Straight out the box Galileo makes no apologies for its attempt to be bold and brash when it hits your table. The main board will take up a decent amount of space lengthways, filling up spaces with cards and wooden tokens. Player boards shout at your with their Galilean moons of Jupiter. Multicolour disks and tokens sit out on the table ready to be moved and placed and in the middle of it all a rectangular box contains a treasure of poker chips. These megacredits have a reassuring tactile weight in your hand and you'll be forgiven if you spend more time flexing them between your fingers than you will having them simply sitting their placid on your spot on the table.
Galileo is all about the points. Building up an engine that slowly increases the power at your hands to create and develop on the four moons of Jupiter using a mixture of human specialists and machines. As the development of the moons grow, so does your abilities when you do take a turn, leading up to a points festival and race to victory. It looks like a feast on the table, a moist collection of delicious artwork and colours. The world of Galileo is viewed through a prism, with strong colours of the rainbow setting up home where ever you look, with the gold, silver, bronze and bright orange providing a contrast from the rest of the table palette. It scoffs at other games that shout about table presence, and tells them to politely have a seat before issuing an embarrassing beat down.
The actions at your disposal are surprisingly few, with you only having the choice of hiring a Robot for the moon, or a specialist to give you a bonus. You can also research a technology, or complete a goal. These are all with the view of adding on to your end game points possibilities. You purchase using a balance of increasing and decreasing influence on an Earth and Mars track that you can switch between by paying Megacredits. You can only buy robots based if you are on the correct track, while the choice of track effects the bonuses you gain when you select a specialist. Your main focus at all times is to increase the amount of development happening across the four Jupiter moons as they allow you to increase the benefits you obtain, or lower costs all with a view of making it easier for you to purchase in the future. I've not even mentioned collecting specialists for end game scoring, or levelling up robots or robot projects. I've neglected to mention that the more robots you have, the more bonuses you get when you play. There are very few actions wasted as you are playing. You never seem like you are playing a filler move just for the sake of it with you walking away from every turn feeling that you are adding a small amount the that end of game total. I've played too many games where waiting for the pay off becomes frustrating just because there is simply nothing you can do on that turn to progress.
Galileo is a lot to take in at the beginning for such a simple limited number of actions. The rulebook does its best to explain how everything comes together, with the occasional falter. It talks about increasing development levels when you add a robot to a moon, but seems to neglect making it entirely clear that you move up the development track when you level up a robot. Considering this is such an important part of the gameplay, to not make it clear is slightly frustrating. The game could do with a simply turn reminder on the back of the book or as one of the cards in the game. You'll be likely to spend most of the first game refreshing yourself on some of the rules and how they interact. Many of the confusions will come from lack of experience rather than a lack of explanation. At that point the various iconography on the different parts of the boards will make sense and click and by that point you'll be on your way.
There is a decent amount of player interaction due to the card choice track which means that this isn't a typical solo mode multiplayer affair. It makes sense to keep an eye on other player boards and sometimes even try to take their choice of robot before they do. There doesn't seem to be a simply winning tactic that will guarantee you domination. If anything, sometimes you'll need reminded about the goals you can achieve, or to be making sure you are collecting specialists to store underneath your player board.
Galileo will suit those players who like to plan ahead, scheme and revel in a high scoring pay off at the end. It will easily take a few hours to set up, playthrough and score, but the table presence is simply stunning with components that easily add to the overall experience. This is a game that requires a bit of concentration and commitment to learn and enjoy. For those who like their engine creating point collecting player interactions, then Galileo has what you are looking for. For those who played the previous game in the serious, you are probably going to GanyNeed this one as well.
This review is based on the final retail version of the game provided to us by games distributor Hachette Games. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.