The Ink Roads Challenge, the review

The Ink Roads Challenge, the review

The Ink Roads Challenge

The Streets of Ink Challenge, created by the authors Hjalmar Hach and Lorenzo Silva for Horrible Games and published in Italy by Ghenos Games, is a competitive board game in which one to four players can participate (although, as we will see, in reality the number of players can be infinite) from eight years upwards.

Thanks to the well-established roll & write mechanics, we can safely say that Le Strade d'Inicolo Challenge is the enhanced version of the board game Le Strade d'Inicolo , of which it takes up the basic game structure and then expands it with a whole series of new, nice rules that improve the gaming experience, the fun and even the interaction between the players.

In addition, just like the previous edition of the game, The Streets of Ink Challenge is marketed in two different color versions, Lush Green and Shiny Yellow, each containing two different expansions, in addition to the base game.

The Streets of Ink Challenge, setting up a game

Before starting a game of The Streets of Ink Challenge, each player must pick up a board game, which shows the map with tiles on which it will draw its transport network and a whole series of game references. After that, the path dice and any dice provided by the expansions must be placed in the center of the playing surface, if you decide to use them.| ); }

The Streets of Ink Challenge, the game

The Streets of Ink Challenge is a board game that can be counted in the category of puzzle games and which, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, uses the roll & write mechanics. For those unfamiliar with it, this mechanic essentially develops in two phases, one in which dice are rolled (roll) and one in which something must be written (write), usually linked to the result obtained by the dice themselves.

In each of the seven rounds that make up a game of The Strade d'Ininj Challenge, lasting about thirty minutes each, any player will have to roll the four special dice available in the center of the playing surface. Then, each of the participants will have to use all four of the track segments shown by the dice faces to draw on their board a network of roads and railways that connect as many exits as possible. | ); } Each of the four segments shown by the dice must then be drawn on its own board, thanks to an erasable marker, so that it connects either to one of the exits on the sides of the map contained in the board, or to a pre-existing route. The faces of the dice have road and rail segments that, obviously, will not be able to connect to each other, except thanks to the stations, which are also present on the faces of the dice. Furthermore, the two types of transport will only be able to intersect thanks to the segment containing the overpass. All players will use the same dice, but depending on the chosen starting point and where the segments are drawn, each network will be unique and different from those of the other players.

In addition to the fifteen different course segments shown from the dice, the participants will be able to use, one per turn and for a maximum of three per game, even six special courses present on the players' boards. In order to create the paths in the best way, the segments (both those shown by the dice and the special ones) can be inverted or rotated.

At the end of the round, each player must check if he has reached one or more of the objectives provided by the relative cards, and in the chance to declare it to the other participants. Objective cards provide three amounts of decreasing points; the first to reach the goal will earn the highest score, the second to reach the goal will earn the average score and the third the lowest score. Anyone who achieves that same goal in the future will not earn further points. If multiple players achieve the same goal in the same game round, all those players will earn the same amount of points. Finally, all participants will have to write the number of the round just completed on the paths just drawn, to keep track of the succession of the game. Then, the game continues with a new round, until the seventh is reached, which marks the end of the game.

At the end of the game, each player scores victory points based on the number of exits connected by a network of roads and railways. The outputs can also be connected by separate and distinct networks, but to make more points it is advisable to connect them all with the same network. Additional points are awarded to the longest road and the longest railway, as well as for each element drawn in the central nine squares of your board, for the Village buildings in which you have drawn a station and for the objectives achieved. Then, as many points are subtracted as there are ends of free paths, that is, which do not end on an exit or continue on an adjacent square. The player with the highest total score will then be declared the winner.

The Streets of Ink Challenge, two colors for four expansions

As previously mentioned, The Streets of Ink Challenge is sold in two versions of different colors, each containing the base game plus two expansions, themed in line with the color of the version and the packaging. Only one expansion can be used in a game at a time and the number of turns available to players may vary from expansion to expansion. To play a game with one of the expansions, just add the relative dice to the four dice of the basic game: while the rule will always apply that all the basic dice must be used at each turn, the players can choose whether to use both special dice, only one or nobody.

The Ink Roads Challenge - Lush Green

This version of the game contains the Forest expansion and the Paths expansion, each featuring two expansion dice of green color (dark green for Forest and light green for Paths) and three Expansion Objective cards.

In the Forest expansion some minor changes to the core rulebook will come into play and you will earn additional points by creating lush forests and making them intertwine with its own transport network. You will only be able to earn points from the two largest forests.

In the Trails expansion, some minor changes to the core rulebook will come into play and you will earn additional points by creating a network of trails that will connect to the stations of the network. basic transports.

The Ink Roads Challenge - Shining Yellow

This version of the game contains the Canyon expansion and the Desert expansion, each featuring two yellow expansion dice (dark yellow for Canyon and light yellow for Desert) and three Expansion Objective cards.

In the Desert expansion some minor changes to the basic rules will come into play and you will earn additional points for managing to do survive the cacti, then place them next to the oases before the dry face comes out on the expansion dice, which will erase all cacti not adjacent to the oases from the board. At the end of the game, you will earn one point for each surviving cactus.

In the Canyon expansion, some minor changes to the core rulebook will come into play and you will earn additional points by creating the longest canyon possible. The canyons can only be crossed by roads and railways by spending Bridge points, which will be provided at the start of the game.

From an editorial point of view

Editorially speaking, The Ink Roads Challenge is a product of undoubted quality, both from the point of view of materials and from the artistic side, although it has some lightness in terms of editing.

Each of the two versions of the game is contained in a handy and robust box with magnetic closure, inside which contains an excellent plastic insert able to perfectly house all the components of the product. The dice are engraved and of excellent quality, and it will be a real pleasure to roll them to find out which segments of the course you will have to use in a given turn. Unlike most roll & write titles, The Roads of Ink Challenge comes with washable planks and dry-erase markers. The planks themselves are well structured and easy to read and understand; they also show all the faces of the dice, which is extremely useful during the game. The general quality of the cards is also good, which, in our opinion, do not need to be wrapped in terms of quantity and type of game.

From an artistic point of view, the beautiful illustrations by Marta Tranquilli, present on the box and on the back of the boards, embellish the product and give the player an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Too bad they were not also used to make the Objective cards more pleasing to the eye, which therefore appear to be a bit anonymous.

The only drawback we found and that we cannot fail to point out is the presence of some typos in the regulation. In addition to this, we saw in the Verde Rigoglioso version some references to the Yellow Shining one, as if a “copy / paste” had been made during the elaboration phase and no one had noticed it during the revision phase. Too bad, because otherwise the regulation booklet is clear, simple and full of examples.


Net of our test, Le Strade d’Inicolo Challenge turned out to be a more than good product, managing to improve what was already shown with the previous edition. This title has a very simple regulation that can be explained in a few moments, but allows you to start very challenging matches that last a few tens of minutes, making it an excellent filler or a solitaire pastime for any type of player.

Like almost all puzzle games, it is in fact "a group solitaire", with each player thinking about his own board, without interacting with his fellow players, although the introduction of objectives has marginally mitigated this aspect, giving the title a minimum of indirect interaction. The number of players is dictated only by the contents of the box, which houses only four boards and four erasable markers, so you can easily play with more participants by purchasing additional copies of the title or by downloading the PDF of the boards to be printed from the manufacturer's website.

The only moment in which the players really interact is during the calculation of the final score, when they will have to check each other that the courses built do not contain any errors whatsoever. As indicated by the regulation, in fact, each box with a section of the route must show the number of the shift in which it was occupied in order to facilitate verification. However, reconstructing the opponent's moves is a matter that proves to be very laborious, if not tedious, so unless there are obvious inconsistencies it is almost impossible to identify errors in the opponent's track. After a couple of games, he will therefore tend to trust what his opponents have done.

The Ink Roads Challenge has the virtue of putting players in front of really challenging decisions at every turn, which can have big consequences during the game. The presence of the objectives and buildings, the real novelty of this edition, really requires you to carefully think about where to place the paths, in order to achieve the main objective of connecting the exits and at the same time collecting all the points that these additions offer and that can be instrumental in winning the game.

The four expansions, included two by two in each product release, are excellent and significantly raise the replay value of the game, offering an additional level of challenge. The fact that The Streets of Ink Challenge is fully compatible with the expansions previously released for the first edition of The Streets of Ink, although not with the base game, is a further added value, able to further raise its longevity. Finally, the presence of the solitaire mode and the draft mode are another significant advantage.

A game aimed at…

Thanks to its simplicity and immediacy, playing Le Strade d 'Ink Challenge does not require special board game experience or special calculation skills, as is often the case in puzzle games. It is a very easy title to teach, understand and play even for completely inexperienced players of this hobby and is therefore a good introductory product to offer to attract new playmates.

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