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Race For the Galaxy

Posted by admin On November - 25 - 2011

Race For the Galaxy

By BOP Guest Reviewer, Scott Linde.

Race for the Galaxy (RftG) is certainly not a new game, but it is a game that is new to me.  RftG was published in the U.S. by Rio Grande Games back in 2007.  After four years, it is still considered a top-tier card game.  On Board Game Geek is ranked the 14th best strategy game and the 13th best board game overall.  For this reason and because I enjoy science fiction themed games, I finally took the time to become familiar with this classic, and I quickly becamehooked.

First off, this game is not like Dominion or Eminent Domain.  Both of those games are primarily deck building games where most of the cards begin in shared open-faced stacks at the center of the table.  How many cards are left of each type is open information, and the cards in your deck are reused over and over.  In RftG, both the draw deck and discard pile are face down.  The only card information available are the cards that have been played on each player’s tableau.  RftG does not use a deck-building mechanic.  Instead, cards are drawn and either played on your tableau or discarded to pay for a card that is.

Cards fall into two broad categories: planets and developments.  Each card has a cost in cards that must be discarded to bring it into play as well as a victory point value.  Planets are unique and subdivided by the type of good they produce and how often they produce.  Developments come in a wider variety than planets do.  They all produce permanent effects and can modify one or more phases of the game.  Many also provide bonus victory points.  Developments are not unique.

The most important mechanic of RftG is probably role selection.  Each turn is divided into phases that occur in a specific order: explore, develop, colonize, consume, and produce.  Each player chooses his primary role for that turn secretly, and then all roles are executed in order.  Your primary role provides a special bonus for that phase.  Players may follow other players who have chosen different roles during that phase.  Leeching these additional actions off your opponents is one key to winning the game.  Experienced players watch their opponents’ tableaus, and try to take actions that help themselves more than their opponents.

‘Explore’ allows cards to be drawn and discarded.  ‘Develop’ allows a development to be purchased and played.  ‘Colonize’ allows a planet to be purchased or conquered.  ‘Trade/Consume’ allows the sale of a ‘good’ for its type’s value.  ‘x2/Consume’ allows for the consumption of goods at twice the victory points.  ‘Produce’ places goods under planets that can manufacture them.

RftG has two victory conditions.  The game ends if: 1) one or more players have twelve or more cards on their tableau at the end of a turn, or 2) the victory point chits (12 per player) run out.  Players are always awarded all victory points due them even if the total is more than 12 per player.  All victory points including those from cards are then totaled.  Experienced players can finish a game in under 30 minutes, and the game never feels like you have enough time to develop your empire.  It truly feels like a race.  While a military option exists, it is not a particularly viable option in the base game.

While this review is focused mainly on the base set, three expansions are currently available.  They provide more cards, introduce optional game mechanics, and are all highly rated.

Quality: 5/5

Fun: 4/5

Substance: 4/5

Re-playabilty: 5/5

Learning Curve: steep