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Subject: Will I like Race for the Galaxy?? rss

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Ryan Metzler
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Hey all~

Just trying to get some input here. A friend of mine has a copy of RftG for sale that he doesn't enjoy. That said, the price is right and I have been intrigued by the idea of this game for some time now. I was wondering if anyone could give input on as to whether or not I may enjoy this game based on my current "most played" lineup...

With no further delay, here is my current favorite play lineup (in no particular order):

1) Dominion
2) Stone Age
3) Ticket to Ride (with 1910)
4) Power Grid
5) Cosmic Encounters
6) Carcassonne
7) Ingenious
8) Pandemic
9) Battle Star Galactica
10) Some random card game (Fluxx, Munchkin, Guillotine, etc.)

In the past I have played some CCGs, including MtG and the old Star Wars CCG. I enjoyed these, but the hobby got too expensive and I dropped it. What is anyones opinion on how I might like this game, and should I pick it up if the price is reasonable.

My current thoughts are that even if I don't enjoy the game, at a low price it may serve as suitable trade material in the long run...


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Joe Huber

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At a guess, you probably will enjoy the game, based upon the information above. Of course, you can always try playing with the AI recently made available, and find out for certain.

But popular games acquired inexpensively are always fine trade bait, as you note...
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Steve Zamborsky
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If you have enjoyed CCGs in the past, then you will love Race. It was originally designed as a CCG, and the great thing about the game is that it has all of the variability of a CCG without being collectible. Each game really does feel distinctly different than the last.

That said, there's a steep learning curve to both the gameplay and the iconography. If you can find someone to teach you (yes, also reminiscent of CCGs past) then your learning time will decrease dramatically. But it's really worth it - Race is an amazing game.
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Mike G
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Based solely on things I've read in these forums, and never having played the game myself, I think you will enjoy it -- if not at first then after the 6th or 9th or 15th time. The question is, do you have people to play with that will enjoy it based on the learning curve it seems to have?
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Marshall Miller
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Go ahead and get it. You can learn by playing the AI and then train other players. T'is a fine game and you can always find a trader/buyer/gifter later.
 
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Todd McCorkle
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At the risk of sounding like a wet blanket...

I don't think it's possible to know whether you like race or not until you play it. I think that's true of most games, but it is especially true of race. A friend from the game group has puerto rico as one of his favorite games, enjoys san juan, and has played CCGs in the past. I'd figure he would love race (as I do). He hates it. Mostly because of the icons I think. He might have liked the game if it used all text instead. Ironically, I probably would have hated the game if it used all text instead of icons. *shrug* no pleasing everybody I guess.

I love race, it is my most played game. You might love it too. You might hate it. As others have said, at least it should be easy to trade...
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Royce Hix
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7 of your top 10 games are games that I very much enjoy. Yet, I do not like Race for the Galaxy at all.

I do not care for the learning curve, nor the expectations of memory - where to be successful, you really should know what all the cards are and what they do and be able to keep mental tally of which ones you'll need to blend with your current cards.

I also don't like the lack of strategy - the farthest you can think out is a couple turns, pending what cards you get, and then your strategy might greatly change.

What really is the most insufferable to me is the icon system. I guess this makes it easier to localize, but it makes it a real pain to learn the game. Even after learning it, I often look at icons and feel confused. Then I don't know what to do with the card without asking a question to the more experienced players, so they then know what I have.

Really though, I seem to be one of the minority who don't like this game. I guess I should have never played Citadels, as that really adds a nail to the coffin - it's so much quicker, easier to learn, and much more fun for me than Race is. Chances are, if you put enough time and effort in, you'll enjoy it. I'd just rather play any other game.
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Pete Lane
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Gotta agree with Royce. We've played Race twice so far and know that we will enjoy it in the future after more plays... but it was painful to try and figure out the rules. We're Magic players, and are no dummies when it comes to new games let alone card games. But the fact the learning curve is so huge and the memorization factor is high makes the game a lot less enjoyable for someone who's starting out (which means you're more likely to hang it up after the first couple tries). Play it first if you can, otherwise it's great trade bait.
 
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Marshall Miller
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The symbols have a certain logic, its like a little language. The key is to play about 3 games back to back so that they sink in. Then play again within a week and you'll have it.
 
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Ian Klinck
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You sound like you have similar tastes to mine, and RftG is one of my top games. I'd say you're a prime candidate, and, if not, it's good trade material (as you noted).
 
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Ryan Metzler
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Yeah I think I will just pick it up from him. I can't imagine not liking it after reading up on it a bit, but I usually like to try before I buy. That said, as I don't have too many gaming friends (and only one that owns this game....who obviously doesn't like to play it), perhaps its time to leap first and look later
 
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Bess A.
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stagger lee wrote:
We're Magic players, and are no dummies when it comes to new games let alone card games. But the fact the learning curve is so huge and the memorization factor is high makes the game a lot less enjoyable for someone who's starting out (which means you're more likely to hang it up after the first couple tries). Play it first if you can, otherwise it's great trade bait.


It's interesting to see how controversial the icon system is. My husband and I taught ourselves the game a few days ago, and between the convenient reference cards included in the game, and a nice player-aid printout from here on the 'Geek, we picked it up quite readily.

I really enjoy the icon system, I felt it made the game very accessible and easy to learn. After just a couple of late-night plays, I hardly feel like I need to look at the reference cards at all. I just found it extremely intuitive. The caveat here is that we have played a lot of San Juan, and some of the actions are very similar to San Juan, except that RftG is deeper and more complex.

I particularly like how there are multiple strategies to win. There is both great diversity and synergy amongst the card actions, so you can quickly find yourself building your little empire on largely military actions, or mining resources, or "high civilization" kinds of modes. I think the theme is immersive and lovely (and I'm not always keen on sci-fi themes).

But like all card games, there is a fair amount of luck. The best strategies won't save you from a bad hand, although the 2 types of exploration actions can help mitigate bad draws a little in different ways. Some people are frustrated by luck being involved in a game.

I vote that you try it, and not let other people's difficulty with the icon system prejudice you, you might end up in the camp that finds it very intuitive.
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Travis Worthington
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I think the determining predictive factor in liking RftG is your propensity to focus your play on one game for a sustained period of time.

If you like to play a game once, and then move on to another then you won't like RftG. If you and your gaming buddies like to play the same game more than once in an evening, and same game the next time you meet then you'll probably like it.

Enjoying RftG requires that you know all the cards, and how they can interact. Getting used to the icons takes several plays, getting so you know the cards and possible/likely interactions takes several dozen plays.

Personally I didn't care for it, but I like to play lots of different games and seldom repeat.
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Eugene
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For the first handful of games, no, you will not like RftG. But persevere. The liking comes after about game 8 or so.
 
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Steve Duff
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If you list "Love Deciphering Hieroglyphics" under your personal hobbies, then sure, go for it. cool

I still think it works best for those who've played out San Juan, and want a new experience. If you haven't done that, I highly recommend it, great game.
 
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Keith Schleicher
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I have similar tastes as you. A friend of mine brought RftG to my place saying how excited he was to teach me to play it, and I couldn't wait to try it since I had heard such good thing about it. I was able to catch on my first game, though I put down too many small point cards. I was much closer in my second game.

I do enjoy RftG, but right now I don't think I'm ready to purchase it. I might if I was able to find it for cheap, but I find that I like Dominion better. I like the fact that you have more control what goes into your deck although the initial setup can be as configured or random as you like.

YMMV though, and I have only played it two-player. I have a feeling things change in the three- or four-player game, but I'm not sure how much.
 
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Chris Ferejohn
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garygarison wrote:
For the first handful of games, no, you will not like RftG. But persevere. The liking comes after about game 8 or so.


Generally much sooner than that really. I see the light go on for most folks in game 2 or 3.
 
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Michael Jordal
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I like most of your 10 games and I enjoy race.
 
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Jorge Montero
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I'd not make a CCG comparison so easily as some. I've played this game over a hundred times. I've played Magic for at least a thousand. And yet, the experiences are so very different.

CCGs have large deckbuilding components. You figure out what cards are effective and you like to play, and build a deck around them. You can build a deck that is very consistent, or one that risks some inconsistency for explosiveness: You never have to play a deck you don't like.

In Race, unless you run the draft version, which takes quite a bit longer just to set up, you play what you get. Sometimes, your starting hand leads towards some synergies, but then you get nothing that helps those synergies. Other times, the cards you want flow exactly as you want them. It's all the frustration of mana-screw, but multiplied by 10. Just think about the difference in variability inside of the deck: A typical constructed Magic deck has 8 or 9 different cards that are not land, and you get 4 copies of each. Here, the deck is way bigger, and there are over a hundred different cards, that you can't choose. Compared to Race, 100 cards Singleton in Magic is a very predictable and controlled format!

So no, don't look at this like a CCG where all the cards are in the box. It really doesn't work like that at all.
 
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Samo Oleami
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My post from another thread:

sgosaric wrote:
RftG is the favourite 2 player game for me and my girlfriend. Also I used to play MtG, and although it's very different it scratches the same itch (I played Domion on-line and just don't get, but that's just me).

RftG is a very rewarding game, that is quite engaging for less than 1 hour needed to play. However, there are 2 things you should be careful about:
- RftG is immensely hard to teach (although I knew this and was really careful it took 4 days of playing before my girlfriend stopped cursing). The thing is: you must learn all icons by heart, and must know all cards by heart (at least 6 power developments).
- It's not very social (each player plays its own game, but they all race to the finish). For me and my SO this works because we have hard time being directly aggressive to each other, I know it's different from couple to couple, but for indirect aggression (basically a race) it's great. I find it best to play with people you frequently meet and talk anyway. If somebody came around for social evening, this just is not the game to play.

What's good about it?
In quite short playing time (once you know the cards it goes really fast) you can pursue a variety of strategies (there are 3 basic stategies, with each a couple of different implementations, and then you can combine them, there is really tons of stuff to do), but mainly the success comes of choosing the right path from the cards you are given.
Also, what distinguishes this from Dominion (beside better artwork IMO) is a variety of cards - 2/3 of cards have just one copy in the game.

I think that covers the basic presentation, and you should get some idea whether you'll like this one or not.


One question: if did your friend learn how to play the game? If yes, ask him if he could instruct you.
 
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Samo Oleami
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hend wrote:
I do not care for the learning curve, nor the expectations of memory - where to be successful, you really should know what all the cards are and what they do and be able to keep mental tally of which ones you'll need to blend with your current cards.
Yes you have to know most of the cards by heart. I have no problem with that, but if you do, better skip this one.

hend wrote:
I also don't like the lack of strategy - the farthest you can think out is a couple turns, pending what cards you get, and then your strategy might greatly change.
I wouldn't say so, sure you have to adapt to what you get at the start, but you can stick to the same strategy and wait for the right cards, although that may cost you the race to the finish. So it's a bit stretch your luck mixed with strategy. But I don't know, I mean for strategy as opposed to tactics is precisely that - a general guide line which you adapt to situation at hand (literally). But of course, this might not be everybody's cup of tea.

hend wrote:
What really is the most insufferable to me is the icon system. I guess this makes it easier to localize, but it makes it a real pain to learn the game. Even after learning it, I often look at icons and feel confused. Then I don't know what to do with the card without asking a question to the more experienced players, so they then know what I have.
My girlfriend allways plays with the last page of rulebook (6 power developments). I agree, it's a problem for some, you might want to print some player aids.

hend wrote:
Really though, I seem to be one of the minority who don't like this game. I guess I should have never played Citadels, as that really adds a nail to the coffin - it's so much quicker, easier to learn, and much more fun for me than Race is. Chances are, if you put enough time and effort in, you'll enjoy it. I'd just rather play any other game.
I think it's aimed for different demographics. I love it just because it is a complex system(but not really brain burning), which you must put in some effort to learn, but this effort in my opinion pays of as for me RftG is a very rich, yet quite quick game. But I come from DnD (vast amount of rules) and I prefer the games with complex set of rules as opposed to "easy to learn - a lifetime to master" games. My brain feels it has some data to chew and it makes it happy.
I don't feel you're a minority though, there are a lot of people who were just frustrated by the game and I understand them. This really is a game where you must ask yourself before purchase if you are willing to go through the sometimes tough learning process.(My GF was saying bad words for 4 days, she loves the game now tough). This game is really only for people who intend to play it extensively. I never suggest it to friends who don't regularly come around for gaming nights. I put it very open to them: if you are willing to play 4 to 5 games before you will know what's going on and have 3 hours to spare, okay, but if not, we'll play something else. For me it's a great couples game.
 
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Ed
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For what it's worth, I like most of the games on your list (not Cosmic Encounter and I haven't played BSG), and I do not like Race.
 
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Seth Brown
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My girlfriend HATED Race the first time we played, but I bought it anyway, because I was convinced once she waded through the iconography, she'd like it. As it turns out, I was right. It takes a few games to figure out what the hell is going on, but after that, you can make a judgement -- and odds are you'll enjoy it.

If you're unsure, you could try San Juan first, but when you can get Race at a good price, I'd just strike now.
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Jacob Ossar
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My wife is not a gamer, but was willing to humor me by playing some games of Settlers of Catan with another couple (also largely non-gamers) just for the opportunity to socialize. I discovered RftG at a convention and loved it right from the first play. It took some convincing to get everybody to try "that space game" instead of Settlers, and the first couple of games did require a bit of hand-holding. But we're still playing RftG every week, and nobody has suggested dusting off Settlers in ages. In my experience, understanding the iconography isn't terribly difficult, and teaching it to others wasn't as huge a deal as some people make out. So even if you don't have a lot of hard-core gamer friends, you may get more play out of RftG than you think.
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Ryan Metzler
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Well I wanted to update this thread with some news:

I purchases Race for the Galaxy from my friend the other day as I stated that I might. Being mildly OCD I first went through to find out I was missing one single VP token. Normally this isn't a big deal, but the aforementioned OCD has kicked in. However, I managed to get past this and register a 2-player game with my girlfriend.

After reading the rules and getting the game going, I quickly explained the iconography to my girlfriend. She seemed a bit lost at first, but the included player guides really do make it pretty easy to follow. Within the first 10 minutes of playing we ALREADY knew we were going to like the game. Maybe we are fast learners, maybe we only THINK we understand, but either way we made it through a game without too much stumbling about.

End result was a win for me, mainly through a military settling approach (don't really know the strategies yet). I think I picked up on the gameplay a little quicker than my girlfriend, but she is excited to try again as well. It seems to me that one of the two of us always manages a better grasp than the other at a particular game (she tends to win most games on the first play). Both of us, however, are looking forward to learning deeper strategies in RftG and logging several more plays shortly.

Thanks everyone for the recommendations.

~Ryan
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