Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Race for the Galaxy

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you should be familiar with my enjoyment of German-style board games such as Puerto Rico and Agricola. This last month I received several new board games, and today I want to talk about one of them - a great space-opera themed game called Race for the Galaxy.

Created by the same designer as Puerto Rico, this card strategy game essentially refines the essential mechanics of Puerto Rico into a much faster paced experience. At its essence, players develop their corner of the galaxy by playing cards that represent planets or developments. In each round of the game, each player secretly chooses a single action - such as settling a new planet, exploring the galaxy (for new cards), constructing a development, producing resources, or selling those resources.  All players play each of the chosen actions, but the one who chose it receives a significant bonus. Each planet and development gives the player certain advantages or abilities, and is also worth a certain number of victory points at the end of the game. Naturally, whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.

One of my favorite things about this game is the simplicity of the components. Other than chips that represent victory points, every other element in the game is represented through cards. Cards in hand function as currency; cards played face up represent the planets and developments, and cards played face down represent resources to be consumed for additional points or cards.

Another great thing about the game is the replay value. There are essentially four different major paths to victory - military, development, production, or trading - and since the cards you draw each game is totally random, you can't simply stick to the same strategy each and every game. Additionally, with over 100 different cards in the base game, you'll see lots of variation over time in the cards that you have access to over the course of the game.

Race for the Galaxy is widely available now, and can be purchased at Amazon.

Intrigued? You can also try the game online for free. A talented programmer known simply as mrkeldon received permission to create and distribute a working version of the game with a very robust AI as well as multiplayer support. It's a great way to learn the game and develop your skills.

If you've ever played this game, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. And if not, you definitely should check this out if you get the chance! Thanks for reading.

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