Race for the Galaxy Review

Race for the Galaxy card game in play


A game that has entered my classic card game category is Race for the Galaxy.

In Race for the Galaxy (which, along with San Juan, is the card game adaptation of Puerto Rico), each of the players controls his own intergalactic empire. In order to grow his empire, a player can explore (draw cards), develop new technologies, settle and conquer new worlds, consume goods, and produce new goods. Like in Puerto Rico, which actions are performed each round are based on which roles the players take. After the players choose roles, those roles are performed by all the players (with the person selecting the role getting a bonus). After all of the victory points have been collected, or (more likely) once a player has 12 cards in front of him, the game is over. At this point, each of the players adds up their total victory points from developments, worlds, and victory points earned through the course of the game, and the person with the most victory points wins.

The first major pro that I have found in Race for the Galaxy is related to how the roles system works. Whereas San Juan simply re-implemented the same mechanic as Puerto Rico, Race for the Galaxy adapted it. In Race, all of the players select their roles at the beginning of the round and reveal them at the same time. If a player selected a role, then they get the bonus for that role, and there is a possibility that several people will choose the same role (and each get the bonus). Whereas in Puerto Rico most of the roles are performed each round since you cannot select the same role as someone else, Race for the Galaxy often will have rounds in which very few actions are performed. This game mechanic was amazing to start with, and I think that Race for the Galaxy's adaptation makes it feel fresh, while still working incredibly well.

The next pro for Race for the Galaxy is how quickly it can be played (this is also why some people believe it to be a filler game). However, though Race is fast and portable (the ideal game for waiting on your plane at an airport), it is deep enough to get together with friends to play. This is the best game that I have found in the "small and portable" category. (As a side note: when I was carrying this game around, I used a small 200 count card box instead of the original packaging, as the box is a bit bigger than needed once you remember the rules.)

The only con that I have found in Race for the Galaxy is that there are some strategies that are very hard to defeat, and whether a player is able to implement that strategy can be based solely on card drawing. Specifically, if I a player is able to grow a strong military force in the game, and then they get the card that allows them to score a victory point for each point of military that they have, it is very hard to defeat them. (Unfortunately, if two players are both working on the military strategy the winner will often come down to whoever draws better, since there will only be one copy of most cards in the deck.)  Because of this, some of the other roles of the game such as Consume and Produce often get neglected. I wish that there were more strategies that seemed viable so that the different roles in the game would play a more equal role.

Overall, I give Race for the Galaxy a 9.0/10. This is one of the games in my collection that has received the most use, and I would recommend everyone check this game out.

Want to read more about Race? You can see another Race for the Galaxy review at Play Board Games, or a third Race for the Galaxy review by I Slay the Dragon.

4 comments:

  1. The specific flaw you mention (the military points = victory points card) is, for once, very easy to remedy. Take that card out, no?

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  2. Nice review, I agree the length of the game is a big plus, settlers can just take too long! I gave race for the galaxy 8 out of 10 compared to your 9, but still, a fine game.

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  3. Amazing game. My all time favorite. It is interesting that you feel the military strategy is overpowered. In the base game especially, my group thought the high consumption strategies were able to dominate the military in the majority of our games. We're you playing with expansions?

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  4. I've actually played with the first two expansions. I really felt like they detracted from the game more than adding to it, so I recently traded them away and kept just the base game.

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