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Subject: Don't let this race pass you by rss

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ian o
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Race for the Galaxy has been around for almost a decade and continues to be loved and played. It takes the core concept of the hit game Puerto Rico, turns it into a card game, and adds a space exploration theme. And it’s brilliant. It has captivated large numbers of gamers, some of whom dedicate themselves to playing it hundreds of times.
However, one common complaint you may hear is the difficult of the iconography on the cards. I urge you not to take these complaints to heart. It’s just something for people to whine about. People like to whine about very popular games to feel like they are against the grain. But in reality the icons are not that big a deal and in fact can become a great asset after only a little experience with the game itself.

Gameplay
Race for the Galaxy is a race because all players are trying to be the first to lay down twelve cards on their “tableau”, which are all the planets and technologies they’ve discovered throughout the game. After that the game ends and the points are calculated. Throughout the game, there are a number of actions players can take to either play their cards or acquire new cards to use into their hands.
The great and interesting thing about this game is that the cards are used for everything: they are used as resources, currency, and the actual planets/tech themselves. It’s easy to keep everything straight but difficult in deciding what cards to try to keep and what cards to throw away in order to pay for the others.
Another cool concept in Race is that players play simultaneously. Each turn starts by players selecting what action they want to take for that turn but the great thing is that everyone gets to do all the actions selected. This is borrowed from Puerto Rico as mentioned before, but still feels like its own thing here. This makes for a smooth-flowing game experience.

Components

Race for the Galaxy consists almost entirely of cards, though there are some victory point tokens which were just regular old tokens really. The cards are cool though. Each one is decorated with cool sci-fi artwork, giving you a sense of the vastness of this galaxy you are exploring. They are also organized in a way which shows what the card will do at what action in the game.
So let’s discuss the icons. At first glance, yes it seems like a foreign language. But all you need to do is suck it up of your first play and after that you’re golden! Because it all does make a lot of sense once you get the hang of it, and to help you get there the game does provide a player guide with a key for what the symbols mean.
Before the first game ends, you should have a pretty good idea that a card in a hand means, guess what, take a card into your hand. Once you look past the vague confusion of the “forest” and actually look at all the symbols as “the trees”, they will make sense. In fact, they enhance the game once you’ve got the basic idea.

Conclusion
I think I’ve said all I want to say. Race is a game we keep coming back to because it plays pretty quickly, sparks the imagination, and always provides a challenge to create the best federation of planets you can. The simultaneous action selection and multiple uses for your hand of cards are very interesting concepts which keep bringing us back and make this an excellently designed game.
I also love the theme, though I usually steer clear of sci-fi games. This is certainly one of the exceptions. The symbology is unique and helpful and only a barrier to new players if they are completely unwilling to take half a game to figure it out.


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David B
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The brilliant icon system is one of the reasons I like this game as much as I do. Replacing the icons with text would be awful.
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Stephen Sanders
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Henderson
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DNA results:Scottish, Dutch, English, Irish, German, French, Iberian Peninsula = 100% American!
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RedArmyIan wrote:
However, one common complaint you may hear is the difficult of the iconography on the cards. I urge you not to take these complaints to heart. It’s just something for people to whine about.


Ok, well I will whine about it some more. This feature is the one thing that keeps me from introducing this to new gamers of this game. Roll for the Galaxy is simpler in concept for them, and provides the great theme of space exploration and building.
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Sergeant Grey
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IMHO the title/term "Race for the Galaxy" speaks more to the theme of the game rather than just one possible winning strategy for the game.

True enough, you can win by being the first player to place 12 cards in your tableau, but only if you still have the highest total number of vp's as well. 12 cards in a tableau is merely one of the possible ways the game can end, and doesn't necessarily mean a first place finish in a race to get 12 cards down (pun intended).

My son picked this one up (he turned 32 this week), and whether we meet at his place or mine for a game night, Race for the Galaxy hits the table every time. Excellent game and playing it with two players can be a real chess match with a lot of victories decided within 5 points or so. I think it's a blast!

I left a geek tip for you . . . great review, didn't want you to think I was nit-picking. Just wanted others who hadn't played the game yet to know that while the game isn't overly complicated, it is intricate and deep in a very good way. Much more than just a race to be the first player with 12 cards on the board.

Game on!
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Jay Kenigsberg

Dix Hills
New York
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So true. A classic. Years ago, after playing Puerto Rico 2 player variant, then San Juan, we tackled Race. We have purchased many games since those early days getting into gaming, but those first three games remain our favorites, especially Race. I think the game becomes even more enjoyable when you play with someone often enough to learn their tendencies. Trends appear, strategies ensue. In many ways, repeated game play with familiar opponents actually diminishes the solitaire like play the game might otherwise lean towards. A VP max also increases the competitive feel of the game.
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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caltexn wrote:
RedArmyIan wrote:
However, one common complaint you may hear is the difficult of the iconography on the cards. I urge you not to take these complaints to heart. It’s just something for people to whine about.


Ok, well I will whine about it some more. This feature is the one thing that keeps me from introducing this to new gamers of this game. Roll for the Galaxy is simpler in concept for them, and provides the great theme of space exploration and building.


For me, Race has been easier to understand. Maybe it's because I've been playing Race for years. My first several games of Roll seem counter-intuitive and I felt that I never had any control over what I could do. Not to mention trying to discern what on my tiles. With Race I always feel like I'm moving forward towards my goal and with a glance at my tableau I know what's going on.

Also, Producing before Shipping/Consuming is just unnatural.
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John
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caltexn wrote:
This feature is the one thing that keeps me from introducing this to new gamers of this game.

If the icons are the only thing then I'd say give it a go.

I've not found the icons to be much of a problem. My experience is that people find it much easier to learn the icons than to remember all the rules (e.g. people trying to trade multiple goods, trying to combine military with Contact Specialist, having no idea what some cards do (Contact Specialist, Gambling World, Trade League)) and working out some kind of coherent strategy. Race isn't a game to learn if you're not likely to play it a decent amount shortly after learning it.
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Mark T
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So the big question I have (probably been asked/answered many times, but oh well...) how is this different from San Juan, other than theme?
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Scott Russell
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Snardo wrote:
So the big question I have (probably been asked/answered many times, but oh well...) how is this different from San Juan, other than theme?


The obvious differences are:
Role selection is simultaneous.
Accumulating VP can trigger end game
(There are VP other than buildings)
The cards are more varied in their abilities.
The cards can have abilities in more than one phase.

I use San Juan as a stepping stone when teaching race.
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qzhdad wrote:
Snardo wrote:
So the big question I have (probably been asked/answered many times, but oh well...) how is this different from San Juan, other than theme?


The obvious differences are:
Role selection is simultaneous.
Accumulating VP can trigger end game
(There are VP other than buildings)
The cards are more varied in their abilities.
The cards can have abilities in more than one phase.

I use San Juan as a stepping stone when teaching race.


To add:
--within a given round, the same role can be selected by multiple players
--There's a mechanic to convert goods into VP
-- 6-cost cards also have powers, as opposed to only giving you variable score

--There are 2 separate phases for building cards (developments vs. worlds)
--homeworlds are there for an asymmetric start (other than the random cards in your hand, and one of the official variant in SJ where the 1st player starts with 5 cards, each player after that starts off with +1 extra card, but everyone discards down to 4 cards before the first round begins.

--Race has multitudes of expansions... 3 in the first arc, while 2 additional arcs of 1 expansion each
--there's no way in a game of Race to knowingly take a card out of the deck permanently
--card costs and values deviate from the "6-cost = ? pts", or "x cost = x / 2 rounded up pts" formula


I've been of the opinion that Race For The Galaxy has more in common with Puerto Rico than it has to SJ. PR and SJ share the same theme. RftG and SJ share that unique card mechanic. PR and Race have a very similar "flow"
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