Encore! Roll and Write, Again and Again
Roll and write games continue to have fans clamoring for each new release. As a whole, they are quick to to play, easy to teach, and addicting. In Encore, players roll dice, pick a number and color, then fill in those spaces on their sheet. Everyone races to complete columns to score bigger points.
The first player (“active player”) rolls all six dice, then chooses a number die and a color die to place in front of them. Other players may select a combination from the remaining color and number dice to cross off on their sheet.
At the start of the game, the first box(es) checked must be in column H. After that here’s what you’ll need to know:
- All checked boxes must connect, and all must be the same color.
- Checks must be horizontally or vertically adjacent to at least one previously checked box.
- You must check off the exact number of boxes as indicated by the die.
- A colored block of several boxes need not be filled completely.
- You can never check more than five boxes in a turn.
- A die’s value may never be split up to check boxes in two separate blocks of the same color.
- The question mark on the number dice and black X on the color dice are “jokers”. Choose these to cross off any color, or any number of squares (up to five). If you use a joker, you must also cross out one of the exclamation point circles.
If a player is the first to completely fill in a column, they immediately circle the letter above the column and the higher number beneath that column. They must announce this accomplishment, as all other players willx need to cross off the first scoring box. Everyone else can still score the lower value points for that column. Multiple players can complete the same column on the same turn. If so, they both mark off the higher points. A player may also complete more than one column in a single turn.
Color Bonus Points
Has a player checked off all the boxes of a color? Whoo-hoo! Circle the higher point value in that color’s bonus point box (to the right of the grid). As with the columns, notify the other players so they can draw a slash through that box; they’ll still have a chance to get the second place points.
Once any player circles their second color bonus, the game immediately ends. If the active player triggers the end game, all others may finish out the turn as usual. Then total the points for each section in the scoring area.
Score your bonuses for columns and colors, add a point for each exclamation point remaining unchecked, and subtract points for each star in the grid that wasn’t checked.
Encore by definition means an additional performance at the end of a concert, as called for by an audience. “Let’s play another,” is what you and your friends will proclaim after tallying scores!
Everyone competes for the highest score, aiming to complete columns and color bonuses before everyone else. Completing columns first grants higher points, but others may still score the subsequent points. Don’t forget to cross off boxes with stars in them. Losing points for unchecked stars can make the difference between winning or losing the game.
Many multi-player roll and write games either use shared dice pools or solitaire play style where only a single player uses the dice on their turn. Where Encore! stands out is that the active player drafts two dice for their exclusive use, while all other players may use the remaining dice. It gives the the active player agency: select dice that will push your goals forward or stifle another player from completing a column or color bonus first.
Claiming those color bonuses first nets five points. Triggered wisely, they can end the game – with you in the lead. All sheets are public knowledge, so sometimes drafting dice someone else needs can be an effective strategy in delaying their progress.
The temperature of the game depends on the group. It can be friendly or quite competitive depending on the crowd. The option to pass your turn also allows you to avoid using a Joker when it won’t be helpful. Capitalize on Jokers when they truly benefit, like claiming columns or color bonuses.
While I do love playing games with others, sometimes ripping through two to three solo games on my lunch hour calms the gaming itch. Encore! is nicely compact. I can toss a laminated sheet, dice, and my trusty Staedtler Lumocolor pen in a zip-top bag and play just about anywhere.
Encore! checks off a brightly colored box for fun and engaging solo game play. It’s just an arcade style (beat your high score), but it forces challenging decisions. The major difference in solo mode is that only two sets of dice are used, with all four used each turn. After 30 turns, tally your score and see how you ranked against the chart included in the back of the rulebook.
The Encore Song
Encore! was a breeze to learn and just as easy to teach. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, playing in less than twenty minutes. The suggested age of 8+ is about right, though I think adults will be more attracted to Encore! than kids will.
The components are exactly what I expect from a roll and write. The large chunky wood dice make it easy to see the colored X’s and pips anywhere around the table. The included markers contrast perfectly with the bright colored boxes on player sheets. The only bit of criticism is that it would have been nice to have a different layout printed on the backside. While replayability isn’t an issue, another puzzley layout would have been an added bonus. The game includes a thick pad of sheets (but as far as I’m concerned, laminating is truly the way to go).
Overall, Encore! rocks and we highly recommend it! It’s an awesome option for a few games over lunch to help escape from the daily grind. Its small footprint makes it great for playing comfortably on the couch with my spouse. Encore! delivers exactly what I expect from a filler roll and write game: quick, puzzley fun.
You can buy Encore! on Amazon or wherever board games are sold.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Encore! from Stronghold Games for this review.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 1-6
Playtime: 20 minutes