Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Game Preview: Race for the Galaxy

Rio Grande Games has reprinted Race for the Galaxy, which is a red hot game now in the US! Read further on to discover why is it so addictive and why is it challenging Magic: The Gathering number of plays each week! Game Description In Race for the Galaxy, players build galactic civilizations by game cards that represent worlds or technical and social developments.Each round consists of one or more of five possible phases. In each round, each player secretly and simultaneously chooses one of seven different action cards and then reveals it. Only the selected phases occur. For these phases, every player performs the phase’s action, while the selecting player(s) also get a bonus for that phase. For example, if at least one player chooses the Develop action, then the Develop phase will occur; otherwise it is skipped. In it, each player may simultaneously select a development from his hand of cards to build. After revealing the cards, each player adds his development to his tableau of cards on the table and then discards cards from his hand equal to its cost. Each player who chose Develop discards one card fewer as his bonus. Explore allows a player to draw cards and select which of them to add to his hand. Settle allows a player to place a world in his tableau. Some worlds produce goods, represented by face down cards, when Produce is selected. These goods can be discarded for victory points or sold to add cards to the player’s hand by selecting Consume. With cards, players can settle new worlds and build more developments, gaining both victory points and card powers that provide advantages in certain phases. The player who best manages his cards, phase and bonus selections, and card powers to build the greatest space empire, wins. The winner is the player with the most victory points. History Race for the Galaxy's development began when Thomas Lehmann started work on a card game version of Puerto Rico in parallel with Andreas Seyfarth's own. Their independent efforts resulted in some degree of collaboration, and though some of Mr. Lehmann's design ideas did not make it into what eventually became San Juan, he continued to develop his concepts, exchanging the theme and incorporating elements from an unpublished customizable card game he had previously designed. For a more detailed narrative from the designer, himself, please see these three articles at 1. Race for the Galaxy Designer Preview #1 2. Race for the Galaxy Designer Preview #2 3. Race for the Galaxy Designer Preview #3 Comparison to San Juan Race for the Galaxy benefits from an unusually thorough development process, involving thousands of test games and the deliberate design of an unusually coherent iconography (by onigame and the graphics designer, Mirko Suzuki) as well as a unique approach to player interaction that prevents direct conflict and encourages "parasitic conflict". Two yet to be released expansions adding new cards, concepts, and starting planets, and supporting up to 6 players, are already completed. Some of the significant differences between San Juan and Race for the Galaxy include: ROLE SELECTION San Juan: Players pick roles one at a time in turn order. A role that is picked is unavailable to be picked by other players. Each role has exactly one advantage for the one who picked it. RftG: Players pick roles secretly and simultaneously. Multiple players can possibly pick the same role. Some roles have two advantages of which the player who picked the role must choose one. THEME & GAMEPLAY San Juan: Tightly linked to Puerto Rico creating a gameplay experience that feels like a lighter, faster version of the boardgame. RftG: Space theme that is completely divorced from its Puerto Rico roots allowing for some divergence from the original's gameplay. 6-COST CARDS San Juan: Their only function is to generate end-of-game victory point bonuses in exactly the same spirit as the "big buildings" of Puerto Rico RftG: Function as end-of-game victory point bonuses but also provide benefits and advantages during gameplay EXPANDABILITY & PLAYERS San Juan: As of now there are no expansions announced and number of players is limited to 2-4 RftG: Two expansions already designed and planned to be released in the future. The base game is 2-4 players but the eventual expansions will increase that to 1-6 players. For Puerto Rico lovers, Race for the Galaxy is in my opinion a better reproduction of Puerto Rico as a card game than San Juan due to RfTG having a Produce/Consume cycle much like the Craftsman/Captain roles in Puerto Rico. The use of the VPs and goods on the planets are so much like producing goods and the Trader/Captain roles in Puerto Rico. Race for the Galaxy is currently my most played and liked game and I recommend it because: 1. RfTG plays fast. A typical game for seasoned players lasts 30-45mins. 2. RfTG is also a very "combo" like play game. It plays like a CCG game like Magic the Gathering but you don't need to collect it! 3. RfTG encourages dynamic play. Each game plays differently and leave you with the "I want to play again" feeling! 4. RfTG is playable up to 6 players with the 2 new expansions. This is a plus point for bigger player groups who like quick and strategic card games! Some warnings too about Race for the Galaxy: 1. The space theme seem to turn off some players. 2. There's a steep learning curve to understand the game and get use to the icons. Typically you need 2-3 games to understand and play it.

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