Players: 2 to 4
Game Length: 30 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 2-4 players who want to build up combinations of cards and out-think their opponents
Race for the Galaxy is a role selection game for 2 to 4 players where each player is building a space empire through placing world and development cards that will provide bonuses and victory points. Over the course of the game, players will add cards to their ‘tableau’ (or collection of played cards) that will help them pursue one of the many strategies possible in the game.
After receiving a homeworld, and a hand of cards, each player will simultaneously choose what action they wish to perform, whether that is exploring, developing, settling a new world, consuming goods or producing goods. After each player has made their choice, all the chosen actions will be performed – so if the Explore and Settle options are the only ones chosen by the players, each player will get a chance to Explore and Settle, but not the other options.
In Race for the Galaxy, your hand of cards represents your options for developing and settling, but it also represents your wealth. If you wish to settle or develop a card, you must pay for it by discarding other cards. This means that whenever you choose to play a card, you’ll also be closing off other options to pay for it.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the other players. Each turn, you may only choose one of the five possible actions, but each chosen action is performed by all players. You may be able to gain a lot of momentum if you can follow a Settle action with a Trade/Produce action in the same turn, but if you play that Trade/Produce action without a Settle, you may end up wasting your turn. As you get more experienced with the game, knowing what actions your opponents are likely to perform will be key to victory
The cards that players add to their hands are drawn from a central deck, and this can lead to frustrations when playing the game. If you are hoping to pursue a military strategy, which depends on drawing military-increasing developments then conquerable worlds, you could end up stymied by the deck. Similarly, a player may spend all game placing Rare Mineral worlds, then luck into drawing the development that grants bonus points for those worlds. The luck of the draw can be a major influence on how the game pans out.
Race for the Galaxy can be daunting for new players to learn. The game makes heavy use of unique iconography to communicate what each of the cards mean, and these can be quite difficult for new players to learn. On top of this, each card of the over 100 cards in the game is different, meaning that new players will be spending a lot of time trying to work out what they all mean. To make things easier, Race for the Galaxy comes with suggested ‘tutorial’ hands that can introduce players to the game more gently and help them understand the different strategies possible.
Race for the Galaxy makes an excellent game for those wanting to build powerful combinations, adapt their strategy based on what they draw, and second guess their opponents. The wide range of cards allow players to try something different from game to game, and a number of expansions are available that add new cards and mechanisms, opening up new strategies.