Publishers love creating variants of existing games with a new core mechanism. It allows them to capitalize on the success of one game and create, hopefully, a variant that appeals to a market just itching for a little bit more. However, this is often easier said than done with most games. There are only a small number of titles that can boast a card, dice, and board game version of themselves. One of the most notable is the Race for the Galaxy franchise.
One of the more popular iterations of the tableau-building meets sci-fi formula is the dice-based feat, Roll for the Galaxy. It’s got a new digital implementation with the aim of matching the card game’s accolades. Do digitally rolled dice deliver as successfully as they do on the table? Read on to find out.
The general idea of all Race for the Galaxy games is that there is a core mechanism that allows players to choose an action (or two) and then other players in the game get to follow the action with slightly less power. These actions fuel a burgeoning space empire of planets and technologies allowing players to gain victory points.
In the case of Roll for the Galaxy, each player will be using a pool of dice. They will make action choices with a digital board, allocating dice to the actions they wish to take. Players use 1 die to select an action that will absolutely occur, and other dice rolled whose face matches other actions they want to hopefully augment if another player activates it. The actions are as follows:
Explore – Players find new cards representing planets and/or technologies by allocating dice to this action.
Develop – Players may commit dice to this action to pay for technologies and place them in their tableau.
Settle – Players may place new planets in their tableau by paying for planets with dice using this action.
Produce – Dice with the resource symbol can be allocated to planets to produce goods.
Ship – Planets with goods on them can have them shipped with dice allocated to this action.
The main aim of the game is to gain high-value planets and/or technologies and then produce goods to ship for points or money to fuel more exploration, settlement, and research. As players acquire new planets, they can gain more dice. With technologies, they can make combos to produce more goods and possibly ship them for points. There’s an incredible amount of variety and replayability in the formula overall.
Digital Game Experience:
Without question, Asmodee Digital’s partner Temple Gate Games is on a roll (pun intended) with this implementation. Since they also completed the Race for the Galaxy version, the path towards the completion of this title was clear. Everything feels complementary to the experience in Race for the Galaxy and players who have gotten used to one will seamlessly convert to the Roll for the Galaxy UI. With a clear, intuitive set of icons and interface actions are easy, especially when the game provides buttons to automatically allocate dice.
For full disclosure, before now, this reviewer had never played Roll for the Galaxy. Despite being a fan of the digital version of Race for the Galaxy and also being a fan of New Frontiers (the Race for the Galaxy board game), the opportunity to play Roll for the Galaxy just didn’t come up. Fortunately, upon loading the game for the first time, everything was clear, the tutorial was a breeze, and the overall experience so clean that it caused some suspicion if there was anything more to the experience that was missing. There just wasn’t.
As game experiences go, this is an age where board games can come from PC games and digital games can arise from tabletop games. Roll for the Galaxy, like the Race for the Galaxy implementation, presents an experience that may cause inexperienced gamers to wonder if the dice game originated as a PC game or vice versa. There is practically nothing to complain about with this title. Fans of the physical game should rejoice.
Taking a cue from the much-lauded Race for the Galaxy digital implementation, Roll for the Galaxy succeeds with the same strength as its predecessor. It’s a great online version of a much-loved game. While it can’t match the physical feel of rolling dice with the tension of watching them scatter hoping to get certain faces, it makes every aspect of play as easy and clear as possible.
Final Score: 5 Stars – The Race for the Galaxy digital franchise continues its track record of success with this title.