You’re probably thinking to yourself, oh great, Bob’s writing about another roll and write. Well, you are correct and I am so glad you are as happy as I am about it. Before I go any further, though, let’s get something clear, this is the best route building roll and write I have ever played. Do I have your attention? Good, because a game design of this degree in a specific mechanic doesn’t just happen everyday.
There is something special about this game from designer Ron Halliday. Seven Bridges is a roll and write masterpiece, a chef-d’oeuvre, a magnum opus. Okay, I actually used the thesaurus function in Microsoft Word to find chef-d’oeuvre, I didn’t even know that was a word. Who knows that’s a word? You see, that’s what I’m giving you here folks, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Just like George Washington said about Yahtzee, I can not tell a lie.
A Little History
Seven Bridges is Ron Halliday’s first U.S. released game and Puzzling Pixel Games is bringing his creation to Kickstarter on September 24th of this year. Seven Bridges is a route building roll and write or “stroll and write” as it has been so cleverly termed on the cover of the game. That is because thematically, that is exactly what it feels like you are doing while playing the game. Strolling the city of Konigsberg, Prussia, which is now Kaliningrad, Russia, in a historical exploration of a city with a bridge problem. They had a bunch of them, seven to be exact. This is because the city contains two large islands and its positioning on both sides of the Pregel River required these bridges for access.
A mathematical problem was devised by the city and given to a Swiss mathematician named Leonhard Euler. They challenged him to formulate a walk through of Konigsberg that would cross each one of the Seven Bridges just once. Euler eventually figured out that this has no solution and it is physically impossible. The historical connotation and background is one of the many things I enjoy about this game.
Rolling Through the Streets
In Seven Bridges you are presented with your own overhead map of the city of Konigsberg laid out in such a way that you could actually use to travel the streets of Konigsberg. You see Ron, the designer, is a bit of a map geek. He has 20+ years of cartography under his belt with a degree in Cartography Digital Mapping from the College of Geographic Sciences in Nova Scotia. The map designed for this beautiful roll and write is perfection as far as I am concerned.
The main mechanic for Seven Bridges is dice pool drafting. There are 6 dice that each player rolls on their turn. Everyone in the game will draft one die and draw that move on their city map continuing next to an existing, previously drawn route until all dice have been taken for the round. The same mechanic is performed over 5 rounds, so no matter the player count you will always see 30 dice per game. There are 6 different styles of paths to draw, being that there are six different sides on a die. The map is split in a 12 x 12 grid overlaying the actual topographical map of the city.
You will be using the dice to travel over the roads/walking paths through those grid squares. This mechanic also works wonderfully in the solo variant of this game as you will be playing against the game A.I. which has been aptly named, Euler. Euler will take his dice based on priority noted on the left side of the map. You will still always have 30 moves to draw paths on the map, through the city of Konigsberg, with the goal of creating a path to best accumulate victory points.
There are 7 different ways to score victory points. You will score for closed loops, meaning your largest connected path. This is done by multiplying the number of sides by how many bridges that path crosses. You can score for how many trees you’ve passed by in the city, how many landmarks you’ve seen, number of buildings you’ve passed, variable points for exiting the map, and bonuses taken.
There are two neat looking thematic map scales at the bottom of each map which help you calculate victory points for bridges crossed and landmarks seen. Also, every time you see a landmark, noted by actually crossing in front of the letter associated with the landmark on the street, it will fire off 1 of 11 bonuses on the left side of the map. These bonuses are there to help you extend your path or maybe get the ability to reroll dice or walk on footpaths. Footpaths are different than streets on the map and require the ability to be able to travel on them.
The bonuses, as I mentioned above also give you end game victory points if acquired. The caveat I enjoy most about this game is that you will only score for the amount of bridges your path has actually crossed during the game. There are seven scoring elements and seven bridges. You may pick which scoring element to add to your final score based on the number of bridges you have crossed, so try to travel across them all if you can. The solo version has Euler scoring for everything that you do not, so it is very challenging. So he will score points for bridges you do not cross, buildings you do not see, trees you do not see, and so on.
Seven Bridges is one of the most intensely satisfying roll and writes I have ever experienced while maintaining such a peaceful demeanor. It is almost transcendently relaxing while simultaneously offering great gaming tension, and I realize how contradicting that sounds but I stand by my description.
As I said before, this is the best route building roll and write game I have ever played, and it is definitively in my Top 5 of all time. Where in the top 5, you ask? I can’t say, don’t make me do it, it’s too hard. It is on the heavier side of what you may usually experience with a roll and write and I love that. There are many scoring elements to process and lots of strategy to employ, so it’s not a gateway or entry level roll and write, but if you are looking for something with some heavier feel, great art in map making, good history and backstory with dice drafting and drawing. Seven Bridges is the game you need.
The Kickstarter for Seven Bridges begins on November 22, 2019.
Puzzling Pixel Games provided us with a prototype copy of Seven Bridges prior to the Kickstarter campaign. This in no way influenced our opinion of the game. Previews are a glimpse into an upcoming game with the pros and cons that we experienced prior to production of the game.