Rolling Heights: The Next Great City Building Solo Game?

March 12, 2023 | Sessions | 2 comments

Build a bustling city with skyscrapers and towers that rise up during construction with the help of meeples in Rolling Heights.

Onto an exciting new arrival! Rolling Heights wasn’t something I thought I wanted, and I’m pretty sure it was my husband who shared his interest. Still, it features a dedicated solo mode with the base game… To the table! With little knowledge of what I was in for, I was delighted to find some very unique components and mechanics. Time to roll!

Game Overview

Game Name: Rolling Heights
Publication Year:
John D. Clair
Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

A city slowly takes shape with new tiles and specific material requirements. These towers slowly form a city skyline with a mixture of massive skyscrapers and smaller buildings. Different meeples provide resources and abilities, but with a twist… They’re actually rolled!

A Random City from Neighborhood Tiles in Rolling Heights

First Play

March 12, 2023



Latest Play

March 14, 2023



Setup Time

5 Minutes

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

1 Hour & 15 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

38" x 28"


Low Score


A Full City Area

The play area and number of components are what I would definitely label as city-sized! This photo shows practically everything needed, including the hundreds of pieces.

Neighborhoods are split up between 6 boards, which are randomly placed and rotated for a different city.

So much! It will all make sense as I get into gameplay, yet everything serves a purposes. I loved this modular design, though, since no board is enormous. Plenty of variety!

This is all about building a city, though, and it literally grows vertically with stacks of different materials.

All the Components Needed to Build a City in Rolling Heights

Looking at a Single Tile

Part of setup involves choosing a level 1 tile to build nearly anywhere. Not really knowing what I was doing ,the Brix Rubber Plant seemed good enough to start with.

This told me that I needed a stack of 1 concrete and another stack of 2 concrete to complete this tile.

If I did so, my purple ownership marker would go on top of a stack while I earned 2 victory points and chose a politician or architect meeple. More on those later on!

Note that I ended up flipping over ownership markers on incomplete tiles: This makes it easier to see, as you’ll see!

Beginning with the Brix Rubber Plant in Rolling Heights

Final Scoring Goals

A trio of random scoring goals provides helpful hints for what to do to earn more victory points at the end.

I was a bit unlucky and drew both of the tiles that decreased victory points, but I could use this to my advantage if I planned well enough. Possibly. Ha ha!

There were no expectations going into this first play. I figured I would lose against the solo opponent.

And that’s always OK. I would rather learn how to win than get lucky without knowing what I’m doing. At least I didn’t have any trouble understanding the rules, though.

Randomizing a Trio of End Game Scoring Goals in Rolling Heights

All Sorts of Meeples

Building up a city is quite exciting, yet all of the workers aren’t left out of the fun. Resources and special abilities are all triggered with different sorts of meeples.

There are some helpful reminders on the scoring track, but most of these are pretty straightforward.

One might wonder what the meeple icons sideways or standing mean… I’ll get there shortly, but this truly is a game about rolling meeples! Quite a unique concept.

Every play starts with 2 carpenters and 2 construction workers, who produce wood and concrete to build with.

A Useful Guide to the Types of Meeples Used in Rolling Heights

Rolling Right Along

In the thematic boxes included with the game, the first step of each turn is to roll up to 10 meeples. That’s right: They literally get rolled to figure out what happens!

If more than half of them lie flat, indicating exhausted workers, those are re-rolled so it’s never possible to have a turn without anything to do or spend.

Workers standing up are working hard, doing a lot. Those on their sides are working steady. Still good!

There is a push-your-luck element, too, which can backfire with a strike and discarded workers. Be careful!

The Interesting Art of Rolling Meeples for Resources and Abilities in Rolling Heights

A City in the Works

Resources must be used during the round, or they get discarded. Early on, they typically go towards working on buildings or picking up a new tile to get started on.

It’s true: This literally started to look like a city! After several rounds, I saw the neat mechanics. But at the same time, this was so very fiddly with keeping things in place.

The material blocks don’t snap in place, which is as it should be. They weren’t particularly easy to knock over.

Still, I will note that I don’t plan to play this with anyone other than my husband… And I’m moving the pieces. Ha!

A City Skyline in the Making with Rolling Heights

The Tallest of Towers

I knew I lost early on, but this was more of a learning game. The solo opponent picked up plenty of skyscrapers and scored points based on the number of cubes.

This was a very interesting experience because I both loved and disliked the game for different reasons. There I was, torn in both directions and not sure what to think.

Then again, I lost so terribly that I figured my opinion might be clouded. Time to look ahead to playing again!

Some information was hard to find with these tall towers, yet I was amazed at the way the city looked like a city.

The Awesome Scale of Seeing Skyscrapers and Towers in Rolling Heights

Owning a District

Maybe I lost with an embarrassing deficit, but I was still the expert on industrial matters! This neighborhood would have been all mine, save for some bad luck.

The solo opponent rolls a standard die each turn to determine which neighborhood to work in. This increases to 2 rolls, and then moves on up to 3 rolls per turn.

No matter: The solo opponent was labeled as the mayor, and I built the Mayor’s House. So I won in some way. Ha!

Despite the fiddly nature of the stacks, I couldn’t get past how neat this all looked. But wait… Not done yet!

A Very Full Industrial Neighborhood in Rolling Heights

Angry Ape Smash!

In my crowdfunded copy, a few promo packs were included. What interested me the most was a mini-game.

He might blend in a little too well, but there he was: An angry ape! This is an optional way to destroy a city before cleaning it up or resetting to play again.

… Destroy? Oh, yes! This reminds me of my time with old video games and how I would build something lovely, and then set a disaster upon it to destroy everything.

I’m a very organized person, so I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a good experience. Only one way to find out!

Tumbling Over the Tall Towers with a Mini-Game for Rolling Heights

Absolute Destruction

Such chaos! I managed to drop the ape on top of a lot of huge skyscrapers, while meeples then toppled him off of buildings. The city was defended in the end, though.

As much as it pains me to have components out of place, this was so much fun! I felt like I was playing with some toys, and the destruction was rather cinematic.

This didn’t do much to disrupt cleanup, either. After being slightly annoyed about the exact stacking, this was cool!

Except in rare cases, I’m absolutely doing this after every play. It takes less than 5 minutes, too: Chaos can be fun!

The Aftermath of an Angry Ape Smash in Rolling Heights

Torn in Multiple Directions with a New Game

This was an interesting introduction to a new game, not simply because it was new, but due to the very conflicted feelings I had. Play time moved quickly, yet I wasn’t sure if 60-90 minutes was worth the effort I put in. A lot of time was spent on keeping my towers and stacks neatly organized, so I figured that might play into my opinion.

I initially thought this might feel like a more complex and lengthier version of NEOM, which is another game about building a city that I love. It feels like it succeeded in many ways, but I still flip-flopped on whether I loved what I saw or was more in awe of the look of the city skyline. The vertical building is certainly a novelty, after all.

Sometimes, new components and mechanics work out, or they end up being a flash in the pan. I’m still very much undecided about how I’ll eventually feel about this game and how likely I’ll be to bring it to my table again. That’s not a bad spot to be after a few initial plays, though: It’s making me think hard about it, which I appreciate.

Also, it’s nice to be able to interact with a game in a way that makes noticeable changes to the board state in this way. To be encouraged to destroy it all with the mini-game is also quite fun, especially when I decide to wreak havoc on the solo opponent’s tallest buildings! Time will tell how this one works out, yet it’s awesome to see lots of new ideas here!

Reorganizing the City

I decided to play again, but moved the scoring track to the bottom of the play area. This put it right in front of me for an easy meeple reference, along with the scoring tiles.

Additionally, I didn’t have to reach over tall skyscrapers to track the round and scores. Much safer, of course!

The neighborhoods were also randomized, leading to a very different city. There aren’t infinite combinations, yet this keeps things fresh enough for plenty of variety.

After all, it costs more resources to build anywhere not adjacent to an owned building tile. Lots of planning!

Making a Small Adjustment for Easier Solo Play in Rolling Heights

City Building Expert

With some experience from my first play, I was in much better shape this time. I kept pace with the solo opponent and kept the mayor from picking up valuable tiles.

My main area of the city was quite the scene! I had all sorts of parks in the southern region, including the zoo, and then diversified with a hospital, post office, and more.

I managed my meeples better, too, making sure I picked up a lot of different ones to test out their abilities.

Building was a lot of fun, but so was rolling the meeples! I felt like my turns moved pretty smoothly, too.

Finding All Sorts of Ways to Diversify Buildings in Rolling Heights

Defeated by a Tower

At one point, there was a very low probability the mayor would pick up a giant tower… And of course, that happened! I should learn my lesson. It always does! Ha ha!

Then, on the final turn, there were 3 rolls. All I needed was for the number 4 to be rolled once, or not at all. I didn’t ask for much. This was my victory to celebrate shortly.

Can you guess what happened? I rolled 4 twice, allowing the mayor to complete this tower for 28 victory points.

Foiled by bad luck! Although, in actuality, I simply should have picked up the tower myself in a defensive move.

The Worst Luck Against the Solo Opponent in Rolling Heights

Almost at the Zoo

It was a relatively close score in the end, but that tower was the sole reason I lost. Not too shabby, though, since I knew exactly what I did wrong and did well otherwise!

There was just one more thing to do… Angry Ape Smash! I had some more laughs as towers toppled. The city was defended once again, although it was a very close call.

In an almost thematic moment, the ape landed pretty close to the Pritzker Zoo. Alas, just a day of destruction!

Will this wear the tiles a little more than usual? Possibly, but this is just such a fun way to end every play!

More Mayhem and an Almost Captured Angry Ape from Rolling Heights

Session Overview

Play Number: 1 and 2
Expansion: Angry Ape Smash!
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Outcome: 2 Losses (62-145 and 125-138)

I managed to collect a lot of different meeples with my second play, and had the chance to see how each one can be useful. There are still some things I love and some things I’m not quite sure about… But sometimes, that’s the best way to approach a new game. I’m planning to keep on playing to see how things pan out. Yet I will say that overall, I’m having a very fun time building cities!

Collecting and Utilizing All Sorts of City Worker Meeples in Rolling Heights


1 Play


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • The final board state at the end resembles a real city and looks awesome from the time stacks begin to grow.
  • Rolling meeples is an interesting way to generate resources and abilities, especially with how they can interact.
  • A lot of the solo opponent’s progress can be partially controlled by limiting the available building tiles.
  • Most of the needed information and iconography can be found on the scoring track or back of the rulebook.
  • All of the boards form a large play area, yet are small and modular to allow for easier storage.
  • Destroying the city after play ends with the optional mini-game is simply a lot of fun, and takes very little time.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Keeping all of the stacks organized without knocking them over can take a lot of mental and physical work.
  • Play time moves along quickly, but the total amount of time needed may feel a little lengthy for the experience.
  • There are a lot of unique tiles, yet most of the completion rewards are simply victory points or a new meeple.
  • Poor rolls with the meeples can result in turns that are either amazing, or possibly very limited with resources.

More Rolling Heights

Explore related posts about Rolling Heights!

Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%

Goals and Milestones


Score at least 125 points.


Win at least 1 game.

Continue the Conversation

What are your thoughts about Rolling Heights? Are there other solo games about building a city you enjoy? I’m still cautious about saying whether this is going to have a long-lasting place in my collection, but I can’t deny how much fun each play offers. The next city is already prepped on my solo table, and I’ll be back soon to share more thoughts!


  1. Ooh what an interesting looking table presence it has. It reminds me of Cape May and the way the physical buildings have filled out the map by the end of the game.

    I looked it up at my favourite retailer and it’s a little too expensive for an impulse purchase. I’m going to keep my eye on it though and hope to see more.

    • Interesting! I own that one, too, but have yet to bring it to my table. It’s really fun to see a whole city or town take shape in more than a flat view that cards and tiles offer.

      Definitely on the expensive side with all of the bits and pieces. I’m hoping to work in a few more plays this week and will have more to share as I dig into gameplay some more! There’s no denying it has a wonderful and unique table presence… My issue is in figuring out how unique each play is, and whether the novelty is more interesting than gameplay. It has my attention for now, though, and I’ll be back to post more soon!


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