Roll for the Galaxy
The best thing about having teachers as friends is that they’ll come goof off with you on a summer workday even if you have a head cold. That shit bounces right off ’em. Honey badger.
I’ve been trying to fill out my sub-hour, non-migraine-inducing not-filler game library a bit this year (yes yes, after I dropped my whole #nonewgames2015 nonsense, never again). Picked up some good stuff! The latest couple were Neuroshima Hex (outstanding little game by the same guy who did Theseus, which has gotten an absurd amount of play here) and Roll for the Galaxy.
Oh man is this a neat little game. It bears a lot of thematic and structural similarity to Race for the Galaxy but it’s … different. Really different, and really neat.
The overall shape of play is similar to Race: you’ll be choosing phases, then everyone will be doing them, and you’ll be trying to hit the most points by the time the game’s over. To make it a dice game, they upended and reimagined a lot of the underlying stuff of Race. Rather than spending cards to play cards, you have a “citizens” economy to stay on top of, and “credits” with which to get them back to use again. There are a zillion different colors of dice (the citizens!) and they all have their own distribution of faces that match up to the game’s five phases. You are building a tableau out of chits, each with a planet on one side and a development on the other. Choosing which to commit to is devastating!
Despite being totally dice-driven, I often felt challenged to get the dice to fit to what I wanted to do, but never felt completely boned by bad rolls. There’s always something to do with dice, even if you don’t want to do the phase of the faces they show. And with enough dice in your pool, you can be ensured of doing something no matter what the other players pick, since you can cover all the phases with a die or two.
There’s such a pleasure in getting a little engine up and running, as well as the serotonin or dopamine or whatever brain chemical hit of intermittent rewards (i.e. the dice coming up just right). Like Race, Roll for the Galaxy can feel like solitaire for long stretches. But also like Race, I constantly found myself evaluating likely plays by the other players, trying to figure out how to get the most of their choices and give them the least out of my choices.
The fiction behind Race for the Galaxy is also dramatically expanded, with a zillion tiles you’re drawing from a bag to build. Someday, I swear I’m gonna do up an unlicensed, unofficial space opera RPG setting using the RFTG images and fiction.
We played three games (30-45 minutes each for a 2p game) and it is delightful. Highest recommendation.