The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘Race for the Galaxy

Some recent thoughts

I played the actual Shades of Tezla light and darkness scenario. I don’t like the new orc/monster/dragon tokens scattered into the base game (because they make the variability much higher) but in a scenario designed for them, it was fine. But the rulebook font is so small that basically the TaoLing has to read everything for me now. (It was tough to read even when I bought it….)

Played another game of Race: Xeno Invasion (cards only). I should play more Race. Ditto Baseball Highlights:2045.

Apparently Favor of the Pharoah was a gift at a recent game convention, because many locals now have a copy, so I played it a few more times. I think its an improvement over To Court the King, but the setup is a pain.

Reading many new bridge books. Most are on card play, but I did buy Five Card Majors the Scanian Way, and it has many new ideas and a definite philosophy. (‘Scanian’ approximates ‘Scandanavian,’ possibly meaning mainly Swedish. I think.)

Hank and I use transfer bids in competition (transfer advances and after takeout doubles); the Scanians have more including over 1C without competition, which has some proponents in ACBL land and I would play when playing Standard, if any partner wanted to. Scanian also includes switch bids: oftentimes hearts means clubs and vice versa, especially in competition.

There are parts that are likely not legal in ACBL-land (like Multi-) … actually I stared at the new ACBL regs and Multi seems to be legal by the rules but not by the commentary. Also putting 18-19 balanced into the 2C opening. But even if you strip it down to legal, building a system to allow more judgement and multiple ways to bid the same shape and strength (depending on how the HCP are distributed) is intriguing. Also fun are fit jumps (jumps showing the suit bid and a fit with opener’s suit). Of course this is likely for interest only to serious tournament players, and even then most won’t care.

Written by taogaming

November 2, 2019 at 5:33 pm

Alien Artifacts Orb Game

The Orb Expansion strangles Race. No, it waterboards it — instead of squeezing the life out it just dunks fun for 2-3 minute bursts. It takes a simultaneous psychological tableau builder, and demands that you get to wait for each player to take their turn. It adds map building and visualization. It makes Race a fixed fun game, and mercilessly fixes the fun at “Not enough.”

A full first arc game is faster than this. Non-orb for me.

Written by taogaming

January 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Feelin’ Malevolent

It’s out, baby!

I got in four (non-Orb) games for the Alien Artifacts Expansion

Hopefully I’ll get in some orb games before the New Year. I’m not sure if the game feels swingier than after a single expansion in the base arc. It may just be because I got New Sparta, Uplift world, Plague World, Genetic Labs, Uplift World, Uplift World and Pan Galactic League as the first seven cards in my tableau last game. You can’t plan that kind of synergy, but the deck seemed loaded with Uplift, to be sure. (And I pulled Alien Uplift World for the end-game insult). Probably just one of those things.

Written by taogaming

December 24, 2013 at 12:51 am

New Game Roundup

OK, I made it to gaming (I had the day off).

Blood Bound — A cute hidden team game where your basic action is to attack someone, which wounds them. As people take wounds the tend to reveal themselves (which side and which character # they are). Each player can also intervene (take a wound for someone else), which reveals their number (so it’s a once/game thing per player). When someone dies, it’s game over and you win if you killed the leader of the other team (determined by number). If not, the other team wins. This is like a much simpler, much faster Kutschfahrt. Which makes it better, IMO. Also, this plays 6-12, which is usually a tough number, and the 6 and 8 player games are fast … maybe 20 minutes. This got played three times in quick succession. The only downside it that the theme and art is incredibly dorky. Even by gaming standards. (This looks like a Flying Frog game, despite being done by FFG).

One excellent touch — the player aid card is used to cover your card, but reveals your clan id (werewolf/vampire). So you get your card, show your neighbor your clan id while hiding the details (of course, a few cards lie about clan) and then flip your card down and use the aid to see the distribution of symbols.

Suggest if you like the werewolf, resistance type games.

Bang Dice — Bang. But with Dice. More random. Faster.

Also played — Race, Rallyman, FFF, Pax Porfiriana. All still good.

Written by taogaming

November 11, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Eminent Domain

Fundamental changes produce butterfly effects. All the same rules but one could produce an identical game, or have implications that drastically alter gameplay. Take Feudal. It’s chess where each piece can move each turn (basically). That destroys the game. You can’t have a pin, or a skewer, or a forking attack, because if one move attacks two pieces (in whatever way) then both pieces move away. Simple change, profound (and horrible) effect.

Eminent Domain combines Dominion and Glory to Rome (and Race), but I’ve no idea if it works. For the first time in a while, I need to delve into mechanics. Like Dominion, Eminent Domain starts with 10 cards, and you add and remove cards to your deck, and reshuffle constantly.  When it’s your turn, you (optionally) play one action, then play one role. That’s like Glory to Rome, except that you don’t have to have the role in hand… you pick it up from the center of the table (and add it to your deck). When you play a role you can meld additional cards that match it to enhance the effect … and other players can either follow (melding 1+ cards that match your role from hand to get some effect) or dissent (aka “Think” in G2R) to draw a card. Like Race, you have a tableau of cards (and maybe technologies) you can add to, which are worth points. You can also produce and consume for VP.

You can get developments (called technologies) by using the research role. Each technology requires some number of research cards and 1-3 face up planets. Technology cards usually go into your deck, but some go to the tableau. Planets start face down, and have to be colonized or conquered (via the colonize and warfare action, respectively). You survey to get more worlds. You also start with a politics card, which you can convert to another card once.

Sidebar — Why are Eminent Domain’s inspirations great? Well, Dominion has a simple idea, but since you vary the 10 kingdom cards (across one hundred and change) you get lots of different combinations. After hundreds of games, I see patterns, but I’m still surprised every now and then. Each game is a mini-experiment to discover the best path for the current layout. Race has the concept of inconvienent plenty. You have some cards in your hand, and a few of them will go into your tableau. The rest are used to pay. And in a single game you’ll only see a fraction of the cards. Glory to Rome has the follow/think decision, more difficult building and role management (in that you can’t just pick the role you want) and trying to arrange implicit coalitions (via the Clientele mechanism).

Emiment Domain, while following the form, misses in each case — E.D. lacks Dominions vast combinations … apart from starting worlds the setup is the same each time. You can play 1 card plus one meld from your hand each turn, so there’s no inconvenient plenty. (Just play the best meld). You do only see a fraction of the world cards, but these are all minor variants. A/B/C types, slightly different cost/VP, and a few minor abilities. All the technologies are open buys, available each game.

Finally, the Glory to Rome aspects. Here’s where Eminent Domain comes closest to capturing the feel. If another player leads a role, you’ve got the follow/think distinction. In G2R, the decision is tough because it often involves using a wild card … if you follow, you may not be able to lead the role you want on your turn.  In ED, you can always do the role you want, since you take it from the supply. In G2R, thinking gives you a new hand (or a wild), so it greatly increases your options. In ED, you only get one card …. but melding multiple cards can be important, so it sometimes matters.

The problem is that most cards have a single function. If Player A colonizes, I can play all my colonize cards to help take over a world. If I think, I get another card. If I colonize on my turn, then I probably could have gotten the exact same effect by following, although if the extra card I drew is a colonize then I get some benefit. (You also get the extra colonize when you call the role, like a leader privilege).

But suppose I’m going to select Warfare as my role. Now if I dissent (“think”)I get one more card, then I play Warfare on my turn. At the end of my turn, I can dump my colonize cards (and the card I drew), but if I followed the colonize, I got some use out of my cards, at the cost of cycling one less card.

Which means, to me, that the real issue of Eminent Domain is How to best work at the periphery of what others are doing. Suppose my will play some Role often, say Warfare.  If I have a handful of Warfare cards, I can follow, but then my hand will be depleted … when I start my turn I get no action and my role (since I won’t meld) will have a minor effect. (To be fair, some of the role privileges do not depend on number of cards played, a fact I’m glossing over). So there’s a difference between following and dumping my hand, and leading the same hand, but it’s timing and tempo.

But if I have just a little bit of Warfare in my deck, then when others follow I can drop a few cards, then lead my main role on my turn. Now I get little Warfare, Big Whatever.  Timing and Tempo, but also an interesting twist on collusion. It may be the case that the best way to react to your opponent’s plans is to do the same thing, moderately.

That’s interesting and, if true, a somewhat surprising state of affairs. I’m not at all convinced that it’s true, but implicit collusion (via clientele) is a big part of Glory to Rome and I suspect it applies in this novel form.

In my one (and only) game everyone quickly trashed their produce/trade cards. Both my opponents went colonize heavy, but I decided to switch back to production. This meant when they colonized, I’d think or maybe drop a card or two, and when I produced they had no choice but to think.  And the result? I lost.  But I think the problem was in my switching tacks … if I’d skipped the trash and rebuild my first few productions would have been much better (because of card melding).

So, what does it mean?

I don’t think Eminent Domain is great. It’s basic gameplay has some interesting ideas but I suspect once you get past the first few games it will be too repetitive. Having said that, I suspect the 3-4 player game contains interesting second order effects because of the follow/dissent mechanism. It may be that the dynamic is too chaotic to do any real planning. That will need more plays.

I don’t think I’ll give Eminent Domain hundreds of hours, but I could see giving it a few more plays. It hasn’t hooked me enough to guarantee it, and I may just be imagining this dynamic, but it warrants investigation.

Written by taogaming

August 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

The Brink of War

Now that The Brink of War has been out for a while, a few thoughts:

  1. I have two sets of Race, a fully expanded set, and a base-set (for teaching). The thought of teaching new people the full game gives me the willies. I’m in the same position I was in a decade ago with 18xx … I’d like to have opponents, but I’m way up on the learning curve so everyone involved has to accept that The crushing will commence if I play. An odd situation. Not terribly pleasant.
  2. I have been playing Keldon’s AI, though. I enjoy the game (any game where I can play in 10% of the time? Done.) and I think I’ve got my hand around the prestige issue. That being said, I’m mainly playing the AI at “Look at my tableau, glance at the Opps and ignore them). The AIs have their groupthink, to be sure.
  3. Prestige, like military, is a path. You just have to recognize it. It’s an interactive path (much like takeovers), which does lead to the “I’ll play my prestige world on turn 1. Oh noes! So did you!” In that case, the player who didn’t play a prestige world may be winning. I suspect this (indirect) interaction annoys people, but it’s always been there. (“I played mining conglomerate with my two mine worlds … and hey, you just played Lost Species Ark World.”) It’s implicit collusion (leaching) and implicit competition (prestige fights). An odd dynamic.
  4. I agree that the game can’t be expanded. Even now, many wins are vast crushinations.  You’ve always been able to get a big “Engine” but just to keep each engine running you have to have a few complementary cards. Getting an 8+ military in the base game lets you take an outpost, but now you could get the outpost, monolith, etc etc. There are now 3 “Green” 6 devs, two “Blue” 6 devs. A few Alien triggers, etc. (And that’s not counting the goals). Yes yes, planning helps. But the variance. I think searching and exploring reduce it, but still.
  5. Between the variance and the learning curve, I think a new arc of expansions is a good idea. Reset everyone, build a new strategy space.
  6. But I’m in no hurry.

Written by taogaming

October 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm

And Hansa, and Race

Two more games of Hansa, and now I’m comfortable stating that Tokens need to be nerfed. I’m (relatively) happy with the rest of the game, but I think a simple VP per token at the end instead of lumpy “Triangular number based on pairs, mainly” scoring. The tokens are already good enough that if you get a lot of them you’ve probably won without the token scoring. So make it interesting — a point each.

And putting your first cube in Gottingen (the ‘upgrade action’ city) does score quite well (~ 8 points, well worth a few turns without a 3rd action).

And I’ve now seen someone crush out the prestige but lose in Race. Not sure what I did right, but apparently the old standby of “Hey, let’s drop four 6-devs” still works.

Written by taogaming

May 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm