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Subject: After thousands of plays, this game still surprises rss

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Ben Turner
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I'm a long-time lurker and very occasional poster here at BGG. Today I had such an interesting Race for the Galaxy game that I had to come write about it. I think it really exemplifies what makes Race so great.

It's a cliche among certain sportscasters to say that even though baseball has been going on for over one hundred years, in any given game you can see something you've never seen before. Well, I think the same principle applies to Race. The game in question was my 1,110th play on BoardGameArena (plus who knows how many more plays using Keldon's AI and with my physical copy), and yet a situation came up that I don't recall ever seeing before!

(Here is a link to the archive, should anyone want to replay it in full.)

This was using the base game only. I began with New Sparta. On the sixth turn, my tableau included Space Marines, two blue military windfalls, Malevolent Lifeforms (that's the green military production world), a brown production world, and Diversified Economy (the powerhouse development which consumes exactly 3 goods of exactly 3 different kinds, and draws cards in phase V based on how many kinds are produced). My opponent, meanwhile, had a couple production worlds of his own and enough standard consume powers to match them. All worlds were fully loaded with goods (I had called Produce on the previous turn), and there were 12 VP chips left in the pool.

I called $/x2, planning to sell one of my blue goods and consume the other three (one blue, one brown, one green) on Diversified Economy. My opponent called III/x2. On the settle phase, he threw down the largest possible windfall world (Deserted Alien Library), giving him 5 points for the world and another good to consume. I analysed the situation and determined that at the end of the round, all the VPs would be exhausted (triggering the game end) and I would lose by one point.

I had one way out of this fate, though. I sold my GREEN good, not my blue as planned. Now I was left with two blue goods and one brown, and nowhere to consume them! Instead of taking 6VPs out of the pool, I didn't take any. Not ideal, but it meant that the game would continue after all. This moment was the big surprise for me--I had never been in a situation where I:

a) Had multiple goods in play with a way to consume them all for both lots of cards and big points;
b) Knew for sure that even if I consumed those goods, I would lose; and
c) Had a way to avoid consuming the goods, despite it being so late in the game and having 7-8 cards in my tableau.

As it happened, the game went on for two more turns, during which I was able to put down Free Trade Association, Pan-Galactic League, and two more windfall worlds. It was all for naught, though, as in the end I ended up losing by one point--the exact same endpoint that I would have ended up in had I made the conventional play earlier! All I could do was congratulate my opponent, laugh at the funny way things work out sometimes, and feel once more a renewed appreciation for this masterpiece of a game.
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Jonathan C
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fireblargg wrote:
I'm a long-time lurker and very occasional poster here at BGG. Today I had such an interesting Race for the Galaxy game that I had to come write about it. I think it really exemplifies what makes Race so great.

It's a cliche among certain sportscasters to say that even though baseball has been going on for over one hundred years, in any given game you can see something you've never seen before. Well, I think the same principle applies to Race. The game in question was my 1,110th play on BoardGameArena (plus who knows how many more plays using Keldon's AI and with my physical copy), and yet a situation came up that I don't recall ever seeing before!

(Here is a link to the archive, should anyone want to replay it in full.)

This was using the base game only. I began with New Sparta. On the sixth turn, my tableau included Space Marines, two blue military windfalls, Malevolent Lifeforms (that's the green military production world), a brown production world, and Diversified Economy (the powerhouse development which consumes exactly 3 goods of exactly 3 different kinds, and draws cards in phase V based on how many kinds are produced). My opponent, meanwhile, had a couple production worlds of his own and enough standard consume powers to match them. All worlds were fully loaded with goods (I had called Produce on the previous turn), and there were 12 VP chips left in the pool.

I called $/x2, planning to sell one of my blue goods and consume the other three (one blue, one brown, one green) on Diversified Economy. My opponent called III/x2. On the settle phase, he threw down the largest possible windfall world (Deserted Alien Library), giving him 5 points for the world and another good to consume. I analysed the situation and determined that at the end of the round, all the VPs would be exhausted (triggering the game end) and I would lose by one point.

I had one way out of this fate, though. I sold my GREEN good, not my blue as planned. Now I was left with two blue goods and one brown, and nowhere to consume them! Instead of taking 6VPs out of the pool, I didn't take any. Not ideal, but it meant that the game would continue after all. This moment was the big surprise for me--I had never been in a situation where I:

a) Had multiple goods in play with a way to consume them all for both lots of cards and big points;
b) Knew for sure that even if I consumed those goods, I would lose; and
c) Had a way to avoid consuming the goods, despite it being so late in the game and having 7-8 cards in my tableau.

As it happened, the game went on for two more turns, during which I was able to put down Free Trade Association, Pan-Galactic League, and two more windfall worlds. It was all for naught, though, as in the end I ended up losing by one point--the exact same endpoint that I would have ended up in had I made the conventional play earlier! All I could do was congratulate my opponent, laugh at the funny way things work out sometimes, and feel once more a renewed appreciation for this masterpiece of a game.


Great story!
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Serge Levert
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Yeah this kind of things comes up once in a blue moon. Creative ways of not ending the game when you are guaranteed to lose are always interesting. All the more when you actually manage to win.
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Jack Francisco
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It's usually been my experience that ending the game works out better for me than prolonging it another turn. This, of course, is an obvious exception. For a game that I was afraid to approach initially, Race has moved into my top 10.
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Matt N

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These cases cause me all sorts of grief when I'm on the other end, trying to figure out if A) the person wants to not end the game and B) if they know how to manipulate the consume phase accordingly. Breaking diversified economy is a more common case, but there are also all sorts of multiple good powers, use of a card-generating consume power, use of deficit spending, or even just playing $ instead of 2x.

I try to compensate for this problem by winning by more. That does not always work out.
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Jack Francisco
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And just as I say it, not ending a game yesterday ($ instead of x2) allowed me to get the 6-cost dev out to win.
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