Review – Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages

1 - 9 Players, Aged 6+ with a 2+ minute playing time

A game I first encountered in a meeting with Roger from Coiled Spring, Story Cubes is a game unlike any other I have reviewed, not least because it is not a game you win or loose, more than most it is a game that you can immerse yourself in and the fun comes from the journey.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages, the cubes and the game box
Voyages is the is the second expansion set for Rory’s Story Cubes and was released in 2011, it builds on the concept found in the original set and expanded previously by the Actions set. This review set was kindly provided by Rory and The Creativity Hub

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game Components, Setting Up The Game, How To Play The Game, What Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if you don't want to read the whole review scan down to the heading that interests you.

The Game Components
9 heavy white cubes /dice. On each of the 54 faces there is a unique engraved image inked in dark green creating over 10,000,000 of possible story combinations when the dice are rolled. The colour is relevant if you plan to use the Voyages set with the Original set, coloured Black or the first expansion Actions coloured Blue.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
Setting Up The Game
This must be the simplest explanation I have yet recorded under this heading: get the 9 cubes out of the box and roll them.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
If I wanted to pad this out a bit then I could add find some people to play with, but even that is not strictly necessary.

How To Play The Game
As a game about creativity and imagination there are endless ways to use these dice, with the images linked to travel, holidays, adventure and much more however the suggestions in the box are either:

· Roll all 9 Cubes. Begin with ‘Far, far away...’ and tell a story that links together all 9 face-up images. Start with the first symbol to grab your attention introducing the images on other cubes as the story develops. Children may more simply try to find a couple of sentences where they string the images together in some loose but logical fashion.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
· Alternatively play can start as soon as one of the players grabs a cube and starts talking about ideas prompted by the image, with other players picking up the story by taking other cubes.

The key thing is that there is no wrong answer, no winners and no losers; the goal is simply to let the images spark your imagination.

If you have the other sets of cubes then the possibilities just grow and grow with one suggestion being the Trilogy where three players each take either 6 or 9 of the cubes and having agreed a theme weaves a series of three connected stories around the images they have before them.

Alternatively there is the Story Within A Story where players roll 9, 18 or 27 cubes with each player then taking 3 cubes to tell part of a larger story.

What Did We Think?
In many senses this is a return to the original simplicity found in the first set, as the first expansion Rory Story Cubes: Actions uses a lot of cartoon images. It was suggested to me that x younger children may require more explanation when using the Actions set than with either the new Voyages or the Original set.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
I described the cubes earlier as heavy. Although they are clearly plastic the impact they had for us was that they felt cool to the touch and perhaps because of their weight a quality item. Cubes that felt good enough to just hold and roll around in your hand.

On a number of occasions I have got them out to show people and they have made comments about “what a great idea”, “don’t the dice feel good”, “I bet this really works well with children” followed by ‘but I don’t or can’t do story telling games’. What has then frequently happened is:

A. Somebody playing with the dice in their hand rolls them onto the table and starts abstractly turning the dice so they all face the same way.

B. As if by some magical intervention somebody else picks one of the dice and makes a comment about the image on it and what it suggests to them.

C. Then somebody else adds or challenges this by picking on one of the other images and introduces a new contextual element to the narrative.

D. Then either they or somebody else develops the narrative further.
Rory's Story Cubes the boxes for the three sets
As with the earlier versions of Rory's Story Cubes, you can use it as a teaching aid, a fun game with the children, in the office over a coffee, as an aid for teenagers when doing a creative writing piece, or at parties. The possibilities are endless.

When playing it the ways it can be used are just as varied as the situations in which it would work: play it where each player contributes part of the story, picking up where the last one left off. Win points for speedy delivery, inventiveness, imagination, drama and humor.

To some people Voyages will indeed seem a game however to many more people Voyages and the earlier versions of Rory’s Story Cubes will be seen as creative tools whose uses are only limited by our imaginations.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
In talks with Rory as part of this review it was really great to hear how the Creativity Hub has provided 1,700 sets of Rory's Story Cubes to projects in Africa through Children in Conflict. As my day job is working with CAFOD (an international aid charity), I had the opportunity to experience first hand the enthusiasm this game can generate, when I showed it to the head of one of our partner agencies from Zambia.

In preparing for this review I lent the cubes to one of our gaming families whose first language is not English; the parents were literally stunned when their 4 and 6 year old boys started telling stories in English not only demonstrating a vocabulary range and command of English grammar way beyond that which their parents had assumed but also in a creative and imaginative way that excited and delighted their parents. Their father went on to say:

The kids and I had great time making stories with the story cubes. Both of them were creating some great stories and they kept on going on and on with different kind of stories which I couldn’t come up with.

Not only were they were playing the game [as suggested above] but also creating their own version of the game, for example they tried to memorize the sequence of the cubes, and then try to make up the same story we made with our previous turn. The kids and I were really enjoying it.

Effeson (6) was using some words that rhymed with the picture on the cube which made the game more colourful.

This experience also suggests that as with most games the age range is only an indication and that if the children are engaged, they become inspired and that with parents who are willing to go where the game takes them rather than where the rules dictate some magical things can occur.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
Talking to a former drama and dance teacher she commented that she would have loved to have the cubes available as a resource for her classes given their sheer versatility and the energy they would have created with her classes.

Other conversations told of how a primary teacher was using them as part of a reward system for good behaviour, with the children at the end of the week coming up to the front of the class to tell a story. This had proven so popular that the behaviour had improved and the children were all competing for the opportunity to be one of those selected on Friday to tell a story.

With an iPhone option of the original set then if my ringing endorsement hasn’t convinced you then you can try it on the phone before buying. My wife spent a VERY early Sunday morning playing the iPhone version in bed, with a wide awake 8 year old great nephew when she went to stay with the family recently.

Other ideas and resources can be found here.

As we enter the month of August and so many people head of on holiday what better game to take than Voyages a game that could fit in a handbag, is waterproof and can potentially provide hours of amusement, whatever your age.

Who Do We Think Will Like It?
However much I might rave about the Story Cubes and Voyages in particular they will not work for everybody and perhaps most obviously those gamers expecting to sit down and play a game where there is competition and an ultimate victor and those adults uncomfortable with letting their imagination run free.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages
However those that I believe it will work for include:

1. ALL PARENTS. This is a simply excellent resource to help parents work with their children to develop their imagination and creativity. Whether it be on long journeys, on the beach, on a tray in the sitting room or in a restaurant whilst you are waiting for the food to arrive.

2. English / drama teachers and other professionals working with children.

3. Gamers who have played and enjoyed other story telling games like Tales Of The Arabian Nights, Once Upon a Time, Fabula and Aye, DarkOverlord!.

4. Roll playing gamers looking for something quick and amusing as a filler.

5. Training professionals working with business people looking for an ice breaker or a tool to entice people out of their comfort zones.

6. For counsellors working with either young children or teenagers these can be used as a tool to get children talking in a non-threatening way.

7. Anybody who has played and enjoyed either or both of the first two sets as they can be combined in many ways from the obvious ‘just roll all 28 dice’ to selecting random dice from each set to create endless combinations.

This is an unashamedly positive review of the Rory Story Cubes concept and its latest manifestation Voyages. The only question would be do you buy all three sets or buy one and see how you get on with it. Images from the other sets can be seen here.

If you liked this review then other games I have reviewed can be seen here


  1. I can't wait to get Voyages. I have the original cubes and the Action cubes, and I use them for a weekly writing prompt on my blog. The best part for me is that finding ways to work some of the cubes in forces me to create unusual images in my writing. Great review! I might have to order from the UK rather than wait until they're available in the U.S. ...

  2. Hi Jennie, thank you for the kind comments. Keep throwing those dice! :-)