Reiner Knizia


No. of Players:
2 - 4



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

A trend-setter among publishers in recent years was the creation of spin-off games or revised versions of famous games, and in some cases dice were added as a major component. Late in the 90s of the last century Ra from Reiner Knizia was a very successful game that combined high strategic elements with the convenience of a family game. Luck only played a minor role in the original game and so one could be very curious about how Reiner Knizia had transformed the ingenious mechanisms into the new Ra: The Dice Game.


After opening the gamebox for the first time, you probably will feel a little bit disappointed. Although the box is not the biggest one, you might expect a little bit more game material, especially when considering the price of the game. But you will only find the board, the rules, some small wooden markers and five dice. But let's not be hasty - the game certainly deserves a chance to prove itself since highly popular games started their way into fame with quite few components…

[IMAGE]The dice are the main component in the game. They all have a different colour and special symbols on the sides instead of the normal numbers. All player turns start with rolling these dice. Each dice that is showing a Sun is placed in front of the Ra figure on the corresponding Ra track on the board. Any of the other dice may be re-rolled twice. Again, in these re-rolls all dice showing the Sun symbol are placed on the Sun track. Then the player applies the remaining dice in any order on the different tracks and places on the board. You can find four different areas there:

  • First there is the Pharaoh track. Advancing on this track is quite easy, because every Pharaoh symbol on a dice can be used to put the player´s figure one step further on the track. In a scoring the player who has the furthest advanced marker on this track gets five victory points, the last one looses two points. The symbol of an Ankh can be used as a Joker as for all other symbols. In my opinion you should only set hope in this track if you have a real chance to be the first in a scoring. If another player is far ahead, you should better keep your jokers for the other areas on the board.
  • The next track is very similar to use, but of much more importance, if you can spend enough dice for it. It is the track of the river Nile. The only difference to the Pharaoh track while moving is that you can place a second marker on top of your original marker if you have three dice showing the Nile symbol (of course Ankhs can be used, too). This symbolizes a flood in the river. In a scoring you only get victory points corresponding to your advancing progress if you have flooded the Nile. Flood markers are removed after each scoring. The advantage over the Pharaoh track is that all players can get victory points.
  • Civilization symbols on three dice (including Ankhs again) can be used to place a marker on one of the five spaces in the corresponding civilization area on the board. Here only one marker is allowed in any space. Players should try to place a marker here as soon as possible, because all players without any marker loose five victory points in a scoring. Positive victory points are given for three or more markers. Because this is normally not easy too reach, it is often better just to place one marker here. On the other hand, if you have rolled four or five of the symbols, you are allowed to place two or three markers respectively. So you can try to prevent your opponents placing markers there by blocking the spaces with your own markers. This is an advisable tactic if you have the luck to roll a lot of the civilization symbols.
  • The last symbols you can roll are monuments. The area on the board has 40 spaces. Five rows with the five colours of the dice and eight columns. For one symbol a player can place a marker in any space of the corresponding colour. Another marker can be placed for two more of the monuments symbols. But this second marker can only be placed in a column where the player does not have one of his own markers yet. Victory points are given for the number of columns in which the player has at least one marker and for each column that contain at least three markers of the player. If you start early with placing markers in the monument area, you have the chance to get quite a lot of victory points in the end game.

Now the pivotal question is, when does a scoring take place? This is quite easy. Whenever the neutral figure on the Ra track reaches the final place there is a scoring. How does this work? The Ra marker is moved forward at the end of each player´s turn, if there are one or two dice showing the Ra symbol. Then the figure advances accordingly. However if there are three dice with the Ra symbol, the player gets three victory points and with four or five symbols a Disaster takes place. Disasters are negative for all other players. So a player has to rate his chances when considering to re-roll the dice. If he feels in front, he has a big interest in advancing the Ra figure as fast as possible and he let one or two dice stay. If however he thinks he should still improve his chances on the board, he needs time. So if he has already rolled two dice in the first roll, he should try to get another Ra symbol by taking two or three of the remaining dice again to increase his chances. With a little bit luck, he rolls another Ra and prevents the Ra figure from advancing. This decision is a tactical element in the game and very often decides whether a player bears off the palm or goes down with all flags flying.


After a scoring the Ra figure is pushed back on its starting space again. The game ends when the figure has reached the end of the track for the third time. So there are exactly three scorings.

Reiner Knizia has really made a good job since the game works very fine and keeps an eye on its predecessor at the same time. Of course luck plays a much bigger role than in the original game. But still the players have a lot of tactical and even strategic decisions to make that influence their available scoring points enormously. I think you could not expect the game to reach the ingenuity of the original game. But still you can see and feel the roots of Ra. Although the rules can be understood very quickly, a player will need one or two matches to fully understand the different scoring mechanisms. So an experienced player has a big advantage and in spite of the dice luck probably wins the game.


Some words have to be said about the design. Unfortunately it can´t keep fully up with the gameplay. The artwork is not too attractive in my opinion and the quality of the game material could be a little bit better, too. The yellow dice is almost unreadable if the light is dimmed and the symbols on the summary cards are hard to understand for someone who plays the game for the first time. But it would be a pity if these smaller minus points would prevent you from getting the game, that is if you like tactical dice games. Because in the end Ra: The Dice Game is truly a convincing game!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany