PT Guides: Race for the Galaxy06 Dec 2017 5
Race for the Galaxy is a classic empire-building card game that recently earned a five-star rated digital conversion. Unfortunately, the game has a steep learning curve, with a mass of icons that initially look tougher to decode than the Rosetta Stone. The tutorial does a great job of teaching the basics but as soon as it lets go of your hand the game can feel very overwhelming. This guide isn’t going to make you star player, but it will hopefully give new players a little more focus and help them avoid some common pitfalls.
At the Crossroads
The paths to victory can be divided into four main strategies:
- Despot: If your initial cards have the potential to increase your military power then this strategy will allow you to conquer worlds without expending cards. As your military strength grows you will be able to take over stronger alien and rebel worlds that provide big points. Therefore, when drawing cards the despot is usually searching for the big scoring worlds. Because high scoring military worlds are difficult to come by, the despot may have to hang on to cards until they are strong enough to play them.
- Wheeler Dealer: The aim here is to make trades for cards, which are then used to purchase high scoring worlds and developments. Cards such as Deficit Spending and Merchant World are great as they allow you to make use of spare cards by directly cashing them in for points.
- Capitalist: If you have been blessed with production worlds then a strategy based on producing and consuming goods and cards is the way to go. Look for cards such as Diversified Economy that consume several goods at once for big points. Also, cards that produce both goods and cards such as Gem World are much more efficient than cards that only produce or consume a single good. Remember that although weaker worlds may not have special abilities, they are still equally good at producing goods. As soon as you have your empire up and running, start consuming x2 to get your victory points rolling in.
- Technologist: If you have cards that give a discount or bonuses for developments such as Galactic Federation then a strategy based on developing is worth considering. Once you have a few cards in place you should be able to reap the rewards for building expensive six cost developments.
Selecting a Strategy
Now that you have an idea how the four main strategies work the next step is to decide which one to follow. The golden rule is to choose one that fits well with your homeworld and initial hand of cards. Keep in mind the following:
- Once you have chosen a strategy stick with it and do not be tempted to wander too far from your original choice - a single strong strategy will be much more successful than two weaker ones.
- Do not decide on a strategy based solely on the power of your homeworld – a homeworld can complement a strategy but your initial hand of cards is of at least equal importance.
- Do not be too ambitious, be on the lookout for nice, cheap and simple two- card combinations.
- When there is no obvious choice hold fire and try and draw extra cards and play versatile cards, such as a windfall world.
Although there is a nice privilege associated with selecting each role, you can also benefit from your opponents’ role selections. Being aware of your opponents’ plans and second-guessing their actions are crucial skills to learn. It can often be fairly obvious which role your opponent is going to take and you will then be in a position to plan your own action to take advantage of the situation. Identify an opponent’s driving strategy and their current situation. In general, players with a large military force are more likely to settle, whilst those with lots of cards in hand are likely to develop or settle. Try and be prepared to benefit from any phase by having a development ready to build and a world ready to settle.
It sounds obvious but whichever route you go down your initial focus is going to be to pick up as many cards as possible. Put simply, more cards equals more choices, both in terms of what you can build and the means to afford it. Settling a windfall world early is a solid strategy as it produces a good automatically. However, having more than one windfall is usually wasteful as the production privilege can only be applied to a single windfall world. The explore action also allows you to draw extra cards. Usually, it will be more efficient to produce or consume goods but exploring can be useful if you have only a small production capability and an expensive card that you wish to build. Explore +1+1 is usually the best option, unless you want to cycle through the deck to find a particular card.
You should categorise your cards into two types, the ones that you plan to build and the ones that you intend to use to pay for your builds. Be realistic and do not hold back too many expensive cards. A cheap card that adds to your strategy is preferable to wasting money on an expensive one that you will not have the chance to capitalise on. However, Race for the Galaxy is a fine balancing act. Do not be tempted to hoard too many cards, or be afraid of spending big even if it means relinquishing powerful cards. Getting a powerful card into play early in the game allows you to use it to its full potential.
Be patient and stick with your chosen strategy but do try and get it working as quickly as possible. If in doubt as to how to proceed then expand your options by adding more cards, but remember your hand limit. Each game reaches a point at which you need to change gear and shift from drawing cards to earning points. Building an empire that gives you loads of extra cards is great, but there will come a time when what you really need is victory points.
The game ends when a player completes their empire by building twelve cards, or the pool of victory points runs dry. The first person to hit either goal usually has an advantage as it puts more pressure on their opponents, possibly forcing them to take weaker turns to try and keep up.