In 2014, Rio Grande Games released Roll for the Galaxy, one of the earlier “XXX: the dice game” iterations. It was well received by many, as it took the basic model of Race for the Galaxy, but simplified it, and added in an extra random element (the dice rolls) which could be mitigated against. Ambition is the first expansion for Roll for the Galaxy.
This expansion adds a couple of ingredients to the successful recipe. Firstly, there are two new dice types, both of which introduce multiple symbols on dice faces. Secondly, objectives are introduced, which also incorporate “talent counters”.
There are two new dice included in the Ambition expansion; orange entrepreneur dice and black Leader dice.
The entrepreneur dice are treated just as any other dice in the game. They are acquired in the same way, but have two symbols on each face. Players can decide which of the two symbols to assign the die to. However, if the assigned phase in not selected for that round, the entrepreneur dice may be reassigned to the other phase shown on its face automatically. There is a downside to this, however, during the consume phase; the orange die does not match the colour of any world, and can therefore never earn additional victory points.
The leader die functions in some ways the same as the white home die. Each player receives exactly one leader die, which is assigned to their cup at the start of the game. This is the only leader die they will ever have. Just as the orange entrepreneur dice have two symbols on each face, the leader die has two symbols on five faces, and a wild on the sixth. Assignment and re-assignment rules are the same as for the orange die. The black die, just as the purple die in the base game, matches the colour of any world during the consume phase.
Both the orange entrepreneur die and the black leader die feature a new symbol. This is the $ symbol. This symbol serves no purpose during the assign step. However, if the die is successfully used during the phases step, the die is returned to the cup not the citizenry.
As a result of the multitude of options available to the new dice, these can feel very powerful in the game, and introduce a new level of planning and decision making, without making the game any more complex.
Objectives in Roll for the Galaxy are, as you might imagine, achievable goals in the game. These goals are all action related. For example:
- Have four dice assigned to both Produce and Ship.
- Have five victory point chips.
Objectives are common, and are earned by the first player achieving the goal. Each awards a number of “talent counters”, according to the difficulty of the objective.
Talent counters act as wild symbols, and can be assigned to any phase during the assign step. Following use, they are returned to the common pool, and any unused talent counters are returned to the player’s pool. If a player has any talent counters left unused by the end of the game, each is worth one victory point.
In practice, we have found that the objective tiles make little difference to the game. Because they function very much like a bolt-on expansion, it is very easy to overlook them, and they can go unclaimed, inadvertently. Given the nature of several of the goals on the objective tiles, it would be difficult to work towards them, so many would be achieved almost by chance.
The new dice, however, drop well into the base game, and arise and integrate very smoothly, almost intuitively.
Other Thoughts on Ambition
Ambition is made with the same production values as the base game, with one exception. There are a couple of overlay stickers, to amend the dice face distribution chart and the start of the game set-up box on the player screens. These stickers are not 100% opaque - the result of this is that the numbers/images on the original screen show through, making it a distracting mess. Hopefully this has been addressed in later printings.
There are also rule clarifications, and one specific rule tweak. This being that during the recruit phase, if a player’s money track drops to zero, it immediately restores to $1.
Summarising Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition
I can imagine that, for most people, it would be easy enough to include this expansion with the base game the first time it is played. The new dice add a little more variety, without making the game more complex. The objective tiles are sufficiently interesting that they can add a new layer of strategy to anyone who really wants to focus on them. But they can be easily ignored.
Is Ambition (designed by Wei-Hwa Huang and Thomas Lehmann) a must-have expansion? Not really, it doesn’t fix the game, as it wasn’t really broken in the first place. Is it a worthwhile expansion? I would say so, especially if it is a reasonable price.