The player with the highest score wins. In case of a tie, the win goes to the player with the highest single line score.

Criss Cross score sheet

Advanced and Solo Mode

Once you’ve mastered the game, add two extra rules to make Criss Cross more challenging.

Players now score the highlighted diagonal line of boxes, and lose five points for any row that scores zero points.

Criss Cross scoring
Advanced scoring

In solo game play, a player rolls for twelve rounds and seeks to reach the highest score possible. Rank your score according to the scale in the rulebook.

Impressions 

Criss Cross is a compact, addicting puzzle that will have players breezing through game after game. With its short rule set, new players can get rolling in less than two minutes. Game play is simple enough that table talk won’t be a major distraction. Due to its ultra compact size, it’s perfect to play while waiting for food while dining out with the family.

Criss Cross requires a little spatial reasoning logic to play, so the age recommendation of 8 and up seems appropriate. Younger kids will place symbols randomly (but that doesn’t mean they won’t have fun).

Criss Cross has zero player interaction. It’s really a solitaire game with other players rolling dice. But the game plays so fast that we’re not concerned about its solitary nature.

The game does force you to make some agonizing decisions when it comes to symbol placement. Do you try and combo symbols together in a single row or column to get more points, and ignore others? In the advanced mode, you’ll really need to be cognizant of rows and columns that don’t have at least a pair, as they’ll cost you in the end.

The rule book offers a couple hints to strategy, which helped me from the beginning. Try not to leave single empty spaces, and be aware that a 2×2 grid of equal symbols will score very well (it’s four pairs).

Fun at All Counts

For all these reasons, Criss Cross is a great roll and write game. Fun at all player counts, I don’t see why you couldn’t play with more than 6 people. I wish the score sheets where double-sided; however the publisher does offer a score sheet download so you can print extras as needed. This is where a laminator is your best friend.

Criss Cross is a game I’ll consistently squeeze in on game nights and keep in my car for quick lunch hour gaming. I’m addicted, and I think it’s one you’ll want to recruit others to play!

Find Criss Cross for under $12 on Amazon, or ask for it at your local game store.


The Family Gamers received a copy of Criss Cross from Grail Games for this review.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

Criss Cross
  • 5/10
    Art - 5/10
  • 7/10
    Mechanics - 7/10
  • 9/10
    Family Fun - 9/10
7/10

Summary

Age Range: 8+

Number of Players: 1-6

Playtime: 10 minutes

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