i unboxed it and compared its customizable dice to the ones in Dice Forge, i covered its (much simpler) predecessor Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition, and now i tackle the second expansion to Roll for the Galaxy (which is the spiritural successor to Race for the Galaxy. Keep up with me now!) Is any of this fun? Well, the base game certainly is. Check out this How to Play video to decide whether Rivalry is your particular kettle of Babel fish.
Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry, the second expansion for Roll for the Galaxy. Rivalry is split into three sections: you have some repeated content from the first expansion, including the black Leader dice and the orange Entrepreneur dice, along with a whole new die colour, the talent counters, and some new tiles. Then there are two new game modes called the Deal Game and the Orb Game that you can play either individually or together. The Deal Game has customizable dice that you don’t customize, and the Orb Game has customizable dice that you do customize.
Let me show you how to play!
Just like Ambition, Rivalry comes with a whole new pile of tiles: 10 new home worlds, 8 new factions, and 13 double-sided tiles that get shuffled into the SPACE BAG! i won’t go over every single one of them, but here are a few highlights:
During the Explore phase, the Publicity Bureaus faction pays you money for every developer or settler in your construction zone, and features famous alien Jor Jor Bonks. When you ship a good from the Oort Cloud Refinery, the Alien Refining Technology faction lets you swap that die for any non-black die in the supply. And some tiles, like the Rebel Underground and the Mystery Monolith, give you bonus VPs at the end of the game.
The one big drag, though, is that Rivalry’s tiles were printed with a different paper finish than in the base game and Ambition – these tiles are smoother and shinier, and they don’t have that same toothy texture, which means that you can feel around inside the SPACE BAG and deliberately pull out a Rivalry tile, if you’re looking for one. The only way i can think to get around this is to just shake up the bag, reach in, and commit to pulling out the first tile you touch. But i won’t lie: it IS kind of a bummer.
There’s also some overlap between Ambition and Rivalry. Rivalry has the black Leader dice, the orange Entrepreneur dice, and the talent counters that were introduced in Ambition, but it doesn’t have Ambition’s objective tiles. If you want to learn more about the elements that the two expansions have in common, watch my How to Play Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition video.
Rivalry adds another die colour to the mix: these dark blue Pioneer dice. Pioneer dice match the cyan worlds as goods or shippers, but they don’t match any other colour.
Instead of adding yet another sticker to account for the Pioneer dice on your player screen, Rivalry gives you entirely new and improved player screens. They’re printed on much thicker stock than the ones you get in the base game, and the backs of these screens match the player colours, instead of having a generic image like the base game screens do. The probability table on them includes information for all of the different colours of dice, and these new screens have information about the additional sixth phase that comes up in the Deal and the Orb Games.
I’ll spend the rest of the time teaching you how to play those two new game modes, starting with the Deal Game!
THE DEAL GAME
The most unique thing about the Rivalry expansion is that it comes with these customizable dice, and a huge pile of extra faces. Interestingly, in the Deal Game, you get 1 black die and 6 white dice. You’re supposed to put certain faces on these dice according to the rulebook, and the dice stay like that for the rest of the time you own them. It’s only in the Orb Game, which i’ll teach you later, that you get to pop off the faces and replace them with upgrades.
In the Deal Game, you use this new phase strip. It’s printed on thicker stock than the cheap-feeling phase strips from the base game. This new strip has an extra phase at the end: the dollar sign, which signifies the Deal phase. You can assign worker dice to it just like any other phase, and those workers are called “dealers.”
“Hey, man – sshh. Be cool. Be cool.”
If you roll a worker die and turn up a face with a dollar sign on it, it no longer works like it did in Ambition – you don’t get to put that worker back in your cup for free any more after it does its job. Instead, it becomes a two-phase die, and you have to choose which of the two phases you’ll line it up under.
The other change is that you start the game with two reassign powers – the dictate power works like it always did: put a die off to the side to reassign any other die to any phase. This one doesn’t cost an extra die, but if you use it, you can reassign a die to the Deal phase, specifically.
Put the new Deal mat in the middle of the table, and the big black and white dice in the central pool, which is called the Open Market. Add the dollar sign tile to the rest of the phase tiles, x-side up.
This is the priority track: randomize a handful of tokens representing each player and line them up starting at the red arrow. This player is first in line.
Each round, one player will roll all of the Deal dice that are in the Open Market. Then, everyone rolls the dice in their cups as usual,cc and assigns their dice to different phases. When you lift your screens, if one or more players activated the Deal phase, here’s what happens when you get there.
Following the turn order determined by the priority track, each player takes a turn spending all of their assigned dealers at once. So it’s not dealer dealer dealer dealer dealer and so on … it’s dealer dealer dealer, dealer dealer, dealer, dealer dealer dealer.
Your choices when placing a dealer are to open a new deal, join a deal in progress, or refuse to deal.
Refusing a deal is the easiest one – you just take your marbles and go home. Put your dealer die in your citizenry and gain a buck.
The other two options are more complex.
Let’s open a new deal. To do that, one of these three areas has to be empty, with no active deal on it already. Move your player marker to the end of the line, and slide the line forward if you created a gap.
Find your player colour on the left side of the vacant deal area – look for the little “1.” – and put your dealer die there. Next, you pick two dice from the Open Market area and put them in the first slot – the one closest to the edge of the board.
Then, you get to exchange the assets shown on the dice you chose. You give the stuff on the die closest to your dealer, and you get the stuff on the other die. So in this example, you would exchange two of your white worker dice to gain 1 blue pioneer die into your citizenry. If you had set up the deal like this instead, you’d be paying one blue pioneer die to get two white dice into your citizenry.
If you don’t have all the stuff to give, you can’t make that deal. So if you didn’t have a blue pioneer die to cash in, you couldn’t open this deal. If you can’t take all the stuff you’re entitled to – like if a deal maxes out your money and you can’t take any more – you’re allowed to just take as much stuff as you can.
If you don’t want to start a new deal, but instead, you want to join an existing deal, you pick either side of an open deal and place your dealer die on your player colour, and then make the exchange depicted on the dice. Remember: the die closest to the side of the board where you place your dealer is the “give” side. So place here, give this, get that… or place here, give that, get this. Every round, these deal dice will be moving like a conveyor belt back into the Open Market – we’ll see how that works in a second – so each new deal will be available, at most, for 3 rounds.
Most of the stuff you do in Roll for the Galaxy can happen simultaneously, but with the Deal game, timing can be important, so you should go in order of the discs on the priority track.
After the deal phase is done, you look at each of the three deal areas one by one. If there’s an equal number of dice on either side, no matter who those dice belong to, you have to close that deal. For each dealer a player has on either side of the big deal dice, you get the reward listed on whatever slot the dice have reached.
So if the dice are here, and the Deal phase ends with an equal number of dealer dice on either side like this, that means the blue player would get two bucks and two bucks and 2 bucks. The red player would get a talent counter and 2 bucks for being on this side, and the yellow and green players would also get a talent counter and two bucks. Those dice all go back to their respective players’ citizenry.
The big deal dice go back to the Open Market, where they’ll be re-rolled with the other dice in the Open Market at the beginning of the next round.
Some deals involve exchanging tiles for various things. The tiles involved in the deal go under the deal phase tile – once all the deals are closed, those tiles go back to the bag.
Just before the recruit step, where everyone spends money to buy worker dice back into their cups, you have to mature all the active deals that weren’t closed – even if the deal phase didn’t happen this round.
If a deal is still open, you move the dice one step closer to the Open Market. Since the prizes get better with each step, maturing a deal makes it more valuable for the next round.
If the deal dice move all the way into the Open market, that means the deal has expired. Everyone who had dealer dice on the deal gets 1 talent marker for each dealer, and those players all take their dealers back into their cups – not their citizenry, like they would if a deal had closed, but into their cups.
Once you commit a dealer to a deal, it’s kind of stuck there until the deal either expires or gets closed. You can dislodge a dealer if a tile or an ability lets you remove, or shift, a die from anywhere, but you’re not allowed to recall a worker from a deal like you can recall a good, or a worker in your construction zone if you decide that die is better put to some other use. If enough dealers get shifted or removed so that a deal is left bereft of dealers, the deal immediately expires.
The rulebook also notes that if any deals happen that drain the VP supply to zero and then refill it, then the game doesn’t end. But if the VP pool ends up at zero or goes into overdraft, that does trigger endgame.
The only other important rule to keep in mind in the Deal game is that just like in Ambition, if your credits ever go to zero, you get to bounce your credit marker back up to 1 right away – you don’t have to wait until the recruitment step.
One of the Deal dice is a black Prestige die. The Prestige die has bigger, better rewards on it. So if you make a deal and you’re getting something on the Prestige die, you have to pay an extra buck to do so. But if you make a deal where you’re giving something on the Prestige die, you gain a credit.
There are a whole ton of new symbols on the Deal dice, but thankfully, everyone gets a huge player guide that explains each one of them. i’ve circled the ones that show up on that fancy black Prestige die. Here’s what all of the symbols do.
These ones have you giving or getting the depicted dice. Same here, except there’s a dollar involved in the exchange. And these ones involve giving or getting a pair of dice of certain colours. The dice you spend in these deals can even be dealers you haven’t used in this phase yet – or even the dealer who’s currently making this deal! (“Hey – what? I was in the middle of somethingggggg [fades away]”)
This one lets you spend or get 3 bucks.
This symbol lets you get rid of a tile with a 6-cost development on it, and it can even be flipped settlement-side-up somewhere in your construction stack. You just have to show the other players the tile is a legit 6-cost development. Slide it under the Deal phase tile. On the getting side of this deal, you pull tiles out of the SPACE BAG one by one until you find a 6-point development, and then put it on the bottom of your development construction stack.
This one means you have to give up two tiles from your construction zone – from either stack – that have a matching bolded word, like these two developments, which both say reassign, or these two, which both say settle. Stick them both under the Deal phase tile to complete your end of the bargain.
On the receiving side, you call Explore, Develop, Settle, Produce, Ship, or Reassign and, like before, you go fishing through the bag one tile at a time until you grab two tiles with that bolded word on them, and then you get to stick them both on the bottom of your construction zone in any order, in either stack – which means you can make them both developments, or both worlds, or a mix.
This one does something similar, except you have to pay two world tiles from your construction zone with matching colours. On the receiving side, name a colour – even grey – and fish through the SPACE BAG until you pull out two matching tiles, and put them in your construction zone as before.
These symbols have you paying 3, 2 or 1 tiles from your construction zone, along with zero, 1 or two bucks. On the flip side, you grab the depicted number of tiles from the SPACE BAG, and earn the depicted number of credits.
If at any point there aren’t any tiles of the type you name left in the SPACE BAG, you get any non-black die of your choice in lieu into your Citizenry.
With this face, you give or get a construction zone tile and a talent counter.
These symbols have you shift 2 or 3 developers, settlers, or goods into your citizenry without having them do their jobs – and if you shift 2 with this symbol, you also have to pay a buck. On the flip side, you can shift any two or three dice you own from anywhere onto your worlds as goods, or into your construction zone as developers or settlers.
This symbol makes you give up your credit capacity by placing one of these blocker tiles on your money strip. If your credit marker was in this zone when this happens, it gets knocked down to the nearest highest amount. You can’t make this deal if it would knock your credit capacity below 1. On the receiving end, you get to extend your credit limit with one of these strips. The maximum credit capacity is 16.
These two symbols have you gaining one of these generic tiles – either a generic world or a generic development. The generic worlds are either 1-point blue or brown worlds, and the generic developments either give you another reassign power to turn any die into a dealer, or let you recall dice that are tied up in a deal to your cup during the Develop phase – remember that once you commit dice to a deal, they’re pretty much stuck there, unless you use a power to shift or remove them. But this tile lets you break that rule, potentially upsetting the balance of the deal and either screwing other players out of good prizes when the deal closes, or putting yourself in a better prize-earning position!
You can choose either side of the generic tile you get and add it to your tableau.
The giving end of this deal has you returning worlds or developments that you’ve already built into your tableau. If the tile came from the bag, it goes back to the bag. Ok – i mean the SPACE BAG. If it’s a start world, it goes back to the box. If it’s a faction tile, it goes back to the box too, and it only counts as though you’re cashing in one tile, even though faction tiles are double-sized. If it’s one of those generic tiles, it goes back to the supply. If you get rid of a world with a good on it, you recall the good back into your cup without getting any money or points for it. If you return a tile that gave you extra dice when you built it, you still get to hang on to those dice.
And finally, these symbols have you spending or getting a talent counter and a buck, or spending or getting 2 VPs. If the VP pool is drained, you dip into the reserve VPs and end the game at the end of the round.
THE ORB GAME
In the Orb game, everyone gets one of these mysterious yellow alien technology dice with customizable faces on it, along with a face-popper tool, which isn’t as terrifying as i’ve made it sound. You set up the game as usual, except instead of 12 VP chits per player, you put in 15 points per player. And instead of the game ending at 12 constructions, it ends at 15. So the Orb Game goes on a little longer than a typical game.
Just like in the Deal Game, you use this extra dollar sign phase, but it’s now called the Research Phase, and you flip your phase strip to the side that says “research.”
Every round, before everyone rolls the dice in their cup, everyone rolls their yellow alien die in front of their screen for all to see. You start with two each of these faces, which the game calls the “initial faces”:c
This one gets you a free reassign power for this round.
This one lets you pretend you have one white Home die under “explore” – just put the big alien die under that phase so you’ll remember.
And this face gets you a research point that lets you change the faces on your alien die. More on that in just a second. After you upgrade your die, drop it in your cup so you don’t get confused about what you just rolled.
There’s a fourth type of initial face that you can only get onto your die using research points. We’ll look at that face later, too.
Just like in the Deal Game, if you roll a worker die and it turns up with a dollar sign, it no longer means that worker does its action for free. Instead, you can assign that worker to the Research phase, or move it there if the phase you assigned it to doesn’t get called – or to the other phase if research doesn’t get called. For every worker you assign to be a researcher, if the Research phase gets called, you can spend each worker to get 1 research point.
Let’s see what you can do with those research points!
These are the extra die faces you can add to your customizable alien die. They have zero, one, two, or four pips on them, indicating their level of technological sophistication. There IS no level 3.
The available faces are sorted by colour and help you in different phases: develop, settle, produce, and ship. There are two other sets of faces in technology groups called “talent” and “utility.”
So for 1 research point, you can upgrade any of these faces to any of these faces. Or from a yellow initial face to a 1-dot face.
Use your little face-popper tool to pop out the face you don’t want, and replace it with the one you do want.
For 2 research points, you can upgrade from here to here… or from here to here, but if you do that, you have to stay within the same coloured technology. It’s the same with upgrading from a level 1 to a level 2 – if you’re upgrading a face in a specific technological category, you have to stay within that category.
If you want to switch technological tracks, you can spend 1 research point moving laterally – so from this level 2 face to this level 2 face… or from this level 4 to this level 4. You can even spend 1 point to downgrade to any lower level in any technology – so from a green 4 to a pink 1, if it suits your strategy. If you do that, you can’t make change – and you lose any research points you don’t spend in this phase.
At the end of the game, the level 0 and level 1 faces on your die are worth no points, but the level 2’s are each worth a victory point, and the top level faces are each worth 2 victory points.
Here’s what each of the rest of these faces do for you:
In the Develop phase technology, rolling this face lets you move any die onto your construction zone stack as a developer. So you can move a die from your cup, from another world, from the settler stack, from your citizenry – any die – even if your develop stack is empty! When you finish, you’re not allowed to actually complete a construction in that stack, even if you have enough developers. You’ll have to wait until the Develop phase is activated.
This face gives you a 1-developer discount on every development you build in this upcoming round, but you still have to pay a minimum of 1 developer for each tile you build.
And this one does the same thing, but with a discount of 2.
The faces are identical in the Settle category – shift any die to your settle stack, get a 1settler discount for every planet you settle this round, or a 2 settler discount, to a minimum of 1 settler per world.
This Produce face lets you shift a die from anywhere – cup, citizenry, planet, construction stack, wherever – to an empty, non-grey world to become a good. And if you’re rocking the Galactic Reserves tile in your tableau, the world doesn’t even have to be empty.
This one lets you do the same thing, with up to 2 dice.
And this high-level face lets you do it with up to 3 dice.
This Ship face gives you an extra white Home worker in the Explore phase, if it gets called, and/or the Ship phase.
This one does the same thing, except it gives you an additional purple shipper for the ship phase. Remember that a purple shipper acts as any colour when it ships, earning you more points, if you choose to ship for points over money.
And this big kahuna forces the ship phase to happen no matter what, and gives you an extra purple shipper for that inevitable phase.
The green “talent” technologies either give you an immediate 2 dollars, or 1 or 2 talent counters.
And finally, this pink Utility face gives you two reassign abilities for this round instead of the 1 reassign power on the yellow initial face. This one is an upgrade to the yellow improvement face: you get 2 Research points to spend immediately on your alien die, instead of just one.
What we’re left with are these two arrow faces, which work similarly, but there are some important differences.
If you roll a pink arrow, you turn the die whichever way it’s facing. So it’s smart business to point it at a valuable face. If it points to another pink utility arrow, you keep turning until you reach a non-arrow face. If you’ve created an infinite loop, you have to keep turning the die until… YOU die. No – you just stop turning and nothing happens.
Even though it has 2 dots on in, the pink utility arrow isn’t worth any points at the end of the game – that’s why the dots are in brackets. But you can spend 1 research point to rotate a pink utility arrow in any direction.
The yellow arrow is a clone. It makes this face become whatever face it points to. It locks the face it’s pointing to, so you can’t upgrade that face. But you CAN upgrade the clone arrow, and when you upgrade it, it behaves as the thing it points to. So if your clone arrow was pointing to this level 2 talent face, that means the clone arrow is also a level 2 talent face, so you could spend 2 research points upgrading it to a level 4 talent face of the same colour as the one it’s pointing to.
At the end of the game, clone arrows earn the same number of points as the faces they’re pointing to.
If that’s all too hard to remember, good news: every player gets a big reference sheet detailing what all the faces do. Unfortunately, the reference sheet doesn’t tell you the various ways in which you can spend your Research points, which i feel is a bit of an oversight. If you forget those rules, refer back to the rulebook, or watch this video again!
THE FULL (SPACE) MONTY
Combining the Deal Game and the Orb Game to play them both together is easy: you use 15 VPs per player. Roll the Deal dice before everyone rolls their alien die. If the dollar sign phase happens, then you can use the workers you’ve lined up there as either a dealer or a researcher, but you have to choose one or the other. Just like in the Orb Game, building a tableau of 15 or more tiles is one of the ways to trigger endgame.
The only other thing to know is that in a 2-player game of Deal or Orb or both, instead of rolling a white Home die to active a random phase on top of the phases that you and your opponent activate, you roll a black Leader die. If it comes up with Kurt Vonnegut’s butthole, no extra phase happens. But if you roll one of the two-phase faces, both of those phases are activated.
And now, you’re ready to play Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry!
Did you just watch that whole thing? Oh – hey! To 100% this video, click the badge to subscribe, then click the bell to get notifications when i’ve got new stuff! [Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton]
At 16:45, i goof when i say that each Researcher in the Orb Game earns you one research point. Each Researcher earns you TWO research points! That means each die will let you upgrade one or two alien die faces, depending on what you buy. Thanks to YouTube viewer Paul Tobia for spotting the flub.
Get Your Own Copy of Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry
The most common criticism i hear about Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry is that it’s too much: it takes a quick-playing game and blows it out to something overdrawn and overstuffed, when the speed of the base game is one of its biggest appeals. We have a term in the board game industry for people who make such complaints: filthy casuals. If a game can be played in under 3 hours with fewer than seven clarification trips to boardgamegeek.com, it’s obviously not a serious board game.
If you want to make sure you don’t get called a “filthy casual” by cooler and better board game players, add Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry to your own board game collection using the Amazon link below. Your price will remain the same, and i’ll receive a small commission that will help fund more videos like these!