Pinball Roll Player to Bloodborne and Trek to Dinosaur Island

I am super happy with my Bloodborne progress this week. I was hoping to play something else, but that got sidetracked. With Pokemon Scarlet and Violet coming out next week as well as The Devil in Me, it will likely be a while before I play The Chant.

But that’s video games – I got to play some board games again! I don’t know why I am so excited. All I need to do is grab one and go play. It’s not like I don’t have enough board games to choose from! But I played two great solo games Sunday morning, and I intend to play both again this week. Let’s see what pings Rabbit’s interest as well!

Dinosaur Island: Rawr 'n Write

Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘n Write is a game that has been on my radar for some time. I don’t 100% remember why I didn’t back the original Kickstarter campaign. It was in September 2020, and shipping costs have been a major thing since. It might have been timing with Alpal. Whatever the reason, the Rawr ‘n Write tagline still makes me smile.

So for my last Advent order, Dinosaur Island (I am not going to keep calling it Rawr ‘n Write) was an easy addition. It has been sitting near the top of the pile on my table, and last week I decided to jump into it. Unlike Roll Player, the setup of Dinosaur Island is incredibly quick. I can see myself playing this solo on the table much more because of this fact alone.

20221114 - Dinosaur Island Rawr n Write - Not much to setup at all
Shuffle two decks and put out 6 cards – that’s board setup

So what is Dinosaur Island? It’s off-license Jurassic Park, the Roll and Write game. You collect resources and build a park to take people through. The more exotic dinosaurs you have, the more excitement is generated bring in more customers. To help manage things, you can hire specialists and build normal park amenities.

Before I jump into everything I liked about Dinosaur Island, I am going to get a couple of gripes out of the way early. First, you play with a set of custom amber dice. These dice are gorgeous, and the Jurassic Park amber nod is appreciated.

But the dice have some small pips and many colours look very similar on the dice. Be prepared for players to need to ask what is on the dice, or pick them up for a closer look to make sure. It won’t be an issue for everyone, but I found myself examing dice for threat quite a bit.

20221114 - Dinosaur Island Rawr n Write - Seeing some items can be tricky
The dice are gorgeous but even close up I have to look for dots on the dice

The only other very small gripe is the final scoring area on the pad skips an area for solo objective scoring. Now I understand that most people will be playing Dinosaur Island multiplayer. This means you either have an extra area not used most of the time, or have a missing area for a game variant.

For a game where players rely so much on the printed order to play correctly, this caught me out. Now that it has, I will remember for next time. But so much attention to detail has been given to Dinosaur Island that this stood out as a glaring omission. It’s like an amazing landscape photo with a smudge in one corner. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of the photo is, the imperfection stands out in stark contrast.

20221114 - Dinosaur Island Rawr n Write - Objective score area
It just needs one more box! Higher score was nice though.

After all that, Dinosaur Island is the Roll and Write for players that enjoy a bit of weight to their gameplay. Dinosaur Island has simple-to-understand rules, but there are a lot and they interact a lot. To teach it in less than 15 minutes, I think I would need to play the first phase talking through the process.

One common Roll and Write weakness is the puzzle they represent. Once you have ‘cracked the code’, you earn some massive points then put them to one side.

Dinosaur Island has a large number of random buildings and specialists to help combat this. Yes, there are standard staff and buildings available each game, and solid basis to build off. But if you play with the random setup every time, there isn’t one real way to score big. You even have more dice than you need for most games, and each dice is different. You can’t count on a 10% chance of rolling coins – it’s incredibly random.

20221114 - Dinosaur Island Rawr n Write - Cant wait to play again
I can see myself playing this again soon

I will talk more about Dinosaur Island in the near future. I have only had one game, and it was a lot heavier than I anticipated. Playing early morning while tired wasn’t the best decision.

But here is the best thing – I want to play it again. I can see where Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘n Write can be a great bridge to heavier games. It also has appeal to players that would normally overlook the Roll and Write genre. I wouldn’t recommend Dinosaur Island as a first game – it’s probably a little overwhelming for that.

But have a player that is looking to broaden their horizons or a more casual game for a heavier player? Dinosaur Island will scratch a lot of itches!

Roll Player

I still need to pack all of my physical Roll Player into the big box. I am reluctant to go all in mixing all the content together as Rabbit hasn’t jumped into Roll player yet. Well, I say jump into – I haven’t set it up to play with her. Little hard to know if she would like playing when I haven’t set it up yet!

This does come back to my biggest hassle with the physical version for a solo game. There is a lot of Roll Player to set up! Not enough to make it a huge chore like Mansions of Madness. It is enough to know that time could have been spent playing a round, especially on the digital version.

Yes, the digital version. Why wasn’t I firing this up at least for a game or two? So thanks to a reminder of sorts from Alpal, that’s exactly what I did!

20221114 - Roll Player - A cheeky solo round or two was a great idea
30 seconds to jump into a game, versus 5-10 min setup

Looking at gameplay variety, physical Roll Player has more content to offer. This is thanks to a couple of sizeable expansions that I have already received thanks to backing the Kickstarter. This is the content that is giving me pause combining everything into the big box. I have played some of it in the past, but keeping everything split for the pure ‘base’ experience is tedious.

Roll Player digital has made a few improvements already in early access, including adding the dedicated solo mode. It’s a solid product, and yes as per my impressions there are some tweaks I would like, but it’s good to play now.

I hope that Roll Player comes out of Early Access soon. It’s hard to know when is the ‘right time’ without being on the dev team though. The only reason I want to rush at all is so that the expansions can come out for even more play!

20221114 - Roll Player - I still want to crack 38 points
I have had 37 points a few times now, one day I will crack 38+!

Star Trek Super-Skill Pinball

Rabbit and I do enjoy the occasional game on a pinball machine. One of her favourites is The Addams Family, a machine that is hard to find in good working condition in the wild. So while it’s not the same, I grabbed Star Trek: Super Skill Pinball as a roll-and-write alternative. Alpal played the original a while ago and had good things to say about it.

I played the first of the four included tables, Starfleet Academy. This is a good introduction as it mainly uses the core Super Skill Pinball rules. The other scenarios include ‘The Trouble with Tribbles’, ‘Borg Attack’ and ‘Lower Decks’. If you are a Star Trek fan, all of these titles and some scoring areas will bring a smile to your face.

If you know of Star Trek and someone talked you into playing, everything is basic pinball. You don’t have to be a fan to enjoy Star Trek: Super Skill Pinball.

20221114 - Star Trek Super Skill Pinball - Not a lot required to get started
The only other components are 2 dice and a pen – not much setup at all!

So far I have only played one game, and my score has me a little worried. On the back of the instructions, there are high scores set by designer Geoff Engelstein. For Starfleet Academy, the target high score is 100. On my first playthrough, I almost doubled this score. So my worry is am I playing Star Trek Pinball correctly?

I did finish the Kobayashi Maru scenario. This is the most complex scoring area for Starfleet Academy. You have to keep shooting your ball at one specific target, like in many pinball games. The catch here is you need to activate each level in order, and you have to do it 7 times. Shots are determined by rolling a 6-sided die. You can’t roll a 7, leading to the ‘unwinnable scenario’ from Star Trek.

20221114 - Star Trek Super Skill Pinball - I beat the Kobayashi Maru
Unless of course, you can beat the unwinnable scenario

This by itself gave me almost 90 points, so I am pretty sure this explains the score disparity. It was a lucky run, beginners’ luck. At least, I think that’s all it is. Sometimes you can overthink these things though, and I am pretty sure this is what I am doing here. I will play Starfleet Academy again soon and see how I go.

Speaking of the last page scores, there are also some fun achievements to try and earn. These do nothing game-wise, they are like Trophies or Achievements on consoles. I laughed out loud when I saw one for Starfleet Academy though – beat the Kobayashi Maru twice. Yeah, this can’t happen, but it is the only example of a Star Trek in-joke I can find.

20221114 - Star Trek Super Skill Pinball - Should I have smashed the score first try
When I see scores like this, I wonder if I was scoring wrong

All up though, I have found a fun new diversion that I will be able to jump in and out of quickly. I am pretty sure Rabbit would also have fun with Star Trek: Super Skill Pinball, but only as an occasional diversion. With any luck, I can test this theory soon!

Bloodborne

It was a good week for progress in Bloodborne. I got to play for an hour or two every day, which helped the progress along nicely. One way I did this was by making sure I uploaded the save every night from my PS5 so I could play in my office on the PS4. Waking up super early (thanks Queensland for lack of Daylight Savings), I had a little time up my sleeve. So the initial review of overnight emails, then an hour or so of Bloodborne to start the day.

One advantage of this process is I had my original Bloodborne save still on my PS4. As I mentioned earlier, on my first play of the game I left the Cleric Beast undefeated, intending to come back. Thanks to Sony’s decision to make the PS5 need manual handling of PS4 save files, I know exactly when I walked away!

20221114 - Bloodborne - Almost 7 years later
Almost six and a half later to the day!

I ended the week defeating Amygdala, a boss I knew was part of Bloodborne. It’s been out for an entire console generation and is a beloved entry from FromSoftware. Spoilers were always going to make it through. One aspect of Amygdala I always appreciated was the name. The amygdala in our brains helps to process fear and anxiety – emotions the boss truly inspires!

But getting to Amygdala required some exploration. That is what I have been doing almost blindly during the past week. Playing Bloodborne has now hit a similar level to Elden Ring, where I can play a little tired to relax and enjoy. Yes, I may be going over already visited ground, but that helps me level up making things easier in the future.

One of the areas I was exploring was drawing my attention to an item to pick up. This triggered a memory in my brain. For you Bloodborne veterans out there, you know where this is and what happened next!

20221114 - Bloodborne - Shinies
Follow the shiny my pretty…

I have picked up a new item that I am enjoying called the Augur of Ebrietas. I met an enemy that used it against me while I was exploring, but now I have it. What is the Auger? I described it to Rabbit as Cthuhlu fingers!

In Bloodborne, you don’t block or parry as such. You fire off a pistol to interrupt an attack, and if you do it at the right time you can then do a special attack. What does this have to do with Cthuhlu fingers? Instead of needing a pistol, you can summon tentacles from your hand. Handy if you are using a two-handed weapon! Time it right, and you can do the special attack. Mistime it a little, and most opponents get pushed over, giving you breathing room.

20221114 - Bloodborne - I have Cthulhu Fingers
CTHULHU FINGERS!

The only area I noped out of while exploring was a lantern noted as Byrgenworth. This was down a path behind the Shadows of Yarnham boss. This had the first ‘normal’ enemy that freaked me a bit. The best way I can describe it is someone with an alien spider for a head. And not a ‘spider head’ – a full-blown spider, legs and all, where the head should be!

And some wondered why I thought Bloodborne would make a great Halloween game!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

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Until next time,

JohnHQLD