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Subject: Galactic Orders is a must have! rss

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Evan Champie
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Eureka
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I was already a Core Worlds junkie. Ever since the rulebook hinted at the first expansion, we've been waiting. And the wait was not in vain!

So what do you get: six huge cardboard order tiles, representing the titular galactic orders. A new starting deck, which, despite not taking the game to 6 players (a good thing in my opinion), allows you to play 5 players without seeing the same heroes every game. Tokens for all of the starting decks. New cards for every sector deck, 0 through 5. And finally the box itself, with a well planned insert and card dividers, which is a huge improvement over the base game.

The main meat of the additions are the galactic orders. Every time you deploy a unit or tactic, you also get one of your tokens on it's factions card. When the game ends, the player with the most tokens on each faction card scores 1 point for each token, and second place scores half value of their tokens. This can be huge, as a deck tightly focused on one faction can get 10 or more tokens over the course of the game, equal or greater in value than a core world invasion.

However, you can instead discard the tokens on your turn for a variety of strong effects. After many games of the base set, we realized the importance of managing the precious few actions you get per round. But the Senate gives you another action for a token discard, essentially making Senate units action-free to play as they come with an immediate refund. The Mystic Brotherhood lets you draw 3 cards per token. In a game with a thin deck, you can draw the whole thing on any crucial turn. All of the token abilities are amazingly strong, and this creates a lot of good gameplay as you struggle between banking for a high score or taking these huge effects during the game.

New cards are added to all 6 sector decks, many of them focusing on the faction tokens themselves. Many "themes" like robots, vehicles, and heroes have been brought into the game at earlier levels, encouraging more diverse strategies and strengthening some lackluster core worlds. They also help each order faction feel different in it's strengths and weaknesses.

The new Event cards are a nice touch. If you draw one as you reveal new cards every turn, you set it aside. Afterwards, the last event drawn triggers. In the early game, these are generally beneficial. Around the middle, they become choices or bonuses for sale. And finally in the ending sectors, the become penalties or outright attacks against the players. They are simple to understand, add a lot to the theme of the game, and add no setup time. We love them!

Finally there is a small but not so small addition of Capital Cities. These are placed next to your home world. Each turn, if you have 3 or more worlds in play, you can place any card in your hand under it, exactly the same as garrisoning a world. This encourages you to invade worlds early, and then allows you to remove unwanted cards (including, for the first time, Tactics) from your hand. Good addition, and even game with a hint that these attachment cards will be in the next expansion!

Thoughts

This expansion changes the game in a big way, and for the better. In the early turns, the order cards are bare of tokens as everyone plays their icon-free starter cards. Once the strength of the tokens clicked for our group, they started filling up fast. I must say this really improves the use of Tactics cards, which we often felt weren't worth it in the base game. Now that they come with a token, they are often played at clever moments, even for no effect, and their token is consumed for a large bonus.

At first the power of the order scoring wasn't understood. But then a player ended the game with 12 tokens on the mystic brotherhood, and captured the new core world allowing him to score a single order again, and those 24 points easily swung the entire game in his favor.

Just when we thought stockpiling tokens on one order was unbeatable, group play shifted towards actually paying attention to what faction cards the other players were drafting, and counter-drafting cards they needed, resulting in more player tokens spread among all the orders, and many points swinging to first and second places at the game's end.

And finally we were thrown again by a player's winning strategy of token discarding and aggressive drafting. Using the Science and Merchant tokens to receive an energy discount on both drafting and deploying, and the Senate tokens to refund his actions, this player drafted cards and consumed tokens almost every turn. Even though we had more planets generating more energy per turn, he rarely even spent any of his own energy, building a massive deck that made only a few choice invasions. In the end, without scoring first or second on any of the orders, he took the game on the strength of his core worlds alone.

The game opens up anew for the enthusiast. I can't see myself ever playing without any of the new rules as printed. The designer is active on the geek, and has responded rapidly to his fans with variants to address any perceived imbalances in play. I would recommend you play out the game as printed a few times before you tweak the rules.

Overall, I can't wait to get it back to the table. A real must have addition to what I consider the best deck building game available!
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Jake Fernandez
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WOW! I'm impressed at the diversity of the strategies employed! Thank you for this review.
 
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Do you think any tweaks or variant rules are needed?


btw. What has been the highest winning score you have seen so far?
 
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Chris Berry
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RoadHouse wrote:
Do you think any tweaks or variant rules are needed?


This Official Variant leads to move 'balanced' play and less abuse of single faction stacking.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/898516/official-monarchs...
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Scott Douglass
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I'm not a fan of the events (I think of them as another thing to keep track of without adding anything to the experience), but I agree that the Galactic Orders open up the game strategically and tactically, and raise the game from a good game to a great game.
 
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Scott Douglass
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RoadHouse wrote:
btw. What has been the highest winning score you have seen so far?


81
 
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Andrew Parks
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Somerset
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Thanks so much for your review, Evan. Your group is doing a great job of discovering the diverse strategies available in Galactic Orders. May you continue to find many more in the days ahead! meeple

Andrew
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Mathius Nightingale
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Is the core game required to play the expansion, or does the expansion include the core cards plus newer things?
 
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Chris Berry
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Detrimus wrote:
Is the core game required to play the expansion, or does the expansion include the core cards plus newer things?
The base game Core Worlds is needed to play the expansion.
 
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