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Subject: Race Strategy rss

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dave
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Race for the Galaxy strategy
Here are some of my thoughts on the best way to approach RftG. The beauty and challenge of RftG is in the myriad of choices that players must make throughout the game. Oftentimes, it is far from clear which action card(s) should be chosen, which cards should be used to build the tableau, and which cards should be discarded. This article hopefully will provide some guidance for these choices. First, I’ll describe ways to maximize a “production-consumption” strategy. Then I’ll briefly point out the weakness of the always attractive “military” strategy. This, of course, is only my humble opinion; hopefully it will provide some ideas to consider when you’re playing and make your game better.

The “Production-Consumption” strategy
A “Production/Consumption” strategy involves developing a tableau which allows a player to essentially only produce and consume—your production-consumption (“P-C”) engine. Ideally, the tableau should produce at least 3 goods, consume the goods generating at least 3-4 victory points (which, using the Consume-Double VP, will be 6-8 VPs), and generate at least 2 cards during the production-consumption phases (allowing for further tableau development on other player’s phase choices). Once this tableau has been built, the player should chose only produce and 2X-consume phases. Players need to focus on this strategy and not be diverted by the military strategy, playing cheap developments, or playing more than one windfall worlds. Time is of the essence, and any unnecessary plays only will delay set-up of your P-C engine, benefit other players, and speed the end of the game—before you’ve had a chance to fully exploit your engine.

Initial Plays
In order to build their tableau, players must first generate cards either by exploration or trading. When exploring, use the 1+1 and not the +5 explore because it is more important on getting cards than looking at more cards as there are many usable cards for this strategy. A hand size of 7-8 cards allows for some choice in what to play as well as cards to pay for them. It is better to wait rather than use a good card for payment—you don’t want to have to search for good cards. Ideally, players should only chose production and consumption cards to play, only playing other cards when extra cards are available.

With regards to windfall worlds, if necessary, it is ok to play a windfall world in order to provide an instant trading good. One windfall world is not too problematic as you can produce a good on this world when producing due to the production bonus; however, this now requires choosing production in order to have a good produced on the windfall world. There are 5 cards (listed below) that produce on a windfall world, but now you’ve needed to play 2 cards to produce 1 good.

It also can be ok to play 1 of the cheap, general development cards, but these cards should not be played after the first couple of rounds as these cards are less helpful as the game progresses and they delay building your engine. It is best to stay focused on building your production-consumption engine.

Building a Production-Consumption Engine
Any card that produces, consumes, or produces cards during production/consumption phases can be a good card for your tableau. There are many cards that are suitable. Roughly 20% of the cards are production worlds (20/109 cards), have consumption power for VPs (24/109), or produce cards during Production/Consumption phases (27/109). Cards that have 2 of the attributes are obviously the best cards to play. Do not spend these cards as payment unless you have decided that you will never want to play them. It is better to wait until you have more cards rather than risk having to search for additional cards. Play the cards that you have and don’t waste time searching for the perfect card(s). This strategy works well if you have “blue,” “brown,” or a mixture of production worlds. Here are the cards to be one the lookout for and to play in your tableau.

Cards that Produce Goods and Consume for VPs
These cards are excellent since it only requires placement of 1 card instead of 2 to produce and consume. Earth’s Lost Colony (starting W/2/1) and Prosperous World (W/3/2) both produce a blue card and can consume 1 good for 1 VP. Plague World (W/3/0) produces a green card and can consume 1 green good for 1 VP and 1 card. New Earth (W/5/3) produces a brown good and can consume 1 good for 1 VP and 1 card.

Cards that Produce Goods and Cards
These cards are excellent to play as this is an easy way to produce cards during production. Gem World (W/2/1) produces a blue good and 1 card. Mining World and Comet Zone (W/3/2) both produce a brown good and 1 card. Lost Species Ark World (W/5/3) produces a green good and 2 cards. Runaway Robots (W/1m/1) is a brown windfall world that will produce a card.

Cards that generate cards during Production
These 2 cards are not all that useful since they are expensive to play and only provide additional cards; unless, of course, they would produce many bonus VPs. Pan-Galactic League (D/6/?) generates 1 card for each green good produced. Merchant Guild (D/6/?) generates 2 cards during production.

Cards that generate cards during Production and Consume for VPs
These cards are great if, and only if, you have the corresponding production cards, i.e., don’t play these cards unless you already have the necessary production cards (don’t expect to draw them later). Consumer Markets (D/5/3) can consume 3 blue goods for 3 VPs and generates 1 card for each blue good produced. Mining Conglomerate (D/3/2) can consume 2 brown goods for 2 VPs and can generate 2 cards during production. Diversified Economy (D/4/2) can consume 3 different goods for 3 VPs and generates a card for each different good produced. Research Lab (D/4/2) can consume 1 green good for 1 VP and generates 1 card for each yellow good produced.

Cards that Consume at greater than 1 Good per VPThese cards are excellent and should be played as soon as you are producing the required goods. Tourist World (W/4/2) can consume 2 goods for 3 VPs. Galactic Trendsetters (W/5/3) can consume 1 good for 2 VPs. Mining League (D/6/?) can consume 2 brown goods for 3 VPs and generate a good on a brown windfall world.

Cards that Consume more than 1 Good
These cards are excellent once you have the corresponding goods to consume. Free Trade League (D/6/?) can consume 3 blue goods for 3 VPs and generate a good on a blue windfall world. Old Earth (starting W/3/2) can consume up to 2 goods for 2 VPs. Mining Conglomerate (D/3/2) can consume up to 2 brown goods for 2 VPs and can generate 2 cards during production. Diversified Economy can consume 3 different goods for 3 VPs and generates a card for each different good produced. Consumer Markets (D/5/3) can consume up to 3 blue goods for 3 VPs and generates 1 card for each blue good produced.

Cards that Produce on Windfall Worlds
Windfall worlds and these cards should only be played if you do not have production worlds available. Galactic Engineers (W/2/1) can produce a good on any 1 windfall world. Expanding Colony (W/1/1) can consume 1 good for 1 VP and produce a good on a blue windfall world. Mining Robots (D/2/1) can produce a good on a brown windfall world. Genetics Lab (D/2/1) can produce a good on a green windfall world. Alien Rosetta Stone World (W/3/3) can produce a good on a yellow windfall world.

One other additional Card
Once you have accumulated significant VP chits, this card may be worthwhile playing. Galactic Renaissance (D/6/?) generates 1 VP for every 3 VP chits accumulated.

The weakness of the “Military” strategy
Due to its very attractive nature, I feel the need to point out the weaknesses of the “Military” strategy. I refer to the “Military” strategy as playing mainly cards that have military powers or are military worlds. This does not include having one card with 1-2 strength military (particularly if it’s your starting world), which can be advantageous as around ½ of the military worlds (around 10% of the cards) are strength 1 or 2. I realize that the military strategy is an attractive strategy which is easy to play, but this strategy is weaker than a production-consumption strategy for the following reasons: (1) The military strategy is generally a lower-scoring strategy as compared to a production-consumption strategy; thus, even if you have the cards and play it well, you will still likely lose to a player with a good P-C engine. (2) The player using the military strategy will not be able to take much advantage of other player’s consumption or production phases since most military worlds do not consume or produce. (3) In contrast, other players may easily take advantage of the phase selections of a player using the military strategy, namely exploration, development, settling, and trading. (4) Finally, since only a couple of military cards produce additional cards, many turns of exploring or trading are required to keep supplying playable military cards. Since only about a quarter of the cards are military cards, it is difficult and unlikely to have military cards to play every turn. In contrast, the production-consumption strategy is much more versatile so there is more chance of finding playable cards and, once the production-consumption engine is set up, no more additions to a player’s tableau are necessary. In conclusion, the military strategy is not as effective as a production/consumption strategy thus players should thus stay focused on developing their P-C engine and not be distracted by the military strategy.

Conclusion
The key to success is to stay focused on building a Production-Consumption engine. Once it’s developed, run the P-C engine and rack up VPs until the game end. And, as always, have fun and enjoy.



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B C Z
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So, are you talking 2 player here or 3+?

In a 2 player game, P/C, especially when you can call both simultaneously, can be very powerful. This weakens considerably in a 3+ player game where you control fewer of the action choices every round.

"Military" paths can be very powerful - I've detailed some of the pitfalls that they can run into in this strategy article: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2624620#2624620.

The issue in any case is that if the cards don't come up in the order you need them to, then the perfect path cannot be chosen, and instead the optimal path from the choices available to the player must be made.

Plus... once you add the expansion, Improved Logistics changes everything.
 
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P/C engine strategy can be powerful, altho every now and then, it seems it gets beat. Not often mind you, but it does happen by a person who builds 3 to 4 six-cost devs and has a decent amount of face value VPs (or "intrinsic value" as the other way to put it). These folks would be in a better position to end the game quicker than usual being close to 12 cards on their tableau, which is exactly what they need to do to keep P/C-er's from getting out of control.
 
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Greg Meyer
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Quote:
In a 2 player game, P/C, especially when you can call both simultaneously, can be very powerful. This weakens considerably in a 3+ player game where you control fewer of the action choices every round.


I agree with this. Because of the ability to draft in two player, it is hard to beat a P/C engine that generates cards.

Or you can check out my New Sparta vs ELC thread GM Solvers Thread and see how quick a P/C engine can start (especially if you help).
 
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Jon L
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How can this build be beaten? In my limited experience (about five or six games) I have never seen this strategy lose. I went for it the last two games I played; the first I had about 40 points and ended the game, while the next best person had twenty something; in the most recent game, I started doing this strategy fairly late but still beat the person using the military/rebel cards with ~45 points to his ~40.

It seems that this is a near-broken strategy, because the only way to beat it is to also do it yourself to take advantage of the other P-C player's Produce orders. But if you are even one production world or one consume power short of the other P-C player, he's gaining at least 2 points on you every consume.
 
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Nybb wrote:
It seems that this is a near-broken strategy, because the only way to beat it is to also do it yourself to take advantage of the other P-C player's Produce orders. But if you are even one production world or one consume power short of the other P-C player, he's gaining at least 2 points on you every consume.
If a settle or dev gets snuck in, a world with high VP or a dev with VP (preferrably a 6-cost dev) will certainly close that gap.
 
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