Rolling America: The Star-Spangled Dice Game

  • Rolling America
  • Publisher: Gamewright
  • Plays 1+
  • Ages 8+ (realistically, 5+)
  • Playing Time: 15 min
  • Initial Release: 2015
  • Elevator Pitch: dice + math + a wee bit of geography = a great “light” strategy game for kids
  • Roar Score: 5/5

Fancy dice? Fancy a bit of patriotism in your game? Looking for a quick game for the kids that’ll help them put their strategic brains to use this summer?

Rolling America is a fun, light dice game that uses a U.S. map as its base. It doesn’t really teach geography, and the map is a bit abstract, but that’s not really the point of the game. This is really a number game in disguise.

Inside the box, you’ll find:

  • drawstring bag + 7 dice (in 7 colors)
  • instructions
  • pad of double-sided playing maps

The conceit is pretty simple. Everyone gets a map. On your turn, pull two dice out of the bag and roll them. All players then add the resulting numbers in an appropriately colored space on the map. (For example, if you rolled a blue 2 and a red 6, everyone would then add a 2 in a blue state and a 6 in a red state.) The white/clear die is wild; you can place its number in any color.

The catch is that you can’t add a number to a space if there’s a number difference greater than 1 in any bordering space (the “neighboring state rule”). If you can’t add a number without breaking this rule, you add an X to any space in that color region.

Three additional rules help maximize placement, and each can only be done three times in a game:

  • Color Change: Treat any colored die as wild.
  • Guard: Circle a number so that it’s immune from the neighboring state rule. This is best done with a 1 or 6.
  • Dupe: Write a number from an active die roll in two spaces.

Once everyone has resolved the two numbers from the dice, the next player pulls two more dice, and the process repeats. After six dice have been pulled (every three turns), the round is over and all dice are returned to the bag. Play continues for eight rounds.

At the end of eight rounds, add an X to every blank space. Then count up your Xs. Whoever has the fewest Xs wins.

There’s a fair bit of on-the-fly strategy here about where to place your numbers to minimize the number of Xs you’ll end up with. And when to use those special rules.

Even though the game specifies ages 8+, my 5-year-old can play just fine…and hold his own. As long as kids know their numbers (at least up to 6) and can grasp the strategy in its most basic form, they’ll be fine.

Rolling America is also a great travel game. It’s super small and portable, and you can easily throw it into a backpack as an afterthought. We’re bringing it with us this summer when we go to China. It’s a perfect little distraction during long plane and train rides.

(Gamewright provided me with a review sample of this product. All opinions remain my own.)

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