Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Race for the Galaxy is fast...

... and this is not just referring to how fast the games are (Michelle tells me we play 4 games in an hour). We have now played more than 100 games, and among the four games in my collection that I have played more than 100 times, it is the fastest to reach 100 plays. At this rate, I have no doubt it will hit 200, especially since the expansion Gathering Storm is coming. A second yet-unnamed expansion is in the works too, but that won't be any time soon.

GameTotal playsTime to reach 50 plays100 plays150 plays200 plays
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper204~3m~1yr~1yr 2m~2yr 5m
Carcassonne196~2.5m~6m~1yr 3mn/a
Ticket to Ride139~8m~11.5mn/an/a
Race for the Galaxy109~2m~3mn/an/a
Lost Cities95~6.5mn/an/an/a
San Juan58~2yr 10.5mn/an/an/a

I have a feeling San Juan will stay at 58 for quite some time. It's not my 6th most played game. I'm just including it here for comparison.

My Race for the Galaxy deck is starting to show wear and tear, especially on the edges of the cards. It will take conscious effort not to examine them too closely when the expansion comes out and I mix the old and new cards. Sometimes when I shuffle the cards they actually feel a bit sticky. I guess it's because of the grease accumulated after being handled so many times. However I don't plan to use card sleeves for them, like I did for Citadels in the past. I just don't like card sleeves because they make cards hard to shuffle and they are a nuisance when you play. I don't use card sleeves for my copy of Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper either. Those cards are showing obvious signs of wear and tear.

Sometimes I also wonder what keeps me coming back to Race for the Galaxy. Definitely Michelle's willingness (and sometimes eagerness too) to play this helps in pushing up the count. Being a quick card game contributes to this. Michelle can play this very quickly and she often makes the decisions faster than I do. Her 2 action cards are often down before mine are. The other reason is I still feel there are more strategies that I have not tried. The common strategies that we have been using are military, consume (with focus on novelty goods and rare elements being the most commonly used subsets of this strategy), and to some extent development and speed-play. We have tried the alien strategy. We haven't really done any genes production strategy, although we've used the pan galactic league (rewards genes worlds and military worlds) with many genes worlds settled. I've tried an explore strategy, which didn't quite work out, so I'm not sure whether an explore strategy can really stand by itself. It might be a tactic that you should attach to a military strategy. I've tried a trade strategy, which also didn't quite work out, but it may be because Michelle actively avoided producing so that I didn't get a free ride. I'm not sure whether a trade strategy by itself can work. I need to try it again. Michelle has used the Diversified Economy effectively recently (draw cards per different good type produced, and gain 3VP for 3 different goods consumed). There are some other quirky cards that we have occasionally found good uses for, e.g. the one that gives VP for discarding cards from your hand (I guess that's a bit like the church in San Juan where you bury dead bodies for VP).

We sometimes use a mix of strategies, and also sometimes switch strategy in mid game, and these are not necessary bad things to be doing. Sometimes an aimless or unfocused play (usually very bad and is a often seen in new players trying to learn the game) can win, but then maybe it is actually a speed-play in disguise. There are still so many cards that I have not used, or have not used effectively, e.g. the research lab, or the gambling world. I feel like I have explored 95% of the game, and there is still that little mysterious, seductive and elusive part that I have yet to fully grasp. There are still some unexplored possibilities and untapped strategies.

And I play Race for the Galaxy almost only as a 2-player game. If I can find a regular 3rd player in future, there is going to be more to explore. And the 4th player...


Aik Yong said...

dude you haven't tested the trade strategy? man i got creamed by it the first time. It's also the most reliable thus far... two cards are key, the two that allows pitching cards for VPs.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I haven't really tried the trade strategy much. One thing I've tried is putting down some cards with trade powers, and then getting lots of cards from trading. I haven't tried this much, but from what I experienced this is slow, slower than a consume strategy because you need to produce-trade-settle/develop to put down more cards that give you VPs, whereas with a consume strategy you just do produce-consumex2 to get VPs. I assume with a consume strategy you'd need to rely on other people's develop/settle actions, since you must do your own trade action.

I have tried the card that allows you to discard cards on hand for VPs during trade/consume (no doubling from consumex2), but not very often. That doesn't seem to give a lot of VPs though. It's kind of like a side dish compared to the kind of 6VP or 8VP or more that you do per turn if you use a consume strategy. How do you play the trade strategy? I'd like to try it.

Aik Yong said...

With the trade strategy, you can trade one good for loads of cards, pitch them to get up to 4VP with the right planets.

The extra cards from trading can also be used for develop/settle. And with loads of cards gained from trading, there's always a good seletion of cards to choose for develop/settle that complements your strategy.

The good thing about this strategy is that you can pretty much ride on anything your opponents does. So just ride on your opponents' produce/consume and develop/settle to get ahead.

So the only action you really need to select is trade. Everything else is flexible.

But enough talk, we should try to play together sometimes at Old Town Kopitiam Cheras, then we can figure out the best strategy... :)

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Aaah... I see... I play almost exclusively the advanced 2-player game. Not sure whether it's because of this the trade strategy is harder to pull off. 4VP per turn is if you get both the cards allowing you to discard cards for VP. Also 4VP is not a lot compared to those consume turns when you get 6VP, 8VP or even more. I usually don't both with consuming until I can get 6VP per turn. Not sure whether this is normal.

Yeah... I have been talking about joining the OTK Cheras group but till now still haven't got around to it. :-P

Anonymous said...

Dude I love this game! I just barely got it in the mail yesterday and I've already played it like 5 times!!! GREATEST GAME OF ALL TIME!!! This almost beats COD4 lol! I found a place that has this for 50% off and I got it pretty quickly in the mail.

The Best Board Games

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

What's COD4? Maybe I should check it out.

Aik Yong said...

eerr... i think the previous comment was a spam...

anyway i did 2player today and i have to say i agree with the consumption-production assessment. however multiplayer is a different beast, thus our differences in opinion.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

That post indeed sounded rather overly enthusiastic, but I just wanted to be polite. :-) Also I sincerely don't know what's COD4.

I have only played 3P RFTG 9 times, compared to 148 2P games, so definitely 3P and 4P games will be something I need to learn and adjust to when I get to play them.