Review – Roll for the Galaxy

About a week ago, I was heading over to another games night. When I got there, no one was answering their door so I texted my friend Connie, saying that I was waiting outside and that I needed help with the buzzer again. She replied back saying that I’m an hour early.

It gave me an excuse to drive down to the nearest board game store and see some of the stuff they had. As I was perusing the store, I had a few choices in mind. And it was hard because I was telling myself, “Only one game Justin, just one game”. There weren’t really any games that I figure, would push me over the edge in buying.

That was until I scanned one final shelf next to the cash register. I glanced downward and noticed “Roll for the Galaxy”, tucked away behind a bunch of board games. This was the only copy left in the store. Since I am determined to buy only one board game a month, I have to ensure that the games I get are going to get played and that the people who play the game will have fun.  I go through the usual checklist: (1) Check to see how many copies are left in the store, which will give you a good indication on how popular the game is. It was the only one there, hiding behind many copies of its predecessor board game “Race for the Galaxy”, CHECK! (2) Check the price and compare prices online and see if this price was worth it. Sure enough, it was similar in price to a lot of other online board game retailers. CHECK! (3) Check the reviews on BoardGameGeek and see if the rating was higher than a 6, because a lot of the reviewers on that site are highly critical, and I’m pretty laid back in terms of reviewing games. The rating was 7.9, CHECK! (4) Think of which groups of people would really like to play this game. After reading the back of the box, I already knew that the Friday Night Gamers would like a quick dice roller. The gamers that I was going to play with that night would like the intricate strategies to the game. And beginner gamers could be taught this game pretty easily.

And so I purchased this game.

And after playing it that night, it was definitely a wonderful addition to the collection.

IMG_7215Roll for the Galaxy is a dice roller worker placement game designed by Wei-Hwa Huang and Tom Lehmann, who was the original designer of Race for the Galaxy. In this game, players are attempting to create a galactic civilization by recruiting workers in order to create developments and settle worlds.

I want to make one note and say that I am evaluating this game based on having no prior knowledge on its predecessor, Race for the Galaxy.

In the set up, players are given an individual resource mat, a phase strip, a starting faction tile, and home world tile, and then randomly select two tiles from the draw bag which are placed on their construction zone. Then players add three white dice to their dice cup and two white dice to their citizenry on the resource mat. If any of the tiles drawn tell you to take additional dice at the start of the game, do this as well.

All turns happen simultaneously. Players take their  cup and secretly roll their dice behind their own player screen. Then they organize their dice under their individual phase strip. At this point, players secretly decide which phases will occur in the round. They do this by taking any one of their rolled dice and placing it on the phase strip, regardless of the face that was rolled. Once players have decided, they reveal which phases have been selected. At this point, any dice found on phases that are not occurring are placed back into the dice cup.

IMG_7218There are five different phases players can choose from.  The explore phase allows players to draw tiles and add them into their development pile or get “galactic credits”, which are used to put more dice into the cup. The develop phase lets players create developments for their civilization. Developments generally are beneficial abilities that happen continuously throughout the game during certain phases. Players can use the settle phase to settle on various planets. These planets allow players to get an immediate effect and give more opportunities for players to make goods during the fourth phase, the produce phase. The last phase is the shipping phase, where players can use their newly developed goods and trade them for more money, or consume them for victory points.

Victory points are gained by making developments, settling planets, and consuming goods.The game ends when all the victory point chips have been taken from the supply or a player has a combined total of twelve developments and settlements. The player with the most points wins.

The one thing I want to mention about this game is the well-designed and intricate components. There are over 100 custom-made dice and dozens of tiles that have beautiful artwork. Given the components, you can tell that there was a lot of time and effort put into this remake.

IMG_7216Each custom-made die has a different distribution of the symbols because they are supposed to represent a certain skill or quality. For instance, red dice represent the military, so many of the faces involve settling and the development of technologies, while purple dice represent consumption, so there are more consume faces on the die. Players will need to balance their dice accordingly based on what their focusing on in the game.

Gameplay is relatively simple, but the strategies will vary with each game. Every tile is also randomly selected including your starting world tiles, and you have a choice of either making a development or settling a world with each tile drawn. This means that each player’s tableau will be unique and the strategy for working with that particular tableau will be different in comparison to the other players. The different tableaus and the short play time also mean that there is a high replay value in this game. I have played this game a couple times, and I found myself changing strategies because of tiles I had drawn and then when the game was over, we quickly set up for another round.

Since we’re working with dice, one might assume that you would have no control of how often your own actions would occur, but this isn’t the case with Roll for the Galaxy. The game has built in two moments in which a die can be reassigned to a different phase: the first moment is when you assign a worker to the phase strip and the other is by spending a die to allow for another die to be reassigned to another phase. In addition, players can build developments which can let a player reassign even more dice. This means that even though you are rolling dice randomly, players still have much control over how their game is going to move forward.

There is only one issue that I foresee and that’s in the moments in which you are doing things secretly in the game. Most gamers will play with utmost good faith (well at least the ones I’ve played with). For the most part, players will roll their dice secretly and play accordingly based on what was rolled. But I’m sure you will have that one friend that may, shall we say, tip the dice their way. This game relies on the fact that players act honestly, because there is no way for players to catch cheating. The rule book even puts an “etiquette” section stating that “there is no way to verify players’ actions behind screens [and that] this game relies on players taking care to not make mistakes. Hypothetically this means that players could advertently move their dice in their favour.  That being said, all the gamers that I have played with have performed their tasks sincerely as all of them want to win fairly.

Overall, this game is quick, highly tactical, and super fun to play. Gamers want to try this game over and over again because of the uniquness of the tableaus found in each play. Fans of  “Race for the Galaxy”  will find that “Roll for the Galaxy” is a nice complement to the original. And although the secret dice rolling could allow for dishonest game play, it won’t deter players in trying their hardest in creating the most prosperous galactic empire. This is definitely a must play on a game night you may have in the future.


  • Awesome components! Who doesn’t like that many dice in one game?
  • Simple game to play and easy to teach.
  • Although the game involves dice rolling and chance, players have much control over what happens.
  • Unique tiles and tableaus promote playing the game again and again.
  • Nice complement for Race for the Galaxy fans


  • Game relies heavily on utmost good faith between players.

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