Galaxy The Dark Ages
A card game by Reiner Knizia, developed by Don Greenwood, and published
These comments copyright 2000 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated January 22, 2001
Galaxy the Dark Ages is a card game based on the earlier
Titan the Arena
(TtA) by the same designer and developer. I haven't yet
played it enough to be able to review it definitively, but so far I like
a lot! It may be my favorite game of 2000 so far, in fact.
Eventually this will be a full review. But until I have a chance to
play it more, this file is just a recounting of the differences between
TtA and Galaxy for owners of the former
game to consider. Personally, I think it's worth buying
Galaxy, but this will help you make your own decision.
[Updated January 22, 2001: I've now played it enough to warrant
some further comments.
I like Galaxy better than TtA
in all regards except one:
End of updated remarks. The rest of this article is from September,
My only problem with Galaxy is the reduced discard ability.
I've seen it in too many games now: at least one player ends up with well
over half his hand made up of ships from surrendered worlds, often for
the last three rounds of play. This makes the game less fun for that
person and frankly makes it too luck-dependent.
Proposed fix: Discard capability is as normal - that is, if you
discard, you may not play a card, and you may discard only one card - but
if you draw a card from a surrendered world, you may show it to the other
players, place it face-up on the discard pile, and draw another card.
This next card drawn, too, can be refused if it's from a surrendered
world, but the third card drawn must be accepted no matter what it is.
(Of course, if you like the first or second card you get, don't draw
Differences between TtA and Galaxy
- TtA is set in a fantasy arena. It is a supposed
gladitorial contest between fantasy creatures.
- Galaxy is set in a science fiction universe. It
represents conflict between worlds of different races and
Strength Cards Ship Cards
Secret Bet Secret Base
Referee Technology Card (not exact parallel)
"set-aside portion of hand" Reserve
- In TtA you place a bet (optional), play a card,
resolve the action if you're the backer and played a card on that
creature, discard up to three cards from dead creatures, and draw
up to eight cards, in that order.
- In Galaxy you can place a base before or after
playing a ship card. You can discard one ship card of a
surrendered world only if you don't play a ship card. You may
then resolve the world's power if you're the Governor and played a ship
card to that world, then draw one card, or pick up your
- In TtA you draw enough cards to fill your hand to
eight cards each turn. If someone uses the Cyclops' power on you to
force you to temporarily lose a "set-aside portion of your hand", you
automatically pick those cards back up after your next turn.
- In Galaxy you only draw one card per turn, and
only if you decide not to pick up your Reserve.
- In TtA, when a secret bet is revealed the card used
to record the bet is placed above the creature card.
- In Galaxy, when a secret base is revealed, the card
used to record the base is shown to the other players then placed in
your hand, and can be used immediately or in a future turn.
- In TtA you lose the Backer status if another
player ties you in ducat value.
- In Galaxy you retain the Governorship until
another player surpasses you in influence.
- Some of the powers in the two games are the same, some are similar,
and some are completely different:
- The Felowi, Myrmidons, and
Divergence in Galaxy have the same powers as the Troll,
Cyclops, and Hydra, respectively, in TtA.
Ecup Contract power is similar, but not identical, to the Titan's power.
- The power of the Cylor is simply the discard/draw capability
every player has in TtA.
- The other three
Galaxy worlds have different powers from any
creature in TtA: the Imperials get a free attack
opportunity; the Erithizonian may move an Ally card in the current row;
the Kha'Farjimmn can play their card concealed (face down), meaning it
can't be attacked and no one else knows it's value until all worlds
have a ship card.
- In TtA, strength cards carry no additional powers
beyond their value, which is compared at the end of a round to other
- In Galaxy, ship cards have their own powers. The
0 ship cannot be attacked, for example, while the 3 ship increases the
influence of one base on that world. The 5 ship is especially powerful,
as it allows you to steal a card from the world's Governor and keep it
(remember that the other player can only draw one card at the end of each
turn). "Fleet ships" are cards valued 6 through 10, and they can attack
other ships. So in Galaxy, playing a ship on a world in which you are
Governor allows you to use both the ship's power and the world's power.
Playing a card on a world where you're not Governor still allows you to
use the ship's power.
Spoils of Victory
- In TtA, once a bet is placed it remains there until
the creature is eliminated or the game ends.
- In Galaxy, a base can move up or down (increase or
decrease in value). This can happen through the actions of certain ship
powers, through combat versus an undefended base, and through the Spoils
- In TtA, once a round ends, only the lowest-value card
- In Galaxy, once a round ends, the highest value
card(s) receives "Spoils of Victory." The controlling player may
increase the influence of one base on that world, or decrease the
influence of one base on that world.
- In TtA combat is abstracted and represented by
playing the strength cards. "Combat" as such is only resolved at the
end of the round, with the lowest strength creature being removed.
- In Galaxy combat is another option beyond comparing
ship card values at the end of the round. Fleet ships (cards with
values of 6 through 10) may be used to fight other ship cards
in the same row, or an undefended base (a base is undefended if
its world has no ship card in the current row). You can only attack
if you earn one or more "attack opportunities": that is, if you cover
a card with your Fleet ship, or match the value of another Fleet ship,
or control the Imperials world and play an Imperials Fleet ship.
Attacks are resolved with dice, included in the game.
- In TtA you may not use a backer's power if playing
either a spectator card or a strength card on top of a spectator card.
- In Galaxy you may use the Governor's power even if
playing an Ally card or a card on top of an Ally card.
- In TtA, you can play a Referee instead of a strength
card. There are three cards, two of one type and one of another type.
- In Galaxy, you can play a Technology card in addition to
a ship card. There are five cards, one of each type. Most have powers
that last until the end of the round, though one is an instant power.
- In TtA the rules don't say what to do if no one bids
to play the first card!
- In Galaxy the dealer must make a bid. Use dice to
resolve who deals.
Clarity of Rules
- In TtA, the player who played last breaks ties.
- If tied in Galaxy, check cards held. Each card for
a world still in play counts double its face value. Other ship cards
count their face value. Highest total wins ties. If still tied, player
who played last wins.
- In TtA, the rules are very poorly written.
- In Galaxy, the rules are pretty clearly written, with
a lengthy portion of a sample game. (Unfortuntately, there are at
least two typos in the sample game, but they meant well. On p. 17, the
last paragraph, Yellow does not get an attack opportunity,
despite what they say. And on p. 20, the last paragraph, Yellow does
not remain the Governor of Cylor, despite what they say.)
Other games by this designer I've reviewed are:
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