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Subject: I *really* want to like this game... rss

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Reuben
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I've done everything from reading the manual a bunch of times to reading strategy guides and forums, and I just can't seem to "get" RftG. The thing is, I really want to, and the more I try, the more frustrated I become.

I've played about 20 games so far, and I understand how everything works and optimal strategies, but I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)

What am I missing? I'm disappointed because I know my girlfriend wanted to get into this, but I don't think I can effectively teach her without letting her in on my frustration.

Is Eminent Domain or Core Worlds any easier? We're looking for an enjoyable, 15-20 minute space-themed card game for two (we tend to play games really fast, so it might be 20-30 minutes for others).
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Paul DeStefano
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Don't let what other people tell you is good convince you for YOU.

Play what you like.
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Matthew S.
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I can't speak to ED or CW as I haven't played them.

I originally shared the impression that there is a lot of luck in RFTG. My impression has changed somewhat after a playing many games with the Keldon AI program. Initially, I was winning no more than five percent of the time in games with two computer opponents. There is no way I'm that unlucky. Now I'm up to winning about twenty percent of the time against the AI players. Long story short, it can take a lot of games before you realize just how much skill is required to play.
 
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Flying Arrow
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Ditto Geosphere above: if you don't like it, don't worry about it.

That being said, I find a lot of the strategy in Race to be related to flexibility... you might have a strategy you're starting on but you start drawing something else. At what point do you punt your original strategy and try something else if the card draws aren't coming? It's a card game - there's definitely luck involved - but that's true for any card game.

I liked Eminent Domain just as much as Race, but it seemed to play longer than Race. That may be just because I only played it once, but in Race there's room for a lot more simultaneous play, whereas in Eminent Domain you need to play more sequentially, which slows things down.
 
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*Play vs the AI http://keldon.net/rftg/
*Set it to 2 player advanced, no expansions
*Your default strategy should be to build a produce-consume engine, unless you are New Sparta (even then Con-Prod may be better than military).
*Start 'x2'ing when you can get 6VP per turn
*Remember to trade a lot to keep your hand size up (without cards you stall and quickly lose)
*Call produce to restock your trade good (you have a trade good, right? - a common mistake is to spend your early cards on stuff like developments and grey worlds that don't give you any trade income)
 
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In a micro-sense, from game-to-game it will *seem* like luck dominates RftG. That's just the way our brains are wired, we notice big events, even if they are in actuality meaningless.

RftG is about managing luck. Experts will win 80-90% of 2p games against newer players. That says 2 things, that there is a ton of skill (85% is a lot of wins), but that there is a ton of luck (1/6 is a lot for a new player to beat someone who is massively superior - this ain't Chess).

There is a lot of luck (variance) in the game, but skill far far outweighs luck. Every micro decision that you do better than your opponent, on average will give you good long term results. Even if from moment to moment you only notice that you e.g. just lost to a "lucky" 6 dev.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Part of the frustration may be you are percieving it too much as luck and failing to see the various strategies that can come into play. But thats not uncommon a view so dont give up just yet.

As others have pointed out. One of the keys to this game is to be as flexible as possible in your strategy. *NEVER* focus on one style as allmost invariably cards will come up that show better options along some other route. Being able to adapt to these shifts helps along way in the game.
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Eric Brosius
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As mentioned, there is a ton of luck in the game, but there's also a ton of skill. Amazingly, Robert Renaud won the WBC tournament three years in a row---a stunning display of dominance (though Aaron Fuegi won it in 2011):

http://www.boardgamers.org/yearbook11/rfgpge.htm

I agree that a key skill is looking at your position and envisioning ways in which your play could benefit from a variety of different possible futures---perhaps benefiting in different ways depending on the circumstances (e.g., card draws and opponents' decisions.) The best players find a way to do well in many different potential future circumstances.
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hypostatic wrote:
I've done everything from reading the manual a bunch of times to reading strategy guides and forums, and I just can't seem to "get" RftG. The thing is, I really want to, and the more I try, the more frustrated I become.

I've played about 20 games so far, and I understand how everything works and optimal strategies, but I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)

What am I missing? I'm disappointed because I know my girlfriend wanted to get into this, but I don't think I can effectively teach her without letting her in on my frustration.

Is Eminent Domain or Core Worlds any easier? We're looking for an enjoyable, 15-20 minute space-themed card game for two (we tend to play games really fast, so it might be 20-30 minutes for others).


Try playing the game at least 5 to 20 times (if you haven't already). Trust me, it is one of those types of games. In the end, if u STILL don't like it, I'd say cut your losses there, but when a significant other is involved, it's not that simple.

One thing is, get over the luck aspect and just accept that some games, you can do everything right and still lose. At least it only lasts 30min to 1 hr as opposed to 2 to 4 hours like some economy and auction games. Speaking of which, I generally avoid those 2 genres as I tend to be horrible at them, but I play them strictly for fun and not expecting to get anything beyond last place, let alone win.

I've only played CW and ED once, but from my limited experiences with them, I'd say you're still saddled with luck.

CW also has alot of counting and math. You're figuring out if you want to discard a card for extra energy or not, or discard cards to activate other special powers (in base RftG, Deficit Spending is a similar card which you can discard cards from hand to earn VP). Then you have cards that sync and synergize with other cards u need to keep track of such as bonuses to space forces if you have some special type of ship (in Race, the bonuses work for certain phases, and even specific types of cards for that phase).

ED you're also spending time how to pay for stuff, or just try another approach in-game. Both games, like Race, you may find yourself doing one thing over another, and analyzing things (e.g. building this card is risky, but gets me 8pts, or this gets me 7 to 12pts while that gets me 9pts)
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I've played Race for the Galaxy for a little over 120 times now and there are only a few games I where would say that luck made any difference. So, my advice is to keep it up.
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Chris Linneman
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ackmondual wrote:
hypostatic wrote:
I've done everything from reading the manual a bunch of times to reading strategy guides and forums, and I just can't seem to "get" RftG. The thing is, I really want to, and the more I try, the more frustrated I become.

I've played about 20 games so far, and I understand how everything works and optimal strategies, but I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)

What am I missing? I'm disappointed because I know my girlfriend wanted to get into this, but I don't think I can effectively teach her without letting her in on my frustration.

Is Eminent Domain or Core Worlds any easier? We're looking for an enjoyable, 15-20 minute space-themed card game for two (we tend to play games really fast, so it might be 20-30 minutes for others).


Try playing the game at least 5 to 20 times (if you haven't already).


Note that in the text you quoted, the OP states that he has played 20 times.
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paulclarke339 wrote:
*Play vs the AI http://keldon.net/rftg/
*Your default strategy should be to build a produce-consume engine, unless you are New Sparta (even then Con-Prod may be better than military).


That (even then) part is very important. It is important to play your HAND not your starting world.
It is no good to try to suit your starting world if that means to explore 3 rounds in a row just to find something that fits. Even more if you have good cards that match each other in your hand although they don't have anything to do with your starting world.

Second thing that is very important: Get a steady card flow!
Managing luck means: Seeing more cards than your opponent.

This results in two things:
1. the cahnce of getting cards that fit your strategy increases
2. you will have enough cards so you are not forced to discard usefull cards

If your opponent seems to always have the cards that he/she needs including a 6dev is not always a sign of luck but probably that he/she mannaged to draw more cards than you.

Hope you will enjoy this game because it really is great. If not, put it down. This should be fun.
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Tim Li
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Paris Hilton could provide advice, "...the funny thing is, the starting homeworld leads you to a certain direction. But the most important thing is your starting hand."

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/301459/paris-hilton-does-the...
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Eric Bridge
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I've only had the game for 3 weeks now, but I am able to defeat my wife every time and she is starting to get annoyed. Here is what I have observed, and don't know if it helps or not.

1) Cards are king (duh). Anything that gets you extra cards or makes you pay less cards should be highly valued in the early game.

2) Don't waste time doing something that your opponent is about to do for you. THIS is how I win against my wife so consistently. I can tell rather regularly what option she is about to choose, primarily by looking at what she last chose. Thus, if I want to settle a world, and the bonus is not needful to me, I can let her choose Settle so that maybe I can produce on that world in the same turn, or maybe even consume/trade if it is a windfall world.

3) Don't think that Explore + 5 is stupid. In my first games I figured there was not much difference in looking at 3 cards versus 7 cards, and that keeping 2 of 3 was much better than 1 of 7. Now, unless I feel that my opponent is about to pick Settle and I need an extra card, I rarely do the 3/2 Explore anymore. Being able to cherrypick from 7 different cards is often so much better than just looking at 3, and greatly reduces the "luck factor" that has been complained about.

But having said all of this, if you don't like the game after 20 plays, I feel you have given it MORE than a fair chance. This is just not a game that you are going to like, but I encourage you to give your significant other a chance to try it and see if they like it.
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Matt N

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hypostatic wrote:
I've played about 20 games so far, and I understand how everything works and optimal strategies, but I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)


I would tend to doubt that you know optimal strategies if you rely on lucky six costs. Race is not a game of picking a strategy up front and expecting to draw the right cards; it's a game of adapting and playing with what you have, with a vague strategy or strategies in mind (sorta like Agricola). If you start with New Sparta and automatically expect to play Rebel Homeworld or New Galactic Order, or start with Earth's lost colony and expect to pick up 20 chips, you are forcing strategies and will be disappointed by the luck factor in the game.

Put another way: You will frequently have some military and a windfall that trades for 3+ cards, or possibly one or two production worlds after the first few turns. That sort of start can still turn into any strategy in the game; the key is to figure out which one is best as a function of your cards, your hand, your tableau, and what your opponent(s) are playing.


There's plenty of luck, but there's plenty of skill too. If the sort of game I described isn't to your liking, then you are probably better off elsewhere.

Eminent Domain is good not great as far as I'm concerned, but it does not have the explicit luck factor of drawing lucky cards to the same extent (except for the first planet you survey, which can play a really big role in what strategies will work well). You still have the issue of what card combinations you draw, but it is a more strategic game and less tactical game than Race. It may well be more to your liking.
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Randall Bart
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hypostatic wrote:
I've played about 20 games so far

If you have played 20 times and still don't like it, you should have quit after 10.
 
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Right.. CW and ED are dbg (deck building games), so that of course is different right there.

QBert80 wrote:
ackmondual wrote:
hypostatic wrote:
I've done everything from reading the manual a bunch of times to reading strategy guides and forums, and I just can't seem to "get" RftG. The thing is, I really want to, and the more I try, the more frustrated I become.

I've played about 20 games so far, and I understand how everything works and optimal strategies, but I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)

What am I missing? I'm disappointed because I know my girlfriend wanted to get into this, but I don't think I can effectively teach her without letting her in on my frustration.

Is Eminent Domain or Core Worlds any easier? We're looking for an enjoyable, 15-20 minute space-themed card game for two (we tend to play games really fast, so it might be 20-30 minutes for others).


Try playing the game at least 5 to 20 times (if you haven't already).


Note that in the text you quoted, the OP states that he has played 20 times.


I spend a good amt of time answering people's questions and stuff, so I think I can get some slack every now and then


Barticus88 wrote:
hypostatic wrote:
I've played about 20 games so far

If you have played 20 times and still don't like it, you should have quit after 10.
"girlfriend factor".....
 
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ackmondual wrote:
QBert80 wrote:
Note that in the text you quoted, the OP states that he has played 20 times.

I spend a good amt of time answering people's questions and stuff, so I think I can get some slack every now and then :p
Barticus88 wrote:
hypostatic wrote:
I've played about 20 games so far

If you have played 20 times and still don't like it, you should have quit after 10.
"girlfriend factor".....

Note that in the text you quoted, the OP states that he has yet to teach his girlfriend. Haha, couldn't resist! :o)
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There is luck in what cards you draw, but it's what you do with those cards that is much more important than what cards you drew.
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hypostatic wrote:
I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)


Actually, this is much more of a feature problem in San Juan.

The 6-Devs are pretty well balanced unless you hyperpolarize your tableau up front and hope to get lucky. I also will often toss a 6-Dev as cash early on in the game unless my startworld and opening hand cry out for it AND I have abundant cardflow to make up for the dead weight.
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If you do not enjoy the mechanics of the game do not play it, if you do, but the 'luck' thing is getting you down, keep with it I promise this will pass.


Step 1. Play against Keldon's ai, (I prefer 3 player games, but others may disagree.)

Reason being, Keldon's ai is by defintion scripted, not playing 'randomly' like your equally green friends may be.

Step 2. Lose to Keldon's ai.

Reason It is scripted to take optimal advantage of the vast majority of cards it gets, you have not developed the situational memory comparable to this scripting yet.It will beat you, repeatedly. This will disprove the influence of luck in general (sometimes there is a little too much luck in a race game, though that is a rare thing.)

Step 3. Having cast aside the 'luck' worry you can now wonder 'WHY THE HECK DOES KELDON'S AI ALWAYS BEAT ME?????????'

Reason: Now we can begin to build up the extensive card knowledge required to play race at a high level.

Step 4. Watch what the AI does and copy it

Reason: Keldon has scripted it to be good, so you can learn how to deal with a lot of situations just by copying what it does.

Step 5. Beat the AI.

Reason: its only a voluntarily scripted ai, it can't adapt on the fly like you can, once you know everything it does and add a little bit more based on the human learning process you should win relatively regularly.

Step 6:Buy the expansions.

Reason: because the brink of war is so insanely well balanced it is a joy to see what strategies you can win with.
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Jade Youngblood
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I love this game!
 
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hypostatic wrote:
I've played about 20 games so far, and I understand how everything works and optimal strategies, but I can't wrap my head around what I feel is an extremely high luck factor (e.g. 6-cost cards depend on how lucky your draws have been up to that point)


There is an extremely high luck factor. It used to bother and frustrate me, but the game is short enough that once you accept it, it is all right.

Skilled players still win more often than not so it isn't pure luck; the game still has strategy. But luck is a big enough part of it that it is completely possible for someone who has never played before to win be a large margin if they get lucky with their draws and the opponent gets unlucky.

The frustration for me ended when I gave up trying to focus on all the missed possibilities that the high luck factor frequently destroys (draws that give you cards that just utterly fail to synergize in any useful way), and instead focused just on points-accumulated-per round.

One way to reduce the luck factor is to rush the game to its end by filling up your tableau quickly if you aren't the one on the front end of the luck curve. Decreases the time your opponents have to capitalize on their good luck.

 
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Jeff Chamberlain
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Also, as someone else said: playing this game effectively is about doing the best you can with what the draw gives you. It is not about holding some expensive card in reserve that you can't afford to play now in the hope that you will be able to play it later. Certainly, hold those cards if the other cards you are dumping to pay for something are less valuable, but in most every game when the time comes where you need discard that expensive card to pay for something else, it is often the best play to spend it rather than save it for later.

If the game ends, and you lose and you are sitting there with cards in your hand that you were hoping to play but never got a chance to play because they were too expensive to afford with your tableau, then it wouldn't be correct to say you got unlucky. The more correct statement is you likely made a strategic error in choosing to hold on to those cards for as long as you did.
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