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Subject: The Gamer Nerd Review: Race for the Galaxy rss

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Nicolas Shayko
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posted at www.thegamernerd.com with images:

www.thegamernerd.com/reviews/race-for-the-galaxy

Race for the Galaxy is a complex card-based strategy game. The goal is to get the most victory points through the playing of cards into your personal tableau (cards controlled by a player in front of them) and the acquiring of victory point chips by abilities on those cards. Games typically last about 30 minutes. Race for the Galaxy uses a space theme. The theme does come through, despite being a mechanic driven game. There are 2 types of cards, cards with planets on them, “worlds,” and cards with developments on them. The worlds cards enable the player to produce and consume goods, thereby getting them victory points and increasing the size of their deck. Players play development cards from their hand in order to gain additional advantages. In order to play these cards, players must discard cards from their hand in order to “pay” the cost of the card. Each card has a number that dictates how many cards it costs to play. The costs range from 1 to 7, with the exception of military worlds (to be explained later).

Race for the Galaxy uses a mechanic called simultaneous action selection. Each round, each player picks one of 5 possible actions to take, choosing the action card from their hand and laying it face down on the table. They reveal their choices at the same time. ALL players take all the actions selected, but the player or players who chose a particular action get a certain benefit while playing that action. To understand the game, let us go through these 5 possible action choices.

1) The easiest choice to understand is “Explore.” The basic action is to take 2 cards from the draw deck and choose 1 to add to the player’s hand. However, the player who selected this action can select a bonus – being able to draw 3 cards and keep 2, or being able to draw 7 cards and keep 1.

2) The 2nd choice is “Develop”. If the Develop card is played, all players may play a Develop card from their hand onto their tableau. If a person chooses the development action, he or she gets a discount of 1 on the cost of the card he plays into the tableau. Development cards are worth victory points at the end. More importantly, though, they often give the player certain advantages. For example, a development card may allow a player to look at an extra card when the explore action is taken. Some development points give victory points for players having certain other cards in their tableau.

3) The 3rd choice is “Settle.” All players may settle a card when one player chooses this card. This means taking a world from your hand and placing it onto the table. Worlds are either military or non-military. Non-military worlds are played by discarding cards from the hand, just like developments are. Military worlds are different, they require cards with military strength to be in the player’s tableau. Some cards give players benefits of military strength – they have symbols that dictate + 1 military, or +3 military. The total amount of the player’s military strength dictates whether they can play a military world. For example, if a player has 2 cards in their tableau with military benefits, one with a +1 military and one with a +2 military, then they are able to play worlds cards that range from 1–3 military. A 4 military card requires more military strength.

Most of these worlds can produce some kind of good. A world can produce a good in 2 ways. If the card is a normal production world, it produces a good when the “Produce” action is taken below (step 5.) If the card is a windfall world, it produces a good immediately when the card is Settled. When a player chooses the Settle action card, he has the benefit of being able to draw a card afterwards.

When a card produces a good, it means that the player takes a card from the draw pile and places it face-side-down underneath the world. This card is essentially a placeholder to represent the good.

4) The 4th choice is “Consume.” It is here where goods on words are discarded in order to gain victory point chips and draw more cards. Some cards in a player’s tableau have powers that allow a good to be taken from any world and discarded for either more cards into the hand or victory point chips at the end of the game. For example, a simple consume power is discarding one good in order to gain 1 victory point.

The player who chooses the consume action has a choice of two bonuses. The 1st bonus is the ability to trade one card before consuming. Trading allows a player to take a good from his tableau and draw a number of cards from the deck dependent on which type of good it is. The other possible benefit is to get double the victory points attained from consuming goods that round.

5) The 5th choice is “Produce”. If the Produce action is chosen, all players get to produce on all of their normal production worlds which don’t already have a good. The players who choose the production action are also able to produce a good on one windfall world.


This is the essence of Race for the Galaxy. Each round, all players choose an action, all the actions chosen are completed, and then the cycle is repeated the next turn. The game ends when one player has 12 cards in their tableau or when all the available victory points are consumed. The key is getting cards on the table that have powers in their given phases that work well together. There are multiple strategies to winning, and the game is just as mechanically sound as they come.

Race for the Galaxy is an amazing game. You get a game chalked with strategy that can be played in 30 minutes. It is so great that it is hard to play the game only once. The biggest problem with the game is really also a big strength, which is that the cards are chock-full with iconography. This is great once you know the game well, as you see the cards, know the icons and know what they do. For new players though, it makes a very sharp learning curve. Most people who play this game won’t understand how it works the first few times they play. I have heard multiple people say it took them 4–6 games until its mechanics clicked in their head, but once they did they loved it. At least the game has “cheat sheets” to help understand the iconography and the action phases. The learning curve may be annoying, but it is so worth it. Play this great game as often as you can.

Check out other great reviews at www.thegamernerd.com
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Gary Meacher
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This game sounds pretty intense. I wonder how long did it take you to really get the rules and gameplay down. I find games that have a ton of iconography and special statuses become really hard to get into—and even harder to get someone else to want to play with you...
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Sam Carroll
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Iconography: yes.
Special Statuses: no.

After a play or two, it's pretty obvious what everything does . . . at least to me.
 
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Michael Carter
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mmmbraaains wrote:
This game sounds pretty intense. I wonder how long did it take you to really get the rules and gameplay down. I find games that have a ton of iconography and special statuses become really hard to get into—and even harder to get someone else to want to play with you...


Some people complain about the iconography, but when I was introduced to the game at a meetup, I picked it up after the first game or two. The icons are pretty logical and clear if you know the rules of the game.
 
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