Review: Age of Galaxy (ICE Makes) – English

The Age of Galaxy has arrived! Time to conquer and exploit the vast universe as befits a good science fiction theme. Is the Age of Galaxy also your age of victory?


Simply put, Age of Galaxy is a 4X game with a science fiction theme. The first question that may spring to mind: what is a 4X game? 4X stands for the following (explained in Age of Galaxy’s theme):

  • Explore: players gradually explore the game world by sending spaceships out;
  • Expand: by conquering planets, players and enemies take control of the game board;
  • Exploit: during the game, players earn resources, money, technology and other items to use to their advantage; and
  • Exterminate: with their ships, players can attack and exterminate enemies during war.

Examples of 4X-games include Twilight Imperium, Eclipse and Uprising. “Ah, those 4X-Games, Surely those are those fierce, complex games in big boxes full of game components where players sit at a table for hours, overloaded with strategies, different actions and abilities?” True, but Age of Galaxy breaks this stereotype mould somewhat. The classic elements and common sci-fi theme is present, but the box is super-small and you don’t have to fund a new expansion with a huge big table to actually play the game. In addition, the gameplay is relatively easy to learn and the playing time is considerably shorter than regular 4X games. Despite this making Age of Galaxy a lot more inviting for newcomers to 4X games or people with a bit less available square footage, it is no less challenging or strategic.


Age of Galaxy is packed with different components including a lot of cards, tokens, plastic spaceships and cubes. In the centre of the table, players place 5 random system cards, 3 of which are face-down. This is the part of the universe players will explore. In some spots, there are tokens (anomalies and planets) that players can discover. Above this, players place the action cards, 3 random trading cards and an overview card. Because of the different system cards and trading cards, each game of Age of Galaxy has a different ‘world’. The galactic fleet (indicated by a token) is placed on the first system card.

Each player gets a player board, a token to indicate the amount of credits and production, a number of faction cards with different civilisations roaming this vast space, and of course cubes and ships in the player’s chosen colour.


Players try to conquer planets, make alliances with factions and collect relics and prestige. Several phases are completed during the game: Production, Actions, War (not during Round 1) and the Galactic Phase. During each galactic phase, the galactic fleet token is moved to the next space card and the subsequent card is revealed. Once the fleet arrives on the last space card, this is the final round of the game and players receive points for prestige, conquered and developed planets, relics and points depending on their chosen ‘ideology’.

During the production phase, players receive money based on their production level and activate certain effects. During the action phase, players take turns playing actions depending on the amount of action cubes the players have available. To perform an action, players must place cubes, either on the corresponding space on the action cards (of which there is limited space for some actions) or as otherwise indicated by the action used. I will not discuss all actions in detail, but through actions players collect resources, gain prestige, unlock new actions and abilities and gain control over the universe. For example, the colonisation action allows players to place their cube on a planet, and the development action allows them to add a spaceship to their hand. There are also free actions that do not ‘cost’ action cubes. During the war phases, players engage in a galactic ‘pissing contest’ based on the amount spaceships on hand. The player with the biggest (star fleet) wins! Winners get a bonus and the biggest winner (the overlord) even gets to conquer an unprotected planet.


Age of Galaxy contains everything you’d expect from a 4X game, but pocket-sized. That doesn’t make the game feel any less strategic, tactical or grand. Players still have plenty of choices and dilemmas that make it a challenging game. The game still contains many game elements but in a box that fits in the pouch of your hoodie or in your handbag. This is therefore also the ideal game for fans of 4X games with a bit less space or time. You can easily take this 4X with you and easily lay it out and open on the table. A nice added bonus is the interesting solo mode for players who want to command and conquer on their own!