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Subject: consume/trade rss

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Let me preface this by saying I'm a huge RFTG fan. Absolutely love the game, theme, and artwork. While I have a couple dozen games in, I won't pretend to understand all of the subtle strategies. Not by along shot.

My question/comment centers around the trade phase.
Well, we just don't seem to be using it very often. In early to mid game it seems helpful, but near the end I'm usually doing pretty well with military, or produce-consume.
I may need extra cards for some 6 point devs, but I'm still hesitant to use the trade phase.

Do more experienced players find the trade phase to be absolutely integral to the game?


One common complaint that I see about this game is the learning curve associated with rules and iconography. Mostly centered around things like requiring powers for the phase, and what the powers on the cards do. Oh, and I've seen at least a couple of people have trouble with windfalls, but that's probably worth another thread if there isn't multiple already.
I'm obviously ok with the rules and icons now, but it was a small barrier to entry.

Would a simpler game without trade, but still with a consume phase be fun?

I got to thinking about this after playing San Juan. SJ lacks a consume phase, but has a trade phase. I think this makes RFTG more like Puerto Rico(current favorite), but with the added benefit of an improved phase selection mechanism.


So we have a game with trade, and one with trade & consume, but we're missing one with just consume. Or is there already a game out there like that I just haven't come across? Seems like there should be one for the sake of completeness if nothing else



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Michael J
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I'm not an expert in this game, as I have only a few dozen plays in myself, but I use the trade power every game. In fact, The trade power is one of the early benefits of the windfall homeworlds, and taking the trade power away weakens them as they are underpowered in other areas.

Trading a good for 3 or 4 cards can be far more powerful than drawing 2 and keeping 1 in the explore phase, as not only do you get more cards in hand for your trade but you also get a consume phase to go along with it.

Taking away the trade phase also seriously depletes the value of many of the cards in the game that have trade powers. Given how much playtesting and balancing went into the game, removing powers from some cards and not others may cause problems.

I say keep your trade and consume phase!
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Trade is integral to R4tG. That being said, you could probably manage to create a game that would fold the Trade phase into some of the other phases. I don't think it would be as good, but certainly possible.

In R4tG, there is a Trade strategy. That would be nonexistent in the new game. Trade is hugely important for early cards. Multiple explores would be necessary to equal one decent trade in the new game. Sometimes, halfway through, you'll need that second trade to get through the end of the game. Your engine would need to be providing plenty of cards already in the new game. Need a phase that won't help anybody else and have nothing to call. Trade is (usually) your answer. You're stuck in the new game.

These are just some examples, but it would definitely change the game.
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mjacobsca wrote:
I'm not an expert in this game, as I have only a few dozen plays in myself, but I use the trade power every game. In fact, The trade power is one of the early benefits of the windfall homeworlds, and taking the trade power away weakens them as they are underpowered in other areas.

Trading a good for 3 or 4 cards can be far more powerful than drawing 2 and keeping 1 in the explore phase, as not only do you get more cards in hand for your trade but you also get a consume phase to go along with it.

Taking away the trade phase also seriously depletes the value of many of the cards in the game that have trade powers. Given how much playtesting and balancing went into the game, removing powers from some cards and not others may cause problems.

I say keep your trade and consume phase!


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Great point. I didn't think about the synergy with an early windfall.

And you're right, there's plenty of other cards that work well with trade powers.

I know that just removing the phase from this game would break it, I guess the question is more hypothetical about a similar yet simpler game where the trade wouldn't be part of it. And whether or not it would still be fun.

 
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TheMadVulcan wrote:
Trade is integral to R4tG. That being said, you could probably manage to create a game that would fold the Trade phase into some of the other phases. I don't think it would be as good, but certainly possible.

In R4tG, there is a Trade strategy. That would be nonexistent in the new game. Trade is hugely important for early cards. Multiple explores would be necessary to equal one decent trade in the new game. Sometimes, halfway through, you'll need that second trade to get through the end of the game. Your engine would need to be providing plenty of cards already in the new game. Need a phase that won't help anybody else and have nothing to call. Trade is (usually) your answer. You're stuck in the new game.

These are just some examples, but it would definitely change the game.


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More good stuff. This is exactly why I love BGG.

The other thing that got me thinking along these lines, is that lately I've been doing pretty well buying developments that improve explore abilities. Being able to pick 3 from 5 or more for me has worked out better than just getting 3 or 4 random. But you're right, just the two standard explores don't get you much by comparison to trade without those powers.

I guess SJ's prospector is the thing that helps only the player that played the phase.
 
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Guy Srinivasan
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monteslu wrote:
The other thing that got me thinking along these lines, is that lately I've been doing pretty well buying developments that improve explore abilities. Being able to pick 3 from 5 or more for me has worked out better than just getting 3 or 4 random.

Picking Explore helps your opponents far more than picking Consume-Trade helps your opponents, in most circumstances. Try this: do everything you can to end the game as fast as possible in a couple of games. Trade an early windfall, get discounts and rebates and build build build, or get an early 6+ pts/turn consume engine and just consume and produce. You'll probably lose a couple games while you get used to playing for speed, but my guess is that it's going to take trying out faster speed to really appreciate Trading. Also, if you learn to prioritize speed while your opponents are still trying to Explore for their perfect 6-dev, you will win much more than your fair share.

If you've already figured all that out, then I apologize for the apparent condescension. Maybe it'll be useful for others.
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Cameron McKenzie
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Card flow is king early in the game. But it's more accurate to say that marginal card flow is what you should be focused on. Explore +1 is decent for increasing your hand size, but you are increasing the hand size of your opponents as well. Trade usually allows you to get many cards in hand without giving cards to your opponent. Every phase has powers associated with it that allow you to increase your "credit" early on, but trade is easy and effective.


Many times, when I start with Ancient Race, I will call produce and trade constantly to fill up my hand. It doesn't matter whether my opponents call settle or develop. Frankly, extra cards will help out no matter what strategy I choose to follow, and the more cards I can draw before "committing" to a strategy, the more likely I am to have a nice set of cards that work very well together.
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monteslu wrote:
I know that just removing the phase from this game would break it, I guess the question is more hypothetical about a similar yet simpler game where the trade wouldn't be part of it. And whether or not it would still be fun.

Play San Juan.
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Barticus88 wrote:
monteslu wrote:
I know that just removing the phase from this game would break it, I guess the question is more hypothetical about a similar yet simpler game where the trade wouldn't be part of it. And whether or not it would still be fun.

Play San Juan.


San Juan doesn't have VPs through consume. San Juan with 4 means all the phases always get called. San Juan doesn't split the dev cards from the production cards.

I like Race much better, just wish I could get more of my group into it.
 
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monteslu wrote:
I like Race much better, just wish I could get more of my group into it.


Someone else mentioned this: when you teach someone RftG, make them promise to play 3 straight games before giving up on it.
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I've probably played 0-1 games in my life (I've probably played 400+ total by now) without trading. There is no other phase that can accelerate your game as quickly.

Exceptions would be a speed military strategy where you are overwhelmed by good cards from settling and can just keep going up to 12, or a develop-based strategy with Public Works and Interstellar Bank with cards from developing. Still, either of those strategies would be much better with an initial trade, and that's almost invariably how I play them. Another option would be an early New Vinland if your opponent is producing; that's 2 per produce/consume cycle, which might be enough.

The one time I may have done this is my favorite game to brag about, where I won 17-14 and had 9 developments on my tableau, almost all 1-2 cost, including Interstellar Bank and Public Works. I still suspect that I may have traded, but it's possible I did it all through phases 1 and 2. That was very much a opportunistic/lucky game and not a strategy I'd recommend normally... but it was loads of fun.
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monteslu wrote:
One common complaint that I see about this game is the learning curve associated with rules and iconography. (...) Would a simpler game without trade, but still with a consume phase be fun?

I agree with what others have said about the trade phase, and I have nothing to add in that regard, but your motivation called my attention. Seriously, do you think that removing the trade phase would make the game significantly simpler?
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GSReis wrote:
monteslu wrote:
One common complaint that I see about this game is the learning curve associated with rules and iconography. (...) Would a simpler game without trade, but still with a consume phase be fun?

I agree with what others have said about the trade phase, and I have nothing to add in that regard, but your motivation called my attention. Seriously, do you think that removing the trade phase would make the game significantly simpler?


Not significantly simpler as much as less daunting to newbies. I'd probably also remove windfalls as well.

It was more just hypothetical. San Juan is far simpler, but it's not nearly as fun. And San Juan doesn't have a consume. So it was kind of an interesting thing to me that one just has trade, one has consume & trade, but there isn't one with just consume.


 
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Thanks again for all the responses.


Something else just clicked with me. If there was no trade, then all the resources would be equal. Unlike how coffee is more valuable than indigo and alien tech is more valuable than rare goods.

Having resources be equal isn't necessarily a bad thing, but then you're relying on other mechanics like goals and special consume powers paying higher VPs for different goods to keep things interesting.

 
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The decision to trade a good vs consume the good is also one of the fun tactical decisions you get to make in the game. Do you call consume x2 and get 2 VP's for the good, or do you trade it for 4 cards? These kind of decisions add tension to the game. I wouldn't want to play without it!

Mike
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mjacobsca wrote:
The decision to trade a good vs consume the good is also one of the fun tactical decisions you get to make in the game. Do you call consume x2 and get 2 VP's for the good, or do you trade it for 4 cards? These kind of decisions add tension to the game. I wouldn't want to play without it!

Mike



Agreed. I wouldn't want to play RFTG without it.

I'm still thinking though that similar and simpler game wouldn't be broken without it. It would need different cards of course, since many of the examples pointed out here depend on trade.
It would be easy to skew consume powers to make some goods more valuable than others.

Now if I really wanted to dumb it down, how about removing military? It would just be be a race to the most efficient produce/consume engine. Surely that's been done before?
 
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I hear where you are coming from, monteslu. However, I am thinking of attacking the problem from a different angle.

I actually am thinking of maybe writing off the consume powers but keep the trading for the learning game. I think trading is straight forward enough and makes the game go faster since you get a lot more cards. Not trying to derail the topic (I think it is actually related), but would the game lose a lot if the learning game has no consume powers?

P.S. Removing windfall worlds for the learning game is a great idea.
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Barkam wrote:
I actually am thinking of maybe writing off the consume powers but keep the trading for the learning game.
[...]
P.S. Removing windfall worlds for the learning game is a great idea.


I think both those ideas could be a great way of making the learning curve a lot less steep, assuming it doesn't completely break the game. Scaring away less people on the first play would be fantastic. 'Tis my only complaint about RftG.
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Barkam wrote:
I hear where you are coming from, monteslu. However, I am thinking of attacking the problem from a different angle.

I actually am thinking of maybe writing off the consume powers but keep the trading for the learning game. I think trading is straight forward enough and makes the game go faster since you get a lot more cards. Not trying to derail the topic (I think it is actually related), but would the game lose a lot if the learning game has no consume powers?

P.S. Removing windfall worlds for the learning game is a great idea.


If you really want a learning game, play without the produce phase and the consume phase. Leave in the windfalls, and make production worlds all windfalls, but explain that production worlds normally work differently and you're simplifying it. Then just have the game end when anyone has 12 developments/worlds in your tableau.

That learning game would be heavily unbalanced and luck-based, but it would allow people to get familiar with some of the symbols, and it's much more intuitive than the consume phase alone.
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I've taught the game in a way similar to this. Here's what I do:

Skip phases $, IV, and V. Don't talk about windfall/production worlds or goods. Take out the 6-cost developments (nobody has the money to pay for them anyway). Keep all 6 starting cards. Only play to 8 (or 6) cards in tableau. Play a couple of quick games like that so that everyone can nail down the different kinds of cards (developments, military worlds, and regular worlds) and phases they go with (Develop = Diamonds, Settle = Circles). This also eliminates two of the sources of VPs, so it really helps keep things simple initially.

If you want, you can throw in the six cost developments and give everybody 8 cards to start and play one game like that.

Once you've done all that, introduce the Trade, Consume, and Produce phases and explain the windfall and production worlds and the different kinds of goods. While you've given all the rules, the first couple games like this will still be learning games.

Lastly, throughout the games, emphasize that they should be picking one or two cards out of their hands that they want to use and they should just consider the other cards money. They don't need to understand how to use every card right now.
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Thanks for all the input. Reading your thoughts and thinking more about it, I propose the following as a learning game.

1. Take out all cards dealing with “Take Over” mechanic.
_ _ _ _ a.This reduces the number of rules that they need to know.
2. Take out all production worlds.
3. Take out all 6-cost development cards.
4. Take out all Contact Specialists.
5. Do not play with goals.
6. Skip Phase IV and V, yet talk about trading.
_ _ _ _ a.This reduces the number of rules they need to know yet makes sure that a lot of card influx happens to quicken the pace of the game. Also this way, you are splitting the Consume powers in two learning phases.
7. Play to 8 cards in tableau.

After a few (2 or 3) games with this, teach the rest of the rules and include everything except the “Take Over” mechanic.

I think this combination of changes will minimize the learning curve, make a fast game and sustain the interesting choices of the original game. What do you think?
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monteslu wrote:
My question/comment centers around the trade phase.
Well, we just don't seem to be using it very often. In early to mid game it seems helpful, but near the end I'm usually doing pretty well with military, or produce-consume.
I may need extra cards for some 6 point devs, but I'm still hesitant to use the trade phase.

Do more experienced players find the trade phase to be absolutely integral to the game?
That's about spot on. Early on to mid game, you want cards to power your tempo and engine. Late game, you're more focused on getting points b/c that's what'll win you the game. So focus on getting pts too early and you stall out. Get cards late game, but the game may end soon for you to not be able to use much, or any of those cards in a meaningful way.

.

One thing about Trade is not everyone can do it. You need to have the goods first. However, trade is necessary, as getting 4 to 8 cards in one fell swoop gives you "ammunition" to go on with more of the game. It's too time consuming to Explore +1/+1 2 to 4 times.

Everyone will agree that since everyone else gets to do at least the base action of look at 2 cards, keep one of them, it's not the preferred thing to do. It gets worse when they have +1 to +4 look powers on top of that. In rare cases, they'll have +1 keep powers. Another subtlety of Explore vs Trade/Consume is that Explore comes before Develop and Settle, while Trade after those 2. Explore coming before gives opponents a chance to build things they would normally have to wait till next round.



monteslu wrote:
One common complaint that I see about this game is the learning curve associated with rules and iconography. Mostly centered around things like requiring powers for the phase, and what the powers on the cards do. Oh, and I've seen at least a couple of people have trouble with windfalls, but that's probably worth another thread if there isn't multiple already.
I'm obviously ok with the rules and icons now, but it was a small barrier to entry.

Would a simpler game without trade, but still with a consume phase be fun?

I got to thinking about this after playing San Juan. SJ lacks a consume phase, but has a trade phase. I think this makes RFTG more like Puerto Rico(current favorite), but with the added benefit of an improved phase selection mechanism.


So we have a game with trade, and one with trade & consume, but we're missing one with just consume. Or is there already a game out there like that I just haven't come across? Seems like there should be one for the sake of completeness if nothing else


Personally, if I'm gonna play RftG more like SJ, I'd rather just play SJ. Or at the very least, play Dominion instead (after buying it). Trade is an essential part of the game.

Sure, Uno is much easier to learn, but there's not much to it. I tried teaching this game to such a group of mine. They weren't wild about it. However, despite their indifference towards RftG, they did pick up much of the rules the first time. They noticed when someone built a windfall world and no1 put a good underneath it or how someone should've taken an extra card for settling b/c of that icon they saw on Terraforming Robots.

I know some folks, even hardened gamers prefer not to play PR since there's very minimal luck at best.
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