The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Why Race Goals are Meh.

Since you asked

The emotional reason? They bore me. Also, I fear change.

The intellectual reasons used to justify the emotional one —

  1. They add big, non-granular randomness to the game. (Don’t you just love being New Sparta and then seeing the Biggest Military tile not in used? It’s like rain on your wedding day). [It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m just waiting for player A to win because B and C tied each got 3 VPs instead of B winning because he got 5 VPs.]
  2. They reek of chrome. I don’t play Cosmic with Lucre, or moons, or reverse hexes, either.
  3. I happened to like the prior level of interaction, which focused on role selection. I didn’t think we needed a whole lot of cards like “Mining Conglomerate,” but now we’ve six of them in every game.
  4. They slow the game down.

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Written by taogaming

November 7, 2008 at 7:15 pm

14 Responses

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  1. 1 Isn’t a big issue for me (random starting conditions).
    3 I’m not sure about this yet… only played this with solid competition about nine times.
    4 I’m definitely concerned about this but not to the point that I’m ready to give up on them yet. Players seem to jockey more for the goals than to force the pace as much as the base game. I’ve only won once without taking a goal.

    Greg Williams

    November 7, 2008 at 7:50 pm

  2. I forgot to mention that based on your comment in the previous post I added a question to a poll I cooked up with results that seem to fall in line with your inclination:

    http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/353854

    I guess I’m a little surprised that so many people are so willing to give up on the goals already.

    Greg Williams

    November 7, 2008 at 7:54 pm

  3. I am strongly in agreement with this. As soon as I had my first game with goals, my thoughts were “well, this just introduced a bunch more luck to the game”. Getting a really good initial deal to work with your starting hand is enough of a lead for a player to get. If they also get the right goals to work with their hand, then it’s even more imbalanced.

    You can argue that things like the military goal help boost the military game slightly due to its being underpowered, but like you said, the military goal doesn’t always show up, and then the spartan gets hosed while the producers get a couple goals that DO work (sliding the game even more in favour of the other players).

    It just seems like it was slapped on to put a bit more meat into the expansion. I would rather have not seen the goals added at all and price the expansion a few bucks less. I think they take away from the quality of the game. Unfortunately, the slight majority of my game group seems to be generally in favour of them (though not overwhelmingly) and I expect that they will be played with regularly.

    I just really don’t think they add anything positive to the game. Just more chance.

    hermit

    November 7, 2008 at 7:56 pm

  4. It _is_ rather interesting to me to see so much effort put into balance, and then blowing that work out of the water by having the values drastically shifted depending on what’s in the middle. Not bad mind you, just, interesting.

    What makes the game fun for me is having difficult valuation decisions for each card, and the goals, while adding some randomness and imbalance, do add another layer to complicate valuation, so ultimately I have to say it’s a welcome addition.

    If I had to complain, I’d say I wished they were darker / spacier in color.

    Anthony Rubbo

    November 8, 2008 at 12:15 am

  5. It _is_ rather interesting to me to see so much effort put into balance, and then blowing that work out of the water by having the values drastically shifted depending on what’s in the middle. Not bad mind you, just, interesting.

    What makes the game fun for me is having difficult valuation decisions for each card, and the goals, while adding some randomness and imbalance, do add another layer to complicate valuation, so ultimately I have to say it’s a welcome addition.

    If I had to complain, I’d say I wished they were darker / spacier in color.

    Anthony Rubbo

    November 8, 2008 at 12:15 am

  6. 5) They seem like a response to a non-existent problem. To me, it feels like an answer to all the people who felt like Race didn’t have enough player interaction. But I never felt that way, in fact I think such complaints are strange, so I have a hard time embracing them.

    Chris Farrell

    November 8, 2008 at 2:28 am

  7. I don’t disagree that Race’s player interaction is more subtle than other games, but I just don’t think it’s something that needs to be fixed. The game works how it is.

    hermit

    November 8, 2008 at 2:35 am

  8. ditto Brian
    It is like advance axis and allies. Chrome that doesn’t add much.

    meyerg

    November 8, 2008 at 7:17 pm

  9. 5) They seem like a response to a non-existent problem.

    To a certain extent, that’s how I feel because of point 3.

    Brian

    November 8, 2008 at 11:43 pm

  10. First, due to the simultaneous nature of the game, there is something unsettlingly unintuitive about the goals. You aren’t racing for them, precisely because you always have the same chances as anyone else to get there. Take “most production worlds”, for example. If I have the worlds to achieve it in my hand I have no real incentive to start settling, as you might expect. Everyone else can settle too, and keep up with me. It doesn’t change the incentives to pick certain phases (apart from possibly explore), it just rewards those who have the cards to go in a certain direction anyway.

    Second, I already posted this regarding Greg’s BGG poll, but I think the differences between the goals are odd. You have luck driven goals, and timing driven goals. 3 Alien cards are hard to get, let alone to play. Similarly for a power on each phase (there are only 7 develop powers in the deck). First to discard, however, doesn’t rely as strongly on your draw, but on changing the speed of your game. Same for first 6-dev. I find these second types of goals more interesting, but I’m undecided as to whether I’d actually want to play with goals even if they were all like this. I certainly don’t like the goals as is.

    As regards your point 1: this is why I’d never play the goals with new players. They really emphasise the random elements already in the game, and I can see it putting people off.

    Kester Jarvis

    November 9, 2008 at 7:32 am

  11. 1. I’d argue the randomness is less than that introduced by the card draw. Also the randomness is right at the beginning of the game and publically declared for all. I haven’t found it difficult to compensate for it.
    2. I can see that.
    3. Role selection and card play have always been the primary means of interaction. Card play is a big source of interaction without goals, as it can force responses by the opponents.
    4. I’ve never seen it slow down a game with experienced players more than say the new cards added to the deck. It takes 10 seconds to shuffle them up, another 2-3 seconds each to claim them when you take them. Keeping track of other people’s tableaus should be second nature once you’ve played enough games. After people get used to them it speeds right along.

    I’ll agree that playing them with people with <100 games is probably a bad idea and will slow the game down.

    frunk

    November 10, 2008 at 8:06 am

  12. Having now played with the goal tiles in larger games, I have to say they felt better with more players. With two players (which I do play with a lot), they felt pointless and arbitrary. With more, they seemed better. They can be lucky, but let’s be honest, there is a lot of luck in Race, so it’s just another thing.

    I’m still not totally sold on them. But I feel better about them then I did before.

    Chris Farrell

    November 10, 2008 at 2:54 pm

  13. “I’ll agree that playing them with people with <100 games is probably a bad idea and will slow the game down."

    You know, my initial reaction was to disagree with the notion that the goals slow the game down – they really haven’t for us – but that’s because I’m nearly always playing with folks with many hundreds of plays.

    I won’t play with goals with two; with more, we’re starting to flip one, and if it comes down face up play with them, otherwise without.

    Joe Huber

    November 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

  14. “I’ll agree that playing them with people with <100 games is probably a bad idea and will slow the game down."

    You know, my initial reaction was to disagree with the notion that the goals slow the game down – they really haven’t for us – but that’s because I’m nearly always playing with folks with many hundreds of plays.

    I won’t play with goals with two; with more, we’re starting to flip one, and if it comes down face up play with them, otherwise without.

    Joe Huber

    November 12, 2008 at 11:24 am


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