Thursday, June 26, 2008

#80: Monte Rolla

Monte Rolla
  • designer: Manfred Knapp & Ulrike Gattermayer-Knapp
  • publisher: Selecta
  • date: 2003
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.6
  • age: 4+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $29.75 (
Monte Rolla is an object lesson in how to take the same basic elements as a supposedly "classic" game (Chutes & Ladders) and turn them into a game people (esp. kids) enjoy playing. You've got your dice rolling, your pieces moving forward or backwards due to the design of the board, and it's basically a race to the finish.

But Monte Rolla gives you two men (marbles) rather than one - so every turn you can decide which piece is the best for you to move. Roll a "6" and you get to roll again and add the rolls together, speeding up the game a bit.

The real act of design brilliance, though, is the thick board which is elevated in the middle, making river paths that take the pieces backwards (in the first & third sections of the race) and forwards (in the second & final sections of the race). Every kid I've played this with has been utterly fascinated by the process of letting their marble go cascading down the river - even when it hurt them! There's a couple of places in the first section where your marble getting knocked downstream can even knock other marbles back.

The first player to get BOTH of their marbles to the sea (finish line) wins... which leaves you with an interesting problem. If you finish one marble quickly in order to keep it safe, you are now at the mercy of the die roll - while the players who balance their marbles' movement always have options.

I know it doesn't sound like much - I can hear some of you shaking your virtual heads at this one. But it is one of the games that's consistently requested by kids who've played it at our house... and that counts for a bunch in my book.

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