Update: Seven Bridges has just relaunched on Kickstarter where it will be available for 23 days. It has a smaller box this time and thus reduced shipping costs. It also means they'll need a lot less to fund, so the game may see the light of day after all.
Our PnP session below was published on 24 September.
Three dudes on a map (Athena, JW and Euler cross the Seven Bridges)
Roll and Stroll game Seven Bridges is live on Kickstarter, and the campaign will run for 23 days. Ron Halliday, the game designer, kindly offered to send us the PnP files, and we took the chance to try it out. I warned him that we tend to speak our minds, but he decided to take his chances as well.
(I scotch-taped the dice to make them custom...)
The gist of the game is that you roll 6 custom dice, pick one that suits you every time, and draw routes on the map of Königsberg. You are trying to cross all seven bridges because at the end of the game you only calculate as many scoring items as the bridges you have crossed. Buildings and trees you pass by will give you points, while landmarks give you dice bonuses. [JW: This was a fun thing to do in real life, by the way, during my lunchtime walk. Until I entered a park.]
In the solo mode, you play a two player game against Euler, the 18th century mathematician. He 'drafts' dice from the pool on his turn, but doesn't draw a map. When the game is finished, he scores your leftovers, that is the landmarks, bridges, buildings etc. that you didn't manage to visit yourself.
Let's take a look at what I did in one of my sessions (me 216, Euler 204):
Since I diligently crossed all seven bridges, I could calculate the sum of all the items. Euler had already declared that it's impossible to walk through the city by crossing each bridge only once, so he just didn't bother crossing any. He walked around a bit, and then sat at the pub to drink an Ochsenblut.
My overall impressions: This was my first 'proper' roll and write game (Lantern is too simple to count). I am first and foremost a fan of thematic games, and tend to avoid abstract, mathy, and public transport-inspired ones. Seven Bridges, however, is not about writing numbers or drawing railroads. It features a real city map (the designer is a professional cartographer) which makes it look appealing even as a PnP. The gameplay itself is pleasant and engrossing. There is tension when you roll the dice and hope to get the corner you need. It feels great to cross yet another bridge. You feel clever when you use your bonuses wisely.
Going for the most bridges and the most landmarks seems like an obvious strategy. Still, if you get bad rolls, your plans may be thwarted. Beating Euler wasn't too difficult [JW: I didn't manage to beat him even once], so perhaps the solo game may end up becoming a beat-your-own score. [JW: I really hope so, as I enjoyed the gameplay right up to the counting of points for my evil twin, who scored loads of points by doing exactly nothing and made me feel like a loser. At least it is a lot more immersive than abstracts like Ganz Schön Clever, as it's a pleasant stroll through town.]
Does the game feel like a walk in an old Prussian city? Of course not. It feels like drawing lines on a nicely illustrated grid. This is not a problem for roll-and-write fans, however. I do recommend checking out the Kickstarter campaign. In the very crowded genre of roll-and-writes, I think the game stands out like a landmark (says the person who never plays roll and writes). [JW: Well, the designer could easily take a chance now, right?]