Recommend
92 
 Thumb up
 Hide
92 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 

Race for the Galaxy» Forums » Reviews

Subject: I Don't Get It rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Kirt Dankmyer
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
So, here's my first ever review for BBG, so please be gentle.

I've been an avid board gamer for years, going back to my time as a wee lad. If you see the list of games I've rated, you can get a sense of how many different kinds of games I've played.

I liked Puerto Rico, tho admittedly I didn't love it. I love space conquest themed games. I hated this game.

I played three games, just to make sure I wasn't missing something. Four players each time.

You can probably find better descriptions of the game than mine, since I'm going to be somewhat biased by the utterly wretched play experience I had, but here goes:

The object of Race For the Galaxy is to score the most victory points before the game ends. The game ends when someone has 12 cards in play, hence the "race". Each turn, each player secretly picks one "role", and all those roles are revealed simultaneously. Each role represents a phase in the turn; the phases are done in a certain order, doing each phase in turn, but skipping those phases that no one picked. Everyone gets to do the action for the phase that was picked, but only those who chose that role get an additional special bonus/power for that phase.

This all sounds very simple but the anthropomorphized principle of evil is in the details. Cards are put into play by discarding other cards, and only certain kinds of cards can be built during certain phases. In addition, some cards produce resources (represented by cards) during a given phase which can be used in a different phase to engage in certain effects, such as drawing more cards and earning victory points, based on the cards you have in play.

Each card consists of a name, some art, and more icons than a Macintosh computer on crank. The cards are exception-filled and many of them require reading and re-reading before you can understand what they do. In fact, understanding what's in your hand is a painful, dizzying process not unlike doing your taxes, but with less reward in terms of fun.

Now, some people are going to say the game has a learning curve for some people or that some people don't "get" it, so let me be explicit here: Even during my first game, I understood what I was doing. I was able to figure out what the cards did, play them, score victory points, develop strategies, the whole nine yards. I just didn't enjoy it. The icons managed to make things less clear rather than more clear in most cases, and once I did figure out what a given card did, it rarely did anything that I found at all interesting.

It's mainly a resource management game. A really boring resource management game. Don't get me wrong, the game isn't broken, or else I would have given it a lower rating. It's quite well-balanced.

It's just the decisions aren't very interesting. It comes down to a combination of luck and seizing opportunities. Now, again, don't get me wrong. I like a game where you have to use what you're given on a turn-to-turn basis to maximize your result, and this is exactly that sort of game. I love a good tactical challenge, perhaps with a strategic underpinning.

The problem is, like I said, that I like my choices to be interesting, and many. That's not the case with this game. Usually there's only one good choice for a given hand, unless you're willing to gamble on a long shot. And even the gambles are dead boring... "Ooooh, maybe I get three cards a turn instead of two, when someone happens to choose Explore. This benefits me slowly over time. Yeehaw."

Eventually you get a combo and that sort of decides your strategy. It's like playing Magic: The Gathering, but you don't even get to tune your deck to match the sort of strategy you prefer to play. I gave up playing Magic around the time of "Fallen Empires" for a reason, as the deck-building was more fun than actually playing. In this case, you don't get the fun of deck-building. (In fact, in a lot of ways it feels like the designer wanted to write a CCG...)

And once you're locked into a strategy, it's more luck than skill (that is, whether you get the cards that work for your strategy), and it certainly has nothing to do with what your opponents are doing, except maybe in terms of what cards are out of circulation.

Which leads to the other problem with this game. I felt like I might as well have been playing a solo game. Oh, yes, sure, what phases the other players secretly chose each turn changed what I was able to do during a given turn, but I could have randomly flipped up three other phase cards and had about the same effect.

Yes, in theory I could have tried to guess what the other players were going to go. Did David need to Explore? Did Shaun need to Consume? This made things slightly more interesting. Slightly. But either it was obvious what someone was going to do (boring) or so difficult to determine it might as well have been random (also boring). For the most part we might as well have been playing four solo games, with a slightly random turn-based timer.

What it came down to was that if I wanted to do a solo resource management game, I could fire up my computer and play "Sid Meier's Civilization", which has a better resource-management element to it. If I'm going to get three other people together to play a game, I want the personalities and strategies of the people I'm playing with to make a difference, or at the very least I want the solo game to be more interesting than something I can do with a computer, which simply isn't the case here. And this is speaking as someone who greatly prefers board games to solo computer games.

Really, the game was only slightly more interesting than sitting down with four people, shuffling four decks of ordinary player cards together, and the four of us playing some sort of Canfield variant with a common deck. That's how much we affected each other, and how interesting the game play was.

To add insult to injury, the flavor of the cards was about the same as the cardboard they were printed on. There's a simple name, and a picture. Neither the name nor the picture were particularly evocative, as everything is in the ambiguous, obnoxious icons and the difficult-to-understand prose (when there was anything other than icons at all). And, in fact, the effect of the card seemed to very barely have any link to what the card was supposedly about, although maybe the link would have made more sense with more than two words and a dull picture. This is speaking as someone who's lived and breathed SF since he was 12, and whose imagination can be fired by Starfire, for crissakes.

The cards were dull and I didn't feel at all like I was managing a space empire. More like I was playing a confusing solo variant of Magic: The Gathering, and the theme could have just as easily been replaced with a fantasy theme, or ponies, or anything else, really. You could have even kept the icons the same, they're so abstract and have so little to do with the theme of the game. "I play my four-point Blue Pony, which produces Blue Pony Bits that I can feed to my Pony for victory points."

Maybe I can get talked into another game. Maybe. But I have to admit I was terribly underwhelmed. Again, it's not a broken game. It works. It just isn't any fun.
73 
 Thumb up
0.56
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Neuhaus
United States
New York
NY
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The iconography is a legitimate complaint. I agree with the numerous complaints that the designers gave the artists way too much freedom and card space at the cost of making the game hard to learn.

However, I don't think that you really understand the depth of the decisions made in this game. Especially after only four games, if you believe the choices in the game aren't interesting, you simply haven't learned enough about the game to appreciate the nuance in the decisions you need to make to play the game well.

I also think that you are over simplifying action prediction. There are times when the opponents actions aren't uniformly random, nor totally predictable. Speculatively betting that, for example, New Sparta (+2 military) is going to settle on the first turn so that you can throw down a windfall world and trade it away as Old Earth (+1 trade, consume up to 2 goods for 1 VP each) is quite fun, IMO.

15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It actually sounds like you do "get it".

You played, you understood the rules and some strategy, but didn't enjoy it.

Perfectly valid opinion.
67 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Jome
United States
Franklin
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
Saying that there isn't much strategy in Race For The Galaxy is like saying there isn't much strategy in Poker.

After all, both games involve making good decisions about a handful of cards and then trying fool the other players into guessing wrong about what you're planning to do.

Only, there's a lot more to do in RFTG than Poker.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Klinck
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
IronMoss wrote:
It actually sounds like you do "get it".

You played, you understood the rules and some strategy, but didn't enjoy it.

Perfectly valid opinion.


Yeah, no game is for everyone...

On the other hand, my wife & I love RftG. I should get around to writing a review one of these days.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aloha!
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
flag msg tools
Meega, nala kwishta!
badge
AAGH! YOU'RE TOUCHING ME!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think you 'got' it, it's just not your game. I wouldn't worry about it really. Play something else, there are plenty of games out there. I think you made your points clearly and fairly, I don't agree, but really don't have to.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Everett Scheer
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
While I don't agree with your opinions (in fact almost opposite on all), you gave legitimate reasons for why you didn't like the game. I think the conclusion is that this game just isn't for you.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Snowball
Belgium
n/a
flag msg tools
badge
Gender: pot*ato. My opinion is an opinion.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agreed with the OP. I like it a little more than you do, but it's because I dig the theme. Otherwise, you'd better play San Juan; it's simply more streamlined (especially component/card wise) and more interactive.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kirt Dankmyer
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
HavocIsHere wrote:
I like it a little more than you do, but it's because I dig the theme. Otherwise, you'd better play San Juan; it's simply more streamlined (especially component/card wise) and more interactive.


That's part of what frustrated me. I really dig the theme, and to have such a dull game associated with such an exciting theme is like rubbing salt in the wound.

That said, I have a copy of San Juan but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. I may have to make it a point to bring it around the next time board games come up, to compare to Race. I like the sound of something like this game but more streamlined and with more interaction.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kirt Dankmyer
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
jwoodall04 wrote:
I would suggest you don't get talked into another game as you obviously don't enjoy it. No point wasting your time when there are other games you might enjoy.


I think I want to try the expansion where you can capture other player's planets. That might give me some of the interaction I wanted out of this game, but didn't get. Dunno, tho, I'd still have to deal with the dull resource management element (and again, I like resource management, just not this implementation), so your point is well taken.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Schaefer
United States
Columbus
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My assessment of the game is that the icons make it easy to see at a glance what things you get to do in what phase of each turn, not just for yourself but for the other players as well. I've played enough card games to know the fun of picking up and reading player's cards in their own territory, to see what their characters do so that you can exploit them, or stop them from exploiting you. Being a card game player, that doesn't bother me terribly, but the increased ease of evaluation by using icons is significant to me.

Additionally, I don't agree that one gets locked into a strategy early. A starting world is a good indicator of a strong opening, but I've seen people without New Sparta/Separatist Homeworld/Epsilon Eridani go full-bore military anyway, perhaps based on their opening hand, or because military fits their play style, or someone else has a military starter world and they think a good way to thwart an opponent's plan is to snipe the cards he needs. Moreover, it's been my experience that flexibility and adaptability are paramount in RftG. Your hand can change from turn to turn, as you discard and draw new worlds, or if your opponents start playing cards that impact the direction you want to go, or are ramping up to do a mega-consume or double-settle. Success in my experience has come from being able to shift your plans to compensate for the changes, rather than pursue your sole strategy blindly to the end, only to find you lost by 15 points.

Having said that, the bottom line is that I find your overall argument to be entirely valid. Sometimes a game does all the things it's supposed to, but the final result is just not something you enjoy. That was my feeling toward games like Caylus, which are mechanically fine but I just can't buy what they're selling. Sorry you don't like this one, and I hope your next exprience is a better one.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wim van Gruisen
Netherlands
Den Bosch
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmb
I am not going to say that you don't understand the game; you made clear that you do. However, I don't agree with your conclusion that the decisions to make are dull. When I play the game, I have to think what action to take, what cards to play, every turn. Sometimes I have to think long, sometimes just a short time, but there are always options.

Interaction is limited and indirect, but I understood that it looks like the second expansion will provide direct interaction, where players can attack and conquer each others' planets.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kirt Dankmyer
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
The Schaef wrote:
Additionally, I don't agree that one gets locked into a strategy early.

I wouldn't say you get locked in early, necessarily. I apologize if I gave that impression. It's just once you get locked in, you can't change strategies and you're pretty much at the mercy of your draws.

The Schaef wrote:
Having said that, the bottom line is that I find your overall argument to be entirely valid. Sometimes a game does all the things it's supposed to, but the final result is just not something you enjoy. That was my feeling toward games like Caylus, which are mechanically fine but I just can't buy what they're selling. Sorry you don't like this one, and I hope your next exprience is a better one.

Yeah, I think that's what it comes down to. The game does what it's trying to do... I just don't like what it does. I might like it with more interaction, which is why I'm interested in trying variants out, like San Juan.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kirt Dankmyer
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
Whymme wrote:
I am not going to say that you don't understand the game; you made clear that you do.

I very much appreciate the courtesy. :)

Whymme wrote:
Interaction is limited and indirect, but I understood that it looks like the second expansion will provide direct interaction, where players can attack and conquer each others' planets.

Yeah, like I say above, I might be willing to try that. It sounds like it might make the game a bit more dynamic, and less of a pure card-drawing exercise.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Kearns
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
Silence is golden.
badge
Your sea is so great and my boat is so small.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
xiombarg wrote:
The Schaef wrote:
Additionally, I don't agree that one gets locked into a strategy early.

I wouldn't say you get locked in early, necessarily. I apologize if I gave that impression. It's just once you get locked in, you can't change strategies and you're pretty much at the mercy of your draws.


At first I wasn't going to comment. But the notion that you are at the "mercy of the draw" may be your main stumbling block to enjoying the game.

Changing strategies is easy and beneficial once you realize that you aren't at the mercy of anything.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff
United States
Kentucky
flag msg tools
I want to believe
badge
*distinctive theme song whistle*
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for posting your review. When a game is as highly praised as RftG is, it's nice to get an opposing view out there to to give those who might not like the game something to think about. A mix of opinions in the game's reviews also helps keep expectations from new players reasonable.

Although I have fun with the game, I agree that the theme is arbitrary and pasted on (and I had a good chuckle at your Blue Pony Bits). That said, an arbitrary theme rarely bothers me, and I think some of the cards in Race are kinda cool thematically (with Galactic Trendsetters being my favorite).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
AxonDomini
United States
Smithtown
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
An excellent review that I, like many, completely disagree with.

I find the decisions in RftG to be interesting, I don't feel at the mercy of the draw and I love the icons. That being said, I wouldn't even bother with the expansions if I were you. It seems clear that this isn't your game, and I doubt either expansion will change your mind. Sometimes games just don't click, and this sounds like one of those times.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Wagner
United States
Wood River
Nebraska
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This review pretty much states my opinion of the game. Extremely well done, but feels like multiplayer solitaire (even if you can sometimes leech off other player's actions.) Luck is a bigger factor than I like in the game, although it is true that a player with more experience will know what to do with the good cards he or she gets.

The difference for me is that it took several games before I realize this. That's because I love the theme, the balance, the great amount of cards in the set and the mechanics. However, the lack of control sometimes makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

Dominion might be considered multiplayer solitaire too, but it has much more interaction than RotG. Plus, whatever goes into your hand, minus the starting cards, are all chosen by you, not by random luck. All players start on equal ground, where in RotG, this may not be the case.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vincent White
United States
Chestnut Hill
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice valid point of view in this review.
Just because it is popular doesnt mean everyone will enjoy it..for example:I thought WOW online (pc game) was basicly a boring exersize of pull/kill/repeat. Of course there is a bit more to the game than that, but those bits just help you pull kill and repeat.(I am in the minority opinion on that game too most likely)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Foster
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review. I actually laughed out loud multiple times, sorta like reading a movie review where the guy totally disses the film. I like RftG and found your comments entertaining.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Krzysztof Budny
Poland
Warsaw
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I do really want to see Race for the Pony :D or Necropony for the Galaxy...
... anyway - very nice review!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Earles
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fair enough... you don't enjoy the game. What I don't get, based on your reasoning, is why you have Dominion rated an 8.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Krohn
United States
New York
flag msg tools
designer
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
badge
Ahhh....my misspent youth...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Not everyone is going to enjoy the game, but I love it. Don't think that I am trying to convince you to love it. I'm sure there are games that you love that I do not. That said here are some things to think about:

- I love the icons because it makes it so easy to scan the table (not just your hand, the table) and know what it going on. It is interestng that many of the same people that have a hard time with the icons also have a complaint that Race is a solo game. If someone does not get/like the icons it probably will play more like a solo game.

- Decision making - one of the best things about the decision making in this game is that a card can be played or used to pay for another card. It makes it different from many other games. Every game I play it seems like I have a difficult decision, not just about which cards to play, but whether I should toss a card (that I like) out in order to pay for another card now.

- I love the speed of the game. Dominion is doing the same thing for me now. Not that I don't like longer games, I do (hey, if I can spend an entire Saturday playing Eastfront, that's a good day), but it is nice to have a game that I can squeeze in before the kids go to bed and we don't have much time.

Thanks for your review!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Goran Topic
Japan
Kita-ku
Tokyo
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Whymme wrote:
I am not going to say that you don't understand the game; you made clear that you do.

Well, if you're not, then I will.

OP, you do not understand the game. And I say this with utmost respect, not as a putdown. The post was well written, and adequately argued - but in my view, from a flawed premise. The dislike for icons appears to be the a valid complaint, since many people reported problems (even though many, me included, love them, being much more clear than text once you learn the full inventory). So I disagree, but concede it might stand for some people.

The complaint that it is a game with no options, however, I cannot leave to stand.

In my view, Chess is an utterly boring game, for some reason. It might also have something to do with the fact that I am not good at it, and have no motivation to learn more. However, I can assure you, I know all the rules, and can play correctly if forced to play a game. I will lose, and be frustrated, because I will not have many options. In many places, the play will be obvious - indeed, forced. In many other, there will be so many options that I might as well slide a piece at random. But I will not say Chess is a bad game, just not for me.

Similarly, this game just might not be for you, and I would not fault you. Tastes differ, and this game polarises the BGG more than most.

However, the crux is this: These forums are rife with people saying that RftG is a deep game which takes 2-5 plays to learn, 10-20 to develop basic strategy, 50-100 to become averagely competent. Some ascribe it to fanboyishness, but such reports are so plentiful that it would mean this game has more fans than soccer and Playboy together. The player consesus is clear: there is more to this game than meets the eye. Trust me, with 3 plays, even if you know all the rules and play correctly, you do not understand the game.
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Witzany
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
xiombarg wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
I like it a little more than you do, but it's because I dig the theme. Otherwise, you'd better play San Juan; it's simply more streamlined (especially component/card wise) and more interactive.


That's part of what frustrated me. I really dig the theme, and to have such a dull game associated with such an exciting theme is like rubbing salt in the wound.

That said, I have a copy of San Juan but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. I may have to make it a point to bring it around the next time board games come up, to compare to Race. I like the sound of something like this game but more streamlined and with more interaction.


Take a look at Witch's Brew then, too. It features different roles too, but only one person gets to exercise the full power of each role. You need to pay attention to what the other players are doing, as well, both to try and guess what roles they're likely to try for next round and to know when it's time to take the ingredient- and gold-hoarders down a notch by playing a role that robs them of part of their stash, often gaining some victory points for yourself in the process. Add in the aspect that forces you to decide when to risk it all and when to settle for a smaller but guaranteed payoff, and this is the best game I've played in a long time.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.