Rio Grande Games was one of the first American company to really embrace European style games. Owner Jay Tummelson was instrumental in bringing Settlers of Catan to the US when he worked for Mayfair, and started the company in 1998 with the mission of partnering with European publishers to bring their stuff to the US. Not known for their original games, RGG did score major hits in 2007 and 2008 with Race for the Galaxy and Dominion. They haven’t had very many hits since then, but they are producing three games this fall that all look pretty interesting to me. So, let’s take a look.
Rattlebones is a 2-4 player game from designer Stephen Glenn (of Balloon Cup and 1st & Goal fame). This 45-minute game is about…well, I’m not exactly sure. It looks like an amusement park type of game, but from the art, it looks like we’re dealing with possessed toys. At any rate, it’s a dice-building game where you actually build the dice – all sides are removable and customizable. This game has been in the RGG lineup since 2011, and now it looks like it is actually coming out.
The game comes with a board, 16 player pawns, 12 board tiles, 12 customizable dice (with 72 starting pip sides), 180 action die sides, 20 gold pieces, 20 star pieces, 5 stock tickets, one gamble die, one Rattlebones pawn, 4 side poppers, and a train. Seven tiles are randomly placed on the board. Each player gets three dice (one of each color), and places their three monkey tokens on the start space. The Rattlebones pawn starts on #55, #60, or #65 of the score track, while players start with their monkey pawn on 0.
On your turn, you roll one die. If you want to roll 1-2 extra, you can spend 1-2 gold to do so. Depending on your roll, you’ll get different actions which you can take in any order you wish. If you roll a number or the Rattlebones icon, you’ll move a pawn. If you roll Rattlebones, you move the RB pawn one space towards zero. If you roll a number, you can move one of your pawns exactly that many spaces (it’s a roll and move game!!!). The space where you land will allow you to add a new side to the die you used to move there.
If you roll an action side, here’s what you can do:
- Gold – Take a gold piece from the supply.
- Star – Take a star piece from the supply. Stars can be sold at the start space – one star will get you 3 points, two will get you 7, three will get you 11, and four stars will get you a whopping 15 points.
- Roll Again – Roll this die again, as well as a previously unrolled die. If you roll Roll Again again (wow, that’s an awkward phrase), you can do it again. If all dice have been rolled when you get Roll Again, you disregard.
- Train – Earn a number of points equal to the train’s current location. Then move the train one space.
- 9-Pip – Move a pawn 1-9 spaces, then add the side shown.
- 1-5 Points – Score 1-5 points.
- Thief – Steal a star, gold, or stock from the other players.
- Arrow – Whichever face is pointed to by the arrow is the action you can take.
- 1234 – Score points equal to your place on the score track. So, first place scores one, second scores two, and so on.
- Stock – Take one of the five stocks. When all five have been taken, score them. The player with the most scores 10 points, and the player with second most scores 5. After scoring, stocks are returned to the supply.
- x2 – Doubles the number of gold, stars, or points rolled that turn on one die.
- Gamble – Roll the Gamble die. If you roll 2-5 points, score them. If you roll Rattlebones, move him.
If Rattlebones ever reaches one of the pawns on the score track, the game ends and whoever is in front is the winner. Ties are broken by whoever has the most gold, stars, and stocks.
This game looks super cool. It’s probably really luck driven, but there are decisions about where to move since you have three pawns and can move either direction. I just think it sounds fun that you can actually customize dice as you go. It’s not dice-building like Quarriors, which is deck-building with dice, but it’s actually building and customizing dice. It’s a great idea, and it’s one that I’m very excited to try out when it finally comes out.
Roll for the Galaxy is one I heard about when the prototype made an appearance at the Gathering of Friends in 2010. The game, which is a dice version of Race for the Galaxy, was designed by Wei-Hwa Huang and Thomas Lehmann. It’s a 2-5 player game that lasts 45 minutes. Your dice are your people, and you will be using them to develop technology, settle worlds, and ship goods.
Roll for the Galaxy comes with five dice cups, five credit markers, 5 player mats, 5 player screens, 5 player strips, 9 faction tiles, 9 home world tiles, 55 game tiles, a cloth bag, 33 VP chips, 5 phase tiles, and 111 custom dice. Players draw two game tiles from the bag, placing them in their construction zone – one development side up, one world side up. You also put three white (home) dice in your cup, and two white dice in your citizenry. Worlds will grant you more dice, either for your cup, citizenry, or to be used as a good.
In a round, you complete five steps – roll, assign, reveal, resolve phases, and manage your empire. For the ROLL step, each player rolls all dice in their cups behind their screens. For the ASSIGN step, you’ll place each matching die face underneath its match on the phase strip – explore, develop, settle, produce, ship. You can assign one of these dice to a space on the phase strip, which chooses the action you want to do for the round. You can use any worker for this, it doesn’t have to match the phase.
For the REVEAL step, each player lifts their screen and announces the phase they have selected. Any unchosen phases will not be used, and dice assigned to them are put back in your cup.
For the PHASES step, you go through and resolve the phases that were selected. If no one chose it, you don’t do it.
- Explore can be used to scout for a new tile – draw a tile, examine it, choose if it will be a world or a development, then put it on the bottom of its construction stack. You can abandon tiles in construction stacks to draw more tiles. You could also use explore to stock, taking two galactic credits.
- Develop can be used to work on developments. Each developer die can be placed on the construction stack, and when the number of developers equals the cost of that top tile, you can build it. You can complete multiple developments in this phase. Developments provide bonuses that you can use once completed.
- Settle can be used to settle worlds. This works pretty much the same way as development, except that worlds only provide a one-time effect (more dice).
- Produce allows you to put goods on worlds that produce them. Each world can only have one good.
- Ship can be used to trade goods for galactic credits, or consume them in for points.
For the MANAGE EMPIRE step, you can spend credits to move dice from your citizenry to your cup. You can also recall developers, settlers, or goods, placing them in your cup. If the VP chip pool was exhausted, or if any player has placed 12 or more tiles, the game ends. Whoever has the most points is the winner.
Dice versions of games aren’t new. But they are very hit and miss. Recently, people have really liked Bang: The Dice Game, Nations: The Dice Game and Pandemic: The Cure. But for each success, you also have Carcassonne: The Dice Game, the Catan Dice Game, and of course, Phase 10 Dice. Time will tell how successful Roll for the Galaxy will be, but it does look like a pretty interesting translation of the original.
Temporum is a new game from Donald X. Vaccarino, designer of Dominion (among others, but that was his first). This 2-5 player game is all about time travel and being in control once time travel is invented.
Temporum comes with a board, 48 zone cards, 60 player cards, 50 crowns, 5 pawns, 6 paths, and 48 coin chits. In the beginning, ten zone cards are dealt face up to the board – one Time I card, two Time II cards, three Time III cards, and four Time IV cards. Paths are placed on the board in between cards. Players get starting money based on their turn order position. They also place their pawn on the second card from the right in Time IV and add ten crowns to the track in Time I.
There are four phases to a turn. The first thing you can do is CHANGE HISTORY. To do this, you may switch the path directly below your pawn to the left or right. You can’t do this from Time IV since it’s at the bottom of the board. This will change what is “real”, which is basically an uninterrupted path from bottom to top. If anyone is on a zone that has become unreal, they move to the real zone for their time.
The second phase is MOVE. You move your pawn to any zone that is currently real.
The third phase is VISIT A ZONE. You follow the instructions on the current zone card. This could score crowns, or require you to play a card from your hand, or probably some other tasks that I don’t know since I haven’t seen the cards.
The final phase is CHECK FOR VICTORY. If all of your crowns are in Time IV, you win.
I love alternative history. I love to think about what would have happened IF. I also really like time travel as a theme, and it always makes me sad that I have never played a good time travel game. I’ve played Khronos and Back to the Future: The Card Game, and didn’t like either of them. This one looks fun, though I don’t know how well the theme will come through. At the very least, it has the Donald X. auteur stamp of a lot of variety in the setup, leading to variety in play. I doubt it will set the world ablaze like Dominion did, but that’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Still, it doesn’t have to be Dominion to be a good game, so I’m looking forward to finding out how people like it.
So, there you have it. Three new games from Rio Grande that should be available soon, if not already – I know they are supposedly at BGG.con, happening now in Dallas. Thanks for reading!
- BGG pages for Rattlebones, Roll for the Galaxy, and Temporum
- Rio Grande Games website
- Overview of Roll for the Galaxy from GenCon
- Overview of Temporum from GenCon (with French subtitles)