Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Board Game: Race for the Galaxy

Guest post from "the husband"... on a suitably non-reading subject this time...

Race for the Galaxy (another Rio Grande production) is an unusual game for our us -- it's an interesting hybrid of a traditional family game, and the more complex, card-based strategy games that I've always assumed were just for the "hard core gamer" types.

(Warning: Geek Alert!) Back when I was a teenager, I had a great time with the complicated, long-running strategy games (Risk, Axis & Allies, Civilization, etc.) where things could go on and on. But, my attention span and habits changed considerably when I began having to maintain a Real Life™, and now having an active two-year-old has reduced me to the point where any activity lasting more than 10 minutes is a real uphill climb.

Anyway, Race for the Galaxyincorporates some of the same strategy elements as those more complicated games, but it's pretty attainable, and much more fast-moving in gameplay. It only takes 30 or 40 minutes to get through a round, and it plays well as a 2-player game as well as with more people. (Oftentimes games like this lose a lot of appeal with only two players where things become too predictable.)

If you're up for a bit more complexity and strategy than typical family game fare offers, this is a good choice! Players build up their empires by colonizing planets, developing technologies, producing goods and expanding their military. These yield "victory points" which, at the conclusion of the game, determine the winner. (This can be a surprise sometimes, as the end of the game can reveal an unexpected disparity in points between one player and another!)

I also like the fact that the players are primarily focused on building up their own empires, and not so much in head-to-head competition. Choices that one player makes can directly affect other's gameplay, but the ultimate winner is one who most skillfully manages his own resources and empire, rather than sabotaging or interrupting his competitors.

When I looked around online for more opinions on Race for the Galaxy I discovered many other fans... It's hard to find a negative review! The accessibility and depth of gameplay are very appealing, and I hope to discover more games like this in the future.

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