A while ago, we reviewed Epic Roll from Summon Entertainment Corp. We took a look at this dice-chucking press-your-luck filler and came to the conclusion that, while it was well made, Epic Roll didn’t really have enough game behind it. Recently, we were contacted by SEC to take a look at both the second edition of Epic Roll, as well as the standalone expansion Epic Roll: Eclipse. Did the changes made answer some of our complaints? Let’s find out as we take a dive in.
First, a general summary: in Epic Roll (and Epic Roll: Eclipse), the goal is for your character to fight their way through increasingly more challenging foes on their way to destroying the final boss of the game. It’s a feather-light filler that relies nearly entirely on dice rolls to determine the outcome of the one-on-one combats, and each player is racing to be the first to defeat the boss and thereby win the game.
Andrew: This general summary will have to suffice for our purposes, because the core gameplay in Epic Roll hasn’t really changed between first and second editions, nor between Epic Roll and Eclipse. What we will discuss instead are the additions (what few there are), and what Eclipse brings into the game.
The only real difference between the two editions of Epic Roll is the inclusion of the optional ‘Veteran Mode’, or as we call it ‘the only way the game should be played’. Veteran mode introduces two new rules, intended to add some strategic value:
- Each character starts with unique passive and active abilities. The passives are always in effect, and the active abilities can be used once per turn.
- ‘Focused Effects’ let you spend two identical reward cards to gain improved effect from them (two heal cards heals you for 3 instead of 2, etc.)
Epic Roll: Eclipse also features the optional (necessary) Veteran Mode, as well as another new mechanic: Relics. Relic cards are drafted at the beginning of the game and provide additional unique passive or active abilities for players to use during the game.
Eclipse, which is very much the evil twin of Epic Roll (and focuses on villains overthrowing the good guys) also adds two new kinds of reward cards. The first, Bolt cards, can be used to directly damage another player while they are fighting, and the second, Wildcards, feature hybrid art (Block+Hit, Heal+Hit) and can be used for either effect when thrown.
Jess: And that’s pretty much it. I really appreciate the attempt at making each player have a unique experience beyond just ‘roll the dice’, but the ‘focused effect’ thing is pretty weak since you get your reward cards at random anyway.
Andrew: That’s the heart of the problem with Epic Roll, isn’t it? Roll to see who you fight, roll to see how you do, draw a random card if you win, hope your opponent doesn’t get luckier than you do. It’s randomness that leads to more randomness, with shockingly few actual choices for players to make.
Ok, so now, in the classic cadence of a review with an inevitable twist ending, we should discuss what we really appreciated about this version of Epic Roll. Genuine effort has been made here to make the game less random and players more engaged. The introduction of individual player powers (and the cards which conveniently explain them) is a really good idea, and the drafting of relics further differentiates characters from each other and invests some decision-making power to the players.
Another oddity of the game, the player count – 2-3 players is an odd spot for such a light game – has been somewhat addressed. Epic Roll can now bridge this gulf if you combine it with Epic Roll: Eclipse, letting teams players race against each other to conquer their foe and win!
On the other hand, what we have here is still a game which doesn’t have nearly enough bite for what it is. For all their work to make characters feel different, Epic Roll ultimately still boils down to having the dice dictate how well you do. And despite attempts to add some diversity with Epic Roll: Eclipse, it still has a generic fantasy feel that we don’t find particularly inspiring, and the inclusion of even more ‘take that’ is just about the last thing this luckfest needed.
So, the crux of it, the inevitable position we must come to, is that we remain unimpressed with Epic Roll. It’s functional and the components are well-made and the second edition *absolutely* improves on it in every way, but ultimately, there still isn’t enough game here.
Andrew: I’m all in favor of a light, dice-rolling filler (Martian Dice, which is far less complex than Epic Roll and plays in a fraction of the time, is a fantastic example of this done right). But Epic Roll presents its players with so few decisions of consequence that playing it leaves us feeling truly unengaged.
Jess: Yeah, it’s hard to feel any sense of ownership over what happens on your turn – you can have a flawless run or crash and burn all at once and not once make a choice that leads you to those outcomes.
Andrew: Relics do help, character powers do help, but at the end of the day, Epic Roll is still just too light in all the wrong ways. A game can be random and chaotic and short, but still offer some choices. But here, there’s nothing for players to bite into.
During our review of the first edition of Epic Roll, we said that we enjoyed it for what it was, but that the game didn’t go far enough in its design. At this point, and despite what we know were genuine efforts toward improvements, that’s no longer really true – Epic Roll isn’t a game we enjoy. There simply isn’t enough here to recommend, nor to change our relative indifference to it. Unfortunately for Epic Roll, there are so many games that do what it does better, and we’d rather play those.
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(Gameosity received review copies of these games. We were not otherwise compensated.)