I was given Ra: The Dice Game as a gift for my birthday last year (or was it the year before, old age is setting in) and was immediately taken by the great looking box and the themed inside. The next thing that hit me was the real ‘euro-game’ aspect of the board and components. This is a very ‘euro’ euro-game, it is abstract. Despite that, as I will show you, this is a fun game which can be very competitive and replayable.
The game is set in ancient Egypt. As players you are trying to build monuments, develop shipping up the Nile river, gain favour with the Pharaoh, evolve the civilisation, all between major floods of the Nile river. When you look at the board none of this will be apparent, as I said it is an abstract game.
Inside the box is a nice small board that is well themed, 5 special different coloured die with symbols on them, and lots of wooden cubes in 4 different colours, and a wooden token to represent the sun god Ra (this acts as a marker for the game progress). Lastly a handy well themed and presented rule booklet in English and German will get you playing quickly with some quick reference cards.
Aim of the Game
The game is scored in over 3-rounds, and then a final scoring. Scoring highest favour with the Pharoah, your shipping ability and your advancement of the civilisation. The final scoring is your progress on monument construction. The highest combined score wins.
Setting up the game is relatively quick and easy, an attractive feature of the game. The Ra token is placed on the Round Track to show the rounds progress, players have a cube of their colour on the scoring track, and one on the Pharaoh and shipping tracks. That is it.
Playing the Game
Players take turns at rolling the 5 dice. They are looking to develop combinations of results that allow them to move their cube on the Pharaoh and Shipping track, secure locations on the Civilisation Advancement track, or finally to start building Monuments. A final option is to score lots of the Ra symbol which can speed the rounds progress or allow you to disadvantage other players (hopefully to your advantage). You can take the dice results you want and re-roll the rest up to a total of 3 dice rolls in total. The final result is what is played by placing cubes or advancing the tracks.
The exact requirements to do all this are in the rule book and on some quick reference cards. In short the Pharaoh track is advanced by a single Pharaoh symbol, the Shipping is more complex in that you have to get 2 cubes of you colour on the track and on the same square to gain points at scoring. The Civilisation track requires 3 or more of the Civilisation symbol to place a cube(s) on that track (it can give very valuable points) and is the hardest to get. Lastly the Monument area requires you to place cubes in various ways to score potentially big points at the end, 1 die result allowing 1 cube to be placed, 3 allows 2 cubes, and 5 allows 3 cubes to be placed. This is a long term strategy and not worth overlooking as blocking other players pattern placement can stop them running away at the end.
We like Ra: The Dice Game as it it is overall a rather simple and light game, it does not require lots of space to play with the small board and dice can be rolled into the box. We have regularly taken the game to cafes and such. It plays nicely with 2 players, yet I think 3 players is better (game will play up to 4 players). The game is nicely presented and plays quickly, taking 30 minutes to an hour depending on number of players.
Their is a bit of strategy happening as well as you try and manipulate the results by re-rolling dice, taking control of the various tracks and building monuments. You have to think and balance short term gains each round for longer term gains with monuments.
This game is simple enough to teach to a 8-9 year old child who with some coaching will start to develope their own strategies.
All up I like this game.
Game type: Euro family abstract strategy
Mechanism / Skill: Dice based abstract strategy
Number of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 40-60 minutes
Ease of Play: 4 / 5
Ease of Setup: 5 / 5
Ease of Learning: 4 / 5
Fun Factor: 4 / 5
Replay-ability: 4 / 5