Monday, 29 December 2008

Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm

I have now played almost 250 games of Race for the Galaxy. I have played 30+ 2-player games with The Gathering Storm, the first expansion. Being a big fan of Race for the Galaxy, there was no doubt that I'd buy this expansion. I also fully intend to buy the next two expansions, although there is no confirmed date even for the next one.

I like The Gathering Storm, and will not be playing without it in future. It adds more to the game, and provides more variety. More start worlds, more 6-cost development cards, Improved Logistics, a development which indeed can change the pace of a game dramatically. In summary, more and better. And I also think of it as more complete, as strategies around gene worlds and alien goods worlds are more viable now. They used to be quite hard to execute in the base game.

I actually like the objectives aspect of the game. Every game, there are two 5VP most-of objectives (e.g. most novelty goods and rare elements worlds) and four 3VP first-to objectives (e.g. first player to have more than 10 cards at the end of a round and have to discard) randomly decided. When I first found out about them, I thought they would be quite tedious, and I didn't expect to like them. Something distracting and not fun, something that makes the game not pure anymore. Other players also think they introduce more luck. If your starting world and your starting hand are not helpful towards any of the randomly drawn objectives, then you are out of luck. So initially I played without the objectives.

Later I decided to try it out, just to see how it plays. It turned out to be quite alright. There is some luck, but I don't mind it. It isn't tedious. It adds another consideration when you play, which I find interesting. There are some games where neither of us have cards tending strongly to any particular strategy, and we end up choosing the strategy which can help us more towards the objectives. There is also a game of chicken in the first-to objectives. You have a 6-cost dev card that you can play, but do you want to play it now, depleting your hand, or do you play it later, hoping your opponent won't play one before you? I will likely continue to play with the objectives.

In this game I was very lucky with my card draws. My start world allowed me to settle rare element worlds very cheaply. The early Settles allowed me to Trade and earn more cards. Then I had both Tourist World and Galactic Trendsetters. I went for the consume strategy and scored 30VPs. The bigger tile is the most novelty goods / rare element worlds objective tile. The smaller tile is the first to gain 5 VP chips objective tile.

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