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Review: Race for the Galaxy

Thu May 04, 2017 3:30 pm

When it came out, Race for the Galaxy didn't look like my ideal card game. Whatever good stuff it had, even fans freely admitted that it didn't have a lot... ... he-galaxy/

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Thu May 04, 2017 6:37 pm

An amazing port of a great game. If I had any whine it might be nice to have a link to the full real life rules of the base and expansions although I have to credit that these condensed instructions do cover 90% of any of the clarifications I could see coming up as learning to play. This game is definitely one that looks so much more complex from the outside, but after the tutorials and maybe 1 non-tutorial game vs. Easy AI, you'll be up to speed on the game and its many odd phase icons.

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Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:48 am

Fri May 05, 2017 12:24 am

Great port, I can see it being fairly daunting for players with no experience of the card game though. My advice is stick with it. The iconography has always gotten some stick from people unfamiliar with it but in the end it's genius. I highly recommend at least getting the expansion with goals as well (The Gathering Storm).

Props for getting the AI right too. Hard difficulty is pretty brutal, only have 2 wins so far and one of those was just an extremely lucky draw. Usually I'm fighting tooth and nail for second place.

If I can fault it would be on a lack of feedback from the other players which is admittedly tough on a small screen. Currently their turns just fly by and it's hard to see what they do and what they are likely to do. My suggestions would be:

* Use up a bit of the space in the top right and show a thumbnail of the last card each player put down so you have a bit more time to read it.

* Use some color or slight icon change to differentiate player hand sizes in addition to just a number.

* Make it more noticeable when a player gains VP's or the leader changes.

* Call out what action each player takes a bit better. (color coding the tabs on the left would be nice.)

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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:04 pm

Fri May 05, 2017 2:53 am

Am I wrong to assume that RftG is just a space-themed San Juan (which is also available on a fairly-polished app)? That's what I'm inclined to believe from its description here, although the comparison is notably absent from this review. Obviously, I've never played the TT version of RftG, but I'm interested to hear how this comparison may be flawed.

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Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:48 am

Fri May 05, 2017 4:07 am

Not wrong Grum. The designer of RftG made the original prototype of San Juan which was built upon for the final game by another designer. He then went on to make RtfG adding his own spin. ... ace-galaxy

RtfG is much more freeform than San Juan with a lot more theme if you ask me. It's like a giant mixing pot of Sci-fi worlds and settings with nods to Gene Roddenberry, David Brin, George Lucas etc.

Want to build an evil galactic empire crushing the galaxy in your iron fist? You can. Want to lead a band of outnumbered plucky rebels? Sure. Galactic federation trying to seek out new life and boldly going where no man has gone before? Go ahead. It's strength is just how rich and varied the cards are while still being thematic in how they play.

It really is like the difference between building an island town and creating a galactic spanning civilization.

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Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2016 1:09 pm

Fri May 05, 2017 7:06 pm

Each session of Race for the Galaxy varies vastly from another session of Race. San Juan tends to end up feeling very samey each time. And San Juan digital (ios version at least) doesn't have the expansion. I wish it did. This race for the galaxy port has the expansions already available.

Race simply is more interesting and developed and has way more replay value. I still like San Juan as a game.

Also, the way phases/roles work is handled much differently than in San Juan. It makes them different enough to warrant having both.

ANd finally, I love looking at the "story" my cards tell by the end. Your cards have a nice picture and card name. So, I like to look at each card I played in order and imagine the story of my civilization and where it went.

ex. "we started as a lost world with a knack for exploring. we discovered a few planets and improved our trade and exploration abilities even further. Then we built a large fleet and started to conquer worlds. A rebellion sprouted up against us but we conquered them too. And finally we developed a technology that demonstrated once and for all how dominant we were in the galaxy."

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Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:01 pm

Fri May 05, 2017 9:04 pm

This port receives a special nod from me for the excellent AI. The AI opponents are competent and competitive on medium, and viscous on hard (as they should be). I'm actually enjoying playing against the AI, which is rare for a digital board game.

The only thing the app doesn't have, but needs, is pass and play functionality. Still, great port of a great game.

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Re: Review: Race for the Galaxy

Sat May 06, 2017 2:21 pm

Another game that pops into my mind is Ascension. Maybe it's a little far-fetched but, to me, RftG scratches the same itch. At least its novice ruleset, with only one action each turn. Maybe it's the overall feeling of the app, maybe it's the mainly solitaire gameplay, I don't know.


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