Author: William Little
What is it?
Roll for the Galaxy is a board game for up to 5 people, where you spend dice to develop your interstellar empire faster and better than anyone else. It is a moderately complex game that requires rules explanation but little setup.
Where can it be played?
Roll for the Galaxy requires a table with a bit over 1 square foot per player. It does not require a quiet environment. Parts of the game are color coded so dim light is an issue.
How long is it?
Because of a simultaneous turn mechanic, the game is relatively fast at any number of players. Expect games to take between 45 and 75 minutes.
Roll for the Galaxy is my favorite board game purchase so far this year.
Roll for the Galaxy is the sequel/reimagining of Race for the Galaxy, a card-based game of the same theme with some similar mechanics. Despite my normal dislike of dice-pool game mechanics, I found Roll for the Galaxy to be improved over the (already pretty good) Race for the Galaxy in almost every way. Many of the core mechanics of Race for the Galaxy are preserved and bring the best parts of that game forward into this one.
Probably the greatest strength of Roll for the Galaxy is the truly simultaneous nature of play. Everyone is making decisions at the same time and those decisions affect everyone else playing, yet the flow of the game is such that it does not feel hectic or confused. You want to keep an eye on the other players to guess what actions they will take, but in the end you have full control over your own little chunk of the galaxy.
Component quality is very good. There are a large number of parts in the game, all of which are made of sturdy material and attractively designed.
Roll for the Galaxy is a quick but mechanically complex game. The rulebook is clear, the rules consistent once learned and edge cases that require reference to it are rare. Individual planets and developments have common modifications/exceptions to the rules in the form of powers they give the players, but all of these are clearly stated on the cards themselves.
The different players are racing to develop their own little solitaire galaxy by settling planets, making social and technological developments, and shipping rare goods for points or cash. Players interact at only one time during the turn, but this interaction is both the core of the game and the most important decision made by the players. Each player rolls the dice (citizens) they have available to them in secret, and then depending on what faces come up on the dice, secretly assign them to exploration, development, settling, producing or shipping. Finally, each player makes the most important decision – they choose one, and only one, of those five actions to happen this turn. When everyone has revealed their actions, only those chosen by at least one player actually happen. All dice assigned to the other actions are put back in the players cup unused, to be rolled next turn. Anticipating what other players may do is the most important skill in the game, and results in a lot of attention paid to what everyone else is doing even though they never technically interact.
Once those decisions are made, the rest of the turn is a (simultaneous) solitaire game of engine building and resource management, as you balance new development and settlements vs making cash to bring your citizens (dice) back to work and points for the end of the game. This part of the game is also immensely fun and never repetitive, with literally thousands of possible combinations of planets and developments that could become available to you during the game. Despite that, it is surprisingly fast, as at any given moment you tend to have only 2-3 options to take and everyone acts simultaneously so there is little waiting.
I have already said it, Roll for the Galaxy is my favorite board game I have bought this year. It is a great combination of fast enough to play often while complex enough to be challenging. In fact, I’m not terribly good at it and currently have an awful win record, but still have enjoyed every session of it I’ve had.