Monday, October 27, 2008

Race for the Galaxy

Ed and I went to the club game night at Ray's place last Saturday night. Our first contest of the evening was Race for the Galaxy. Ed had read a lot about it on board game geek and wanted to try it out. Dee agreed to teach it to us, and Josh, who had played before, joined us as well.

It took a turn or two to figure out what was happening with the different phases, but, by the end of the game, I felt like I was an old pro. The path to victory became pretty clear: get a lot of cards and then play the ones that get you points and more cards. I apparently got a pretty good starting hand and lucky early draws because I was able to play a lot of cards that produced goods.

My early strategy was to produce and then consume/trade, giving me a few points and tons of cards. A couple of the other players made the mistake of producing on turns when I had picked consume, which helped me out tons. With a good engine going, I switched to consume/2x VP, and ended up winning with 43. Dee was a close second with 41.

After playing Agricola, Ed wanted to play Race again. Dustin and Kwan joined us for their first time to play the game.

This game was much slower for me than the last time. I had a hard time getting my engine going, and, since that's the only strategy I knew at the time, it hampered me quite a bit. It was also slow because all of us were inexperienced players. For example, in the first round, every single one of us picked explore.

Being as it was their first time to play, Dustin and Kwan seemed to focus on playing as many cards as possible, regardless of value, making the game end sooner than I think it would have normally. I was never able to get my produce/consume engine going and ended the game with only two VP chips. I thought that my, at that point, four-game win streak was in jeopardy.

In the end, though, the two first time players hadn't collected any VP chips and had played a lot of cards that didn't have a lot of value. Ed had 6 VP chips but had screwed himself early in the game by misreading a card that he spent his whole hand to play. Thus, he ended up playing only 6 or 7 cards the entire game. I had only played 9 cards, but most of them were at least worth 2 VP each. I won again with only 21 points.

I was unsure whether I liked the game or not after the first play. I grew on me the second time, as I had a bit more understanding of the game mechanics. I like that it plays fast - 30 to 45 minutes seems to be a max for this game so far - making it perfect for the start of game night or a nice distraction while waiting for someone to finish up at another table.

I haven't come up with any in depth strategies yet - I'll need to play a lot more for that - but I do have a few tips:

  • In my limited playing experience, it seems that the winner will finish with somewhere between 20 and 50 total VPs. This total is relatively low, so every point counts. Make sure that every card you play has value, ie has a way to get you either cards, goods, VPs, or a combination of all three. Don't discount the value of playing a world that gives you 4 or 5 VPs even if it doesn't do much for you otherwise; those extra points may just win you the game.

  • Keep a constant eye on how many cards your opponents have played. When they get close to ending the game, maximize the points that you can get in your final turns.

  • Set up a produce/consume engine. Cards that give you a card and a victory point for consumed goods in phase IV are extremely valuable. Combine these cards with cards that produce a good of the same type. Use the 5 extra card explore to get the right cards in your hand.

That's all I have for now. I need to play it a lot more! Hopefully, after Christmas, I'll add it to my collections.

No comments: