Roll Through the Ages is the latest game to make its way to the iPhone after cutting its teeth as a popular board game. In it, you build a civilization by rolling dice, allocating resources and building monuments and developments. Unlike other complicated civilization building games, Roll Through the Ages plays very quickly, making it ideal for a quick game on the go. Even though we’d like to see a few more features make their way into the package, the combination of luck and strategy offers a lot to both veteran players and new players alike.
Roll Through the Ages is played with a set of custom dice that are outfitted with symbols representing goods, workers, food and money. Like the classic game Yahtzee, you are able to re-roll dice three times, setting aside any dice that you want to keep along the way. After your three rolls are up you have to choose how to allocate the resources you have to build your civilization and score as many points as possible.
Anyone can be a high roller.
Though the game is meant to be a multiplayer experience, a solo variant has been added to the game which gives you ten rounds to score as many points as possible. There are no AI players, but you can play a game via pass-and-play multiplayer. While the lack of an AI player or network play is unfortunate, the solo game with achievements to earn and high scores to beat for should give you plenty of bang for your buck.
Fans of strategy games should not be discouraged by using the dice as the seed for each turn. While they introduce some luck, they also force you to be adaptable and make it hard to employ a particular strategy more than once. This version also gives you the option of playing with the “Late Bronze Age” expansion which lengthens and adds some complexity to the game.
A religious revolt should do the trick.
Unfortunately, the learning curve for new players is a little steep. The interface is confusing if you have not played the game before, and reading through the few pages of written instructions will still need to be augmented by some trial and error before you have the flow of the game completely figured out. We feel that it is definitely worth the time to learn the game, but being a bit more welcoming to new players would be nice as well.
One benefit of the game being ported to the iPhone is the speed of play that it allows for. All the calculations are constantly being done for you so that an entire solo game can be played in under 5 minutes. Despite that, by the end of the game you still feel like you’ve accomplished something because of how well the game abstracts concepts like resource management, economics, and civilization building.
Overall, the core game is implemented well. While it might not have all of the window dressings of some other titles, it is made up for by the quality its clever and addictive design. It combines the depth of a civilization game and the thrill of a dice game, and in doing so manages satisfy a craving for either type of game. Hopefully we’ll see even more content in the form of a campaign, more achievements, and AI or network opponents. Even without these additions, Roll Through the Ages is a solid game that is worth checking out.