Thursday, 12 June 2008

Race for the Galaxy settle-windfall-then-trade strategy

When Michelle and I play two-player Race for the Galaxy, we use the advanced version for two players, i.e. there is an additional Develop card and an additional Settle card for each player. Michelle is starting to have a winning streak in Race for the Galaxy now, and I am starting to dread that the same thing will happen as with San Juan and Mystery Rummy 4: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld. These are games that somehow Michelle has an undoubtedly higher win rate than me. It is as if she has some inherent skill, or I have some inherent weakness, at these games. Maybe it is some intrinsic ability to assess risk and opportunity.

One strategy that Michelle often uses in Race for the Galaxy is the settle-windfall-then-trade strategy, which until now I have not figured out how to beat. Maybe I have in all wrong and should be copying it instead of trying to beat it. When she chooses her two roles, she would choose Settle and Consume-Trade. She would settle a windfall world, which comes with a good (but will normally not produce goods in future), and then sell the good to gain cards. Very fast turnaround. Within the same round she has settled a world and gained a bunch of cards. And sometimes among those new cards there would be yet another convenient windfall world, and she'd do the same thing again. And I would say to her, "又来这一招?". It is quite an efficient strategy indeed. Often I find myself holding on to just three or four cards and struggling to gain more, while her struggle is because of having to go through her 14 or 15 cards to decide which ones to discard (too many juicy choices).

I find that I rarely end a game with 12 or more cards. I think I have a tendency to be overly picky about what cards to play. I like to have cards that form a coherent strategy and once I have some rough idea where I want to go, I tend to be a bit inflexible, I think. I think I do not react well to my opponents' moves. I am too absorbed in building my ideal space empire. I think I enjoy the "engine building" aspect of the game too much, and I will rarely be able to play a speed game well. There is still so much to learn and to explore in Race for the Galaxy.


tick said...

Hi, your boardgame blog is very nice. I subscribe it.I also guess that you are a malaysia chinese or singapore chinese? I am a chinese in Shanghai. Hope to see you in future to play games.


Hiew Chok Sien said...

Yes, I am a Malaysian Chinese. I have been to Shanghai once, but it was a very short business trip. I hope to visit China again in the future for a longer holiday trip.

Frank said...

Great blog Hiew - I read it regularly, so keep the entries coming!

I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next printing of Race for the Galaxy, as my wife and I really enjoy San Juan.

I also find that my wife beats me consistently in certain games, especially Battle Line and Lost Cities. So far I beat her more often in San Juan, but she is starting to get better and I will probably be in the same boat as you pretty soon!

Rossland, BC, Canada

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Battleline and Lost Cities! Card games too! I'm starting to think there's something about women and cards than men just can't figure out and can't beat. :-)

Hoywolf said...

Hey just wanted to comment on your blog, I'm a huge board game players, and one of the games that i enjoy is Race (RFTG).

In general for card games, a larger hand equals more options, drawing cards is one of the most important action. RFTG is no different, your friend Michelle is using a very powerful strategy of getting a card on the board while drawing more cards, note that this not a solitaire game, you need to react to what your opponent does, in this case, a good counter would be trade-consume and production, you can leech off her settle, you both will draw cards but you are more open next round because your next world does not have to be a windfall, you can now develop if you need to, and trade consume again (because you produced on it). Give this is a try see how it goes, and remember be adaptable to your opponents strategy. =)

Hiew Chok Sien said...

My wife Michelle and I usually play 2-player games of RFTG, so one difficulty of countering the settle+trade strategy is I can never be sure when she will do it. In any one round she may or may not have such a convenient windfall world. So the only basis for me to guess is probably just her handsize. Well, maybe that cocky smirk too... :-D