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ROLL for Your Life, Candyman! Review

Quick Look: ROLL for Your Life, Candyman!

Smirk and Dagger board game ROLL for Your Life, Candyman! game review; Image by Benjamin KocherDesigner: Andy Geremia
Artist: Curt Covert
Publisher: Smirk & Dagger Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 10-30 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Dice, candy components, and, speech bubbles—that’s what you get inside the box of Roll for Your Life, Candyman!. At first impression, there’s not much to this game, other than rolling dice as quickly as possible and grabbing a fairly realistic (albeit not real) candy cane, à la the card game lovingly known as Spoons (you know, where you get a four of a kind and lunge for one of the spoons in the middle of the table, and if you don’t get one, you’re out). As it turns out, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, in its simplicity, Roll for Your Life, Candyman! provides a hectic frenzy of dice rolling that’s perfect for kids who can identify matches (four of a kind, preferably), adults who need a quick game before/between/after longer games, or some other combination of necessity. While there’s not much to it, I found it to be a fast and fun frenzy that is long enough to accomplish its designs, without being so long that it drags on.

My Experience
When I opened the box sent to me by Smirk & Dagger for a game I was to review, I was surprised to find a second game alongside with it. That surprise game was this one, Roll for Your Life, Candyman!. I had never heard of it before, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The more I learned about it—through the rule book, mostly—the more excited I was to play it. Now, if you know me, I love games with deep, strategic choices and minimal luck. However, Roll for Your Life, Candyman! captured my interest like a snow globe captures a child’s imagination (I still love snow globes to this day, actually).

Roll for Your Life, Candyman! game review. Image by Benjamin Kocher
When I punched out the pieces and put everything together, I was more than pleased by the look of the game. The angry gingerbread men wielding candied weapons of (cavity-forming) mass destruction made me smirk with childish delight, and I couldn’t wait for my wife to get home so we could give it a spin.

At first impression, I was intrigued, to say the least. After learning more, my excitement grew. While actually playing, I found myself so tense and focused while rolling that nothing else seemed to matter but rolling four of the same symbols and grabbing the candy cane so I can devour my opposition! If you couldn’t tell, I get really into games. When I eat gingerbread men around Christmas time, I tend to start with the head. Here, I leave the head for last. That way, my opponent must witness their degradation in real-time, cursed to float as a lonely, disembodied noggin, singing for all the world to hear, “I-i-i-i-i-i ain’t got no body!”

And that, folks, is just one of the horribly sweet jokes you will find yourself spouting off during the game.

Everyone gets dice and the corresponding pieces for their Candyman (i.e. button colors match with dice colors). To the middle of the table, deal out one Special Treat token per player, plus one, face down (i.e. a 4-player game would have 5 Special Treat tokens on the table). Place the candy cane (which doesn’t taste anything like a real candy cane…trust me, I tried) in the middle of the table within easy reach of all players. Ready?



Smirk & Dagger Games Roll for Your Life, Candyman! board game review; Image by Benjamin Kocher

Gameplay is pretty straightforward: everyone rolls their dice at the same time, setting aside any results they’d like to keep, and continues rolling until all four dice results match (i.e. four of a kind). Then, they lunge for the candy cane in the middle. Whoever gets the candy cane yells, “CUT IT OUT!” “ENOUGH, FIENDS OF THE INFERNAL PIT!” or simply, “STOP!” at which point everyone stops rolling dice and focuses their attention on the player with the candy cane.

The candy cane-wielding player then chooses an opponent and steals either an arm (if four arm symbols are present on the dice) or a leg (if four leg symbols are present) and places it in their personal Trophy pile (kind of macabre, if you think about it…). If four candy swirls are the four of a kind, then that player may do one of three things:
  1. Take a face-down Special Treat token from the middle and place it on their own Candyman, thus making their Candyman immune from future attacks,
  2. Remove a face-down Special Treat token from another player’s Candyman (thus rendering it vulnerable to attack), and follow the directions on the token, or
  3. Remove a Candyman’s torso or head; however, torsos and heads may not be removed from a Foe’s gingerbread fighter if there are still other appendages waiting to be plucked off.
There is a SWEET!! (that’s the name of it in the rule book, exclamation points and all) condition where if you roll four matching symbols on your first roll, you may grab the candy cane (don’t forget to shout, “SWEET!!”), and those dice symbols are treated as wild, meaning you may perform any action your greedy little heart desires.

Failure to follow through with your dice results after violently grabbing the candy cane (i.e. you rolled four arms, but no Candyman has any arms left to…disarm) results in your Candyman losing an appendage—or other piece of cookie—to the box.

Once only one player is left standing (or hovering ominously with nary a head to its name), the round ends, points are tallied (one point per cookie piece, plus any points shown on previously-used Special Treat tokens), and another round begins. The game plays for three rounds, all the points are tallied from all three rounds, and the most barbaric gingerbread warrior (i.e. the player with the most points) is declared the Candy King and receives the illustrious Candy Crown! If there is a tie…well, all tied players take part in a fight to the death. Meaning, they all roll for peppermint swirls and the first to do so—and grab the candy cane—is the winner.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme is pretty much a battle royale with 2-4 gingerbread men going at it. Also Christmas (because candy canes and gingerbread men). The mechanics? Dice chucking to the extreme.

Artwork and Components:

Alright, these Candymen (and women, I’m sure) look like they’ve had one too many gumdrops—and I mean that in the best way possible. Their angry faces make me feel just as fierce, and as I roll dice, I can’t help but do so with the intent to avenge my edible berserker. It’s wonderful.

As for components, I mentioned above that I did taste the plastic candy cane. Let it be known that I did so when no one else was present to avoid any awkward comments and/or glances. The candy cane felt good in my hands, but had a rather tasteless…taste to it when licked. The verdict: don’t bother eating it. That said, it’s a great little component. The speech bubbles that come with the game help put words in the mouths of the players, and really don’t serve much of a purpose other than that, except for the Feast of Words variant, where players may force an opponent to eat their words (i.e. speech bubble) when the attacking player rolls a SWEET!!. The speech bubble is placed in the defender’s Trophy pile, and counts as a negative two (-2) points at the end of the round. I actually really approve of this variant.

The Good:
  • Fast, frantic, and fun
  • Easy to learn and great for all ages
  • That candy cane looks SWEET!!
  • The cookie warriors are just wonderful to look at and make jokes with throughout the game

The Bad:

I can't begin to describe my disappointment when I discovered the candy cane was not, in fact, candy.

The candy cane isn’t real, and it doesn’t taste like anything. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d chip my teeth on it if I tried to eat it. (Guys. Don’t eat components. It’s bad form.)

Final Thoughts:

Roll for Your Life, Candyman! game by Smirk and Dagger Games; board game review and image by Benjamin Kocher

Let’s be real here. I love a lot of heavy games with loads of thinking (even if they can—and do—hurt my head). But Roll for Your Life, Candyman! is one of those games that is nothing but fast, frantic fun for everyone involved. Obviously, you know what you’re getting into when you pick it upit’s a wonderfully silly and fun game, exactly what it was designed to be. I really had no idea what to think the first time I saw the box, but looking at the box art and reading through the rule book kept getting me more and more excited to play. The game does play better with more rather than less players, but my two-player game was still quite enjoyable.

Players Who Like:
If you like frantic dice chuckers, you’ll no doubt find yourself enjoying this one. It’s a good, light game for kids and adults alike, and if you’re looking for that ever-illusive Christmas-themed game (candy canes, gingerbread men…), Roll for Your Life, Candyman! needs to make an appearance in your life. There’s also player elimination involved, but due to the short nature of the rounds, this isn’t a big deal if it's not your thing.

Check out ROLL for Your Life, Candyman! on:


Benjamin Kocher - Editor and Reviewer

Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He's a certified copyeditor through UC San Diego's Copyediting Extension program. He's a freelance writer and editor, and covers everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Kocherb, and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.

See Benjamin's reviews HERE.
ROLL for Your Life, Candyman! Review ROLL for Your Life, Candyman! Review Reviewed by Benjamin Kocher on May 20, 2019 Rating: 5

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