Dice Game Review: Rolling Japan

This week’s review is of the dice rollin’ game, Rolling Japan.

Created and designed in Japan, this is a light and easy multi-player dice game. Based on a variant of the the mathematical principle of the Four Color Theorem – players are asked to fill in a map of Japan that’s divided into the 47 prefectures, grouped together into six differently colored areas.

To start a turn, a player randomly draws two regular six-sided dice from a bag and rolls them. There is a die for each color prefecture, as well as a wild die that can be used for any color. All players must then write down the two number results in their matching prefectures. If the wild die is rolled, that number can be placed in any prefecture.

Sounds easy right? Here’s the catch, all neighboring prefectures — including those in different colored areas connected by shared edges and/or indicator lines — can’t have numbers with a difference larger than 1. For example, if you have a 5 and a 4 in green next to each other, you cannot place a green 3 in a spot that borders the both the 4 and 5, even if it is only 1 down from the 4.

Yeah, have fun with that. If you can’t place a number, then you must place an X in the prefecture and it counts against your score.

After six dice are rolled, the round is marked complete and all dice return to the bag. The game can last to a total of 8 rounds, and the player with the fewest X’s is the winner.

The game DOES allow you to “change” the color of a die, allowing you to place the die result in a prefecture of your choice. You get this ability three times total per game.

It’s a mind bending puzzle type game, easy to learn but very very very difficult to master. We just play tested it with my weekly board gaming group, and we had fun. I doubt I could play it for hours, but it’s a quick and easy game to play between longer play sessions. There’s a logic to placement that certainly favors those with more “left-brained” thinking though, ha.

Personally, if I had to pick between fast and easy dice games, Rolling Japan would not be my first choice. I’d be more inclined to pick Dragon Slayer (which has stronger gamer interaction) or Zombie Dice (faster and fun flavor). However, I think this game certainly has its audience and it’s a fun twist on math. That deserves some credit.

– E.B.

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