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Subject: What I don't like about. . . Roll for the Galaxy rss

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Curious Fu
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Nobody loves criticism. About themselves or the things they love. But when it comes to making informed decisions about the games I buy, I want to know a little about the flaws it might have. Whether I love the game or not, this review is my personal opinion about what doesn’t work for me. Solutions, workarounds, variants and expansions may fix some of the issues I have. This review is just about the base game as I see it.

What I don’t like about. . . Roll for the Galaxy

Multiplayer Solitaire Feel

There is player interaction in this game, but in my experience it happens most intensely for a short period around the middle of the game. In the beginning, I find that I am not worrying too much about what my opponents are doing because I really only have enough dice to worry about what I want to do. Towards the end, I have so many dice and such a good engine that I basically do whatever I want. However, there is a sweet spot; at some stage in the middle of the game where I have just enough dice to spread them out a bit but not enough to cover all my bases, I am really taking note of what my opponents are doing. I wish this happened all game.

Players can take their turns all at once without having to wait for anyone (unless multiple players are drawing tiles from the bag). In one sense, this is great because everything happens quickly and there is no down time. But at the same time, it contributes to the multiplayer solitaire feel because you are not watching what other players are doing because you are resolving your actions at the same time. Now, I don’t want downtime and I don’t want to be forced to watch what other players are doing, I just wish there was a way to feel the tension of something building between the players rather than just at the end of the turn once everything is done. Make every player take their turn in sequence I hear you say. . . I don’t want to do that because it slows things down and while I’m helping a new player it means other players can go ahead and do what they want to. It’s just something I’m not fond of about the game.

Final Opinion: I like Roll for the Galaxy. It really feels like a racing game for me. I actually prefer two players with the dummy dice roll. It seems to bring the players together for a good bit of tension. I have played with two players with a lot of different variants as suggested by some great thinkers here at the BGG forums, but I like the simplicity and fun of just rolling – then revealing that dice. I sold this game because I wanted some more sustained interaction between players, there is a hint of it there for me but just not enough. If I want something more between players, then there are many obvious choices where you can smack your mates about. If I don’t want people messing with my plans I have games for that too; Roll for the Galaxy just seems to whet my appetite but doesn’t quite satisfy. I read in the forums that this game has no player interaction! I also read that there is loads of interaction and that it’s about getting into the head of your opponents rather than destroying or taking their stuff! I think the latter opinion is true, but it’s not enough and it’s not strong enough for me and my group.
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John Burt
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Thanks for this critical review. Too many reviewers seem to think that saying only positive things, or only reviewing games they really like is somehow helpful. It isn't. Your comments describing interaction (or lack) in the game do a much better job of providing the information a reader needs to decide whether the game is right for them.

Roll is descended from Race for the Galaxy, the more sophisticated brother of San Juan. All of these are descended from Puerto Rico, and they all use the same basic mechanisms for interaction: role selection and leeching, which are indirect and mild compared with games that allow direct attacks. Some people like this level of interaction, which is why these games are so popular.
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Ryan Keane
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Good points, although I was expecting a longer list of issues to discuss when I scrolled down and saw... 1.

People dispute which, Roll vs Race, feel more multiplayer solitaire. I find there is more table talk in Roll than Race, but they are designed to play quickly with just a glance at what roles other players might be going for. With Roll, there's more physically on the board (a card with a bunch a dice already invested, a bunch of dice in the citizenry, a bunch of goods dice) that makes it easier for me to see what players most want to do than in Race, but then there is the fun uncertainty that a player may roll in such a way that they prefer to go for a different action than what they originally planned.

I wouldn't really call Race more sophisticated than San Juan, but San Juan, and especially Puerto Rico, require more consideration over what other players are doing because of the turn sequence.

Fresco is one game that has the simultaneous secret action selection like Roll, but more player interaction in terms of vying for turn order and determining what point tiles players are preparing for.
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Curious Fu
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Wish I had more problems to discuss!

I do the majority of my game review checking in store. Living in Japan means that there is not really a wide selection of titles available. In addition, any information about a game is often in Japanese (although the game is printed in English the back of the box is covered with a Japanese translation + rules). As a result, if I find a game I am interested in I want a quick couple of pointers while I am in the shop to give me some ideas about the game rather than a long review.

Hopefully, just a quick one or two negatives helps gives a bigger picture about what the game is like for people like myself.
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Graham Robinson
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curiousfu wrote:
Hopefully, just a quick one or two negatives helps gives a bigger picture about what the game is like for people like myself.


Except, how helpful is to make statements that aren't true? Roll isn't in any way "multi-player solitaire". What other players do affects you directly and vice versa. Predicting other player's calls and making your calls to hurt them is a vital part of playing well. It is as much "multi-player solitaire" as draw poker, and less so than seven wonders, for instance.

It has zero "take that" mechanics, so if that's essential to you, fair enough, this is the wrong game. But multiplayer solitaire it ain't.

Cheers,
Graham

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Tom Lehmann
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Ryan Keane wrote:
I wouldn't really call Race more sophisticated than San Juan, but San Juan, and especially Puerto Rico, require more consideration over what other players are doing because of the turn sequence.

This is a bunch of hooey. Except when denial of a action bonus matters (which is fairly rare), Race's and Roll's phase sequence produces almost identical results as PR's action sequencing.

Just as Trade and Ship are likely following Craftsman in PR, so are Trade or Consume:2x (in Race) or Ship (in Roll) likely following a round that ended with Produce. Just as a player with lots of cash is likely to call Builder in PR when everyone else is short on money, so is a Race/Roll player likely to call Develop when everyone else is short on cards in hand or dice in cup.

What is different is the amount of uncertainty present in the *middle* of a round, when a SJ/PR player has knowledge of what actions have already been taken, as opposed to having to make predictions for all the players under simultaneous picking schemes.

Some players don't enjoy dealing with the uncertainty inherent in predicting all players' probable actions at the start of a round and that's fine; people are entitled to their preferences.

Now, it is true that some of PR's mechanisms are dependent on player order when resolving them, i.e. the order of trades. But, that's not an effect of PR's *turn sequence*, it is an effect of PR's mechanisms (making Trades exclusive, limiting the types of goods that can be shipped, etc.).

Claiming that a turn sequence with less uncertainty in it is somehow more "sophisticated" is exactly the same sort of pretentiousness as when fans of no-luck games sneer at games that have luck elements.
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Curious Fu
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therealbuserian wrote:
curiousfu wrote:
Hopefully, just a quick one or two negatives helps gives a bigger picture about what the game is like for people like myself.


Except, how helpful is to make statements that aren't true? Roll isn't in any way "multi-player solitaire".


How can my opinion not be true? Fair enough if you don't like it though!

You also failed to quote the rest of the review where I explained what "multi-player solitaire FEEL" meant to me.

Like I said, nobody likes criticism. . .

(Can't help but feel a strong sense of irony in my reply!)

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Ryan Keane
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
I wouldn't really call Race more sophisticated than San Juan, but San Juan, and especially Puerto Rico, require more consideration over what other players are doing because of the turn sequence.

This is a bunch of hooey. Except when denial of a action bonus matters (which is fairly rare), Race's and Roll's phase sequence produces almost identical results as PR's action sequencing.

Just as Trade and Ship are likely following Craftsman in PR, so are Trade or Consume:2x (in Race) or Ship (in Roll) likely following a round that ended with Produce. Just as a player with lots of cash is likely to call Builder in PR when everyone else is short on money, so is a Race/Roll player likely to call Develop when everyone else is short on cards in hand or dice in cup.

What is different is the amount of uncertainty present in the *middle* of a round, when a SJ/PR player has knowledge of what actions have already been taken, as opposed to having to make predictions for all the players under simultaneous picking schemes.

Some players don't enjoy dealing with the uncertainty inherent in predicting all players' probable actions at the start of a round and that's fine; people are entitled to their preferences.

Now, it is true that some of PR's mechanisms are dependent on player order when resolving them, i.e. the order of trades. But, that's not an effect of PR's *turn sequence*, it is an effect of PR's mechanisms (making Trades exclusive, limiting the types of goods that can be shipped, etc.).

Claiming that a turn sequence with less uncertainty in it is somehow more "sophisticated" is exactly the same sort of pretentiousness as when fans of no-luck games sneer at games that have luck elements.


I'm just happy my response what noticed by the designer.

I just not comfortable with a blanket statement that one is more sophisticated than the other. I wasn't saying SJ/PR turn sequence is more sophisticated.
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Alex Brown
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I agree with the review about the simultaneity detracting from interaction.

In the groups I've played with, everyone seemed to rush through the phases, paying little attention to what others were doing. I know it's not targeted towards as competitive a crowd as Race was, but it did surprise me how little interest people were taking in each other's game.

I think Roll is a good game, but I prefer the complexity of Race, even if that is a harder sell to new players.
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John Burt
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Quote:
I just not comfortable with a blanket statement that one is more sophisticated than the other. I wasn't saying SJ/PR turn sequence is more sophisticated.


To ammend my original comment, "sophisticated" may not be the correct word here. Perhaps more accurately, I meant that Race is a more complex game than San Juan.
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
I wouldn't really call Race more sophisticated than San Juan, but San Juan, and especially Puerto Rico, require more consideration over what other players are doing because of the turn sequence.

This is a bunch of hooey. Except when denial of a action bonus matters (which is fairly rare), Race's and Roll's phase sequence produces almost identical results as PR's action sequencing.


I agree that the original poster's line is in "hooey" land, but I have to disagree with Tom's characterization that Race/Roll produces almost identical results to PR. For example, in Race/Roll, sometimes I will see several rounds in a row where all players choose Explore. The equivalent is simply not possible in SJ/PR, because of the constraint that players need to choose unchosen phases. On the flip side, SJ/PR can often have players manipulating the timing of phases so that some phases are chosen twice in a row without other players having the ability to interfere with that possibility, something that is much harder to pull off in Race/Roll.

Going back to the original poster, I think that they were not making a statement about the economic cyclical nature of the phases, and more trying to make a statement about the strategy needed to choose optimal moves. In that light, I think that which system has "more consideration over what other players are doing" is not really an answerable question, because the type of consideration is different.

In the simultaneous system that Race/Roll uses, there is sophistication that comes from the fact that your opponent's moves need to be assessed probabilistically -- I could think something like "My opponent is very likely going to choose Explore or Settle. However, I don't have enough information to know which." A good player will need to engage in a bit of probability assessments and mind-reading to pick the best move, and sometimes the theoretical best move is quite different from the best move if opponents' intentions were known.

In the sequencing system that SJ/PR uses, there is sophistication that comes from the fact that you can calculate deeper alpha-beta responses -- I could think something like "My opponent is very likely going to choose Prospector or Builder. If he chooses Prospector, then I will make this choice; but if he chooses Builder, then I will make this other choice." Assessing what your opponent is likely to do is not as important as calculating the optimal response for every possible action your opponent could do. This is simpler because you don't have to read minds, but harder because you can look many more moves into the future than you could in a game with simultaneous play.

Arguing over which system requires more consideration is a bit like comparing (Iterative) Rock-Paper-Scissors with Tic-Tac-Toe -- they are both simple games that can have surprisingly deep analyses, but the type of game is different enough that you can't really compare their complexities on the same scale. A perfect RPS analysis leads you into building payoff matrices, while a perfect TTT analysis leads you into building decision trees. They are quite different branches of game theory.
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David desJardins
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Alex Brown wrote:
In the groups I've played with, everyone seemed to rush through the phases, paying little attention to what others were doing.


Surely that says more about the players than about the game.
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Ryan Keane
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Alex Brown wrote:
In the groups I've played with, everyone seemed to rush through the phases, paying little attention to what others were doing.


Surely that says more about the players than about the game.


I don't know what is happening in players' heads, but using observed table talk about the game and discussion of what decision is optimal as a measure of "paying attention to what others are doing," given the same group of players playing each of these 4 games, I would rate them from least to most table talk as:
Race < Roll < SJ < PR
Not saying more or less table talk is better or more sophisticated.

I'm a pretty basic player at most of these, but in Race and Roll, most of the time I'm going to take the action I want to happen, unless I'm really confident another player will select it (or my dice led me to choose an alternative action than what I wanted). SJ and PR provide that decision tree of "if I take X, the next player will take Y, but if I take A, then they'll take B," and so on, that is missing from Race and Roll. And sometimes I'm going to take another action than what I want to be better prepared for when another player will, if I predicted correctly, take the one I want to happen. Roll and Race do have this, but collapsed into a single turn and pre-set sequence (I can settle a planet to be ready to produce immediately when I think player will select it, but I can never trade first to allow myself to be able to afford a build in the same round like I can in SJ/PR). This would probably make them overly complex, but it would be interesting if Race/Roll had some way for players to choose before the reveal where in the sequence they want their selection phase to occur, like if you play a low number produce it will happen earlier in the turn, similar to the initiative #'s in RoboRally.
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Curious Fu
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Alex Brown wrote:
In the groups I've played with, everyone seemed to rush through the phases, paying little attention to what others were doing.


Surely that says more about the players than about the game.


I agree that it does say something about the players, but that the game permits and allows this is to occur should be taken into consideration when thinking about whether this game will be appropriate to your personal playing style.

I feel it is the same with "analysis paralysis". Games with many complex decisions and a lot of possible options on turns can "paralyse" some players. What constitutes "paralysis" will depend on your personal meter for how long, too long in taking your turn is. I have heard many people say they don't like 5 Tribes because of the 'Analysis Paralysis' element it brings out in some players.

It is the way the game is designed that allows for decision making complexity and down time - for better or worse. The same can be said in reverse for Roll - players doing everything as quickly as possible without taking exact notice of everyone else is up to the players. However, the game facilitates/permits this and there is no check to this designed into the game (for better or worse - depending on what appeals to the player).

So although it is a personal decision by the players on how to play the game, it is the way the game works which facilitates the kind of play which can occur. I would not say that Roll facilitates "Analysis Paralysis", although I would say that it can facilitate rapid simultaneous turn resolution and that this can have it's own negatives for some players.
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David desJardins
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curiousfu wrote:
I agree that it does say something about the players, but that the game permits and allows this is to occur should be taken into consideration when thinking about whether this game will be appropriate to your personal playing style.


I guess this doesn't make sense to me. ANY game can be played rapidly without thinking. What game does not permit and allow the players to make their moves rapidly without thinking about them at all, if they so choose?
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Graham Robinson
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curiousfu wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
Alex Brown wrote:
In the groups I've played with, everyone seemed to rush through the phases, paying little attention to what others were doing.


Surely that says more about the players than about the game.


I agree that it does say something about the players, but that the game permits and allows this is to occur should be taken into consideration when thinking about whether this game will be appropriate to your personal playing style.

I feel it is the same with "analysis paralysis". Games with many complex decisions and a lot of possible options on turns can "paralyse" some players. What constitutes "paralysis" will depend on your personal meter for how long, too long in taking your turn is. I have heard many people say they don't like 5 Tribes because of the 'Analysis Paralysis' element it brings out in some players.

It is the way the game is designed that allows for decision making complexity and down time - for better or worse. The same can be said in reverse for Roll - players doing everything as quickly as possible without taking exact notice of everyone else is up to the players. However, the game facilitates/permits this and there is no check to this designed into the game (for better or worse - depending on what appeals to the player).

So although it is a personal decision by the players on how to play the game, it is the way the game works which facilitates the kind of play which can occur. I would not say that Roll facilitates "Analysis Paralysis", although I would say that it can facilitate rapid simultaneous turn resolution and that this can have it's own negatives for some players.


I've seen a player (same guy) in both Race and Roll stop the game dead due to AP. So, the game design clearly allows for this...

Or, more accurately, if there is any game of moderate or greater depth, a given PLAYER could play that game without thought, rushing through their moves, whilst another (or the same on another day) PLAYER could bring the game to a halt due to over-analysis of the game state, possible, moves, etc.

NEITHER is the fault of the GAME. It is entirely down to the PLAYER(S) concerned.

Blaming the game for how YOU happen to play it is unhelpful. Especially in a supposed review.

Bottom live, Race and Roll both allow for plenty of player interaction, albeit not at the "take that" level which some people want. If your group doesn't take advantage of that, it says nothing about the game, just about you...

Cheers,
Graham
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Curious Fu
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DaviddesJ wrote:
ANY game can be played rapidly without thinking. What game does not permit and allow the players to make their moves rapidly without thinking about them at all, if they so choose?


Theoretically, I think this is also true. However, in reality I believe human behaviour is much less rational. 'Hungry Hungry Hippo' does not lend itself to analysis paralysis and in 'Chess' all players can not take all their moves at once.

Game design does not necessarily dictate how players play, but I suggest that it strongly influences their actions.
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curiousfu wrote:
Theoretically, I think this is also true. However, in reality I believe human behaviour is much less rational. 'Hungry Hungry Hippo' does not lend itself to analysis paralysis and in 'Chess' all players can not take all their moves at once.


Well, this is a big digression, and probably shouldn't be in this forum, but the Hungry Hungry Hippos discussion forum is pretty dead right now...

I think it's possible to have analysis paralysis in Hungry Hungry Hippos, it just appears at a short-enough time scale that it's not easily noticed. Speaking personally, I've experimented with different strategies (e.g., rapid short nearby bites, long bites, creating turbulence by rapid pushes) and sometimes the decision about whether to change strategies within a game when I'm losing can slow me down, probably by about a half-second or so. I would consider that Analysis Paralysis, but generally my opponents don't notice it in me.

A more noticable form of AP in HHH is the meta-gaming aspect that occurs when you have to figure out which player gets which hippo, especially when you don't have a full complement of four players or when the skill level between players is very wide (e.g., adults vs. toddlers). For example, if one of the players is more skilled, would you prefer to sit to their side or across for them? It's not that obvious.
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I agree with the point about the "multiplayer solitaire feel". like you said, it isn't neccessarily multiplayer solitaire, but it can lend itself to that feel.

I recently had a game (3 player) with me and the game owner and a newbie to the game. While the game owner was explaining to the newbie round by round what to do and how things worked, I could quite easily zip ahead on my moves, or slip behind on my moves and dice placements. So I really felt that I could play my own game, even at my own speed to some extent and it didn't really damage the strength of my tactics significantly.

When I have played I have alternated between paying attention to what other players will probably choose and alternatively not caring. Either way doesn't feel like a big difference to your tactics.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great game and enjoy playing it, but definitely agree with the original poster's assertion that the game can lend itself to a multiplayer solitaire feeling.
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I receive as a gift for my birthday this game on Monday. I had the option to change it but I've decided to keep it. And I am very happy about my decision (I hope it will not change ).

Yesterday I've played my second game with my kid (10 years) and my daughter (13 years). At the end my kid said: "Dad, this game is different because actually it feels like you are playing alone. You just play in your area and you don´t care too much about what others are doing". I told him, that you have to pay some attention about what others are doing, basically to know which action they will probably choose, but he didn't look very convinced. Believe, my kid have no idea on what is "multiplayer solitaire feel".

Correct me if I'm wrong but I presume that the more players are in game, the more you will have the sensation of playing a multisolitaire. With 2 or 3 players you have to try to guess what others will choose because in the best case you will have only 3 valid actions (and perhaps 2 or 1). But if you are playing with 5, having 4 actions selected could happen relatively frequently, so you will have less stress about losing your dices.

In any case, for me is a good thing about having a game in my collection with this "multiplayer solitaire feel". I have no other game like that. If I want some bloody interaction I will just play Arcadia Quest or Kemet. Actually my daughter said: "I like this game because is different".

By the way, I also have Puerto Rico, and even if I've already noticed some similar points (selecting actions, produce and ship sequence...)I will never call PR a multiplayer solitaire. In PR you are basically selecting your actions thinking about what is more painful for the other players (not what is the best for me), and you have the power to do that. In Roll you do not have this power, you cannot bother others (or at least it look very difficult to do that).

PS: Of course, all my comments are mainly feelings and first impressions, considering that I've only played this game twice.

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Seisyll W.
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I toast my group every week because they are navel-gazing the whole time. People! Get your heads up and look out for the signaling that IS this game!

If I see an opponent with two dice on their 6-cost development, then that's a signal that develop is probably covered. They don't want those dice tied up.

If I see an opponent with a heavy produce/sell engine coming together - ok, their worlds are empty right now, produce is probably covered.

And, even better, I look around and see empty spaces on my opponents' boards where they could have worlds they are hoping to settle. I am going to pour dice on to my world this turn and NO ONE CAN RIDE IN MY WAKE! (This is one reason I feel Roll is more interactive than Race - you can see the developments and worlds on deck - you have all that open information that used to be hidden!)

I get that this is a tableau-building game and that it's fun to just make your empire. But hey - it's even more fun to tableau-build AND play the metagame of where-is-the-zeitgeist-of-the-moment-putting-their-dice-and-how-do-I-profit-from-it?? I was not a fan of interaction through open conflict that you see in the first arc of Race or in Dominion's attack cards. It's just very 1-dimensional and zero-sum compared to the parasitic leeching of actions that Race has always had at the forefront.
 
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Daniel Kearns
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I want to like Roll more than I do.

I think one reason I prefer race is the better use of iconography. It is easier to see what kinds of powers my opponents have and in which phases they fire at a glance. Yes, it takes time to learn the icons but once you do, they work very well and the phase series on each card is inspired.

Also in roll, the art seems noisier, or at very least smaller, such that the tile recognition for me is worse at a glance.

All this makes it harder for me to track what my opponents are doing during play so it feels more isolated to me.
 
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
Claiming that a turn sequence with less uncertainty in it is somehow more "sophisticated" is exactly the same sort of pretentiousness as when fans of no-luck games sneer at games that have luck elements.


I wouldn't say more sophisticated, but I do think that it is different decisions you are making. Sometimes you are taking certain things in puerto rico to block other players (perhaps to force them to put coffee on a ship rather than trading it.) In Race, if my opponent has an alien good and wants to trade it, isn't going to be possible for me to force them to consume it.

I personally prefer the simultaneous choosing of actions, but I could see how some may feel the decision is more interesting when they are made in sequence.


edit: and now I see the context up above a bit better. I don't think either is more "sophisticated" than the other.
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Ryan Keane
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seisyll wrote:
And, even better, I look around and see empty spaces on my opponents' boards where they could have worlds they are hoping to settle. I am going to pour dice on to my world this turn and NO ONE CAN RIDE IN MY WAKE! (This is one reason I feel Roll is more interactive than Race - you can see the developments and worlds on deck - you have all that open information that used to be hidden!)


I agree that optimal play uses a lot of decision-making based on what phases you are expecting other players to choose. But I don't think you needed all caps here. I can still ride your wake with empty spaces. If I think you're going to settle or develop, I will try to place some dice on the appropriate phase I think you will choose and then select explore myself. I get the additional benefit of getting to choose which tile/side to place after I know which phase (Settle and/or Develop) are occurring this turn and how many dice I have already allocated to that phase this turn.

For me, Roll seems more interactive partly because I can better predict which phase a player will choose, especially between Settle/Develop, but I'm sure expert Race players are pretty good at predicting as well.
 
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Justin Rizzo
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Hershey
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Interesting thoughts in your OP. I would say I feel pretty much the same. I'm a big role selection fan. I sold Race, not because it's not a great game, but because I mostly play 2P only games and it was too much for the wife. I often think about picking it back up, now that she is much more experienced with games.

She enjoys Roll, but I'm rather bored with it, at least in 2P. I have only played it once with 3P, and unfortunately that player was bored halfway through and asked to move on to another game. I picked up Ambition, and the results were mostly the same, but I really liked the orange and black die.

I argue with my friend often over how this game feels solitaire to me. He plays in groups of 3-4. I only play 2P. I think that's the answer. I also have not tried some house rules which have potential to make a 2P game more interesting, such as a market for tiles and a higher VP chip pool (I always feel like the game ends far too fast).

I REALLY want to like the game, because in all honestly, it's solid mechanically. I'm even willing to look past my sci-fi hatred, since the game is built so well. I just cannot get on board with it for 2P where I am able to with other role selection titles (Race, Puerto, San Juan, Villages of Valeria). I just don't feel the interaction, even in the "mind games". Maybe it's just me. I want to move the game off my shelf in trade, but I've persistently held back since the "new" expansion title - Rivalry - makes me think it will up player interaction. I wish there was some information about this out there. *wink wink*
 
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