Full disclosure: A review copy of Crossroll Hong Kong was provided by NightDreamer.
Roll and write games! We’re all about them; a lot of companies have made one by now, and we’re still seeing a variety of games that use them with different themes, mechanics, and variants. There are the card-based ones, like Cartographers and Welcome To, the path-building ones, like Avenue and Railroad Ink, the polyomino ones, like Tag City and Bloxx, and so many more. Let’s see what this new one brings to the table and how it’s different.
In Crossroll Hong Kong, your goal is to see as much of Hong Kong as possible, starting from a variety of locales. Along the way, you’ll see some landmarks, check out some vistas, and tour through a variety of scenic paths through Hong Kong. You’ll have to be efficient, though, because your opponents are trying to do the same thing. Will you manage to see everything in time?
First thing is to give everyone a player board:
It has an alternate side that’s a bit more minimal; I’d recommend it for your first game, since it’s a bit easier to see everything.
Once you’ve done that, set out the dice tray and the dice:
Nice touch. Give everyone a marker and you should be ready to start!
If you want, there’s a variant than I’m calling the Sum Variant that is supported by the game. Roll the D10, and then have every player mark off the space corresponding to the die roll by checking the checkbox above it:
- Route A
- Route B
- Route C
- Route D
- Route E
- None; do not use this variant for this game (or reroll).
- Route G
- Route H
- Route I
- Route J
I’ll cover this more, later.
A game of Crossroll: Hong Kong is played over a series of turns, with each player leading as the Active Player. Over the course of the game, you’ll seek to fill out and complete routes to score points as well as see Landmarks. Efficient Route completion will result in even more points, and the player with the most points wins.
A player’s turn consists of four phases, which occur sequentially.
First, the Active Player chooses two of the four available dice and rolls them, calling out or showing the result to all other players. Note that a 0 on the d10 is considered to be a 10, for this game.
Honestly, you should ignore this section until a few turns in, but here goes. Once the dice have been rolled, see how many times the rolled values appear in your Crossroad Engine section (the gray box with the gear-like things). Tell other players how many times that occurs.
For instance, if 6 and 1 are rolled, and you have 1 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 1 / 6 / 7 in your Crossroad Engine section, you would have three bonuses (1 / 1 / 6). If 1 and 1 were rolled, you would get four bonuses. If 8 and 3 were rolled, you would only get one bonus (since 8 isn’t in that section). You may opt out of using the bonuses, but if you choose to use them, you must use all of them at the same time.
Similar to the Main Action Phase below, you can use them to cross out locations along a route on the map. You must use them all on the same route, but you don’t need to fill in a Route Box (and you can use this on a route that has no open Route Boxes left). If you finish on a Landmark, you can still activate Landmark Scoring, just like a normal Main Action.
Now, you choose one of the rolled dice values (we’ll call it N, like the rulebook does). You may use it for any one of three actions. If you can’t do any, skip this phase.
This one will be familiar to you MetroX fans. Pick a route, write N into an empty Route Box (the empty boxes at / near an end of a route), and then cross off exactly N consecutive locations (checkpoints / crossroads / Landmarks) along that route. You must be able to cross off N consecutive locations in order to use that route. If there are too few, then you cannot use that route. You also cannot skip over already crossed-out spaces.
You may only start crossing off locations at an empty route terminal (an arrow) or an empty location next to a crossed-off location on that route. This means that you may have gaps in your route, since you can start from more than one location. That’s totally fine.
You may opt to simply cross off a crossroad on your map, provided it’s adjacent to a location that’s already been crossed off (and it hasn’t been crossed off, itself). If you can do that, add the number N to any empty Crossroad Engine space in the Crossroad Engine section. Rolling that number in subsequent rounds will give you a Crossroad Engine bonus. You may only do this eight times, though, so choose wisely!
Charge an Effect
There’s a box with three sets of boxes inside of it, each corresponding to a range of values. You may write N into one of the boxes that corresponds to the range of numbers that N falls into. If you complete any row, you get the following bonus:
- +1: You may use N +1 instead of N in subsequent Main Action Phases.
- -1: You may use N – 1 instead of N in subsequent Main Action Phases.
- -2: You may use N – 2 instead of N in subsequent Main Action Phases.
You may only use an effect once per round and you cannot combine them.
In this phase, you resolve all the scoring that you potentially did during the Main Action and Crossroad Bonus Phases.
If you’ve crossed off all of the locations on a specific route on your map, you’ve completed it! Circle that Route in your Scoring Area, and you’ll score that many points at the game’s end.
For the same route, for every Route Box you haven’t filled in, put a dot in it and circle the leftmost dotted box in your Scoring Area. You’ll score the indicated number of points for each box.
If you’re the first player to complete that Route, announce it. Each player who has not completed that route must then add an X to one of their Route Boxes, if they can. That Route Box can no longer be used (and they can’t get a dotted box bonus for it). It’s rude, but fair.
If your final location crossed off is a Landmark (in both or either phase), you activate Landmark Scoring, which allows you to circle the leftmost Landmark icon in the top-right scoring area of your board. Those will be worth points later.
Activate Sum Effect
If you completed the Route that has the Sum checkbox checked (assuming you’re playing with that variant; if not, ignore it) this Round, you may cross it out to active the Sum Effect. This means that on subsequent turns, you may, instead of choosing one die or the other, sum the dice values and use that as your number N. This comes at a cost, though; you won’t score that route at the end of the game.
If you don’t activate the Sum Effect upon completing that route, you won’t be able to activate it later.
End of Game
The game ends when any one player has filled in every Route Box with dots, numbers, or Xs. Sum all your circled victory points and the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Higher player counts usually mean that you’re going to take that Milestone Attack much more quickly, as players tend to not target the same routes simultaneously; they tend to split up and divide up the map. That will likely reduce your score somewhat, since every extra X is a dotted box bonus that you didn’t get. Beyond that, there’s not a ton of player interaction, since this just relies on the racing element that is present in most roll-and-write games (first to complete a thing gets a bonus). I don’t have a strong player count preference.
- You really need those dotted box bonuses. They’re worth a ton of points if you can really chain them up well. I usually see players who get the most of those win (since, implicitly, they come with Route Completion and usually everyone tries to get all the Landmarks).
- I feel like you should always go for Landmarks, too? Everyone tends to, yes, but going for them is usually a lot of points, which is nice. Skipping one technically can lose you 30 points if you would have otherwise gotten them all (since you won’t get that final 30).
- I try to go for the biggest routes first. With the exception of J, because it’s a free 3 points. Beyond that, yeah, I find that going big usually means I can try and get a few dotted box bonuses, which I appreciate.
- Crossroad Engines should be built gradually. If you try to get too many too early, you’re going to not be able to use them to fill in the tiny gaps that every player inevitably leaves from time to time, which isn’t great. Those will just stymie you and ultimately cause you to miss out on completed routes.
- Make sure your choices aren’t going to mess you up later. If you leave a lot of small gaps, then you should try to make sure that you’re not going to consistently get 3+ extra locations on a Crossroad Bonus, otherwise you’ll never be able to fill them in.
- Leave yourself options. I usually try to leave one open Crossroad, Landmark, and a longer route at all times, if I can. That way, if I don’t want to take a certain number, there are usually things I can do with it. If that doesn’t work, I can always move it into the bonuses boxes in the bottom-right. That flexibility is key to winning the game, I think.
- Don’t leave too many small gaps. By the end of the game, combined with your Crossroad Engine Bonuses, you’re going to have a lot of trouble filling in the 1- and 2-location spots on your board. You should try to avoid those proactively. Similar to MetroX, if you have too many of them, you’re never going to be able to complete that route.
- Being able to change your dice values isn’t bad. Especially towards the end of the game, it can make you much more flexible (a d4 with a -2 / -1 modifier can always be a 1 / 2, which is just what you need maybe). If you take the early ones, you can also boost your N to be even larger, which pairs up nicely with the Sum Effect.
- Don’t always just take the largest dice. It may be worth taking smaller values to set yourself up for a Landmark / Crossroad adjacency / finish a route, and if you always just try to slap down the highest value you can, you lose a lot of potential point-scoring opportunities.
- Don’t necessarily jump at the chance to take the Sum Effect. It’s going to cost you a lot of points, and it’s decently easy to thwart, if you want to — your opponents can simply opt not to use higher-value dice and force you to do it if you want the big values. Plus, if it comes late enough in the game (say the I Route is the Sum Effect route), then I would probably recommend opting out of it anyways. Up to you, but be careful with that.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The art style is very pleasant. It’s super colorful and whimsical, and I like that a lot.
- I really like the engine-building part of the game. I haven’t seen that in a roll-and-write before, and it’s super interesting to me!
- Polyhedral dice are always fun. I may sub some of these out for some fancy dice when I hit Gen Con, but, that’s just me being extra. Plus it gives me an excuse to buy fancy dice.
- Love the theme. I haven’t been to Hong Kong personally, but I do like games about travel a lot, so that’s always fun to see.
- Honestly, it’s a less stressful MetroX. That’s good for me. MetroX is usually painful since you realize that you’ve messed up and you can’t fill anything you want out since you forgot. In Crossroll Hong Kong, you can eventually get enough Crossroad Bonuses that you can go back and correct your mistakes, which is honestly really kind. I’d probably introduce people to this one first before hitting them with the Hard Mode that is MetroX.
- I appreciate that the board has a more minimal side. I like the thematic side, but the minimal side is a much easier way to learn the game since there’s fewer distracting visual elements. That’s a nice bit of design to accommodate new players like that.
- What happened to Route F? It’s a mystery.
- The dice tray doesn’t really fit in the box. It’s super nice, but, yeah, it doesn’t fit at all.
- It’s still possible to completely copy another player. There’s no differentiation for players or anything unique, and that always mildly frustrates me. I’ve still never seen it happen, but it could.
- The English rulebook is pretty rough. There’s a key error in the Crossroad Bonus section that really messed us up (it’s an error in an example), and that’s not great. It makes the game significantly more difficult to play without a fair bit of effort put to figuring it out. The dotted box bonus in particular could use a more illustrative example.
- Everything is a bit small. Making the player boards much larger could be a bit unwieldy, but I think it would be helpful making it more clear for players. As it currently stands, it’s sometimes hard to notice that you forgot a few locations and don’t have a route completed, which can be a bit of a bummer.
- Lots of moving parts, which slows down the endgame. Watching people punch 15+ numbers into their calculators to get a score out of 500 can be a bit of a drag, especially because players are a bit confused on their first play.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, once you get the game going, I think Crossroll Hong Kong is a lot of fun! I think I’d probably give it a higher score if it weren’t for the rulebook troubles, but I hope that if it gets picked up / localized / enough time passes then the rulebook will get a more thorough look-through. Something something blind playtesting. Anyways, enough on that. Crossroll does a good job mixing both tried-and-true roll-and-write mechanics (racing, crossing off locations) and adding some stuff that’s novel (at least among the games I’ve seen) via its Crossroad Engine. It gives players a lot of different things that they can do on their turn, which is very nice, as well. Add in some bright, colorful art and a really neat setting and you’ve got a game that I’m pretty pleased with. I particularly appreciate that it came with its own (very nice, being honest) dice tray, even if it doesn’t fit into the game’s box. That’s fine. For me, it’s a very pleasant version of MetroX, somewhere firmly between that and Let’s Make a Bus Route, and that’s not a bad hybrid to shoot for. If you’re looking for a way to (thematically) explore Hong Kong and you enjoy a roll-and-write, I’d recommend checking out Crossroll Hong Kong! I’ve enjoyed playing it.