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Why Roll and Move is a Bad Idea

That might sound like a weirdly simplistic subject for a Kickstarter/game design blog, but stick with me here. Every week I see a handful of Roll and Move games released on Kickstarter, they tend to fail pretty badly, but they keep coming. Generally, I write them off as being people who haven’t done enough research into games, or Kickstarter, or anything really. Then I got involved in a BGG thread from a creator who was about to put out a roll and move game, they were pretty adamant in their position and despite some pretty solid arguments to re-consider left with the intention to go ahead with their game. Which got me to thinking, Roll and Move is probably the single most pervasive mechanic outside of hobby gaming that you’ll see, those of us in the hobby talk about it as though its totally outdated, but that’s hard to back up when its still so currently universal. There are very few areas where something like this happens so totally, so I thought it would be worth actually laying out the qualities, for and against, of Roll and Move. Yes, there are some for, but also I want to say why, despite any points for, it remains a bad idea for a Kickstarter design.

What is it?

Roll and Move is any game where a random determination is used to designate how far a player pawn moves in the game area on a given turn. Most typically this is one or a set of dice and generally the end location of the pawn designates the player’s fate for that turn. Most usual examples would be Monopoly, Cluedo and Game of Life. It can also be called Spin and Move (such as in Game of Life) and I imagine ‘Flip and Move’ for cards must exist, though an example currently alludes me. Examples of games that use this mechanic and are actually good games for a modern designer or hobby gamer to look at are Railway Rivals and Heimlich and Co.