Race for the Galaxy

First game, Arash had trouble getting into the game, as there were so many rules. In fact, we probably made a couple errors in terms of gameplay, due to so many rules and notation. Some interpretations were made, etc. At the time, I just had the base game, and we played with the default start worlds.

20091224, End Game.

Second game was a little better, fixing some of the errors made, but not all. Arash didn't want to play, so it was just a three-player game. Matt made use of Alien Technologies and won the game. I believe he had a six-cost development card or two to boost his score way beyond that of Xuehua or me. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't remember if Xuehua played this game or not. In any case, I'm sure Matt won.

Third game, again with the basic game. Ryan was part of a board game club in China where he has played this game before. As such, he probably had more experience than Xuehua, Matt, and I combined. I tried playing the Alien Technology strategy: trading Alien Technology goods for many cards. But I think I either didn't draw the right six-cost development cards or tried to hard to force a strategy which my hand didn't support.

20100513 Comment:
Regarding the first three games. I found a sheet of paper that had the following written on it:
Matt Arash(Xuehua) Tim : Matt Won. Alien Technology.
Tim42 Xuehua33 10/7/09. 56 minutes. Alien Technology.
Matt29 Xuehua26 Ryan34 Tim24 10/8/09. 50 minutes to an Hour

As such, it seems that I originally confused the first game as being two separate games.

We played with all the cards from the two expansion sets, so that we could play a six-player game. We randomly distributed the start worlds, because there is no beginner setup for six players. I explain the stages through the types of cards you can choose. One thing Josh requested, and seemed useful was explaining the powers that were currently present on each of our start worlds, in order of phase. This makes the game seem less daunting. We decided it was best not to play with goals or takeover introduced in the expansion sets; dealing with the basic mechanics is hard enough. On the other hand, they have all played San Juan, so I was able to explain many steps/actions/cards by giving the San Juan equivalent.

Having played before, I had an advantage. My original plan was to not play for the first one or two games, and only watch and instruct. However, since there were cards added from the expansion, I decided to play anyways. My end score was 47 victory points; 16 victory points on tableau, 5 victory points in chips, 14 victory points (2x6+2x1) for one six-cost development, 12 victory points (2x4+1x3+1x1) for the other six-cost development. Thus, just as in San Juan, six-cost cards are critical. But unlike San Juan, cards seem to cycle more, so finding six-cost cards is a bit easier.

We started playing the game at 11:20 PM or 11:25 PM and ended the game at 12:50 AM or 12:55 Am. Thus our six-player game took one and a half hours.

I was definitely playing more flexible this game than in the third game, where I had acquired some form of strategy, but tried to stick too hard to one strategy. In this game, I thought I would start the "blue" worlds, but it ended up that I should play the "brown" worlds. We agreed that it wasn't important at the moment to refer to the goods by their names, just by their colors. Though I've gotten to know two of them: Alien Technology (yellow) and Gene (green).

I think Josh was the first to notice that the backings have different people on them. At which point we all started looking at all the backings and passing them around.

[20091222 4:25 AM]

Josh got 4 six-cost development cards down. One, from the second expansion pack, doesn't boost points, but it has a lot of good powers. Josh was able to play a lot by playing cards whose powers were to reduce development cost. I failed, as at first I got cards similar to those from last game, and decided to play that route. But in the end, my one six-cost development only gave me 5 points. Both Daniel and I were playing Rare Elements (brown) and for one of the cards, I think Robot Mining, I screwed Daniel over a couple times. If I hadn't, then he would have had accumulated perhaps 6 more cards which could have helped him. Though it wouldn't make much a difference in terms of winning: Josh (29 from just regular buildings and vp chips, 54 after six-cost dev. are included), Steve (26), Stephanie (23), Michael (19), Daniel (26), Me (26). So Josh won even without his six-cost dev.'s. Stephanie had a bunch of military cards at the end, for which if the game lasted a round or two more, could have pulled ahead and perhaps into second. She could have benefited from the card that lets you play an additional settlement during phase III. Part of what hurt me is other people using consume before I decided it was necessary to use consume (trade) thereby losing card opportunities. Josh's start world, Damaged Alien Factory (I think...), really helped him at the start. You discard one to produce, knowing you get 5 in a trade. That's still four cards profit. So if your first four turns are produce, trade, produce, trade, then you made 8 cards plus 4 from the start, that's 12 cards. That's not to mention the high likelihood of people playing explore early on in the game. So in the first four rounds, you would have cycled through at least 8. But if in those first two rounds, you got cards that you could play to increase the cards you get, e.g. cards that let you draw a card for free or keep an extra card during phase 1. Josh had such a card, and that let him keep both the cards on explore, without needing explore. All those times I had to play explore for myself, he benefited by being able to choose another phase.

SUMSUM 20091227 Steve (64) Michael (73) Josh (75) Daniel (46) Stephanie (46) Me (62).
I'll enter as much data as recorded in my moleskine on the first game. Josh got 14 in buildings, 25 in six-cost dev., 11 in vp; Kevin got 35 in buildings and six-cost dev., 4 in vp; Michael got 21 in buildings and six-cost dev., 9 in vp; Steve got 36 in buildings and six-cost dev., 2 in vp; I got 23 in buildings, 5 in six-cost dev., 7 in vp. We had 3, 2, 1, 2, 1 six-cost dev. in our tableau respectively. We started at about 3:30 and ended at 4:48, so it was approximately and 1 hour and 20 minutes.
14 ?? ?? ?? 23 Buildings
11 04 09 02 07 VP
25 ?? ?? ?? 05 6-Cost Development
50 39 30 38 35 Total
03 02 01 02 01 # of 6-Cost Development

Galactic Salon helps if you have production worlds, which I didn't have. I think better to get six-cost development early and play it's strengths. Investment credit and other discarding ones hurt as they waste space on your tableau. I explore too much. I think it's appropriate to explore perhaps in the first two or three rounds, and then hopefully have other ways by then to draw cards, such as produce and trade, or with draw abilities. Don't underestimate novelty goods or rare elements goods.

The problem is determining how early is appropriate for six-cost development cards and which ones to play if you have multiple. Though I guess with this game, it might be better to depend a bit more on luck and not be too greedy. Perhaps my obstacle, is wanting to fulfill or obtain a specific card too much, I have too much trouble figuring out which cards to discard. Forming a strategy of cards in hand, and having to get rid of them defeats the purpose of forming the strategy. Hence, I sort of countered my above thought on six-cost development. Also I need to add the addition experience of the second and third games played today.It's really better to get one or two production cards down early game and trade and produce, even if its a novelty good.

The second and third game we introduced the goals into game play. In the second game, there was Uplift, Alien, Powers, Eight Worlds/Dev. for firsts, and Rebel, Explore for mosts. That was randomly done. Steve got 3 in vp, 10 in most, 6 in firsts for Powers and Eight Worlds/Dev., 27 in other; Michael got 3 in Alien, 32 in other; Josh got 15 in buildings, 10 in six-cost dev., 9 in vp; Daniel got 2 in vp, 18 in other; Stephanie got 18 in total; I got 13 in buildings, 1 in vp, 3 in endgame tie for Rebel most.
?? ?? 15 ?? ?? 13 Buildings
03 ?? 09 02 ?? 01 VP
?? ?? 10 ?? ?? 00 6-Cost Development
16 03 00 ?? ?? 03 Goals
46 35 34 20 18 17 Total
?? ?? ?? ?? ?? 00 # of 6-Cost Development

In the third game we decided to choose goals, starting with the lowest score in the last game, moving up in score. We made this decision, because we felt some of the other goals are just push a winner and by choosing, we can avoid some of those, and get goals in that you think you might want to play. Notice, that the scores decreased exactly in turn order starting with the winner, Steve. In any case, I chose Four Goods (first), Stephanie chose Discard (first), Daniel chose Five VP (first), Josh chose Four Production Worlds (most), Michael chose Six Military (most), Steve chose Eight Worlds/Dev. (first).

Third game totals: Steve got 18 in total, Michael got 38 in total, Josh got 17 in buildings, 10 in six-cost dev., 8 in vp, 3 in Eight Worlds/Dev., 3 in another first/most; Daniel got 3 in Discard, 23 in other; Stephanie got 3 in vp, 25 in other; I got 16 in buildings, 9 in a six-cost dev. (Military), 8 in another six-cost dev. (Developments), 1 in vp, 11 in first/most for Six Military, Discard, Eight Worlds/Dev. Interestingly, I'm not sure anybody was able to achieve the goal they put in the game.
?? ?? 17 ?? ?? 16 Buildings
?? ?? 08 ?? 03 01 VP
?? ?? 10 ?? ?? 17 6-Cost Development
?? ?? 06 03 ?? 11 Goals
18 38 41 26 28 45 Total
?? ?? ?? ?? ?? 02 # of 6-Cost Development

Totally Off Topic Remark: Using Human Height at Wikipedia.com, the average male height of all (male) Americans, 20+ as recorded in 2003-2006 is 5 feet 9 1/2 inches. Taking Josh's, Michael's, and my height to be 72, 74, and 62 respectively, our average is 5 feet 9 1/3 inches.

We were able to play two games because the first one ended quickly. I forgot to keep track of time during this game play, but I think part of the faster game is due to the Eight Worlds/Dev. first card. Other cards can also cause a rush to build or take certain actions. For example, I made certain decisions, to time myself to at least tie to discarding first. Otherwise, I haven't focused too much on production and trading in the previous two or three games. But in a way, it reminds me that there is a benefit to producing and trading, the number of cards that come in. Of course I had a Gene production world and a card that let me get one more on a trade, for a total of five cards for a Gene good.

Searching for some information on the third expansion, I stumbled upon this site where you can apparently play RFTG online, though only including the first expansion with or without goals. I'll try it out later, but also cool is the stats page where data is pooled on all games using the first expansion to determine various stats. The stats page is here. One of the stats that goes along with what Josh said, is we should be able to pick goals depending on our homeworld. The table lists how a homeworld correlates with wins, and then how a goal shifts that correlation. Though the table makes it look drastic, I don't think it is still relatively balanced.

Then this link is one for playing against AI: http://www.keldon.net/rftg/

A forum post on BoardGameGeek regarding RftG storyline: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/429879/rftg-storyline-for-the-new-player-others-

We voted for goals or not. Steve (Y) Michael (Y) Me (N) Kevin (N) Phuong (N) Josh (X). So we didn't play with goals. Had I ended a round earlier, there would be a chance I could have won. But I made a terrible call and let another round go. Out of it I gained about 15 points. But Josh got about 25 points. In any case, we learn from our mistakes. I had commented about the Galactic Salon being not completely helpful. Michael played a Galactic Salon about the second or third turn, and then played one near the end. Overall, he got pretty far, but I still think one would be enough early game, and then, not personally play consume. Now Michael had Damage Alien Factory and this prompted him to alternate Produce and Trade Consume a lot. But I think it should only have been done in the first two or four turns (produce, consume, produce, consume). In any case, my strategy early game was to go cheap developments and I lucked out in getting military for settlement; I had a six-cost development that gives points for developments. The one card that allows for two settlements in a turn is powerful. You get your cheap military or settlements out just to end the game. Hopefully before players get their good stuff in.

Summary: Don't be greedy. Just like with Lost Cities, if you can end the game, it's probably in your best interest to do so. Of course this isn't true for all games, but in Race, it's too hard to count the scores, so you might as well end it. Also, your choice not to end it means you didn't build when you could have, where as everybody else is potentially building. Hence you are allowing people to catch up to you.

At the moment Josh is doing the best. And the last thing he said, is it's probably best to be spread out in building, actions, etc.

Kevin got 18 in total; Phuong got 21 in total; Josh got 37 in buildings, 1 in vp, 9 in a six-cost dev. (Rebel); Steve got 8 in buildings, 3 in vp, 4 in a six-cost dev.; Michael got 31 in total; I got 25 in buildings, 2 in vp, 9 in a six-cost dev. (developments), 6 in another six-cost dev.
?? ?? 37 08 ?? 25 Buildings
?? ?? 01 03 ?? 02 VP
?? ?? 09 04 ?? 15 6-Cost Development
18 21 47 15 31 42 Total
?? ?? 01 01 ?? 02 # of 6-Cost Development

I sort of agree with a comment Phuong made. I'll state what I think here: It certainly helps to know what a lot of the cards do and what sort of things you can combo together. But a lot falls into what cards you get initially and hope you get cards that go with that strategy, otherwise change strategy. Perhaps you have a choice. For example, I could have gone with Novelty goods and that would be cheap to play. But I just went the development route, because I'm familiar with that route. I lucked out in some senses, but the settle phase didn't come up enough times, and part of my playing was conscious of Michael's strategy. He would use consume (trade) and hence I had to also if I wanted my one gene good to be useful. I would attribute Steve's loss to his Starting world. Perhaps we could agree on removing certain Start worlds from the pool. Or pick your two favorite to put in the pool. There can be overlaps in what you think are your favorite. Or perhaps pick what you think is the worse. The first expansion introduced a drafting variant for 2-3 players and the second expansion introduced a drafting variant for 2-5 players. I wonder if it can be modified to 6 players.

Note: 20091230 we played Scattergories, RftG, Munchkin Cthulhu

20 10 18 22 13 25 Buildings
00 09 03 03 02 00 VP
07 07 13 09 09 00 6-Cost Development
27 26 34 34 24 25 Total
01 01 02 01 01 00 # of 6-Cost Development

XX XX XX !! XX XX Tie-Breaker

This is the first win by more cards in hand and goods. Kevin chose a produce phase in the last round, but it seemed from what I was hearing, that Stephanie would have had enough cards in hands regardless of goods. But the point being, I didn't ever think about how useful a produce or consume (trade) phase on the last round could potentially be. I normally thought about getting in those last one or two buildings.

Part of the time I didn't know what I was thinking with the cards I played. For example, I kept a 6 military Alien world and realized I didn't have the military for it. I couldn't decide between going the military route to pay for Rare Elements military worlds or -1 for regular Rare Elements worlds. Finally, the one six-cost development card I had would have only given me 2 victory points, something most worlds could give me. What would have been useful is the six-cost development that bonuses for Rare Elements worlds.

26 17 14 18 27 Buildings
01 14 00 00 01 VP
13 08 10 25 00 6-Cost Development
40 39 24 43 28 Total
01 01 02 03 00 # of 6-Cost Development

This was Chris's first game and so he played with his hand face-up. Throughout most of the game, we gave him our suggestions on what to play. His starting world was Damaged Alien Factory. His play started with that and he soon got an Alien Windfall. He got a card that produced onto any windfall. He got six-cost development for explore power (8), developments (9), and windfalls (8) (Galactic Survey: SETI, Galactic Federation, and Terraforming Guild).

My start world I had a hard time making use of. It was the one Stephanie had that one time... where you discard the card to pay for a world, but it doesn't include Alien worlds. And I had a card that converted military to non-military minus 1 and another card that said subtract two more when you use that power. But I was still too short on cards to make use of it. Improved Logistics I had down, but not enough military or cards to play what I had in mind. As such, I shouldn't have gone the path I did without the development cards early game that give you good military. In fact, part of my demise is the card I wanted to use that converted military to non-military minus 1, which also is minus one to military, so it's a double-edged sword.

Josh ran into the same problem I did in that one game, except he had the card that lets him build to 14. He had Improved Logistics and was building, building, and building. But when it came time to end the game, that is, lay down his 14th building, he didn't, and that screwed my game, since I thought Josh would end it, and perhaps Stephanie's game, but Chris just went on to build that turn. And on the next round, when Josh did build his 14th, and perhaps 15th, Chris built other important things that slightly upped his bonuses and such. As such, it ended a close game 43 to 40, similar to Josh and I, 47 to 42.

From all the games that we've played, it seems like the scores are about 20's for low score, 30's for medium score, and 40's for winning score. Fluctuations of +/-10.

We played with takeover rules, but it didn't change the game play at all.

12 12 09 13 18 15 Building
01 03 02 02 01 01 VP
00 06 12 00 00 00 6-Cost Development
13 21 23 15 18 16 Total
00 01 +2 00 00 00 # of 6-Cost Development (?)
+ stands for having the power 6-Cost Dev

17 15 09 23 30 17 Building
00 02 02 03 03 03 VP
21 19 09 08 00 20 6-Cost Development
38 36 20 34 33 40 Total
02 +3 01 01 00 03 # of 6-Cost Development (?)
+ stands for having the power 6-Cost Dev

My 20 in 6-Cost Development broke down as 8, 4, and 8.

Today we played the drafting variant. It was fun. The only thing is that the majority of the group (all but me) wanted to draft all the cards. So while originally the rulebook says to stop if everybody can't draw five cards, and in our case there were 20 cards left for five people, so we each got four and finished the drafting. I'm not sure what part of the game changes by drafting these extra cards, but in any case, this variant adds a different layer of strategy to the game.

05 23 10 17 19 Buildings
06 01 05 12 02 VP
13 00 20 24 00 6-Cost Development
24 24 35 53 21 Total
02 00 03 03 00 # of 6-Cost Development

This here we used the 2-player experienced rules where each round, each player chooses two action cards instead of one.
17 20 Buildings
00 05 VP
16 06 6-Cost Development
33 31 Total
02 01 # of 6-Cost Development


I need to personally lay off the military route a bit.

20100117 Comment:


TT AI on Medium
14 11 Buildings
03 22 VP
05 18 6-Cost Development (2 chips, 1 card)
22 51 Total
01 03 # of 6-Cost Development
?? 04 Start World
11 ?? Cards on Tableau
03 XX Goods
02 ?? Cards in Hand
XX 05 Economy
XX ?? Credit

I only used about a third of the deck.

TT AI on Easy
15 19 Buildings
00 03 VP
18 12 6-Cost Development (1 chips, 1 card)
33 34 Total
03 02 # of 6-Cost Development
09 05 Start World
13 13 Cards on Tableau
02 XX Goods
00 00 Cards in Hand
XX 02 Economy
XX 02 Credit

[Legend E replacing left bracket=AI on Easy, M r.l.b.=AI on Medium, H r.l.b.=AI on Hard, 0=Original, 1=1stExpansion, 2=2ndExpansion, 3=3rdExpansion, G=Goals, T=TakeoverOn, D=Drafting, A r.r.b.=Drafted All Game Cards, E=Experienced]
Played 2009XXXX [0----] MM!(XX) AK (XX) TT (XX). XC replaced AK.
Played 20091007 [0----] XC (33) TT!(42).
Played 20091008 [0----] MM (29) XC (26) JC!(34) TT (24).
Played 20091221 [012--] SH (XX) DM (XX) PN (XX) JK (XX) KH (XX) TT!(!!).
Played 20091224 [012--] JK!(54) SN (26) SH (23) MT (19) DM (26) TT (26).
Played 20091227 [012--] JK!(50) KH (39) MT (30) SN (36) TT (35).
Played 20091227 [012-G] SN!(46) MT (35) JK (34) DM (20) SH (18) TT (17).
Played 20091227 [012-G] SN (18) MT (38) JK (41) DM (26) SH (28) TT!(45).
Played 20091230 [012--] KH (18) PN (21) JK!(47) SN (15) MT (31) TT (42).
Played 20100104 [012--] PN (27) KH (26) JK (34) SH!(34+ DM (24) TT (25).
Played 20100107 [012--] JK (40) SH (39) DM (24) CF!(43) TT (28).
Played 20100114 [012-T] KH (13) JK (21) SN!(23) SH (15) DM (18) TT (16).
Played 20100114 [012-T] KH (38) JK (36) SN (20) SH (34) DM (33) TT!(40).
Played 20100115 [012-DA KH (24) DM (24) SH (35) JK!(53) TT (21).
Played 20100115 [012-E] JK!(33) TT (31).
Played 20100121 M012--] TT (22) AI!(51).
Played 20100121 E012--] TT (33) AI!(34).
Played 20100616 [0123T] SN (26) JK!(35) DM (29) SH (25) TT (21).
Number of Games Played: CF=Chris (1) DM=Daniel (10) JC=JuiEn (NA) JK=Josh (13) KH=Kevin (7) MM=Matt (2) MT=Michael (5) PN=Phuong (3) SH=Stephanie (10) SN=Steve (8) TT=Tim (18) XC=Xuehua (3).

Race for the Galaxy

Relevant Links:
Race for the Galaxy page @ BoardGameGeek.com here
Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm page @ BoardGameGeek.com here
Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs. Imperium page @ BoardGameGeek.com here
The BoardGameGeek.com page details how and why this game is similar to San Juan.

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