App O’ the Morning: Roll Through The Ages

Roll Through The Ages is a game that benefits immensely from an App conversion. Although it loses the tactile element of dice rolling, it gains a lot from having the program handle goods management, which can be a be a little tricky to master in the original game.

I wrote about the tabletop version yesterday, so I’m not going to rehash the rules here. The app is an faithful conversion of the original, with a functional design and few audio/visual embellishments. There are options to play against AI opponents, or against any number of players using pass-back mode. (This means handing the device to the next player when it’s their turn.)

Each turn brings you to a Turn Order screen, which enables you to Roll, Build, Buy Development, and End Turn. Rolling is simple enough: push a button, click on any dice you want to save, and move on to the “Feed” stage when you’re done. If you’ve rolled enough food, or have enough banked, it’s automatically deducted. If not, you suffer a penalty.

This moves you straight to a Cities and Monuments screen, which looks like a color version of the paper scoresheet. Touch inputs allow you to check off boxes to assign workers, and separate buttons allow you buy developments and manage goods. When everything is done for one turn, you move right on to the next. This allows you to dash through a 10-round solitaire game in as little as 10 minutes. Even if you can’t finish a game in a single sitting, the App will save any number of games in progress.

On the downside, I thought that the flow from one screen to the next could be smoother and more logical, and not all of the feedback is helpful. (The main screen doesn’t tell you if you’ve assigned your workers or not.) Fortunately, the game won’t allow you to continue if you forget to complete a stage.

As a bonus, the Roll Through the Ages app offers the alternative Bronze Age variant, which adds some interesting items to the Developments menu, including an the “shipping” advance.

This a very plain port, but an extremely entertaining one. It loads fast, the controls are very simple, and it allows you to play a quick game of RTTA without any setup or fuss. I played the app version before the tabletop version, and found that it really helped teach the the game. If nothing else, it provides an excellent tutorial and practice mode for your live games.

Roll Through the Ages is available in the App Store for $3.  (Warning: this link will open iTunes.)