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Subject: An expansion too far? rss

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Richard Dewsbery
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Has it boldly gone too far, or is it simply a third kind of close encounter that I haven't grasped yet?

I'm a huge fan of Race, and grabbed a copy of Brink as soon as I saw it. But my first two games with the expansion have so far failed to excite.
Firstly there's yet another thing to keep track of - prestige. Like takeovers and goals, it forces players to consider another form of interaction and a resource to track, with the payoff being more depth. Possibly. I just got a headache. Secondly the deck is now *huge*. I could just about shuffle it after the second expansion, but it's now bordering on the impossible. Fingers crossed that it starts to grow on me soon, but right now I'm struggling to see it as much of an improvement, or even just "more of a good thing".
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Brendon Russell
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Is this available in the UK already?
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Chris Linneman
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I've played the expansion probably two dozen times with my pasted-up version. I am pretty sure we have been playing it close to or completely correctly.

After my first few games I posted something similar, here on BGG, about Prestige being too strong. You are right it is "one more thing to keep track of" and at first I found it unnecessarily complicated. But I remembered I thought the same thing about Goals when I first played them, so I pressed on. Now I am used to tracking Prestige and I think it's worth the added complexity. Mind you, I haven't played with Takeovers yet...

I like the tradeoffs you have to make. Previously, the primary concern of the early game was getting cards. It still is, but you have to balance it with getting a source of Prestige. This makes for some tough decisions! If you let an opponent get an early Prestige lead and keep it, the VPs and cards they get could outweigh your early Alien Robot Sentry trade. As with the previous expansions, Brink of War opens up yet more paths to victory and introduces more meaningful choices to the game. So far, I really like it.

I still think some of the new cards are a tad on the strong side. Galactic Markets and Golden Age of Terraforming are very good. Nothing has stood out as broken but Spice World, a very good card from the base set, looks average compared to the Brink of War cards. Pan-Galactic Mediator can be awesome, and it is cost 1! Of course, it is situational.

Edit: By the way, I love how Race makes seemingly mundane things sound awesome by adding "Galactic" or "Interstellar" or "Space" in front of them!
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Dana Lacoste
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I gave up shuffling with the second expansion: I bought a card shuffler and use that. It not only gave me an easier/more reliable way to shuffle the cards, it also seems to be keeping better care of them (wear and tear, particularly on bent corners is WAY down

As for the complexity: I haven't played yet (it doesn't appear to be in public release in the USA yet but I'm likening it to Settlers of Catan vs. Cities and Knights of Catan. Sure, the base mechanics are the same, but the differences really benefit those with lots of experience who want to get more depth out of the game. In a way, it's a completely different game.

But I don't know if I'll be "yay!" or "boo!" until after I get the game and give it some serious playtime.

Tom himself said that he was ramping up the learning curve: this expansion is supposed to take many, many plays before mastery is achieved, and the prestige plays a big role in that (it should have more impact early on, less impact later).
 
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Chris Linneman
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Dana: Where did you get your card shuffler and how much did you pay? I am getting very tired of shuffling myself and often play online against my girlfriend when we are in the same house just so I don't have to shuffle!
 
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Rob Neuhaus
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I think it's pretty nice. I don't play with takeovers though, so maybe that leaves me with some spare cycles to care about prestige . The amount of memory and attention needed to keep up on prestige is much lower than takeovers. Each player has some fixed amount of prestige, perhaps a couple of players have some likelihood of generating it at a higher rate than others. Contrast this with takeover powers, where you really need to know how much the attacker can hit, which players a vulnerable, and how much the defender can defend on worlds of various types (rebels, aliens, etc). Perhaps you should try to play with takeovers off to offload some of the mental burden introduced by prestige?

IMO, the expansion is nice and fresh. The new prestige dimension is interesting. The search process is exciting. It also has the everyone vs you feel when doing the search action, as the other players are rooting for your search to fail miserably (Gal Ren for a 6 dev search, or the mole race for an uplift search, for example), and you are wishing to make a great find. It gives a nice buildup as you flip the cards over, and the rush or let down as it's resolved. It feels similar to being the only player with suns left in a game of Ra.

Sure, the deck size and shuffling is annoying. I certainly would have liked to see some of the weak cards from the older sets die to trim the deck, rather than the Pan-Galactic Affluence'ish approach of trying to make them more viable.
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David desJardins
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RDewsbery wrote:
Has it boldly gone too far, or is it simply a third kind of close encounter that I haven't grasped yet?


Why can't it be neither of these? Some people will prefer the base game, that doesn't mean the expansion is flawed, it just means the whole point of an expansion is to provide an alternative to the base game, not to replace it for everyone. If the game were strictly better for everyone with the expansion, why publish the base game at all?
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Chris Linneman
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My cards are sleeved. It doesn't make shuffling easier (I am a riffle-shuffler) as it doubles the thickness of the cards. Typically I follow Tom's recommended method for shuffling (2p):

Split deck into 5 piles. Each player takes 2 piles and shuffles them together. When finished, swap half your cards for the fifth pile and continue. We do this for about 3 full (7x) shuffles for each player, then push all piles together into one deck.
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Chris Linneman
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DaviddesJ wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
Has it boldly gone too far, or is it simply a third kind of close encounter that I haven't grasped yet?


Why can't it be neither of these? Some people will prefer the base game, that doesn't mean the expansion is flawed, it just means the whole point of an expansion is to provide an alternative to the base game, not to replace it for everyone. If the game were strictly better for everyone with the expansion, why publish the base game at all?


David is right. I think Brink of War is strongly skewed towards experienced players (100+ games). I have introduced new players using both TGS and RvI but I would not do so with TBoW.
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Brendon Russell
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rrenaud wrote:
Sure, the deck size and shuffling is annoying. I certainly would have liked to see some of the weak cards from the older sets die to trim the deck, rather than the Pan-Galactic Affluence'ish approach of trying to make them more viable.


Drafting certainly looks like a more attractive option as more expansions are added. (And more viable, as you're more likely to have experienced players.)

This has started me thinking about coming up with alternative (non-draft) decks with a subset of all the cards. The simplest option would be to use all the cards *except* those from the base game - this hypothetical deck would be the same size as the base game (with start worlds included). Must look at the numbers to see how viable this looks from a balance perspective...
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Dana Lacoste
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Chris: I picked up my card shuffler at a local game shop. It's the second one I've had (the first was very sturdy and appeared well (it was manual powered) but one of the rollers was ever so slightly off-kilter so it would pick up two cards at once sometimes, jamming the mechanism. I threw it out The one I'm using now hasn't done anything but RftG but it's been going for 20 games a week or so (2-3 shuffles per game) for about 18 months and has worked perfectly the whole time. I can't tell you the model because it was one of the cheap made-in-china models, but it works fine. (http://www.thoughthammer.com/card-shuffler-p-3604.html is the style of the one I have, but definitely not the same one.)

I would love to try out sleeved cards to see if that helps, but I have yet to see sleeves which fit perfectly, and if they don't fit perfectly they make shuffling harder, not easier.
 
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Dana Lacoste
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Heh, found it online: http://www.card-shuffler.com/6-deck-shufflers/6-deck-playing... (Not WHERE I bought it, I don't know anything about that website, it's just what came up with a google search)

that's the shuffler I'm using. very fast, haven't changed the batteries in over a year after constant use..... Sure, it's not the BEST, but it seems to work VERY well for RftG (and I play enough of it to justify it
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Serge Levert
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jeamland wrote:
I would love to try out sleeved cards to see if that helps, but I have yet to see sleeves which fit perfectly, and if they don't fit perfectly they make shuffling harder, not easier.

RftG was manufactured in the standard CCG/playing card size (Magic: the Gathering, etc.), which have a plethora of perfectly fitting sleeve manufacturers. Ultra*Pro are my fave, but there are others.
 
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Jacob Ossar
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If you don't want your copy, Richard, I'd be glad to take it off your hands. >.>
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Michael Denman
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thereofone wrote:
Sleeving the cards make the shuffling incredibly easy, and for minimal investment it makes your cards last much longer.


I have never known this to be the case. Sleeved cards have ALWAYS been more of a pain to shuffle.
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Jerry Martin
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Trump wrote:
thereofone wrote:
Sleeving the cards make the shuffling incredibly easy, and for minimal investment it makes your cards last much longer.


I have never known this to be the case. Sleeved cards have ALWAYS been more of a pain to shuffle.


As a tournament magic player for 15 years this just isn't true. The sleeves are super slick when you first get them but once they get a little hand oil and wear the are super smooth shuffling. When you buy decent sleeves.

I personally don't use them with Race because the individual card worth is so low. I would just buy a new set since it would be cheaper than sleeves.

The reason sleeves shuffle nicer is because the process of manufacture makes the corners thinner than the card it protects. Plus the good ones have a slight curve that slides together better than a regular card.
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David desJardins
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Syvanis wrote:
As a tournament magic player for 15 years this just isn't true.


Did you consider that maybe it is true? It's entirely possible that sleeved cards are easier to shuffle for you, but harder to shuffle for him.
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Michael Denman
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Syvanis wrote:
Trump wrote:
thereofone wrote:
Sleeving the cards make the shuffling incredibly easy, and for minimal investment it makes your cards last much longer.


I have never known this to be the case. Sleeved cards have ALWAYS been more of a pain to shuffle.


As a tournament magic player for 15 years this just isn't true. The sleeves are super slick when you first get them but once they get a little hand oil and wear the are super smooth shuffling. When you buy decent sleeves.

I personally don't use them with Race because the individual card worth is so low. I would just buy a new set since it would be cheaper than sleeves.

The reason sleeves shuffle nicer is because the process of manufacture makes the corners thinner than the card it protects. Plus the good ones have a slight curve that slides together better than a regular card.


My sleeve experience is mostly with Dragonshield. Are those decent sleeves? Maybe I haven't played with them enough to make them easier to handle? It sure seems like I have but I'd bet a tournament Magic player has shuffled a LOT more times than I have.

Anyway, I agree that I wouldn't sleeve a game's cards anyway. As you say, it's just not worth it.
 
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Shuffling sleeved cards is easy. Instead of traditional shuffling, just cut the deck into two and slide the cards together.
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Derry Salewski
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Dragonshields are a little hit or miss. I am not a fan.

On the original subject . . . I haven't played this expansion yet. I'm not sure how well it will go down with my main gaming partner-- my little brother. I think that prestige won't be a big deal . . . and I'm assuming it has been rigorously tested. We've never even tried takeovers or goals, and pretty much have no interest in doing so (I wouldn't mind trying takeovers . . . and I play with the AI all the time when I'm bored . . . so I don't know why I haven't at least tried them!) We're a little weird though. The cards themselves all look like they will be very fun, though!
 
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Serge Levert
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Syvanis wrote:
I personally don't use them with Race because the individual card worth is so low. I would just buy a new set since it would be cheaper than sleeves.

That's an interesting point i hadn't considered. I wonder if it's true tho, for ppl like me that play the game a lot, and on unclean surfaces. At say 15$ for 300 good Ultrapro sleeves, i wonder what the breakeven point is for whether sleeves save or cost money, vs replacing the entire game+expansions every X plays?

Is there a consensus on how many plays the race cards last before you can start differentiating wear types? 500? 1000? I.e. oft-played vs rarely played wear (e.g. Smuggling Lair vs Research Labs). I have no idea since i always use sleeves, so i could use some input from the hardcore players that don't use sleeves.

I think this problem is likely much larger for the phase cards, since they get handled constantly. When you can tell what phase someone picked because Consume Trade gets worn out way faster than Explore+5, that's a major problem. Perhaps a middling ground would be to sleeve just those.
 
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RDewsbery wrote:
Has it boldly gone too far, or is it simply a third kind of close encounter that I haven't grasped yet?

I'm a huge fan of Race, and grabbed a copy of Brink as soon as I saw it. But my first two games with the expansion have so far failed to excite.
Still waiting for the expansion in the US


RDewsbery wrote:
Firstly there's yet another thing to keep track of - prestige. Like takeovers and goals, it forces players to consider another form of interaction and a resource to track, with the payoff being more depth. Possibly. I just got a headache.
Well, there's where things part ways. It's interesting that goals and takeovers are optional (well, regardless of what the rules say, they are quite modular). Prestige OTOH, it seems like there's no way to turn them off. Like saying "we're playing a game without consume nor VP chips". Prestige seems to be firmly rooted into the 3rd expansions.


RDewsbery wrote:
Secondly the deck is now *huge*. I could just about shuffle it after the second expansion, but it's now bordering on the impossible. Fingers crossed that it starts to grow on me soon, but right now I'm struggling to see it as much of an improvement, or even just "more of a good thing".
Well, I couldn't shuffle the base game cards alone anyways. WIth all of these cards, I truly will just divvy up the cards into 2 or 3 different decks and switch off for shuffling.
 
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entranced wrote:
Syvanis wrote:
I personally don't use them with Race because the individual card worth is so low. I would just buy a new set since it would be cheaper than sleeves.

That's an interesting point i hadn't considered. I wonder if it's true tho, for ppl like me that play the game a lot, and on unclean surfaces. At say 15$ for 300 good Ultrapro sleeves, i wonder what the breakeven point is for whether sleeves save or cost money, vs replacing the entire game+expansions every X plays?

Is there a consensus on how many plays the race cards last before you can start differentiating wear types? 500? 1000? I.e. oft-played vs rarely played wear (e.g. Smuggling Lair vs Research Labs). I have no idea since i always use sleeves, so i could use some input from the hardcore players that don't use sleeves.

I think this problem is likely much larger for the phase cards, since they get handled constantly. When you can tell what phase someone picked because Consume Trade gets worn out way faster than Explore+5, that's a major problem. Perhaps a middling ground would be to sleeve just those.
Similar issue cropped up with Dominion. Depends on how quick cards get worn. If you have to buy a 3rd copy, then you're already in the hole.
 
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David desJardins
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ackmondual wrote:
Depends on how quick cards get worn. If you have to buy a 3rd copy, then you're already in the hole.


If I spend 2 hours sleeving all those cards (as I did), I'm $400 or so in the hole. Just sayin'.
 
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QBert80 wrote:
Edit: By the way, I love how Race makes seemingly mundane things sound awesome by adding "Galactic" or "Interstellar" or "Space" in front of them!


Space No. It is Pan-Galactic Childish.
 
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