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Subject: Why is this game frustrating me so? rss

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Justin Wertz
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It's not the icons,as I picked them pretty fast (actually thought they were fairly straightforward).
It's not the mechanics of gameplay, since the videos and player aids on BGG have helped me get the flow of the game down.
It's not lack of play, as I've been over and around the AI games many, many times.

So, why do I still feel like I'm adrift in this game? I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. I have a bunch of worlds out in front of me, and I'm producing/consuming, and, yet the AI opponents have 2 or 3 worlds out and are running rings around me.

If I spend time trying to get cards to pay for things, I get way behind. If I try to get the jump and start settling/producing, I run out of cards. If I wait to set up combos, again, I end up woefully behind.

Can anyone share what they did to suddenly make this game click? I really want to love it, but I'm beyond frustrated at this point.
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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There is no one strategy or activity that will work in every game of Race.

The entirety of the game is figuring out how to get the different paths [produce / consume, military buildup, development dump, etc] working well [what parts are needed] and then to choose the path that best works with what you're given to work with. More than likely you are doing the wrong things at the wrong times.

If you start the game and say "I'm going to try X this time", you'll lose.
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Jack Francisco
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I totally sympathize with anyone struggling with Race as I struggled for a long time. For me, the big turnaround came when I learned the value of having cards in hand to make things happen. Also, learning combos was a big trick too.
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Chris Berger
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The AI is really good. After a few hundred plays, you should get the hang of it.
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Mike Forrey
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From what it sounds like you are going into each game with a pre-conceived notion of what you are going to do. This is a huge mistake and not what RFTG is about. the game is about adapting and making the best possible choice you can with each evolving turn of the game.

Even if you take a military world to start you have a good chance of being a production setup by games end and vice versa.
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rain
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The most difficult thing for new players is understanding how and why to set up a consume/produce engine. But it sounds like you are probably past that point. So I have two general pieces of advice

1) Play your hand. There's no point in Race in pushing for an engine when all you are drawing are cards for a big military tableau. Every single card in the game is playable (although some more than most), so look at what tools you have been given and play to their strengths.

2) Build resources first, and points later. Generally speaking, you should spend the first half of the game playing cards that will increase your resources: cards, military power, discounts, production worlds, consumption powers. Then the second half of the game should be spent that will increase your score: large worlds, 6? developments, and consuming for x2 VP. You can also play early game cards that get extra VP based on your 6? devs, etc. Of course there is some overlap since a 6? may help out enough early on to warrant playing it early (Galactic Federation, or Universal Peace Institute, for example), or you may need to do something to refill your hand later on, like trading a yellow good. But as a general rule, fill up the first half of your tableau with cards that give you resources, and the second half with VP (or spend that time x2 consuming).

These may sound obvious, but I see newer players make fatal mistakes all the time. Things like playing New Economy too early: it is worth a ton of points usually, but the +1 card during IV is not enough to pay back the cost of putting it into play (usually). Oh, and one more piece of advice, and probably the most important:

3) Read your opponents. Race seems like multiplayer solitaire at first, but it is intensely interactive. If you can predict what phases will play, you can skip calling those and still benefit from them. The classic example of this is calling Trade when you know your opponent will call Settle. That way, you can play a windfall world from your hand and trade the good on it in the same time. Conversely, if you can perceive which phases will benefit your opponent, you can avoid helping them too much by not calling those phases. So for example, don't call Explore when there is a Research Labs in your opponent's tableau.

There are exceptions to all of these suggestions, but that's one of the things that makes Race so engaging: the best move is often very hard to find
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Brian McCormick
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bearn wrote:
From what it sounds like you are going into each game with a pre-conceived notion of what you are going to do. This is a huge mistake and not what RFTG is about. the game is about adapting and making the best possible choice you can with each evolving turn of the

This.

Also, keep in mind that the game ends when someone fills their tableau OR when the VP chips run out. That's important to know. Most people approach the game aiming to get their 12 cards on the table and then hopefully pick up some VP chips here and there along the way. I have ended the game via VP chips with just a handful of cards in my tableau. Remember, it's a "Race". It's not about getting a ton of points. It's simply about having the most points when the game ends. Again, that's important to know.

Also, you're playing against the AI. The AI kicks my butt about 50% of the time, even though I've played 100s of times (granted, the vast majority of those were against people, not the AI).
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Scott Heise
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When I play to win, I focus less on trying to find a specific stragety to win and more on trying to get the most out useful benefit from each turn... for example, by predicting what phases your opponents will select (thus freeing you to choose a different phase) and by selecting phases will give little/no benefit to your opponent. In this way, you can maximize the potential of each turn for yourself. When I was first learning to play, I found that I had more success with this approach than focusing on trying to find the best way to utilize your cards (of course, combining BOTH optimal phase selection and usage of your cards is the ultimate goal...)
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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I agree with some of the comments above. The AI is stronger than most humans. If you can play even with it (e.g., win 25% of your 4-player games), you're a pretty good player.
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Tim Jesurun
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I do not know what is causing you difficulty, but I'll give it a guess. rftg rewards players whose tableau is efficiency and focused and who can piggyback on or predict their opponent's phase choices. My guess is that your tableau has a bit of several strategies and is therefore unfocused. As you know, points come from three places in the game: developments, planets, and consumption. The best tableau focuses on one of these and considers the other ones as bonus points. Consumption is a pretty straightforward route to points: balance your number of production worlds with consumption abilities. Maximizing planet points usually requires a military strategy (the 7 point planet is a military planet). Developments can be an end in themselves, but the most rewarding ones, the 6-cost developments, usually reward you for having specific cards in your tableau, so you need to play to the ones you have built or will build. If you haven't yet, sit down and look through the 6-cost development cards (their listed on the back of the rules book). This should give you an idea of strategies that can be rewarded by drawing and playing one of the 6-cost cards.

Another thing you might do is pay attention to what the AI is doing. I know when I play against the AI I tend not to pay very good attention to what the other "players" are doing, but watching them might help you see their strategies.

If you think my guess at what your struggling with is on the right track I can provide some more depth about strategies, keeping your tableau focused, and maximizing other player's phase choices.
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Larry Haskell
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Piper gives excellent advice with "play your hand" and I would add "not your start world". Many new players fall victim to the "start world fallacy". Just because New Sparta begins with +2 Military doesn't mean chasing the big military worlds is your best option -- look at each hand in each round and see what useful play you can make. Try to take advantage of as many phases that are presented each round. I struggled with Race until I realized the importance of tempo.

A suggestion I would make for your next few games: if an opponent calls a build phase (ie Settle or Develop) try to get something into your tableau, even if it isn't obviously helpful. Don't deplete your hand, especially if you are trying to save for a particularly juicy 6-drop, but evaluate your hand and choose a card. Don't look for the perfect card, look for the best card you currently have. If you start doing this, you will begin to find unexpected combos which will help you uncover the hybrid strategies that can really improve your win chances.

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Serge Levert
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Eric Brosius wrote:
The AI is stronger than most humans.

I think the issue at hand is this. According to rftgstats, the AI with the largest sample size is in the top 1% of players! 106th out of 11470 as of this writing.

You're likely a lot better at the game than you feel like you are. You want less frustration? Stop playing against the absolutely killer AI and start playing against humans. :)

Edit: whoa, check out how often it picks Imperium Warlord or Separatist Colony in 2p. Hahaha.
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Justin Wertz
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Wow! So many good things to consider. I agree that I'm probably not focused enough on what is in my hand. I'm also guilty, as a PP mentioned, of falling into the idea that my starting world should build my tableau.

I'm going to have to slow down and really take the time to examine what the AI is doing, as well as seeing what, in my hand, is really going to work.

Thanks to everyone who has posted, as it has given me a lot to consider. I was really excited to get this game, and it really seems to be a quality game, so I want to make it work!
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weezknight wrote:
It's not the icons,as I picked them pretty fast (actually thought they were fairly straightforward).
It's not the mechanics of gameplay, since the videos and player aids on BGG have helped me get the flow of the game down.
It's not lack of play, as I've been over and around the AI games many, many times.

So, why do I still feel like I'm adrift in this game? I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. I have a bunch of worlds out in front of me, and I'm producing/consuming, and, yet the AI opponents have 2 or 3 worlds out and are running rings around me.
You're at the mercy of card draws. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still lose.

That said, Keldon's AI is pretty good.

weezknight wrote:
If I spend time trying to get cards to pay for things, I get way behind. If I try to get the jump and start settling/producing, I run out of cards. If I wait to set up combos, again, I end up woefully behind.
If you're calling I+1 x3 in a row to try to build a 6-cost card, then that may be costing you too much time, and you should just cut your loses and use that expensive card as wealth instead. There is merit to holding on to a very good 6-cost dev, but you need to plan around that by building cheaper things and getting card draw so u can get to that point.

When u III or V, hopefully it's to get cards. So a III costs you some cards, but trading$ the good that comes from there may pay for itself, and then some if V gets called again, or enough to build more worlds.

Look at the player who's in the lead with tableau cards. If he has 7 cards on tableau and a full hand of cards, you'll have anywhere from 3 to 5 rounds to get what u needed. If you have 5 different things you want to pay for, cut your losses, as you won't have the time to do it all, let alone the wealth to pay for it. If you're setting up produce/consume combos, remember it's a 2-step process, so you'll have even less time for that.

weezknight wrote:
Can anyone share what they did to suddenly make this game click? I really want to love it, but I'm beyond frustrated at this point.
 
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Eduard Navratil
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Quote:
Can anyone share what they did to suddenly make this game click?

Play it face to face - getting beaten by a real person in front of you always feels better, no matter how good the AI is... not to mention the joy of defeating your opponent devil
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Justin Wertz
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Again, thanks to everyone here for their suggestions.

The first thing I tried to do was to really start playing my hand. On the first 1 or 2 turns I just ignored my starting world and focused on what I had. This immediately started paying dividends as I really closed the gap in a 3-player game with the AI (still lost, though). I then dropped down to a 2-player match, and I ended up winning my first match, by a large margin, too. Next match I lost, but it was only by 2 or 3 points.

I honestly believe the "play your hand" not your "starting world" is the most important thing. I asked about the moment that "clicked" for a lot of you, and I think this single piece of advice is going to be that particular moment for me.

Looking forward to starting to grow from this point! Thanks to all who posted, you just saved this game from disappearing from my collection!
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Josh Powell
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Congratulations on your first win!!

Beating that AI really is a triumph, and I hope you stick with it.
 
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Larry Haskell
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weezknight wrote:
Again, thanks to everyone here for their suggestions.

The first thing I tried to do was to really start playing my hand. On the first 1 or 2 turns I just ignored my starting world and focused on what I had. This immediately started paying dividends as I really closed the gap in a 3-player game with the AI (still lost, though). I then dropped down to a 2-player match, and I ended up winning my first match, by a large margin, too. Next match I lost, but it was only by 2 or 3 points.

I honestly believe the "play your hand" not your "starting world" is the most important thing. I asked about the moment that "clicked" for a lot of you, and I think this single piece of advice is going to be that particular moment for me.

Looking forward to starting to grow from this point! Thanks to all who posted, you just saved this game from disappearing from my collection!


Wait until you shock your opponents by winning with a Produce/Consume engine built around New Sparta, Former Penal Colony, Pirate World and Free Trade League. Free Market Pirates for the win!

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Matt N

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I'm late to the party, but:

weezknight wrote:
If I spend time trying to get cards to pay for things, I get way behind.


Behind can mean a lot of things, but it's okay to be one or two cards behind while you get lots of cards. It's great to have your opponent overextend themselves, so you can pick phases with a full hand while they try to scrape by with a one card hand.

However, getting cards should mainly consist of trading, as opposed to exploring. Exploring two turns in a row may get you more cards than trading a brown good, but your opponents will leech and generally wreck you.

weezknight wrote:
If I try to get the jump and start settling/producing, I run out of cards.


You don't need to rush all of your production worlds out at once. You only need enough of an advantage in the produce phase to justify produce/trading early on. Frequently, you can make your opponents settle for you or let you fill up your hand with cards. If they are stubborn types that will not build for you when you produce/trade, just fill your hand while they mess around with exploring and then get out those worlds.

Naturally, you'll have a lot more trouble with opponents who mix up their play and sometimes build; that's just higher-level strategy.

weezknight wrote:
If I wait to set up combos, again, I end up woefully behind.


A combo that doesn't produce cards isn't worth much early. Contact specialist + colony ship + rebel homeworld is not some great combo worth saving. In that case, with complete junk in your hand plus those three cards, I'd probably explore and play the contact specialist, hoping to find a useful military world.

Remember that you don't have to execute a strategy all at once. Do what's best for you each turn; if you can make it look like some over-arching plan later, so much the better.
 
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Morgan Bourke
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I used to get owned at this game but now can smash the AI by 20 points on average.

Key to victory is look at every card you draw as if it can win you the game and then make it work for you. Secondly, always look at what your opponents position is and then try to do the opposite to what would help them out e.g they need to trade/consume so you produce.

Slap down an early windfall world as fast as you can then only play production worlds. I tend to go for one or two Alien or Gene worlds then work towards maintaining an advantage in handsize due to the superior card draw. Do not bother setting up combos in race unless you have two of the cards in hand and can tell that another will hit the table soon.

Once you get the chrome coming in (thanks to a solid production base) start milling the deck to find a VP chip provider and milk that baby for all she is worth (Hint: Galactic Trendsetter FTW!)
 
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