SteamRollers: Rolling them Rails!November 18, 2019
Benny Sperling looks at the roll and write SteamRollers.
Hey y’all, welcome! Today we are looking at a roll and write classic, SteamRollers! Before the surge in popularity of Roll and Writes, we had a handful of examples of roll and writes, Roll Through The Ages and SteamRollers being the two most popular at the time. I had not paid attention to SteamRollers until this year. I was able to trade for a copy on Boardgamegeek.com.
So I sat down and played it as one would do with a roll and write game they acquired. I was struck by how dated it felt. It did not see that remarkable to me with a 2019 lens. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good game or even a really terrific game. The solo mode is a bit dodgy but still usable. The components are quality, you can get the game done with those bits.
I think what really strikes me with SteamRollers is that it has a lot of bits. It’s like a lighter game that just has a lot of things to move around. There are cubes to push, dice to roll, sheets to write on, boards that offer direction, tiles that can give you bonus abilities, other tiles for scoring bonuses. It’s a lot going on for a remarkably short gain. Experienced players can play this one in 30-45 minutes.
When looking at SteamRollers compared to Bukiet (https://www.inquisitivemeeple.com/rolling-with-benny-bukiet-bloom-everythings-coming-up-dice/ ), Coral Relief (https://www.inquisitivemeeple.com/coral-relief-ecological-fun-for-the-gamers/) , or Rolling Ranch (https://www.inquisitivemeeple.com/rolling-ranch-if-the-ranch-is-rollin-come-on-down/) it manages to make an interesting game that feels excessive at times. Even too looking at 30 Rails (https://www.inquisitivemeeple.com/rolling-with-benny-30-rails-and-5-mountains-and-1-mine/) or RailRoad Ink its a theme that gamers like and accomplish a lot with a little. SteamRollers to me really feels truncated. You are picking up and delivering cubes along your rails and you can do a lot each turn with a lot left that you didn’t do. There are certain places that require focus for points and others less so.
Players draft dice, then pick an action: build track (to connect cities with each other to deliver goods between them), improve engine (for greater delivery distance of goods), deliver goods, taken an action effect tile that matches the die drafted. This all is very streamlined for a game that feels bloated with components.
Even though SteamRollers is an older roll and write from 2015, I can certain see more roll and writes pushing back at the minimal components. Broadening the bits should feel like an upgrade to a great core engine. In SteamRollers, there is a fantastic core engine. I wonder if the components could have been a better size.
In all, I hope players do consider checking out SteamRollers, there is a lot to learn from this game and I think it can lead others to design some high-quality games! SteamRollers does accomplish its mission of picking up and delivering. It picks up a lot of excess bits, but it delivers a gaming experience many will enjoy. Until the next stop, be well friends!