Copenhagen: Roll & Write by Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Asger Harding Granerud, published by Queen Games in 2019.
I received a review copy of the Nordic edition from Lautapelit.fi, the publisher of the Nordic edition of the game.
Elevator pitch: The roll & write version of Copenhagen is a simpler, faster version of the original game, in a smaller, cheaper box.
What’s in the box? The small box has two pads of sheets, one for players and one for the facades. There are five colourful wooden dice and rules, but no pens.
If you’ve ever seen a Queen Games game, the rules and design look familiar. The art is nice and colourful and the sheets have a clean, easy-to-use design.
What do you do in the game? The goal of the game is to reach fifteen points. There are two ways of scoring points in the game: either by completing rows and columns on the right side of your sheet, or by reaching the end of bonus tracks on the left side of your sheet.
On your turn, you roll the five dice and then use one colour of dice to add a polyomino to your sheet. With, say, three red dice, you can draw a red three-square polyomino and so on. Two- and three-square polyominos are unlimited, four- and five-square polyominos are limited, so first come, first served.
When you draw a polyomino on your sheet, it must be “dropped” down to the bottom, so it must rest either on the bottom of your grid or on top of another polyomino. You then fill it with Os, except one square, which must have an X.
Now the other players can use your leftover dice to advance their bonus tracks.
A complete row is worth 1 point if it has an X, 2 points if it’s all Os. Column is worth 2 and 4 points, respectively. A complete bonus track is worth 2 points. Once someone hits 12 points, the round is finished and the player with the most points wins.
The bonus tracks open up bonus colours which can be used to acquire bigger polyominos, and special moves that can be used to break rules. Using these to your best advantage is an important part of the game.
Lucky or skillful? There’s a plenty of luck involved, with the dice playing such an important role in the game. If you roll bad, there’s little you can do about it. There’s some mitigation with the bonus actions, including rerolls and colour switching, but those are very limited. Copenhagen: Roll & Write is a light, luck-heavy game, no doubt about that.
Abstract or thematic? There’s nothing particularly Copenhagen about it, if you don’t know about the Nyhavn in Copenhagen there’s nothing in this that would connect to anything. It’s just an abstract little roll and write, really.
Solitaire or interactive? There’s a bit of a race in the win condition and the bigger polyominos are limited, but in general you don’t really have to care much about what your opponents are doing. The turns are generally fast, but sometimes the game can drag a bit while you wait for your opponent to complete a longer turn.
Players: 2–4. With the downtime involved, I think this is better with fewer players.
Who can play? The publisher age recommendation is 8+. I find Copenhagen: Roll & Write fairly flexible, it’s easy to play and should work well for all levels and ages of players from six up or so. If somebody has played Yahtzee, they should be able to tackle Copenhagen: Roll & Write.
What’s to like: This is a nice, laid-back roll and write game. Like the original Copenhagen, there’s some pleasing cleverness in using the bonus moves to your best advantage. Getting a good chain of bonus move uses and row completions and so on feels good. Compared to the original, the game is super fast to setup.
What’s not to like: Waiting for your opponent to complete her chain of bonus move uses and row completions is boring. The luck with the dice can be annoying, and the filled sheet looks bland compared to the colourful tiles of the original game. The game doesn’t come with any pens, and I recommend using coloured pencils to give the game some colour.
My verdict: I’m not a big fan of the whole roll & write genre. Most of the games I’ve tried are ok, and good fun for a while, but in the end, few roll & write games manage to keep my interest. The same goes with Copenhagen: Roll & Write: it’s a somewhat bland roll & write version of a somewhat bland original. Playing it is fun, but once I’m done with the review, I see very little reason to go back to this. Even if I wanted to play a roll & write game, there are other, more exciting options available.
Would I recommend this game to someone? Sure. If you’re looking for a fairly simple, low barrier to entry game, something for the casual gamers and grandparents who perhaps have enjoyed Yahtzee before and don’t want anything too demanding, Copenhagen: Roll & Write fits that bill just fine.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Copenhagen: Roll & Write gets Indifferent from me.