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Truck Off: RAW Delivers

Quick Look: Truck Off: Roll And Write (RAW)

Designers: Ryan Lambert and Adam Rehberg
Artist: N/A
Publisher: Adam's Apple Games LLC
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-99
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 20 min.

From the publisher:

Become the “American Dream on Wheels” as a Food Truck Titan in this zesty follow-up to Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy.  The Roll and Write plays 1-99 players for the ultimate food truck dice rolling competition.

AS FOOD TRUCK TITANS… Send your food truck team to score sales at various venues throughout town.  You can only visit each venue once and will need to carefully plan your route and take sales opportunities when they are arise.  Drive efficiently and score bonuses, or race to the finish and hit the big time payouts on the way.  Plan your route but expect the unexpected in your path to food truck infamy!

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

A copy of this tasty game was delivered to me for the purposes of this review, but every delicious, opinionated morsel here is mine.

Review: Truck Off: Roll And Write (RAW)

Overview and Theme:

A follow up to the original food-themed card game, Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy, this new iteration joins the current fads of food truck lunches with roll-and-write games and delivers a delicious experience in just 25 minutes.

In Truck Off: RAW, you are navigating your food truck across a map of the city, stopping to deliver meals (and earn points) at a variety of venues along the way. Will you drive slowly and cautiously, stopping at every chance, or zoom ahead to a more valuable venue? There's plenty of strategy and replayability in this compact game.

The colorful polyhedral dice give Truck Off: RAW the best sensory experience, as you get to roll (and sometimes re-roll) all six dice each turn.

A pad of double-sided map sheets is included, too, and my first thought after playing the game once was that I need to get a set of these laminated because I see Truck Off: RAW becoming a fast favorite. The city map is very similar on the two sides, but the placement of bridges and bonuses is just different enough to keep you from getting your truck, er, stuck in a rut.

Game Play and Mechanics:
Each player needs a map sheet (set to the same side, A or B), something to write with (not included), and a brilliant name for their Food Truck venture! Decide as a group which of the three starting spots you'll use, and circle that truck.

Players will take turns rolling all six dice and getting to re-roll one of those (two, if you've earned a later bonus). Then all players can look at the options and choose which die they'd like to use to mark down a number on their sheet.

This playstyle makes the game very scalable to larger numbers, especially if you have a way to allow folks to choose which die to reroll or if you allow your die-rolling player to choose wisely and fairly! I've definitely been enjoying roll-and-writes through livestreams and other online forums during the shutdown and Truck Off: RAW is a great addition to that lineup (along with Cartographers, Welcome To, Railroad Ink, and more).

To use a die, simply drive your truck through the blocks (not along the streets, which was slightly confusing thematically, but we quickly got the hang of it) up to four spaces to an open venue: a colored icon in the shape of its matching die (purple triangle for d4, yellow square for d6, etc.) that does not yet have a dot in it or a line crossing it. Fill the venue with a bold dot and write the number on the die in the next matching space along the serpentine scoring track at the top of the page.

It's important to note that, unlike a game such as Kokoro (Avenue), you are allowed to cross your path and revisit blocks you've already driven through. You're not trying to make a singular path here but are allowed to drive wherever you need to go each turn, which gives you an interesting amount of freedom and makes this game different from other path-drawing games I've played recently.

The complexity of Truck Off: RAW comes in trying to balance your truck's position on the map with your advancement on the scoring track. You might have a really great opportunity to fill in a 6 in a yellow square venue but if you filled in a green diamond d8 value on your last turn, you'd be skipping over 7 spaces on the scoring track to get there! Once you have passed over a space on the scoring track, you can't go back to it later, so you really need to plan to hit the venues in the most optimal order.

Not only will you score the number of points you've written in each space of the scoring track, but you're also eligible to earn bonuses when you fill in at least 3 spaces in a single row or column of that track. These bonuses are extremely helpful, especially later in the game as your map gets clogged up and your venue options become more limited.

Bonuses allow you to do things like:
  • draw a bridge (to give you another spot to cross over one of the rivers)
  • draw a gas station (to earn 3 extra movement on any turn you drive through it)
  • draw 2x on an open venue (to earn double the number when you fill it)
  • get an extra movement on every turn for the rest of the game
  • reroll up to two dice on every turn for the rest of the game
  • move your truck to one of the unused Start spaces and continue driving from there

The other important bonus is Promote a Venue: mark two of the circles above a column of spaces on the score track, and at the end of the game, you'll earn bonus points for the number of spaces you filled in that column multiplied by the number of circles you marked off above it. When you mark in two circles in a particular column (say, above the red circular d12 spaces) then all the other players get to mark off one circle above the same column. In some games, especially with two players, we didn't use this option very much, but in bigger games, it had more impact on the final score.

The game continues until one player fills in the final purple triangle d4 space on their score track (and there have been at least 12 turns, which would only come up if you had a new player or a younger player who tried to rush through the game without earning bonuses). You'll tally all the numbers you wrote in your score track along with any bonuses you earned from promoting venues as well as any $5 bonuses gained to find out how much money you made driving your food truck through the city today. The player who made the most money wins!

The Good:
There's a lot to love about Truck Off: RAW: the funky food truck theme, the colorful dice, the bright map, the complex interplay between your route on the map and your progress on the score track. I appreciate that the colored symbols also have shapes to match their die, which should make the game playable for our colorblind friends.

Very few roll-and-writes use a variety of dice (the other that comes to mind is Roll to the Top!) and it is satisfying not only to be able to roll such a nice handful of dice each turn but also to weave the different ranges and probabilities into your strategy. Taking a 3 for one of the grey d20 venues may not be a great move, but it's just fine for a purple d4 venue, and you'll have those thoughts to add to the mix along with the path of the map itself.

As a gameschooling mom, I love the amount of thought and strategy that goes into playing Truck Off: RAW. It works on map-reading and directional skills, spatial planning, probability, risk-taking, logic, and so much more... not to mention a lovely little rabbit trail into different kinds of food trucks and maybe, if you're lucky, a home ec lesson wherein the kids make you tacos!

The Bad:
The only strong negative comment I heard about Truck Off: RAW was that if you're playing in pencil (which is easier for first time players who may start a turn and then realize they can't or don't want to make that move), it can be hard to see the numbers you write in the score track because the ink there is so bold. A faded top section was suggested to make it a little easier to see.

Players Who Like:
Players who enjoy dreaming of owning and driving a food truck, who have previously enjoyed the card game version of Truck Off, or anyone interested in roll-and-write games from Kokoro to Roll to the Top! to Welcome To will find something to enjoy here.

Final Thoughts:
Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy Roll And Write is a wonderful addition to my shelf of roll-and-write games. Truck Off: RAW holds its own not only because of theme, but also because it uses a variety of polyhedral dice, it allows for more natural movement in a path-making game, and it has a surprisingly deep strategy of balancing probability with availability, merging the need to travel on a map with the requirement of progressing along a score track. It's colorful, it's bright, it's fun, it's replayable, and it scales very well to groups needing to play at a distance right now. Truck Off: RAW delivers!

Check out Truck Off: Roll and Write on:


About the Author:
My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
Truck Off: RAW Delivers Truck Off: RAW Delivers Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on May 18, 2020 Rating: 5

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