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– by Fox Troilo

 

Encore! By Stronghold Games
Price:
~$20.00 (pre-order)
Players:
1 to 6
Playtime:
20 minutes
Perfect for:
Introducing a group of players to the joy of roll and write games.

Encore! (originally released as Noch mal!) is a game of strategic dice drafting. The mechanic and rules are incredibly simple, but the execution gets more and more strategic as time goes on and more games are played. To begin Encore! one to six players take identical sheets of paper which contain several different colored blocks in a grid-like pattern. The goal is to mark off blocks strategically in order to score points, such as marking off all the blocks in a column or row before opponents.

To play Encore! the designated first player rolls six dice: three that are white and will designate the color of blocks that can be marked off on the sheet, and three that are black that will indicate the number of squares that can be completed. Each die contains a wild, but a player can only use so many wilds during a game and refraining from using all of them results in bonus points during scoring.

When the dice are rolled, the first player drafts two permanently from the pool; for example a black “3” and a white dice containing a blue “x.” That player then can mark off a set of three blocks on their sheet, provided at least one of the blocks marked is adjacent to one previously marked. The remaining players do the same in turn order, but instead of permanently drafting, they simply choose any combination from the remaining options. If a player cannot use any of the combinations available to them because their sheet is too full, they simply pass. The end game is triggered when people complete a certain number of sets, then points are tallied and the person with the most wins.

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What works in Encore! is the alacrity of learning and playing. Teaching people the rules is incredibly easy, and given how uncomplicated the mechanic is, Encore! is a great gateway game for those learning about roll and write games. It is also a game that players can bring to the table, set up, play, and finish in about 15 to 20 minutes, which makes it great as a quick filler game when people want to have some fun but not commit to something that will take hours to complete.

While Encore! is excellent for newcomers to the roll and write genre, experienced players might consider seeking out a title with more complexity and variation. In the base game, Encore! only has one sheet style (although future expansions could contain others). This means that players will play the same basic format multiple times, which in the beginning is perfectly reasonable considering that a variety of strategies can be employed, depending on the how the dice roll. That said, players who have greater familiarity with the base mechanic might choose a game that offers a bit more depth.

Encore! offers and delivers on a very simple premise: a quick and easy game where the luck of dice roll combines with strategy to equal fun. While hardcore gamers may want a title with more heft, Encore! is a great way to pass the time and bring new players to the table of all ages.

Recommended if you like: Yahtzee, Quixx, Dizzle

Final Grade: A-

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Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.