Rolling Ranch is a delightful roll-and-write by Jordy Adan. I find myself often enamored with these kinds of games, but the combination of story, art, and some unique components, really helps the game stand out from the crowd!
The game begins with the premise that you are a rancher who wakes up to find that a storm has scattered his animals and knocked down all sorts of farm buildings. Oh noes! But have no fear – you’ll rebuild your barns, gather your herds, and be back in business in no time!
You start the game with your ranch which is composed of numbered hexes separated into small group called pens. Each turn 1 player will roll the two animal dice. Each die has 3 potential elements per side:
- An Animal: Chicken, pig, or cow
- Resources: Wood planks or a nail
- A Number: 1-6
You must then choose what action you will take based on the results of the dice. You can either rescue the animal on the one die and place them on a hex matching the number of the other die or collect the resources depicted on the dice.
All players participate in each die roll, and the decisions you make are independent of your fellow ranchers. So there is basically zero downtime. That rocks!
As a bonus, if both dice show a heart icon, any pen that contains 2 of the same animal produces another of that animal. Bonus chickens!
Animals score points based on the number of matching animals in a pen. If you have 1 cow in a pen you get 3 points, but add a second cow and your scoring 6 points now. But if you have a bunch of different animals then you gain 1 point for animal in the pen, so it pays to try and fill large pens with only a single animal type, if possible.
If you choose to collect resources, they can be used on constructing buildings. Each building provides a bonus. Barns give you a permanent bonus, such as getting extra wood or a chicken, every time the dice come up with matching numbers. Warehouses give you 2 one-time-use bonuses, allowing you to circumvent a rule such as drawing either animal on the dice in a pen of their choice. Lastly, the Greenhouses give you bonus points for the number of them that you have built. All of these buildings are powerful, but they have to be drawn into one of the hexes on your map, thus taking up valuable spaces that could be used for animals.
The last way to score points in the game is through the mission cards. At the beginning of the game each player gets one and the card shows 2 different goals to aim for such as “Have 4 or more completely filled pens with only chickens” or “Have 10 or more pigs on your sheet”.
Once a player manages to fill all of the spaces on their ranch, the game ends and everyone tallies up their points; the person with the highest score taking the win and proving that they are an ace at ranching.
Jess: This game is perfect in so many ways. You’ve got the stunning art by Weberson Santiago, the unassumingly strategic gameplay, and the little victories of filling in your pens that reward you throughout the game, and it comes in a perfectly portable little box for travelling.
Andrew: I think it’s great. I love how everyone is involved with every die roll and how you often have multiple ways of using the dice. I love the slight push your luck aspect of filling a field with one type of animal, and how the breeding thing means that sometimes you get bonus animals for free. And then there’s the cost-benefit analysis of the buildings and the special powers they confer. There’s a lot of game in that little box, and it’s already a favorite roll & write for me.
Jess: Although it was a pre-order bonus item, I also need to mention the stamp set. When we bought this game it came with a set of animal stamps that can be used to fill in your scorepad. Its a wonderfully simple addition to the game and honestly I was surprised at how thrilled I was with them. It was extremely satisfying to stamp animals onto my sheet and I wish there were more games that utilized this idea. I NEED MORE ROLL AND STAMPS! GIVE THEM TO ME!!!!
Stamps aside (or, really, included), we both really loved Rolling Ranch! It’s a great little game, and it looks great and plays really well. With no downtime, quick decisions, and just enough strategy to keep things interesting, we definitely recommend checking out Rolling Ranch!
You can buy a copy of Rolling Ranch on the Thundergryph webstore here. You can buy a copy of Rolling Ranch on the Thundergryph webstore here.