Roll Through the Ages in Review – Century by century, die by die…

Board games are slowly but surely invading the App Store. Starting with the oldies like chess and backgammon up to the more recent, but no less classics like SCRABBLE and MONOPOLY (TMA Review). And more recently, even some of the lesser knowns are creeping in as well. One such example is Roll Through the Ages, a game for the whole family that has everything to provide hours of fun and enjoyment.

Roll Through the Ages is a typical example of the German school of board game design. The goal is to get as high a score as possible in a fixed amount of rounds (usually 10). Each round is divided into stages, with specific actions available during each one. You start by rolling the die (according to the amount of cities you possess) to define what resource you have available for the rest of the round. The resources may be food, workers, coins and goods. You can reroll up to two times, fixing the dice that you like.

Once you’re through with the dice, feed the workers and assign all available ones to the buildings you desire. These can be either cities that give additional dice to roll, or monuments that give you extra score at the final tally. Once finished, it’s time to spend the cash on achievements; these give you various bonuses in different aspects of gameplay in addition to adding up points for the final score. Rinse, repeat.

The mechanics of the board game has been lovingly translated to the iDevice. Up to the choice of selecting the era, which defines what achievements are available. The graphics are nicely done as well – I almost felt I was really playing the board game itself. Some interface decisions are questionable however. My main issue is the overextended use of the base iOS menu elements in the game itself rather than going from the ground up. While this may have saved the team some time and effort, as well providing a more fluid performance, the result seems to be a bit haphazard with various bits and pieces seemingly off.

But that is not the worse issue. There is no online multiplayer in Roll Through the Ages. Furthermore, there isn’t even any option to play against an AI as well! This leaves with hot-iDevice multiplayer only. And while this may have been forgivable for an iPad or even a universal app, in an iPhone specific game it is a killer downside. I can’t imagine sitting down with the family and passing around a single iPhone – it just doesn’t work.

In all of their care of redesigning Roll Through the Ages for the iOS, the developers lost sight of the end gamers, who are going to play it. No online, or even local multiplayer, no AI and no universal app support turn a full featured board game into little more than a practice run for the boardgame. With such shortcomings the UI, feeling like having been hastily put together, is more of minor nuisance, than a serious flaw.

With this I declare Roll Through the Ages officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Roll Through the Ages Developer: Vintru, LLC
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.11 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 6.33MB
  • Mechanic true to the original board game
  • Authentic graphics
  • No multiplayer apart from “hot-iDevice”
  • Haphazard UI


A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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