After a while you get to recognise a Turczi, whether it’s the aroma when you first unwrap the packaging, the subtle hint of sarcasm in the box, or the rulebook that usually has the exceptionally small font, or the fact that the game itself is trying to push the genre just that little bit further. Here’s someone who isn’t willing to accept what others have done and just do their version of it. There seems to be an obsession from the man to push the envelope and get you thinking at the same time. I’m guessing if you look in his cupboards, the peanut butter is never smooth. That he cooks his veggies for 4 minutes instead of five, and you’ll never catch him dunking his biscuits in his tea.
Vengeance Roll & Fight is a roll a write that just like Rome & Roll (still the most stupid name in history of naming games) requires the use of dry wipe boards and gaining resources in order to carry out your actions to score points. Vengeance is closer to a dungeon crawler than a straight out brawler with an almost chess-like moves planning strategy behind it. It does a few things different to make it stand out from the huge number of games in the roll and write genre, and it kind of works for what it does as well.
Think of yourself as the flawed protagonist with a somewhat shady past, as when you select the character you’re going to play, you’ll be picking from a collection of characters that have a weakness tied to them. It immediately has you asking why no one else has thought of such a thing and it forces you to take more time selecting as you’re trying to figure out the best of a bad bunch. Each of the protagonists has their own set of item tiles and abilities to make them differ from each other that can be purchased. You then pick a place to have your adventure and randomly pick the boss character you’re going to face of against individually.
Your task is to make your way from room to room, battling the enemies and finally taking out the boss character all while rolling a huge number of dice. Unlike other roll and writes, Vengeance has a pile of dice to roll the likes I haven’t seen since I played Steampunk Rally. Even on a two player game you’re going to be sharing twenty four dice between the two of you, which increases as the players do. Which is a sight to behold when you are in the middle of rapidly grabbing and throwing dice between you. You start with a flash back, which is like a preparation phase, where you can buy skills to use, heal yourself, prepare an item or even get some training done in order to gain a new ability. The flashback is based on the roll of three die, plus your own choice. Everyone bases their flashback choices from the same three rolled dice.
This all changes in main roll phase where the real rolling commences. Unlike other roll and writes, you don’t stop once the first round of rolls are made. You have your own set of four dice from the main pool, and you can keep rolling and taking dice from main pool as long as you don’t roll wound tokens that you can’t utilise. The idea here is to build up a pool of moves and actions by applying rolled dice to different actions you have. You can apply as many dice as you have available as long as you roll the correct values. Since you are all claiming dice from the main pool, it leads to a mixture of panic and planning, with you trying your best to roll well but quickly. You’re never directly interacting on the values that are rolled with other players so it can often feel like your only competition is for the dice pool itself.
Some rounds you’ll roll well and you’ll be collecting a new set of dice in what seems like every ten seconds as you place them in your abilities, other times when the rolls don’t go your way, then you’ll be taking wounds and potentially having to take a beating which can lead you towards being knocked out the game entirely.
After everyone had ceased the rolling frenzy and placed the fighting dice where they want to, then they’ll use the moves and attacks to start moving from room to room taking out the enemies, trying to clear the rooms down and then forging forward to take on the boss. Sometimes you’ll pick up valuable training stars that you can trade in, other times you’ll be completing objectives to score points. Often you’ll be spending time just planning how you can move and fight, especially if the rolls haven’t gone your way. Sometimes you’ll take wounds from enemies you didn’t clear. At that point the items can prove to be very handy in letting you stretch just that little bit further. Do it right and you’ll take it the boss and gain a smack of valuable points.
If this sounds like a lot to digest over the normal more simplistic roll and write then you’d be correct. Your player board looks like an airplane cockpit, with a couple of tracks to keep an eye on, and all demanding to be marked in order to increase the final points tally. Additional abilities wait to be purchased to make you powerful. Training demands to be undertaken to help give you bonus points. There’s a reasonable number of things to be keeping an eye on in Vengeance and so for those who are looking for the next step up, might find it a little bit more complicated that what they are used to.
Vengeance looks brilliant. The comic book style of art and illustrations gives it a gritty look and feel. Several of the scenarios look like they’re out of your favourite action movies. They’re definitely some place you like to visit but not live. Character art is stylish and really captures the theme well and brings some personality to each of the players.
Comparing it to a normal explore and brawl, then Vengeance will fall short. Enemies never really pose a huge challenge until you hit the last boss, and even then it will be rare that you’ll fall foul of them. Good planning and resource management should allow you to get most of the way in majority of the games that you play. On the other hand, when you’re comparing it to other roll and writes out there, it’s clear that this is Turczi trying to push the envelope. As far as being compared to what is out there this comes with a lot of crunch and decision making.
It is a shame that you’re facing your own scenario because you do feel the real disconnect between you and other players. I wonder if a bigger level would give more of a direct race between players and fuelled the additional level of interaction. It’s the ongoing curse of the roll and write, and unfortunately Vengeance doesn’t entirely escape the lack of total player interaction. Though this is going to be a trick one to play online, unlike others.
Vengeance tries new and different and increasing what a roll and write can do with some success. The mixture of resource management, pushing your luck and planning works well. As with all dice games, when the rolls don’t go your way you’ll feel angry enough to punch someone. Luckily in this case if you want to then you can. Smack it up..
You can find out more about the game by visiting https://www.mighty-boards.com/10/50/products/Vengeance-Roll-Fight-Episodes-1-2
Designer – David Turczi, Noralie Lubbers, Gordon Calleja
Lead Developer – Johnathan Harrington
Graphic Design – Fleur Sciortino
Art – Axel Torvenius, Robert Sammelin.
This review is based on the final retail version of the game provided to us by Mighty Boards. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.