Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 30-60mins
Play Time (Goof): 15-60mins
Producer: Rio Grande Games
Designer: Tom Lehmann
Ever since I started writing reviews and therefore having an excellent excuse to add board game purchases to our monthly budget, I’ve wanted to pick up Race for the Galaxy. Problem is, every other site out there has probably reviewed this 2007 modern classic to the point where there’s nothing interesting to say about it. Meaning other game purchases had to take priority. I’m not really complaining (not sure if you processed what I said earlier but I have an excuse to regularly buy board games). It was just something I tended to have in the back of my mind.
But I got my opportunity about a month back.
Tabletop Wonderland had a spare copy among their products and I thought “what an excellent way to support my friends (read: what a perfect excuse to buy this game I want).”
Originally the thought was if I had a week where I needed something to review, I could whip this bad boy out and give my opinions and pray I hopefully had a new spin on what others have already said. This plan went out the window right after my first game. I think my response was something more subtle along the lines of:
I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT!
Race for the Galaxy is one of those games I find incredibly addictive. I wanna play it fast, and I wanna play it often. It’s got this sort of cathartic vibe for me. It’s a great way for me to de-stress, while also providing a ton of great options and choices for me to make.
The hand management is an interesting element. Unless you’re playing a specific strategy where you don’t draw as many cards, you’ll generally find yourself spending half your hand each turn. Or prepping a massive turn to play next round. This focus on dedicating yourself to a strategy speeds things up over the course of the game.
I love the multiple uses for cards. Playing them, trashing them as currency, the way the cards are used as “goods” on certain planets. The fact you discard everything face down means you can’t card count as easily, and don’t have even close to near perfect information.
As you get better and better at the game, you start to look beyond your own actions and at the actions of the other players. See whatever action you choose to take on your turn everyone else gets to do as well (with a slight bonus for yourself for playing the card). It creates an indirect player interaction, something I’m not a fan of in co-ops or thrash style games, but I have a soft spot for in more Euro/Point Salad styles.
In a way, Race for the Galaxy feels a lot like Dominion to me, but with a setting I much prefer. Yes, I am aware of the technical differences between deck builders and tableau builders. I know there’s a lot of difference in Dominion and RftG. They just feel so alike to me. I would hazard a guess that if you love one, you’ll at least like the other (please comment and let me know how close I am on this).
WITH ONE EXCEPTION.
Race for the Galaxy is a nightmare to teach. And yeah, the symbology is a thing (as is pointed out by pretty much everyone who has reviewed this game no doubt). But the symbols are kinda commonsense-y and there’s a helpful – albeit cluttered – player aid to get you through it. Where I think the confusion comes in is around each player having two different sets of cards (the action selection and the actual planets/developments), and the different types of planet production (type/windfall/production/military etc).
The reality is, there’s a lot going on in a rather simplistic game. I’d even argue learning the game is by far and away more complex than playing the game. It’s the first time in any game I’ve ever really felt this (from memory).
People often talk about Race vs Roll for the Galaxy. I’ve not played roll, and I’ve seen people online saying they much prefer it. For me, I’ve always been more of a card playing/hand management guy than I have a dice roller. It’s a preference more than anything else. But I am absolutely loving Race for the Galaxy.
It’s just a shame I didn’t race to get this one in my collection faster.
I got my copy through Tabletop Wonderland
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