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Roll for the Galaxy

January 21st, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

I used to play a LOT of space 4x games back in the day when I had a bit more time on my hands.  I still enjoy the occasional game of “Galactic Civilizations” or “Sins of a Solar Empire”, but these video games can still take hours to play despite the fact that everything is computerized/automated.  “Roll for the Galaxy” appealed to me because of its advertised forty-five minute playtime, despite the fact that you’re still settling worlds, researching technology, and recruiting workers.  Before I talk about how I felt about this game after it was all said and done, let’s take a brief moment to look at how the game is played.


Roll for the Galaxy

Roll for the Galaxy: 2-5 Players, Ages 13+, Average Play Time = 45 Minutes



The game includes 5 dice cups, 5 credit markers, 5 player mats, 5 player screens, 5 phase strips, 9 faction tiles, 9 home world tiles, 111 custom dice, 55 game tiles (double-sided), 1 cloth bag, 33 victory point (VP) chips, and 5 phase tiles.

Setup & Gameplay

There’s an entire page in the manual devoted to game setup, so I’ll offer to give you the highlights.  The phase tiles are placed “X” side up, in a specific order (see the phase strip). Each player gets a dice cup, credit marker, a mat (put the credit marker on the “1” space), a screen, a phase strip, one random faction tile, and one random home world tile.  They also get two double-sided game tiles, one of which is placed on the development space of their construction zone while the other is placed on the world side (they’ll choose which tile goes where).  Finally, each player receives three home (white) dice to put in their cup, two home (white) dice to put in their citizenry (located on their mat), and bonus dice as indicated by the built worlds in their tableau (faction & home world).

The game is played over a series of rounds.  Each round has five steps:

1. Roll – Players simultaneously roll all workers (dice in their cups) behind their screens.

2. Assign – Players assign these workers to their matching symbol on the phase strip by placing them below it.  One die is chosen to go ANYWHERE on the strip, regardless of its icon, in order to activate that phase later on.  The others may be reassigned through special powers, like “dictate”, but STAY BELOW the strip.  It’s important that players do NOT change the faces on the dice to their new symbol as it’s easier to “undo” moves if players change their minds.

3. Reveal – Each player lifts their screens to reveal their assigned workers.  The activated phase tiles are flipped appropriately from “X” to their active side.  Each player can only activate one phase, so not all phases will be observed during any given round.  In a two-player game, a spare white die is rolled to see what other phase may be activated this round.

4. Do Phases – Simultaneously, players do all selected phases in numeric order (left to right on the strip).  Players will use all the workers assigned to it, whether they are on top of the strip or below the strip (the die on top of the strip simply determines which phase that player wishes to activate).  Each of the five phases does something different, from earning money and/or VP chips, drawing new tiles, adding a development or world to their respective construction zones, completing a development or world and adding it to their tableau, producing & trading goods, and etc.  A player’s unused dice (including those used to dictate) are placed back in their cup.  Used dice are placed in their citizenry.

5. Manage Empire – Finally, each player can spend one credit to recruit, or move a single die from their citizenry to their cup.  They can also recall developers, settlers, and goods and place them into their cup.  The phase tiles are reset to their “X” side.  If the VP chip pool is exhausted OR if any player has more than twelve tiles on their tableau (counting the double-sized faction tile as two tiles), the game is over.

At the game’s end, players count up their score by factoring in VP chips, the costs of all developments/worlds, bonus VPs, and etc.  The player with the most VPs, wins the game!

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.

The Review

“Roll for the Galaxy” intimidated me a bit…at least, at first.  Could you blame me, what with all those icons and differently colored dice?  There’s also the fact that I looked into buying “Race for the Galaxy” (its more complicated sister game) at one point and the rules made my head spin.  Luckily, “Roll for the Galaxy” was a bit less intensive and I was able to grasp the mechanics a bit faster.  I think this is what ultimately compelled me to buy “Roll for the Galaxy” instead of “Race for the Galaxy”.

Player interaction is present, but mostly passive.  While the majority of your time will be spent trying to figure out where to assign workers, you will be playing a guessing game with your opponent(s)…that is, you’ll be trying to figure out which phase they intend to activate. You can assign workers to a phase underneath the strip, but unless that phase gets activated (by you or someone else), they’ll simply go back into the cup.  Luckily, these dice can be used for the following round so it’s not like they are a wasted asset…though it may put you behind in terms of development/building tiles.

Do I recommend “Roll for the Galaxy”?  In short, yes.  Casual gamers who are used to simpler card/board games may find themselves overwhelmed at first.  Like I said, there are a lot of dice, colors, and other things to factor into play (like gaining bonus VPs for matching dice/tile colors during the shipping/trading goods process).  With that said, I think it can be enjoyed by just about anyone who’s willing to stumble a bit as they learn the mechanics.  I personally enjoyed this one and I’m not too crazy about dice rolling, though the ability to reassign dice gives players a lot of opportunity to offset a bad roll.  The game itself is a bit pricey ($40-$50), but worth picking up if you can afford to do so (especially if you like space-civ themed games).

Final Verdict: 7/10

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