Okay, let’s get this out there: Race for the Galaxy is one of the best [and hardest] card games you can ever play. I prefer CCG’s personally, but I love strategy and patience just as much. But the big selling point between the two, is you don’t have to spend money to win a strategy card game. You actually can’t! If someone beats you, it’s because you made a mistake or they simply know the game better than you. You got outplayed, and there’s no shame in that! You can purchase expansions, but that comes with all the cards in it, and they’re four bucks. It’s not like you have to spend 200 bucks on a playset of one card. So let’s talk Race for the Galaxy. What is it? It’s one of the most famous tabletop card games, where your goal is to build a bigger, better Galactic Civilization, and you have a host of ways to go about it. It can feel incredibly daunting to learn everything in this game, and the only real gripe I can think of is not being able to hover over a tab/action to learn “what” it is. But after a few games, you’ll learn everything well enough. The tutorial is multi-part and well constructed, and if you pay attention it will definitely lead you down the path to potential victory.
I’ll try and break down the game as succinctly as possible because it’s pretty complicated from the outset. Before you learn the game, you should definitely learn about the symbols each card/phase has. Below, I’m going to post a list of what all of them are/what they mean, with many thanks to Boardgamegeek.com for helping remind me how to play the game, because it had been a long time.
Circles = Worlds
Diamonds = Developments
Hexagons = Victory Points
White Rectangles = Cards
Colored Rectangles = Goods
Eye = Look at extra cards when exploring
Black Circle with (- X) in it = Decrease the cost of settling a world by X
Red Circle with (+/- X) = Add/Subtract X to your Military power
Red Circle with (+/- X) with Pink filling = Add/Subtract Military power, but ONLY towards military worlds labeled “Rebel” in the title.
Got all that? Good. It’s going to take a few games likely, but it’ll come, don’t worry. Your goal is to get Victory Points, the little blue Hexagons. You want as many of them as you possibly can, and there are quite a few paths to get there. When a round starts, players secretly pick the phases they want to go through, and only the selected ones happen: Explore, Develop, Consume, Produce. You gain Victory Points through Building Developments, Settling Worlds, and Consuming Goods for VP. So you really have to consider what cards you have in hand, which you draw, which to discard that aren’t going to do you any good, and what your opponent is doing. This is one of the harder parts for me. Not because the UI is bad [it’s not], but I was at the time, still learning what all the cards do. This game is hard not because of that, but because the game just requires a lot of thought and thinking ahead. Though that is one of the reasons I absolutely adore this game. The player who manages everything in the game the best wins! Part of me thinks the game needs a timer on turns, but the logical part of me knows that this would not work. You have to spend a lot of time examining your cards, and the cards on your/your opponent have in play. This just means you have to trust in your fellow man not to be assholes and just hold up and do nothing until you quit. … This has happened. That’s not a bash on the game, but one on people.
Race from the Table to the Desk: 5/5
The game can take some time, but that’s absolutely fine with me. It’s a strategy game, and it’s not meant to be a game that is over in five minutes. But I have had games drag on because people simply won’t play. I love Race for the Galaxy though! It’s a nearly picture-perfect move from the table to the PC/Mobile. It has cross-play, it has all the cards you could want, and it’s not expensive. Hell, it’s cheaper than buying the physical version and you won’t have to wait around for your friends to not be busy/be free to come over and play the game. That’s one of the biggest selling points for me: It’s so hard to get people together to play stuff like this. Being able to play online with your friends makes it much better, and it can be two players or four players! If you can’t get three other folks, just play one on one, and it’ll be just as fun. Not enough people are playing this, and they ought to be! Hell, I enjoyed simply playing against the AI. The first few games, they were pretty damn close. If you loved the original game, or are looking for a strategy game to challenge you, look no farther than Race for the Galaxy! It’s an honest and complete tribute to one of the greatest card games of all time! It’s a must-own without a doubt.