Okay, time for a little honesty.
When I was in middle school, two of my friends and I started a band. We were called Table 4 Three (even though the third guy left like 10 months later), and we did parodies and stuff (like Weird Al). By late high school and into college, we had put out an album and were touring, performing shows at a few different youth groups around the state.
Now, I’m not saying that I know anything about the rockstar lifestyle, but what I can tell you is that driving on the road, loading up all that equipment, is NOT fun. Having to do that all across the country? Yeah, no thanks. Maybe if I was more… you, know, talented.
On The Road Again
In On Tour by BoardGameTables.com (yes, they made a game), you take on the role of a band that is seeking to have the most successful nationwide tour possible. How do you do that? Well, but putting numbers in sequential order on a map, of course!
Okay, so while the game’s artwork really sells the rock band theme, the mechanics just follow that of a typical roll-and-write. Each round, two ten-sided dice will be rolled. The two numbers that appear will be put together in their two possible combinations (like 4 and 6 making 46 and 64). These are the numbers that you have to write on your map.
Where you write them is determined by the three location cards that are flipped over, representing a different region of the country and highlighting one state in particular. You have to place the two numbers into two of the regions that are showing, and you get bonus points if you manage to place the number in the highlighted state, shown by drawing a circle around the number.
Play continues like this until the entire board is filled up, with a minor change occurring from time to time that allows you to put in bonus “stars” that serve as a wild. When the maps are complete, players see how long of a path of sequential numbers they have made on their map, as well as how many of the spots are circled. Combine these two values to get your total points, and whoever has the most wins!
Life Is a Highway
When you first start On Tour, it seems simple enough. And for those experienced with roll-and-writes, it should be. It doesn’t have the many different options of games like Welcome To… or Fleet: The Dice Game. Instead, you’re doing the same thing every time – finding the best place to put your two numbers.
But you’ll find very quickly that things take a turn for the… evil. As the game begins, you’ll start to develop an idea of where your path is going to go. Then you’ll hit that first number that you don’t have room for, and you’ll pick a region of the map to put it in – your ‘trash’ region. Well, the trash region starts to fill up, and soon it’s encroaching on the areas that you still need to fill in to finish your path. Suddenly you’re on the edge of your seat with each roll, praying to all the board gaming gods that one of them will JUST BE A 3 AND STOP BEING A 6!
No, this isn’t speaking from experience…. what are you talking about?
Take It Easy
On Tour isn’t going to change your life or blow you away with its gameplay. But it holds a very important place in my game collection because of a few attributes.
First off, it’s super easy to learn. We have had a few moments where people haven’t quite grasped the whole “make one big line of increasing numbers” thing, but eventually, you all get it.
Second, it can be played with a large number of people. While this is true for most roll-and-writes, I’m not a huge fan of just handing over a little scrap of paper and a pencil to people like many games in the genre. On Tour comes with hefty foldable dry-erase maps with solid artwork and intricate details. For example, the outside of each map has little icons that represent different genres of music. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice touch, and I feel it’s the kind of thing that gives it better table presence than something like Harvest Dice.
Finally, the game is just satisfying. When you make that path work the way you want, you feel a sense of accomplishment, even if luck was involved a wee bit. And if things don’t work out, you’ve got that feeling that you’ll do better next time. And while I don’t think this is the kind of game that you want to jump right back in and play again, it is something that you’d be up for playing again a week or two later. You won’t ever really feel like a rock star, but you’ll feel like… well, somebody that’s really good at making lines of numbers.
You can find a copy of On Tour at BoardGameTables.com (get the extra player mats!)
- Very high-quality components for a roll-and-write
- Simple and approachable, but it packs a wallop
- Not really any variety from game to game
- Could be an issue for those with ‘analysis paralysis’