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Subject: RFTG-A short review rss

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GANDON François
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About RFTG...
RFTG is about playing Captain Kirks, or Dr Spocks... or both, in less than two ours, using a set of actions cards instead of spaceship Enterprise, so as to explore a galaxy made of 109 "space" cards, figuring all the "classical / familiar" Sci-Fi elements : planets to be conquered, resources to be produced, alien races to be encountered and technologies to be mastered.

Star Wars or Space Odyssey ?
If you expect to play Star Wars, fight with laser sabres and dogfight in the middle of an asteroid belt, RFTG is not for you : it is a rather peaceful game, that is all about exploration, development and optimisation. There is no direct confrontation or interaction between players in RFTG.

What is the objective ? What am I expected to do in RFTG ? How do I win ?
The players must try to develop their colony by exploring space :
- settling in new worlds and developing technologies / abilities of different kinds will produce VPs.
- producing different types of resources and "selling" them (CONSUME phase) will also generate VPs.
The player with the most VPs at the end of the game... wins ;-) (can you believe that ? Even in space, the good old rules apply ;-))

How does RFTG play ?
Each player starts with the same deck of 7 actions cards and a hand of 4 "space" cards. Each player receives a planet to start with, that they place in front of them to constitute the first part of their colony.

Each turn, the players decide simultaneously and secretely which action they want to take. The action will apply to themselves as well as all the other players. Each player has 5 actions at their disposal - EXPLORE, DEVELOP, SETTLE, CONSUME and PRODUCE. And he/she who chooses a given action gets a bonus on top of that (with 2 differents bonuses for EXPLORE and CONSUME depending on which EXPLORE or CONSUME card they play = that is the reason why each player gets 7 actions cards). A mechanism that will certainly sound familiar to Puerto Rico/San Juan fans. The difference with PR/SJ is that two players (or more) can choose the same action during the same turn and will all benefit from the bonus.

About the action cards
EXPLORE : get new cards from the pile and add them to your hand. You wil be able to use them later (Planets in the SETTLE phase / Development cards in the DEVELOP phase).
DEVELOP : use one of the development cards in your hand = put it in front of you. You will be able to benefit from the effects/powers of your development card in later turns.
SETTLE : use one of the planet cards in your hand = put it in front of you. You will be able to produce resources on your planet card later (PRODUCE phase) and benefit from its effects / powers in later turns.
CONSUME : "sell" part/all of the resources on your planets to collect VPs and / or add new cards to your hand
PRODUCE : produce resources on your planets = take cards from the pile and put them face down on your planet cards. You will be able to "sell' them in the CONSUME phase (see above).

How does it feel ? Isn't RFTG too complex for me ?
The mechanism in RFTG is pretty simple in fact : each turn, each player chooses one action, and all the players execute the actions. And when they are all done, another turn begins. Just like in Puerto Rico, the logics behind the different actions is easy to capture : I have to EXPLORE if I want more Planet or Development cards to choose from in my future DEVELOP and SETTLE phases; I have to PRODUCE if I ever want to be able to CONSUME and gain VPs etc.

The fact that the cards can be used in 3 ways (for what they represent, as a currency or as a resource) is easily understood as well.

The rules are not that complex and the actions are well described in general. It took us some time though, to really understand how the CONSUME phase worked, and especially the CONSUME/SELL action (I think this was due to a confusion between the generic action and the bonus associated with it).

* What is certainly difficult to understand is the exact meaning of all the various special effects/powers on the different cards and how / when to use them / combine them.
* What takes certainly a number of plays is not only to understand how the powers apply but to remember/"digest" what they mean so as to make the best use of them and thus maximise your VPs in the end.
In that sense, RFTG is not a game that gives it all in the first play. It is certainly not a game you can call "elegant" like a San Marco for example, where a simple and clever mechanism seems to make the game flow almost immediatly. It is not a game you can call original either : there is nothing really new to it.

For all those reasons, RFTG is not a game that you will bring on the table with non-gamers / friends if you want to share your gaming passion with them (use TTR instead, or even Thebes ... or say goodbye to your friends forever ;-)).

Should I get it then ? Will I enjoy it ?
That said, RFTG is a (very?) good game (for gamers). Here is why you should play it - and buy it (or vice versa) :

1- you want to play it again just for the pleasure of discovering / using cards that you did not get the chance to pick in your previous play(s).
2- few games can claim that their complexity is instrinsically in adherence with their theme : RFTG is in essence and in principle, a game of exploration and it conveys that precious feeling that there is more to learn from it each time.
3 - it works well in spite of its relative complexity
4 - it is a Sci-Fi game and there are not that many
5 - you can play RFTG in less than 2 hours (sorry, my family and I can't afford to dedicate 6 / 8 hours to Twilight Imperium;-).
6- the design of the cards is fine.
7- it offers a good price for value
8- there is a Galactic Theme Park in it ;-)

Congratulations to Tom Lehman for the good work (must have taken years to test and fine tune ;-)).
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David Etherton
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Dr. Spock was a famous pediatrician. You probably meant Mr. Spock.

-Dave
 
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GANDON François
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Yes indeed, I meant Mr. Spock. I did not know about the famous pediatrician but there is nothing childish about RFTG so ... my mistake.
FG
 
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Nick Fisk
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That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
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Quote:
5 - you can play RFTG in less than 2 hours


You should be able to play RFTG comfortably inside one hour.




N.
 
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GANDON François
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You are right, Nick. Actually, our first play(s) dragged a little because we needed to refer to the rules on a regular basis to make sure we had everything OK. And everyone wanted to make sure also that they did not forget to activate the effects of their cards properly (did you take your extra card when you played that SETTLE card ? Are you sure you used that extra EXPLORE power etc etc.) I guess it will take a little time until we get accustomed to the differents effects of every card. But once we "master" RFTG (if we ever do ;-)), I am sure we will be able to limit it to 50/60 mns.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Moviebuffs wrote:
Quote:
5 - you can play RFTG in less than 2 hours


You should be able to play RFTG comfortably inside one hour.


Local games with experienced players seem to run about 15 minutes, 10 minutes is the bottom end. I'd figure ~30-45 minutes for new players.
 
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Devin Smith
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We played for the first time tonight (with four), and I would second the 45 min with new players estimate made by clearclaw. I could easily see this being a 15-20 minute game inside about five plays.
 
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CanCon, BunnyCon...BorderCon!!!
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Reasons to get the game #2 is the clincher for me.
 
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Peter Hein
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clearclaw wrote:
Local games with experienced players seem to run about 15 minutes, 10 minutes is the bottom end. I'd figure ~30-45 minutes for new players.


Ah, if only. In my experience, new players take forever reading and trying to understand each and every card they draw, then asking 'What does this card do?' or fumbling with their overviews etcetera. Around 90 mins with three or four new players would be closer to the truth. That's what you get from playing with AP-types. soblue

Still, I like the game immensely and am looking forward to playing it with experienced players.
 
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Kester J
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GANDON wrote:

8- there is a Galactic Theme Park in it ;-)


Don't forget the Galactic Discotheque!
 
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