VIDEO GAME REVIEW – Roll For The Galaxy
Roll For The Galaxy is an empire building (also called tableau building) game (by Rio Grande Games) based upon the tabletop game of the same name. As a video game, Roll The Galaxy is basically a digitalized port of the tabletop game. Since finding the base tabletop game of the same name can, at times, be a bit tricky, this digitized version of the game is a great way to play with distant friends and save a bit of money in the process.
Roll For The Galaxy is a sister to the table top game called Race for the Galaxy. The intent for both games are the same, but upon closer inspection of other tabletop opinions, Race is the more difficult game to grasp for beginners. With cards that explain more of the rules and effects, ROLL for the Galaxy is apparently easier for beginners. Let’s just say at first glance of the game’s beginning screen, the learning curve for Roll is lower than the curve for Race.
In Roll For The Galaxy, you are expected to build a space empire. You race against your foe(s) to either have 12 tiles (which are developments or worlds) ‘built’ or earn 24 victory points (VPs) , whichever comes first.
Your playspace or board will feature tiles that represent developments (which can do a great many things like provide goods or extra resources (dice) or planets to settle. As the game progresses, you use dice to construct your tiles, discover more tiles to construct, acquire more money, produce goods, and trade your goods for more money or VPs. Each of these actions are categorized as Explore, Develop, Settle, Produce, and Ship.
As you play and roll the dice, the faces of the dice have symbols that represent the action that you can assign them to. Whether or not you can use them is determined by whether or not your round allows you to do some of those actions. In one round, you are not allowed to do all of them. This gamble is oftentimes the biggest part of the strategy of the game. The resulting actions for each round will essentially determine whether you want to focus on building tiles or purchasing VPs.
All of these decisions will easily consume you as the rounds progress to the point where you may even forget about your opponent. Keeping an eye on how your opponent is progressing will affect how you should proceed as well. Toss in the various powers from the tiles that you’ve built and no game is ever the same!
The only real cons to this game are the learning curve and the fact that you must use your cursor to see your opponents built developments and worlds. While the initial setup of the game is a bit intimidating at first, the tutorial does lead you through the rules fairly well. There is even an ‘Auto’ button that eases the drag and drop that has to occur in some phases.
During my first playthru, I found myself settling quickly into the progression of the phases and only occasionally needing to double back to the digital ruleset for an explanation. One thing is for certain. Newcomers to the game will not be able to catch on to what the game is or expects without the tutorial or the provided rulebook. The way this game is played does not lend itself well to noobs.
All in all, this digital version of Roll For The Galaxy serves its purpose. The tiles are what change and drive all of the action. Once you get the hang of how the rounds play out, the game moves along pretty quickly. You can play against varying difficulties of AI or players online. This digital version doesn’t provide ‘digital version exclusive’ rules, actions, tiles, or even animations so the result is a pretty bare bones interpretation of the tabletop game. Maybe that will change in the future as expansions are released (that correspond to the tabletop expansions).