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Roll for Your Life, Candyman!

Your gingerbread man must fight for his life and all his delicious cookie parts, as players go head to head in this free-for-all, real time, dice game.

With a Christmas theme, Roll for Your Life, Candyman! by Smirk & Dagger Games could be perfect for this time of year, if the gameplay holds up. So, does it?

Gameplay

Each player takes a gingerbread man and four dice. There are six cookie parts for each gingerbread man: two arms, two legs, a head, and the torso. In the center of the table is placed a candy cane and a special token, face down, for each player plus one. There are twelve special tokens in total, and those which are used are randomized at the beginning of each round.

When the round starts, players start rolling their dice as fast as they can. When rolling, you can set aside any dice you wish and continue to reroll the others. When all four of your dice match, you grab the candy cane and shout stop, forcing all players to stop rolling. Then you take an action based on which of the three results your dice are showing.

If you rolled four mittens, you may remove an arm piece from any opponent’s gingerbread man and place it in your score pile. If you rolled a boot, you take a leg piece. If you rolled four peppermint swirls you take one of three actions. You make take a special token and place it on top of your gingerbread man; you may remove a special token from another player’s gingerbread man and add the token to your score pile; or, you may remove a head or body piece from an opponent (but only if there are no legs or arms remaining on that gingerbread man).

Special tokens protect your cookie — until it is removed, no piece can be taken from your gingerbread man. When a special token is removed, it is flipped over and the ability on it is read aloud and the action taken. The action usually benefits the player who was being protected by the token.

Once a player has taken his action, the candy cane is placed back in the center of the table, players pick up all their dice, and the rolling commences again.

When you have no pieces left of your gingerbread man, you are eliminated from the round. When there is only one player left, the round ends and players calculate their score. You get one point for each cookie piece in your score pile, one to two points for the special tokens in your pile, and the surviving player earns one point for each cookie part of their gingerbread man still in the game.

The game is then set back up for the next round. You play three rounds, and the player with the highest score at the end of the game, wins.

Roll For Your Life, Candyman!

Review

There are not a huge number of games with Christmas themes, and Roll for Your Life, Candyman! has a fun one. The gingerbread men with their candy weapons are both funny and silly, which fits really well with the real-time dice rolling mechanics.

Roll for Your Life, Candyman! doesn’t bring anything significantly new to the genre, and there are other, similar games where players roll against each other in real time order to inflict damage to their characters. However Roll for Your Life, Candyman! has the advantage that it doesn’t overly complicate anything. There are limited gameplay elements outside of the rolling and this makes the game easy to teach and learn. There aren’t a lot of moving parts to lose track of during your mad dash to roll, and consequently the game feels streamlined and well designed. All of which is quite important for a holiday themed game, as you are more likely to be playing with people who might not have as much experience  with board games.

The special tokens add just enough layer to the game play and actually end up posing some fun strategic choices while you’re playing. Since removing one from an opponent often benefits them, you have to choose carefully when to do it and you also have plenty of incentive to try and get one yourself.

If you are looking for a game for the holidays, Roll for Your Life, Candyman! is a fun, holiday-themed game that is enjoyable enough to be played throughout the rest of the year as well.

Pros: Christmas theme and components, straightforward gameplay, the special tokens add a nice layer to the mechanics

Cons: Does not bring anything very new to the genre

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.