My most played game of 2021 is the epic roll and write Ganz Schön Clever. Prior to my discovery of this fantastic game, I had tried and enjoyed a few from the roll or flip and write genre. None had captivated me in the same way, especially for repeat plays. They were a novelty filler or something to take with me travelling. My love of Ganz Schön Clever led me to explore further. The follow up Doppelt So Clever, was instantly purchased, and others followed, Metro X, Railroad Ink, Demeter, all very good, but they weren’t overtaking Ganz Schön for plays or desire to play. Another in the genre, Seven Bridges, arrived last year. Brace yourself for a backstory and queue the wavy fade out, like an 80s dream sequence on the telly box.
In September last year I turned 42. I know, I don’t look a day over 50 and I am as surprised as you at my age! To celebrate, I gathered a host of Instagram friends to come along and play games into the small hours in a hall I hired. It was a very happy day. Guests were under strict instructions not to bring presents, in my wife’s words: ‘he does not deserve them’. However, unusually for a board gamer, Marie (known as @burtons_boards on Instagram) displayed a blatant disregard for the rules, and wrapped up a copy of her favourite roll and write, Seven Bridges, and gave it to me.
I know that feeling only too well, when you have a game you adore so much you want to share it with everyone and anyone. It is one of the reasons I write reviews – I love sharing the passion of brilliant board games. Are you wondering: is Seven Bridges one of them? Read on to find out!
Allocate a sheet and coloured pencil to each player. Grab a dice tray or lid of the box to chuck the dice into if you fancy. Give the red meeple to the first player and you are basically set up and ready to play.
The premise of Seven Bridges roll and write is that you are meandering around the historic streets of Königsberg, now Kaliningrad in Russia. Your roll represent your stroll, walking in parks, visiting landmarks and also, most importantly, the famous Seven Bridges.
The game is played between one to six players over five rounds. Every round players take it in turn to roll and draft dice from a common pool. Over the course of the game you will utilise exactly 30 dice and hope to unlock bonuses along the way to help strategically cover as many streets of the map as possible.
There are restrictions on how you stroll around the map. You must attach to the existing paths previously drawn on your network and the lines you draw must reflect the dice you draft. This come in the form of crossroads, straights, corners, T-junctions and half roads. There are also special 2 & 3 sides that allow for that many straight or half-straight lines to be played.
Along your stroll you visit landmarks and these trigger bonuses giving you more options, including rerolling the dice or cutting in line and allocating dice.
Once you’ve finished your meander along the streets and seen the sights, you score. You score for how many landmarks you visited, how many of the bridges you crossed, your largest closed circuit (which scores the number of bridges you crossed multiplied by the corners on the route), grid references, points from bonuses or how many trees and buildings you walked past. So in total there are seven ways in which you can score points, but you can only score the equivalent of how many bridges you walked across. So if you only ventured over five bridges, you’ll be crossing off two of your lowest scoring opportunities. Ouch!
The player with the most points wins!
Prior to playing this game I knew nothing of the mathematical topology and graph theory that the Seven Bridges of Königsberg spawned. For maths, it’s quite interesting so check it out if you are stuck in a toilet one day. The reason I mention this as it was Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) that presented a solution to this mathematical conundrum. He, is your adversary in the solo game. I’ve never met him, but in the game, he is an absolute git! I’m being polite, he’s normally nicknamed something much worse!
You see the game plays the same with the same rules, except Euler The Git scores everything you don’t. So every tree you don’t walk past, every bridge you don’t cross, every building you don’t see, Euler racks up the points.
I’ve played Seven Bridges solitaire and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, regular readers of my blog will know I am not much of a solo gamer. However, if ever I feel like I want to play solo. Seven Bridges is the game I would henceforth choose.
What it’s like
Playing Seven Bridges, with one or more people is a similar experience. While there is down time as people draft their dice, you are invested. Working out the best option and hoping that it remains by the time you get to select. It is largely a multiplayer solitaire experience, however the bonuses of divvying the dice up gives the game a little interaction that this genre sometimes lacks.
One of my favourite moments in roll and writes is when things cascade. Ganz Shon Clever and Demeter deliver this in buckets and when you get a bonus which means you tick off this or get another bonus – it feels like you are properly playing the game and maximising your opportunities. Seven Bridges delivers this too although not to the same extent as the other two games mentioned. Although scaled back it is still equally satisfying when it happens.
During the game you will be questioning every possible placement, every bonus and every scoring opportunity. Balancing your quest for a beautifully angled circuit with trying to reach the farthest bridges and walk past trees and buildings. Oh my gosh, the brain starts to burn and the pencil makes marks and sometimes you know it’s the right decision but most of the time you are left wondering!
Scoring is a bit slow at the end. You will need to work out your longest loop and how many corners you can eek out of it. The final tally also requires counting all the buildings that you have passed. You can do this by colouring them in beautifully and making it a calming process, or just number each building. Hopefully counting all the trees you have passed won’t tip you over the counting edge! None of it is really a drawback but it isn’t as quick as others in the genre.
The instructions for Seven Bridges are very good. There was a little bit around the placement and connection of half-straights that took me a while to get correct in my head, and interestingly this often perplexes new players too, but other than that, they are good.
I think it is fair to say there isn’t much inside the box. The coloured pencils are a nice inclusion, I’m not a fan of a roll/flip and write that doesn’t include pens. The pot the pencils are in is strangely satisfying.
The first player token could’ve been improved upon, a model compass, walking boot or camera might’ve been nice. I must confess I rather like the simplicity and understated nature of the little red meeple. It certainly does the job!
The rubber (or eraser if you are American) is my gripe. it is pretty useless on the coloured pencil lines, even the pale colours, whereas a pencil sharpener would’ve been a much more useful addition!
None of that is really important because this game is all about the incredible map. This was created by a professional cartographer with the game elements superimposed onto the map using a traditional and established overprint technique. While some people might think the map is a little dry in terms of features or colour, I think it is fabulous. In fact if I hear you say words to the contrary I might just ‘accidently’ kick you in the shin.
Final thoughts on Seven Bridges
Marie was right! I am delighted to have found another incredible roll and write. It’s too early to tell whether it will rival Ganz Schön Clever for plays in 2022, but I do predict it remaining one of my top 10 most played games for the coming year.
Seven Bridges offers plenty of considered decision making to give that feeling of playing something meaningful. It satisfyingly scratches that itch when you want to play a game that isn’t too long but equally isn’t too light.
Seven Bridges is an absolutely fantastic roll and write. It offers oodles to think about as you roll the dice attempting to piece together the puzzle on the map in front of you. Hitting and cascading bonuses at the right moment while attempting to visit landmarks and cross the bridges make this an excellent game in any genre.
Number of players: 1 to 6
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 10+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 10+
Playing Time: 15 minutes per player
Setting Up and Take Down Time: Under a minute
Designers: Ron Halliday
Publisher: Puzzling Pixel Games
As far as my own personal roll or flip and write journey goes, it has been a joy to stroll through the streets of Königsberg. Seven Bridges has cemented itself as one of my absolute favourites not just in the roll and write genre, but any genre. I will play this game whenever someone wants to, and even play it solo as I enjoy it so much. I wholeheartedly recommend trying this one!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- The cascading bonuses
- Great at all player counts
- Quick playtime
- Plenty of decision-making
- Cool cartographic theme
- Euler The Git
- Minor take that with dice allocation bonus
- When the dice just don’t go your way
- The final tally of scores
Need more games?
If you already own Seven Bridges and enjoy it, or are looking for other inspiration, you might also like these similar games:
- Ganz Schön Clever
- Railroad Ink
- Metro X
Buy Seven Bridges
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