The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Race for the Galaxy — Contact Specialist

Continuing my “Race for the Galaxy Strategy Ruminations” I thought I’d look at the military strategy. New players quickly grok how powerful this is, but take a few games to figure out the more consumption based strategies. I feel this is why Military strategy is often perceived as “The way to win.”

But it doesn’t help that the most “rules intense” card is also also one of the powerful Anti-Military cards.

The Contact Specialist reduces your military rating by one, but also gives you the power to Pay for Military. Quoting from the rulebook:

As the action, the player may place a military world as a non-military world. The cost is the world’s defense -1, with other applicable discounts. This cannot be used to place an Alien production or windfall world.

So, what does this mean? Let’s say you have a world with a defense of 3 — The Pirate World (A novelty windfall world that gives $3 trade bonus when you sell its good). That’s a dandy little world to conquer. But if you don’t have 3 military rating, but have the contact specialist, you can buy this world for a cost of two cards (A defense of 3, subtract 1, yields the cost. The cost does not include the Pirate World itself).

Seeing as how you can consume/trade next turn (for five+ cards!), that’s a handy ability.

But not only does it help you, it puts a serious crimp on the military players … a military strategy requires finding worlds to conquer. If you use the contact specialist to take the Pirate World, that’s one less world ripe for the picking. The deck contains roughly 20% military worlds (23 cards out of 114). Quite a few small windfall worlds (like all the Uplift worlds) are dirt cheap with a contact specialist, and deprive the military specialist with a good to trade next turn to grab 4 more cards to fuel his conquests. Conquering worlds is “free,” but you can’t hope to keep drawing them with settle rebates, and even a Spartan Fantasy will want to play a few developments (New Galactic Order if nothing else, but often Space Marines or even Drop Ships.)

Towards the endgame, a Contact Specialist reduces your dependency on drawing the perfect development — you can play the big Rebel cards. Now the Rebel Homeworld is a 6 cost, 7 VP card, which is better than a random 6-cost development (although not as good as the perfect match for any given tableau). And again, the Spartans hate it when announce your alliance with the Rebels.

Now, the contact specialist does reduce your military rating by one. If you were never planning on conquering anyone, that’s not much of a problem. But you can often “earn back” that military rating. There are four (non-alien) military worlds that boost military ratings. (One is New Sparta). If you get your military rating up a bit, then you can always conquer. Someone with a contact specialist and a mediocre military rating can conquer the easy targets and schmooze the big boys. As always, you can never combine military rating with paying for worlds.

But as the Pay for Military power indicates, you can combine discounts. So if you slap down Replicant Robots, you buy military worlds for Defense less three. Alpha Centauri’s discount is minor, since only one military rare world has a cost greater than one!

Finally, the Contact Specialist loves the Pan-Galactic League (and vice versa). Not only does the PGL give you a 3VP bonus for the specialist, there are six military genes worlds (most of them with a defense of two). All are easy to purchase using the specialist, and the league will give you an extra card for each gene world during production (even non-producting windfalls!) and two extra VPs per world.

So if you’ve got a few games under your belt and wonder what you can do to stop the military onslaught, try using the Specialist.

Update: I cross posted this to BGG. Discussion there.

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Written by taogaming

December 9, 2007 at 11:23 am

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