The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Core Worlds: Galactic Orders

After my experience with Core Worlds, I’d concluded (mentioned in the update to this post) that ignoring any worlds for the first 2-4 turns felt dominant. It made the game repetitive. So I set it aside. I took my copy to the Gathering with a simple idea: play the expansion and either buy it, or sell my copy.

I bought the expansion.

Galactic Orders doesn’t have many rules:

  1. If you play a card with a symbol, you get a token on the respective guild.
  2. You spend guild tokens for benefits, or earn VP for having the most tokens on a guild at the end of the game (or second, if there are 3+ players).
  3. There are random events. Only the last drawn event matters (events don’t take up space in the tableau, so these are just extra cards).
  4. Whenever you conquer a world you can trash (“colonize”) with any single card you used.

Finally, they updated the homeworlds. You draw an extra card if you have more worlds than units. And you can trash one card a turn (from hand) if you have 3+ worlds.

The homeworld changes alone are enough to spark interest. While I don’t demand the expansion, I don’t think I’d play without the ‘new’ homeworld power. But the guilds diversify gameplay. None of the starting cards give you symbols; guilds drive you to draft mediocre Stage I cards, just to get a few tokens early, and start on the race for most.

The guilds provide nice flexibility. Bonus power (either 3 for drafting or deploying, or two for anything). Bonus actions. Bonus cards. Bonus military strength. In short, benefits to smooth over a rough spot. (Assuming you have them on the correct guild).

The events provide rough spots, although the early events are beneficial. By the mid game they gum up the works slightly.

Now, the expansion adds randomness. If you draft the “Mining Freighter” in stage 0, you’ll get a minor benefit from it … if you draft it and a bunch of mining cards, you earn bonus energy. But, you might not see any mining cards early on. Or your opponents can watch as practically every card has the mining symbol. (Incidentally, after that we quickly found the Monarch’s Revenge variant that caps any card that grants a bonus based on # of tokens to a limit of 4, and the Victory Points you can earn from Raven caps at 8 bonus points. I strongly suggest that).

So … the expansion adds randomness. But Core World’s fault was a rote opening. Now there’s a mad rush for early worlds (to start trashing cards) and early drafts (to start getting guild tokens). By Turn 2 strategies will diverge.

The strategy space has opened up.The cost (in time) is minimal. Not quite zero, since players have to consider when to spend tokens. But close. More cards means more chances of a lopsided draft stalling your plans (only ground units or ground worlds showing for a key turn).

But overall the expansion rejuvenated a game that had gotten dull after 10 plays. If it gives 10 more, it will be worth it. And I think it may have more life than that.

Rating — Suggest

Written by taogaming

May 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Reviews

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3 Responses

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  1. The early planet rush strategy lets you bury initial cards under the planets as well as enabling you to bury cards from hand; seems like it dominates the ignore-worlds strategy. Which is as it should be: ignoring worlds just feels wrong.

    It also fixes the underwhelming nature of the round 1 draft; in the past it seemed like a dubious choice to pick those cards up since their intrinsic strength was weak. Now even the weakest card with a guild symbol on it is much stronger than all but one or two cards in your starting deck just by virtue of that guild point.

    Frederic Bush

    May 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

  2. I think the only big problem with the expansion is the individual card balance. Phantom Ship, the Trinidad, and a few others are just stupidly cost effective compared to alternatives, especially those from the base game.


    May 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm

  3. Which is why I think the game is so much better now. You want to draft and you want to conquer worlds, which means all of your actions are in high demand now.

    The extra card for having more worlds than deployed units feels about right as well. It isn’t enough to stop playing units, but it shapes the choices on the turn.


    May 8, 2013 at 10:40 am

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