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Subject: Question on San Juan and Race for the Galaxy rss

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Steve Russell
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Bought San Juan last month before going on a month long trip so that the wife and I would have something new to play. Well, started playing San Juan and we really like it a lot. So do others in the family, so that it hit the table quite a bit in the last week. I noticed in the Games section on it that there are expansion cards available thru the "Alea Treasure Chest". I guess my first question is, is this the only way to get expansion cards for San Juan where you have to get other game expansion materials for games I don't have? Also, if I add cards, is 5 player San Juan decent?

After playing San Juan, I went back to re-read the rules for RftG (which is the only game I got last Christmas that hasn't been played yet) and what was once very vague and not understandable is now a lot clearer. I have seen other comments about RftG rules as being crappy and I now tend to agree. That and the arcane markings on the cards could have been replaced with verbage. HOwever, I feel like getting this game to the table now that I've enjoyed the San Juan experience. Anyone else out there have the same experience?
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Bruce Murphy
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As similar as they are mechanically, RFTG is easier to play with gamers who enjoy repeating through a game lots of times seeking the efficiency points, and SJ is better for people who prefer a neater lighter game with fewer rules + markings.

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Matt Musselman
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Since both San Juan and Race for the Galaxy were both commissioned as card game versions of Puerto Rico, it's no surprise that learning one helps you understand the other.

Once you get past all the symbols and whatnot, RftG is a richer, more varied game, and most people seem to prefer it a bit over San Juan. But it all depends what you like.
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Steve Russell
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mussels wrote:
Since both San Juan and Race for the Galaxy were both commissioned as card game versions of Puerto Rico, it's no surprise that learning one helps you understand the other.

Once you get past all the symbols and whatnot, RftG is a richer, more varied game, and most people seem to prefer it a bit over San Juan. But it all depends what you like.


I like that richer and deeper stuff so am looking forward to taking RftG to game night tomorrow (assuming that the snow stops coming down some time soon). Just looking at the cards, it gives that feel. I think out of the guys coming, 3 of 5 will have played San Juan, so was thinking about introducing it to the other two guys, then pulling out RftG. Then we'll all be on somewhat equal footing going into the first plays.

Anybody know about expansion cards for San Juan?
 
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John Earles
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theatre steve wrote:
mussels wrote:
Since both San Juan and Race for the Galaxy were both commissioned as card game versions of Puerto Rico, it's no surprise that learning one helps you understand the other.

Once you get past all the symbols and whatnot, RftG is a richer, more varied game, and most people seem to prefer it a bit over San Juan. But it all depends what you like.


I like that richer and deeper stuff so am looking forward to taking RftG to game night tomorrow (assuming that the snow stops coming down some time soon). Just looking at the cards, it gives that feel. I think out of the guys coming, 3 of 5 will have played San Juan, so was thinking about introducing it to the other two guys, then pulling out RftG. Then we'll all be on somewhat equal footing going into the first plays.

Anybody know about expansion cards for San Juan?


Yes, the San Juan Expasion is only available through the Treasure Chest. However, you will see threads where various users are offering to split the set and sell/trade certain expansions.
 
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Gary Sonnenberg
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theatre steve wrote:
Bought San Juan last month before going on a month long trip so that the wife and I would have something new to play. Well, started playing San Juan and we really like it a lot.


My wife and I really like San Juan a lot too.

My wife and I really like RftG a lot too. She tried it once, was confused, and won't go back to it (yet).
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Dennis Leung
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My wife and I got San Juan a while ago and loved it...and subsequently played it so much that we got burned out on it. After putting it down for a while, we eventually got Race for the Galaxy---the timing worked out well. While we were burned out on San Juan, the greater complexity and replayability of Race built on what we loved and it's now one of our favorite quick games. But you're right, learning to play San Juan definitely made learning Race much easier.
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Judd Vance
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theatre steve wrote:
After playing San Juan, I went back to re-read the rules for RftG (which is the only game I got last Christmas that hasn't been played yet) and what was once very vague and not understandable is now a lot clearer. I have seen other comments about RftG rules as being crappy and I now tend to agree. That and the arcane markings on the cards could have been replaced with verbage. HOwever, I feel like getting this game to the table now that I've enjoyed the San Juan experience. Anyone else out there have the same experience?


I have played RftG twice and consider myself an expert San Juan player. I see more possibilities with RftG, but I agree with the markings. I think it's ridiculous that a beginner has no clue how to hold their own with a more experienced player, or that it takes probably 10 plays to have a clue what the markings mean.
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Steve Russell
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The usual quick response and cogent answers for my inquiries from the BGG participants. Great site as always.

Still got the one question unanswered (kinda buried in the body of the OP). Is San Juan doable as a 5 player game if the expansion cards get thrown in there? We typically have 5 players when the family gets together, so it would be nice. We ended up Saturday night starting with San Juan (with 4 players) until my brother in law got there and we switched to Citadels. I think he might have liked to play San Juan again.
 
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Steven Metzger
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I'm pretty upset about Race - I've played it once and was a non-participant. I fully expect to try it again, and probably enjoy it as others in my game group have, but the abstract symbolization of every element in the game really irritated me. The text is so small that RGG should have easily been able to create the game with language instead of shapes.

To be fair, what I call "euroriffic language independence" is a pet peeve and a turnoff for me in many instances (Stone Age was originally difficult to implement). It may sound like I'm an idiot and can't take the time to learn what the symbols mean, or I'm too lazy to...but the fact of the matter is that I am a non-idiot and shouldn't HAVE to, and I think it's awfully lazy of THEM to force me to look up more than rule errata every time in my first learning games.

This opinion might subside after a while, I don't really know. I also don't know whether the decision to mass-symbolize was RGG, Tom's, or someone else, but I have lots of respect for both the designer and the primary distributor so this is just a useless rant that goes on and on and on and on until the break of dawn, etc, etc...

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Jeff Forbes

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airjudden wrote:
theatre steve wrote:
After playing San Juan, I went back to re-read the rules for RftG (which is the only game I got last Christmas that hasn't been played yet) and what was once very vague and not understandable is now a lot clearer. I have seen other comments about RftG rules as being crappy and I now tend to agree. That and the arcane markings on the cards could have been replaced with verbage. HOwever, I feel like getting this game to the table now that I've enjoyed the San Juan experience. Anyone else out there have the same experience?


I have played RftG twice and consider myself an expert San Juan player. I see more possibilities with RftG, but I agree with the markings. I think it's ridiculous that a beginner has no clue how to hold their own with a more experienced player, or that it takes probably 10 plays to have a clue what the markings mean.


The markings are actually pretty logical. Look at them, associate them with their meanings, and you'll be fine in far less than ten plays. Seriously.

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The symbols are logical, but they're not explained the right way in the rules, which are in general poorly written. The icons are not only highly useable and efficient for imparting the necessary information, but they give the cards a good streamlined look as well.
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Bruce Murphy
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Logical, clear, compact, help experienced players. All yes.

Intuitive? No.

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JW
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Explaining Race to other people is a pain in the ass. I got a sorethroat after teaching Race (to a gamer) on Friday night and have been sick ever since then.
 
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Rich Hims
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thepackrat wrote:
Logical, clear, compact, help experienced players. All yes.

Intuitive? No.


Subjective? Yes

Seriously, folks, the amount of 'opinion as fact' that gets posted on the topic of Race icons is crazy. I've only played about 10 games now, with the other players varying from non-gamers to fellow I.T. geeks with experience of both San Juan & Puerto Rico to help them segue into Race. At the weekend, we had a tired, half-drunk non-geek pick up the game & the icons instantly, where previously I've seen experienced gamers, with a head for random facts & stats repeatedly clarify specialized military rules.

Anyone can say that they do or don't find the iconography intuitive, but that doesn't mean it's the same for everyone. Ultimately, surely it's better to remind one another that the iconography is not the game.
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Bruce Murphy
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leeds55 wrote:

Anyone can say that they do or don't find the iconography intuitive, but that doesn't mean it's the same for everyone. Ultimately, surely it's better to remind one another that the iconography is not the game.


Merely a critical precondition to being able to play the game. People seem to think intuitive means 'easy to use once you know it', but that's simply not the case.

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Rich Hims
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thepackrat wrote:
[knowing the iconography is] a critical precondition to being able to play the game. People seem to think intuitive means 'easy to use once you know it', but that's simply not the case.


Agreed: I wouldn't ever suggest that as a definition of the word 'intuitive', and think we're just disagreeing over semantics. For my money, intuitive means 'I understand it without someone explaining it to me', and in my experience it's difficult to predict who will find the Race iconography intuitive: some people do, some people don't. People on both sides that state categorically that the iconography is 'too tricky' or is difficult to learn (particularly when the summary card describes each icon) are - in my opinion - doing the game a disservice, when they could with a little more effort say that it's a matter of personal experience.

Edit: added IMO caveat to final sentence.
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Bruce Murphy
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As I actually stated, the iconography is a wonder of compact and clear information for those experienced players who have already internalised it. However, because it is highly information dense and replaces rather than supplements more detailed information, it presents a fairly steep learning curve for newcomers.

How difficult it is to learn is highly subjective, the fact that these icons need to be learned makes it non-intuitive.

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Steve Russell
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thepackrat wrote:
As I actually stated, the iconography is a wonder of compact and clear information for those experienced players who have already internalised it. However, because it is highly information dense and replaces rather than supplements more detailed information, it presents a fairly steep learning curve for newcomers.

How difficult it is to learn is highly subjective, the fact that these icons need to be learned makes it non-intuitive.

B>


Definately agree on the non-intuitive comment.

Getting this game to the table has been put off by me because of the wandering explanation of the rules and the attendant iconography on the cards. As an engineer and a life long (six decades) gamer, I have taken on games with rule books in the 30-60 page length (Avalon Hill titles) and don't feel that there is something wrong with my "intuitiveness". San Juan was easy to get going on and very clear. That piqued my interest again for getting RftG out. After reviewing the rules again yesterday and getting the basics of how the game is played, I still see issues with the icons. We'll see.

I can easily see how some get it easily and some don't. If it were intuitive, the vast majority will get it. Seems to me to be a flaw with the design. Going to play it tonight and we'll see how much 'splainin' there is to do.
 
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Barry Nadler
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I don't know if it helps, but Best Dang Games put out two-video series on understanding the icons in Race For The Galaxy.

Give it a look. Maybe it will help.



They also have a video series to help you learn how to play the game, as well as understand how the expansions enhance the game.



Good luck!

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Brandon M
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theatre steve wrote:


After playing San Juan, I went back to re-read the rules for RftG (which is the only game I got last Christmas that hasn't been played yet) and what was once very vague and not understandable is now a lot clearer. I have seen other comments about RftG rules as being crappy and I now tend to agree. That and the arcane markings on the cards could have been replaced with verbage. HOwever, I feel like getting this game to the table now that I've enjoyed the San Juan experience. Anyone else out there have the same experience?


I don't think the rule book is bad, I think it's just difficult to understand the first time. You'll (most likely) find that the symbols are very easy to understand once you learn them, and they make it easier to look at your tableau and figure out what powers you have in a phase.

Assume it'll take a couple of games to get the hang of it, and read the rules again after the first game or two to make sure you didn't miss any rules (my wife and I were coming from San Juan as well, so I glossed over the rules on trading that said you only trade ONE good and use your consume powers on the rest).

You may find that you don't want the San Juan expansion anymore after playing Race for the Galaxy.
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Bruce Murphy
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RftG is a big complex machine. SJ is much smaller and cleaner. I genuinely believe that there is room for both if you play games with varied groups of people.

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Michael D'Amico
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I've had RftG since the beginning of last summer. It's one of my favorites, but I haven't had luck getting it to the table at home. I tried to teach my wife once and we only lasted about 15 minutes before she gave up.

I subsequently bought San Juan hoping I could still get Race to the table via an end-around. It worked in that both my wife and daughter like SJ and we've played it quite a few times. It also worked in that I was able to then get through a full game of RftG with my wife, heavily drawing on the concepts of San Juan and playing with semi-open hands. However, attempts to get it back to the table since then have failed.

There is an investment of time and effort that needs to be made with learning and "mastering" Race. I think if you have people who have played a lot of different games and have a diverse schema then you will have a much better go at getting people to play. Also, being a fan of science fiction certainly doesn't hurt.
 
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Steven
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Sorry for the self-promotion, but I wrote a post called Moving from San Juan to RFTG: A Role and Card Primer that provides a really basic explanation of RFTG concepts in the "language" of San Juan.

I also made the transition from San Juan to RFTG (in fact, I got San Juan specifically for this purpose!). I now much prefer RFTG, but I continue to play both games. SJ in particular is much better for new players.
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Clay Wirestone
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I would think any icons in a game would have to be learned -- even if they were widely understood (say a stop sign) -- because the context of each game differs. It's simply part of learning how a game works. In that sense, no game or game system is purely intuitive.

That being said, a little drawing of a hand with a card seems to suggest drawing a card. That's simple enough. A circle -- the shape of a planet -- on settlement cards seems straightforward too.

I played the game for the first time over the weekend and picked up virtually all of the symbols by the end of the first game. It's a different way to play, no doubt, but I've never been a fan of number and text heavy cards. Seeing the icons makes the interactions clearer. For me.
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