Sports Simulation Board Games

How to play ROLLER RUMBLE Roller Derby Game

ROLLER RUMBLE is easy to play and understand, even if you've never seen roller derby action on television. Let's run through a sample play sequence so you can get a feel for how this exciting game works! If you'd like to follow along visually, click here for a printable PDF of the game board arrangement and sample fast-action card readings we'll be using, which will open in a separate browser window.

First, you select your starting teams, and arrange the individual cards on the appropriate areas of game board. For our demonstration, we'll use cards from the Roller America Derby skater card set, one of several different available card sets based on real-life or fictional derby leagues. Each team consists of five skaters--two blockers, two jammers and a pivot. Select your starting line-ups by placing their individual cards on the game board, set the team tokens on the "jam track," shuffle the fast-action cards, and that's it! You're ready to begin.

A real-life roller derby game begins with the skaters circling the track, maneuvering for position in hopes of helping their jammers through the pack and into a jam. This "pre-jam" phase of the game is represented by the "SKATE" reading on the fast action card. The SKATE reading brings into play various attributes of the skaters, as they use their skills in attempting to set up a jam. Each SKATE reading represents approximately twenty seconds of skating time.

Our first SKATE reading asks us if there is a STAR skater in position [3], the pivot position. We check area [3] on the game board and see that the home pivot, Violet Taylor, IS a STAR skater (see illustration). The fast action card tells us that Taylor has made the first move of the match, putting a huge screen on her opponent, Cindy Chamberlain, forcing Chamberlain out of position. We move the home team token one space down the "jam track," which essentially means that Taylor has given her team the initial advantage.

Our next fast action card calls for us to check boxes [1] and [2] to see if any skater has the CHEAT quality. None of the four blockers, Linda Oberg and Rosie Rosdahl for the home team, or Maria Ferrante and Linda Graham for the visitors, has this quality, so we assume that each of these skaters passed on the opportunity to do something underhanded here and nothing more than ordinary jostling occurs THIS trip around the track.

The next fast-action card is an ACTION card. ACTION readings account for certain team and individual events and also frequently bring into play the various skaters' TV grades, which represent the "fan appeal" of each skater. High TV grades assure that certain skaters will be "stars" in your derby! We flip to the ACTION reading on the next card to find out what happened. In this case, the next card indicates that the blockers in [1]--Ferrante and Oberg--have exchanged harsh blows, with the skater with the higher TV grade coming out on top. That would be "The Big O," Linda Oberg of the home team, with a TV grade of "B." Move the home team token up another space--one more move, and they'll be in position to jam!

We flip another card. The next SKATE reading says "visiting team gets on a roll," directing us to move the token one space for the visiting team. Looks like the visiting team has recovered a bit, and is looking to close the gap! Another card-- this time, it's a FAST skater in [5] we're looking for, and we see that BOTH Janet Spence and Julie Todd are FAST skaters. In ROLLER RUMBLE, the trailing team wins all ties, and if the score is currently tied, then the home team wins the tie-breaker. Since the game just started, there's no score--so, Todd gets the advantage, we move the home team token again. That puts the token into the "jam" space, which means the home team has gained enough advantage to start a JAM!

(NOTE: In ROLLER RUMBLE, a team has the option to attempt to increase its advantage rather than jam right away. If successful, the team executes a POWER JAM, where only they can score. However, there's always the chance that in going for the POWER JAM, the other team will re-group and grab the advantage, or that play could be halted by an injury or penalty and the jam advantage wasted. This is one of the many entertaining and engaging strategy elements of the game!)

We flip the next fast-action card, and check the JAM reading. It shows that the lead jammer--in this case, Jill Wilson from the home team--scores 1 point, and that a MEAN jammer sends her defender flying over the rail with a vicious blow, and scores FOUR points! We check ALL the jammers, and note that Janet Spence is the only one with the MEAN quality. So it turns out that Janet has tossed Julie Todd over the rail, and gets the four points! WOW! The home crowd grumbles their disapproval at Spence's antics as their team finds itself down 4-1, despite out-hustling the visitors and setting up the jam! Just like in the REAL roller derby, results are unpredictable, exciting, and hard-hitting!

The teams re-group on the track--an action represented by re-setting the team tokens at the first space of the jam track on the game board, and the game continues. One trip through the deck equals one quarter, so the game times itself. Player substitutions happen automatically, as directed by the fast-action cards, as do penalties, injuries, fights and everything else that can happen in a roller derby match! It's just like watching the derby on TV!