Race for the Galaxy

Racing through the galaxy – exploring for new planets and technological developments, colonising newly discovered planets either by force or more peaceful means, building developments to help your civilisation advance, producing goods and then selling them for profit. My husband and I have recently got into playing Race for the Galaxy.

Lots of cards, some victory point tokens and reference sheets, but a whole lot of game in a small package.
Lots of cards, some victory point tokens and reference sheets, but a whole lot of game in a small package.

Each player starts with their small newly formed empire consisting of just a start world in front of them. Each start world has a different benefit that may influence in which direction to expand your empire. Will you take over military planets by force, go for production worlds and churn out victory points, or build alien planets which are worth more victory points than most other planets. To aid you in your chosen strategy you play planets and developments from your hand which give a range of benefits to the available actions.

The five base game start worlds, showcasing a good range of strategies available.
The five base game start worlds, showcasing a good range of strategies available.

Player interaction is limited to the choice of actions. Every round each player secretly chooses an action  simultaneously and then they are revealed and all chosen actions are available for all players to use. However if you choose the action you do get a bonus for that action this round. Unless you desperately need the associated bonus for a particular action it can be worth thinking about what your opponent might play and choosing something different so that you can achieve more this turn. Also, even though you are building your separate empire you do need to keep a bit of an eye on what the other players are up to as once someone has 12 or more cards played in front of them the game ends at the end of that round; the other way the game can end is if the victory point chips are exhausted.

The 7 actions cards: 2 explore, 1 develop, 1 settle, 2 consume, and 1 produce - which will you choose this turn?
The 7 actions cards: 2 explore, 1 develop, 1 settle, 2 consume, and 1 produce – which will you choose this turn?

The game takes a while to learn as there is a lot of iconography, this meant it got off to a bumpy start with my husband refusing to play for several months as he wasn’t sure what was going on. In the end he agreed to download the Keldon AI and we played against that a few times to help understand how to play and the different strategies available.

So he may have got off to a bumpy start with this game, but he definitely has the hang of it now (this was his winning set up in our latest game).
So he may have got off to a bumpy start with this game, but he definitely has the hang of it now (this was his winning set up in our latest game).

We have now progressed onto the 2-player advanced variant, where you each choose 2 actions a round. This makes the game progress incredibly quickly and we can easily get through a game including set up and set down in less than 30 mins (or even much faster if your main opponent’s strategy seems to consist of completing his empire as quickly as possible). This allows you to chain your actions together and get more done on each turn, e.g. exploring so you have enough cards to play that development.

I would thoroughly recommend this game for anyone wanting a quick card game with low player interaction that requires a fair amount of strategic thinking throughout. Although be aware that it make take several games to get to grips with all the icons and feel comfortable with the game as a whole, this isn’t a game to attempt to learn when you are tired. Sometimes the game can feel a little frustrating if the cards you need for your chosen strategy fail to come up, I often end a game feeling I just needed one more turn, but then that only provides more motivation for just one more game…

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