Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Race for the Galaxy

So – tonights session sees a new introduction – one of the highly rated classics: “Race for the Galaxy“.
Already during the few test-runs that I have given it, it looks to become one of my true favorites.

This game just seem to have everything I like: A strong theme (Sci-fi), a good story, fast pace, complex deck/empire building with ressource management and “hard-choices” empire management.
Another thing I like, is how it is extremely important to read the opponents next move, as that will give you the possibility to pick the exact right action yourself. That is essentially how to win.
All I miss in it, is the interaction/battles – as this game is pretty much only about yourself. That makes it hard to set back your opponents.
Of course, being a trash-talking bunch – a lot of deception and misleading statmenents are bound to occur in the action-card picking phase. That will be great.

Let me go through these highlights, and explain further:
Theme: Aww, greatly produced cards of exotic or hostile worlds, buildings and improvements. That just so neatly done. A good game could potentially be ruined for me, if the artwork falls through – this one delivers above expectation.
Story: I enjoy the idea of exploring space. How they managed to pull off something that complex in a simple deck-building game is impressive. It just works so well – you feel like you are flying around exploring space and improving your civilization with planets and tech.
Fast pace: I like games that have depth – but I sometimes get bored sitting through the same for hours and hours. This game has decent depth, but only takes 30-45 mins to play. Win.
Deck building: You really feel like you are developing your civilization, to the extent that you sometimes consider picking a world that is just cool, rather than right in terms of winning. Or at least I do (must be why I always loose).
That just reiterates how well the story/theme works.

My best early advice?
Start by going for 1 alien tech world – produce (let others ideally) – and consume/trade that off for high VP cards. That has worked for me thus far.
Oh, and keep a hold of that one right 6-cost VP card that provides 10-15 points at game end.

Verdict:
Let me put it this way;
I really liked Dominion. I love Race for the Galaxy.

rftg cards

The best Christmas present I received this year was without a doubt Through The Ages by Vlaada Chvátil. Considering that the rest of the presents constituted underwear, socks, etc. the competition was very low. Okay I confess nobody gave me this epic board game. I had to buy it myself as a countermove to all the boring presents I knew I would get this year, again. So this Christmas, isolated in a cabin deep inside the Swedish woods, I convinced my Ginny pig sister to endure 3 long games of Through The Ages with me. There are three versions of the game: simple, advanced and full game. Here is how it went.

Simple game

Simple might not be the best word to describe it. That said, compared to the other two versions I guess you could call it relatively simple. The simple version is recommended for people who are new to the game. Basically it will introduce you to the game mechanics and give you a feel of what it is all about. I was definitely intrigued after playing the simple version. What struck me the most was the complexity of it.

Advanced game

The advanced game opened up for a whole new range of things including more player-player interactions. I strongly recommend players to at least try this version before giving up on it. You really get the feeling that you are building up a civilization here. This is done by performing all kinds of actions: assigning leaders and governments, building buildings, destroying buildings, playing action cards, building armies, upgrading armies, developing new technologies, colonizing new territories, making alliances, waging war, and on goes the list. While doing all this you have to deal with corruption, famine and keeping your people happy.

Full game

The full game really puts the cherry on the top, especially regarding the scoring of culture points (victory points). Also, wars against other players are introduced. When you have finished the game you have gone through four ages from antiquity to present time. Without a question the full game was most rewarding even though it also took the longest (about 4 hours but this included a lot of down time from my sister. To her defense she is not a hardcore board gamer). In some regards it reminded me of an expanded version of Puerto Rico with some different and extra game mechanics. Because of this I would strongly recommend this game to people who like Puerto Rico and wants some more depth to the game. Surprisingly this game also played pretty well with only two players. However I do look forward to being able to wage war against more than one player.

Verdict

In most of the board games I have played there are a couple of cool game mechanics that keeps the game above the surface. One of the reasons to why I strongly recommend this game is because it introduces not only a few but several different awesome game mechanics. Also I really like the feeling of managing your own civilization. This gives a great depth to it. The downside of the game is the quite difficult rules and potential downtime. In my opinion you often need complex rules in other to get the best experience. This game is so rewarding when you get a hang of it. Concerning the downtime I guess you just need the right crew that knows that thinking about their next moves should be done while it is not their turn.

Ratings

Theme: 9/10

Game mechanics: 10/10

Luck factor: 10/10

Replayability: 9/10

Fun factor: 9/10

Overall: A solid 9.4/10

There has been some confusion regarding the interpretation of the “Influence” action. I will try to clarify this below.

Apparently there has been a small change in the rules. In the first edition of the rulebook it says:

By selecting the Influence action, you may move up to two Influence Discs. These moves may be:

from your Influence Track or from a hex where you have an Influence Disc to a hex that does not contain an Influence

Disc or an enemy Ship and is adjacent to a hex where you have a disc or a Ship.

From a hex where you have an Influence Disc back to your Influence Track.

Hence, following these rules you are not allowed to place an influence disc on a hex you occupy with a ship if it is not adjacent to a hex with one of your influence discs/ships. However, in the 2nd edition of the rulebook it says:

By selecting the Influence action, you may move up to two Influence Discs. These moves may be:

from your Influence Track, or from a hex where you have an Influence Disc to a hex that does not contain an Influence Disc or an enemy Ship and is adjacent to a hex where you have a discor a Ship, or to a hex where only you have a Ship, or back to your Influence Track.

So following the most up-to-date rule a player may influence a hex he/she has a ship on even though it is not adjacent to any other hex he/she occupies (with either a ship or influence disc).

The rules also state that: The hex Influenced has to have a Wormhole connection to the hex where you have a disc or a Ship.

 

This could be misinterpreted to overrule the conclusion above. However, the sentence “the hex where you have a disc or a ship” is referring back to the same hex mentioned at the beginning of the sentence, not a new hex. Thus, the rule is still valid.

So in theory you could fly past enemy territory (possibly leaving some ships pinned), stop on an “abandoned” hex, influence it and at the same time influence an adjacent hex that is connected to it with a wormhole.

One last note, remember that you can also place an influence disc after combat even though there are no friendly adjacent hexes (provided that you have destroyed all enemy ships and populations). This influence disc must come from the influence track as opposed to the “influence” action where you can retrieve it from another hex.

After several months of dedication to Lords of Waterdeep and Puerto Rico – two ridiculously fun games by the way – we finally got around to playing Eclipse – New dawn for the galaxy. My incessant babbling about this game to my friends may have put the expectation-bar a bit high so I was very excited to see if it lived up to all the hype.

Before I write any further I should mention that this review could be severely biased by our group’s tendency to love heavy, cutthroat, territory-holding games mixed with euro-style strategy and resource management. Eclipse was able to provide us with all this and more….

Rules

Even though the rulebook is 32 pages long it is not a difficult game to learn. I used about 15 minutes for the introduction and the rest of the rules followed as we played. It seemed as if people caught up on the rules pretty fast and I reckon there will be no problems for our next session.

How the game played

I guess this first session was a textbook example of how NOT to play Eclipse. Being three players we picked the alien species: Planta, Orion Hegemony, and Hydran Progress. At the beginning we played pretty randomly and seemed to had lost focus on the race’s special abilities. Instead of expanding like a true weed, Planta used all his resources on building an armada in fear of a Hegemony attack that never came. Hegemony started out good and was able to establish a large and strong fleet but in the end he never got to use it on his opponents (ironically he won the game with 6 VPs). The Hydrans minded their own business but were not, for some reason, capable of researching enough technologies (most likely due to economic reasons).

So in retrospect it is easy to see that it is essential to have a plan from the beginning and, of course, exploit the race’s special abilities to the fullest. Playing Planta again I would definitely expand outwards and at the same time try to close the boarders to my opponents. Hegemony should gather sufficient VPs through war, either against ancients or more profitably the other races. The Hydrans should primarily focus on technologies in order to gather as many VPs as possible and maybe also wage war with its upgraded ships.

Strategies

From our first session there is definitely room for improvements. Here are some of the tactics I would try to implement in my following games:

  1. At the start of the game decide which approach you want to take, i.e. war, technology, expanding, etc.
  2. Focus and exploit the race’s special abilities.
  3. Expand outwards and build monoliths in protected areas in the last rounds.
  4. Build orbits if you lack a certain resource.
  5. If you do not want war try to close of the boarders fronting your enemies, thereby you force your opponents to research the expensive Wormhole Gener if they really want to get you (if you are lucky they may pick the other opponents instead).

What do we think?

BEST GAME EVER. We all loved it. It had all the aspects we love in a board game: strategy, war, resource management, nice board, clever mechanics, I could go on. Personally I love the game mechanic with the influence discs and population cubes. Also the modular board is ingenious especially the detail with the wormholes. The fact that you can change and upgrade your ships is also a very cool mechanic. All in all this is one of the greatest games I have played and I can certainly recommend it to any serious board gamer that like heavy sci-fi games that are deep on the strategy and love in your face action.

Ratings

Theme: 9/10

Game mechanics: 10/10

Luck factor: 8/10

Replayability: 9/10

Fun factor: 10/10

Overall: A solid 9/10

So after getting some feedback/discussions on this, I realised that the worst Loser Ruin actually isn´t the “endgame spoiling”.

It is the Losers Exit Strategy.

The real top-of-class in the sport of losing ruin, is when a gamer stares into certain defeat – and decides he wants out. Out of the game entirely.
Well, in some games this isn´t possible at all, but then in many wargames/territory holding games it acutally is.

Exit-strategy by losing all your land and country. Total defeat.

Now, no matter how good a player you are – no one can stand the attack of a random player with an Exit Strategy, and still go on to win.
So there you are enjoying the game, everything building up nicely (birds singing outside) – and someone goes mental.

Not to achieve anything game-wise by it – they just want to be taken out themselves, and you were the closest one.
So they throw everything at you (literally), just to lose that everything – which was their ultimate plan.
You are now the one left with a ruined game.

Picking a winner (mentioned in earlier post) without any chance to win yourself is nothing compared to this Losers Exit Strategy.
Doing that simply alters the end, it doesn´t ruin the game, just the ending.
This feat however ruins the game itself. It is something even a 6-year old would have enough class to not even consider.

So the next time you are in a tight spot, staring at certain defeat – and say, your mind starts to wander.
If your thoughts should stray as far as to the idea of the “Loser Exit Strategy” – taze yourself immediately, and pull your s*** together.

Slap yourself if you think of choosing a Losers Exit Strategy

The loser ruin

So first of all, this post is clearly biased by the fact that I was on the wrong end of what I would call “The Loser Ruin”.
This means that this entire post will reek “sore loser”, but try to look past that to understand the principle.

Having put that note forward, I would attest that I am still in disgust of this kind of play, and it did lead to heated discussions upon endgame.
(Which always happens, but this was more than the nerdy trashtalks that is usual).

Let me try to describe the situation, as it describes “The loser ruin” pretty well.
3 players play through a game until the final round. 2 players are deadlocked for the victory – 1 is left way behind (literally no chance to win).
So it happens, that upon the last move the player far behind has the option to play 1 of three special cards.
2 of these puts the player a slight bit further up the board (still no chance to win), but the remaining card seriously pulls back 1 other player.
This player is now actually able to determine the game, if he plays this card – as whoever gets it ends up second; the other one wins.

So do you play that card?

What is already quite clear, is that I was the one handed the card, ending up second – but still ending up ahead of the player who played it.
So what is the reason- besides personal grudges – for playing that card? I am still puzzled.

Would you chose to play it – or just admit defeat and let events unfold?
I am maybe old fashioned – but there is still a certain honor in admitting clear defeat; until you pull a stunt like that.

Of course there is valid arguments to play that ruining action, but if you are in no position to win the game either way, you are playing “The Loser Ruin”.

“The Loser ruin”:
The moment where you in clear defeat deliberately choose to ruin the game for another player, just for the fun of it.
And that is not losing like a Boss.

If you are a hard core LoW fan you will probably not find the following guidelines usefull. This is strickly for the noobs.

Plot quests. try to complete as many plot quests as possible at the beginning of the game and shift your attention to the regular quests later in the game. There is no reason to hurry with completing regular quests, sometimes it can even be a disadvantage. For example, if youre secret mission is to collect Arcana quests and you receive a plot quest early in the game giving you VPs for each Arcana quest you complete, then this is obviously the first quest you would want to complete in order to gather as many VPs as possible.

Mandatory quests. Save mandatory quests untill the end of the game when everybody wants to complete their last quests! This advice has one exception, namely when you can see that an opponent is ready to complete a plot quest at the beginning of the game. Stalling your opponent could set him back several victory points.

Buildings. Never buy buildings after the 6th round unless there are several VPs on it. Needless to say you will get the most out of your buildings if you buy them earlier in the game. Naturally, this does not apply for Larissa as her mission is to build as many buildings as possible. A good strategy for playing Larissa is to complete plot quests at the beginning of the game and let them dictate what kind of quests you should focus on for the rest of the game.

Quests. Try to combine quests instead of just focusing on the number of VPs you will receive. Look for quests that will give you a reward you can use to complete another quest. This tactic is a good way to recrute adventurers without having to assign agents and will give you more room to operate in.

Intrigue cards. Do not underestimate intrigue cards as they can often have a tremendous impact on the game. Steeling a single adventurer from your opponents or giving them a mandatory quest at the end of the game can often prevent them from completing their last quest which could lead to your victory.