Tag Archives: sci-fi

Supersonic Rocket Ship – Space Cadets: Dice Duel guest review

 

SCDD Cover

The Judge is back! From Outer Space! We just walked in to find him here with that glad look upon his face! He’s been playing Space Cadets: Dice Duel and seems very happy indeed…

I love games. All sorts of games! From meaty, “variations on a theme” Euros to dense, thematic Ameritrash, I enjoy most of what I play – though increasingly I am no longer surprised or unexpectedly thrilled by a new game. It either meets my expectations, or it doesn’t. *Sigh* So let’s face it – as an experienced and battle weary gamer, is there anything left to truly excite and astound like in those early days of discovery? *Knock Knock* Oh, it’s the Engelsteins… do come in!

Space Cadets: Dice Duel has rocked my world. Taking the frantic real-time dice rolling seen in last year’s fun, co-operative romp Escape: Curse of the Temple, and the theme of designers Geoff, Brian and Sydney Engelstein’s own Space Cadets, Dice Duel is a small revolution in game design and, perhaps even more impressively, some of the most fun you’ll have at the gaming table this year.

Players team up in two’s, three’s or four’s and face off against each other in a starship dogfight to the death. Each player is given a distinct role within the battle – be that taking control of sensors, loading the missile tubes, manning the tractor beam and shields, or just trying to guide this unwieldy toaster through space whilst avoiding meteor showers and sensor-blocking nebulas!

Now this isn’t an X-Wing and a Tie Fighter zig zagging through space. Like the original Space Cadets, this feels more like Enterprise-esque starships cruising into position to unleash an unstoppable barrage of missile fire. This may suggest a leisurely pace, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The best way to describe play is a quick sample of what the game feels like.

With a name like Dice Duel you'd expect a bunch of lovely custom dice... and here they are.

With a name like Dice Duel you’d expect a bunch of lovely custom dice… and here they are. Shiny, tempting and totally inedible.

So, we have 3 players on Team Little Metal Dog – let’s call them Michael, Steph and Judge just for arguments sake. Judge is the engineer, so he is responsible for rolling normal 6 sided dice and allocating the rolls to the various departments. So we start… he rolls three ‘5’s (which relate to the Helm station) and passes them to Michael who is in charge of steering the ship. Judge wanted to send power to shields, but rolled no ‘4’s so he picks up the remaining dice and rolls, and rolls again until he gets a ‘4’ – which he passes to shields – and now a ‘2’ which goes to Steph who is on Sensors.

At the same time Michael – having received three 5’s for Helm, remember? – picks up the three helm dice and rolls (and rerolls) until the arrows on the dice point to where he wants the ship to go. Locking in the dice to his display allows the power dice (the normal D6’s) to be returned to Judge in engineering who can roll them immediately and re-allocate. Steph takes her Sensor dice and rolls some target locks – necessary to make sure your missiles have the range to hit their targets – and uses three ‘1’s from engineering to roll and load up a missile in tube 1. The enemy ship is fast approaching. Judge checks the range, and the missile, and shouts ‘FIRE 1!’

For the first time in several minutes, the game stops. The players catch their collective breath, and the launched missile crashes headlong into the enemy hull! That’s a direct hit! Let’s hope they can’t return fire. And the chaos begins again…

So what is amazing about this play experience? Well, the simple “keep rolling dice until you get what you need” mechanic that was so much fun in Escape is even more so because of the ever changing board situation. This requires players to change plans on the fly and react to the position and offensive / defensive set-up that the opponent is using at any particular moment. And it is moments that matter. Several times have I seen the command to “Fire” be issued, only for the target ship to have completely moved out of range, or dropped additional dice into shields to repel the attack literal moments before the order was issued.

In addition, the sense of camaraderie evident in the best co-operative games is here in abundance, particularly as the opposing threat isn’t the game itself, or a fear of being overrun by small red cubes. It is your friends (now enemies) sat opposite with a glint in their eye and a sense that somehow they’re more organised and better equipped to win this duel than you and your teammates.

Might not look much in photos, but once SCDD kicks into action things get VERY frenetic.

Might not look much in photos, but once SCDD kicks into action things get VERY frenetic. Prepare for shouting! Lots of shouting!

Ah, your teammates. They’ll not let you down. Except for that time when Steph loaded the missiles in the wrong end of the ship. Or Michael completely ignored me and put our shields on the port instead of the starboard! And those mistakes – which are completely unavoidable in the stress and bluster of Dice Duel – can be the difference between success and failure.
And yes – each missile that penetrates your shields feels like a punch to the kidneys. Yes – the glory of imploding your opponent and scattering their atomised corpses across the galaxy is a genuine stand up and high-five moment. Ultimately though, anyone who gets a group together to play Dice Duel is a winner – because they get to enjoy one of the highlights of the year, and a truly unique gaming experience.

Space Cadets: Dice Duel was released by Stronghold Games at Essen 2013. Designed by Geoff and Sydney Engelstein, four, six or eight players can get involved in this true battle for the ages. Games take around thirty minutes, so somewhat shorter than the original Space Cadets. If you would like a copy, head on over to Gameslore where one will set you back £33. A total bargain for such enjoyable, raucous entertainment!

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Space Oddity – Star Trek: Deck Building Game, The Next Generation review

Star Trek COVER

Star Trek is WAY better than Star Wars. Just putting that out there. For me, if it comes down to a fight between what are arguably the two biggest sci-fi franchises out there, I’ll always plump on the side of the Federation over the Force. Of all the various shows, my favourite is undoubtedly The Next Generation – it was first on when I was a young teenager and showed me that there was such a thing as decent space-based television. Whether it was Picard being all badass against the Borg or The Q Continuum screwing about with the laws of space and time, it was great – even the slightly dodgier episodes where they were trying to push A Message.

When I heard the news that Bandai were working on a deck building game based on the property (Star Trek: Deck Building Game: The Next Generation) I have to admit I was a bit reticent. They didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory with the Resident Evil game, though it does have its fans, so while I was interested in how they’d handle Star Trek: TNG, I wasn’t holding out a huge amount of hope.

Thankfully, the game isn’t too bad. It’s not incredible but it’s far from terrible and will certainly keep fans of the series entertained. You could probably best describe it as “functional but a bit clunky”, the kind of game that could’ve done with a little more time to stew in its juices before being released. A little refinement to shear off the roughness would’ve been welcome, but we have what we’re given so let’s get into the meat of it.

The game follows the usual deck building 101 format with a few interesting twists – you start off with a hand of not-so-good cards and are looking to add better ones while removing the dross. Rather than coming with a single ruleset, ST:DBG:TNG (there must be a better acronym than that) there are actually three different ways to play, each one offering a slightly different experience. Exploration is a free-for-all race to score a set amount of points, Borg War is co-operative with all the players facing off against the game, and Klingon Civil War is somewhere between the two with a focus on pairing up with another player. In reality they don’t actually feel that different when you’re playing – after all, they’re all using the same basic engine – but at least Bandai have made an effort in supplying a range of experiences.

So many famous names! Everyone remembers XXXX, don't they?

So many famous names! Everyone remembers Tam Elbrun, don’t they?

It actually works in quite a straightforward manner. Beginning with that slightly crappy deck staffed with a few vaguely competent crew members, you’re “exploring the universe” in a bid to pick up characters from the show. In other words, you use Experience shown on your crew cards to buy from a selection of those available in the middle of the table. These cards are drawn from the Space Deck, a set of cards that are put together at the start of the game that represent the scenario you’re working through. Managing to get more recognisable faces into your deck gives you the chance to use their Diplomacy skills – in turn, these will let you pick up better ships and equipment. If you’ve ever played any deck builder ever, you’ll pick it up in no time at all; everything is really straightforward despite the frankly bobbins rulebook.

And perhaps that’s where the game falls down a little. Seriously, most of the rulebook focuses on setting up the game but fails to really explain how it functions in a clear way. Before you even take to playing you’re going to have to battle with the rules; not exactly what you want when you’re looking for a quick game. Once you’ve got the rules down (and frankly, it’s not that hard to understand) you’ll be grand, but man… those early games really do drag and could well be enough for some people to dismiss ST:DBG:TNG from the start. Frankly, I’d say bin the rulebook entirely and watch the videos that are over on boardgamegeek – it’s a much better way of learning to play. The straightforward nature means that you’re not really getting anything new though… it’s far from an innovative game.

From a production standpoint, again it’s not awful but far from wonderful – the cards are of a decent quality and all information is clearly presented. Unfortunately a lot of the imagery looks a little blurry, which seems to be down to the fact many photos are lifted directly from video of the original show. Others look like they’ve been taken from headshots to promote the programme when it first came out – and Wil Wheaton has never looked so young, forever immortalised in that fetching Starfleet jumpsuit. There’s also a LOT of air in the box when you first crack it open – of course, that’s down to the plans for future expansions, but I don’t think there’s a single gamer out there who’s a fan of the concept of perceived value. Give us a smaller box first, then when you make an expansion give us a bigger one that everything can fit in… doesn’t that make sense?

Bandai have also made the slightly odd decision of using d20s to track damage taken in battles. Sure, they do the job just fine, but I think that tokens would’ve done a better job (and would probably have been a bit cheaper. This may be down to the fact that I’ve knocked the table a few times and it’s annoying when you send the dice flying. I’m as clumsy as the rulebook.

Still, it’s an entertaining wee jaunt, especially for an avowed Star Trek watcher like myself. Where many deck building games care criticised for a lack of theme, this one is positively overflowing with Starships and Birds of Prey all over the place. Again, you may run the risk of people turning their noses up at it – it is Star Trek after all, and some crazy folks aren’t into it – but that’s their loss. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll be willing to forgive its faults. If you’re not, you’ll undoubtedly be a bit pickier, but there are many worse ways of whiling away your gaming hours. Now, who do I talk to about a DS9 expansion?

Star Trek: Deck Building Game: The Next Generation was designed by Alex Bykov and was originally released back in 2011. Published by Bandai, games will normally take you about an hour and play with between two and five. Should you fancy a copy of your own, visit Gameslore today – they’ll get you sorted for £22.49.

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Bring The Noise – Space Alert review

Space Alert COVER

Another guest review! This time Ben Douglas steps up to tackle Vlaada Chvatil’s co-operative festival of insanity, Space Alert. So what does he reckon…?

And so it begins. 10 minutes of chaos, panic, running around, pushing buttons, shooting baddies, activating force fields, failing to activate force fields because your dumbass shipmate forgot to re fuel the nuclear reactor, shouting at each other, chaos, panic, failing to shoot baddies because your dumbass shipmate [that’s me! – Michael] forgot to wiggle the mouse on the main computer which had locked up due to the screen saver, chaos, shouting, panic, watching your inevitable demise unfold before your very eyes, weeping, death. Space Alert is a brilliantly fun and completely unforgettable experience.

[Sirens Blare – A cold emotionless robot voice crackles over your speakers]

“Enemy activity detected…Please begin 1st phase…”

Ok, ok, ok. Let’s make sense of this game quickly. The four of us sat around the table don’t want to die in the next 10 minutes. The spaceship we are trying to save is in the middle of the table. Our spaceman figurines are in the bridge and there are various green cubes around to represent energy. The spaceship is split into three sections; red on the left, white in the middle and blue on the right. Thank Zorg I don’t have to remember which way is port and which way is starboard. I would be frakked otherwise. Each section has an upstairs and a down stairs so with only six rooms overall, navigating myself round the ship should be easy enough…

In front of me I have my own board and a hand of cards. The board has the numbers 1-12 on them. These numbers represent the 12 actions I will choose during the next 10 minutes. The cards represent these actions. They allow me to move towards the blue side, towards the red side, use the lifts between floors or press a button (A/B/C). Throughout the game I will place them face down on the numbered board in front of me to build a sequence of where I will be running and the buttons I will be bashing.

“Time T+1. Threat. Zone Blue. Repeat. Time T+1. Threat. Zone Blue.”

That robot voice has announced a threat in zone blue. My friend flips over the top card and places it next to the blue zone. It looks nasty. So I place 2 cards down in order so that first I move to blue side and then press the “A” button, which is the button for “suck on this big fat laser you alien scum”. Good. I feel I have been productive.

When I announce my accomplishments the captain sighs. Jimbo has already done that and said so out loud and if I had listened I wouldn’t have just wasted the last 30 seconds so how about I keep my ears open and do something useful next time. Why am I even playing with this douchebag?

“Time T+2. Threat. Zone White. Repeat. Time T+2. Threat. Zone White.”

Now there is another threat to deal with. Again someone has already shotgunned shooting it out of the sky. So I pick up the cards I had laid down and replace them with actions that move me downstairs and press the “B” button, which adds a plutonium rod to the reactor so that the guns don’t run out of juice. After I say I have done this I get a warm “good thinking” from everyone. Awww, how nice. It would be useful to have some more of those “B” action cards just in case I need to do that again.

In space, no-one can hear you shout at your mate for him to click the mouse button that stops the ship's computer going into screensaver mode...

In space, no-one can hear you shout at your mate for him to click the mouse button that stops the ship’s computer going into screensaver mode…

“Data transfer. Data transfer in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”

I need a “B”! Has anyone got a “B”? Please? When the robot comes out with “Data Transfer” we can swap a card with each other. I manage to bag some more “B” cards. I decide I will run around the bottom keeping our energy supply solid. Let’s hope everyone else does his or her job properly so we survive this ordeal…

“Time T+4. Threat. Zone Red. Repeat. Time T+4. Threat. Zone Red.“

And so it continues. And if you are wondering, everyone else probably didn’t do his or her job properly and you probably didn’t survive the ordeal.

Vlaada Chvatil’s co-operative survival game that was first published in 2008. It comes with a CD of soundtracks of the robot voice dictating various scenarios in a lovely monotone, announcing the threats coming your way and keeping the games rattling along whilst adding a touch of HAL 9000 creepiness to the experience. The scenarios are built randomly so there is plenty of replayability, and Vlaada has successfully used a timed mechanic before in Galaxy Trucker. The series of decisions you make throughout Space Alert are actually simple – move, push button, move again, push different button – and it is not too difficult a game to get your head around (although super-lite gamers may feel a bit of information overload). But as soon as the timer starts, your heart moves up a gear and suddenly the pressure makes everything seem far more complicated.

On top of that, the co-operative element makes these seemingly simple decisions a nightmare. There is no point pulling the trigger on that gun or activating that shield unless your friend has kept the energy supply going. And your friend can’t do that unless someone else has put another rod in the nuclear reactor. And none of you can do any of that if someone hasn’t wiggled the mouse in the bridge to prevent the main computer freezing up on a screensaver. Don’t even bother trying to use the lifts at the same time as your pal, either. One of you will be forced to use the ladder, which knocks all your carefully planned actions out of sequence. Which of course then means EVERYONE’S plans are scuppered.

Overall this game is a rollercoaster. Your plans are not supposed to come to fruition. And that is the fun of it. If they do you’ve been incredibly lucky. Or your team is full of super intelligent humans-robots with nerves of steel. But you will play this game and almost be disappointed if you win with ease.

So the questions are always: do you need to try this game? And do you need to buy this game? A definite Yes! to the former question. The steep price tag may put you off buying it but it is a co-operative game, so if you have a gaming group and no one owns it yet, do yourself a favour and take one for the team. Buy it so you can all panic and stress and have fun together.

Space Alert was first released back in 2008 and is a Vlaada Chvatil design produced by CGE. Between one and five can attempt to save your ship (and believe me, most of the time you won’t!) – should you want a copy, check out Gameslore. They can sort you out a copy for a bargain £40.99 with the New Frontier expansion coming in at £20.49. To infinity… and your tabletop!

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Spacer – Phantom League / Mostly Harmless review

Phantom League COVEREven when I was a kid, I craved time playing about on computers. I got a Spectrum 48K when I was eight years old and remember many happy hours playing stuff like Chequered Flag, Horace Goes Skiing and even a rather entertaining version of Scrabble. A friend of mine, Reece, had a different computer – a BBC Model B – and I loved going round his house to check out what he had to play. Repton was pretty cool, I seem to recall, but there was one game that I always wanted to fire up. It was called Elite, and it was mindblowing.

It was essentially a game of space travel and trading. Starting off with a crappy ship and a few credits to your name you would soon be flying through countless galaxies filled with unique planets and space stations in a bid to make your fortune. Each stopping off point would offer certain things for sale while simultaneously looking other resources, allowing you to profit by playing the game of supply and demand.

The best thing? You could choose your own destiny. If you wanted to play by the rules that was fine – you could trade your commodities and slowly make your way up the ladder. What was much more fun was turning to the dark side, dabbling in trafficking illicit drugs and slaves while indulging in a little gentle piracy. Sure, you’d have to avoid the intergalactic police, but no matter what path you chose, you were still aiming for the same thing – to become the very best. To be Elite.

Sounds like it’d work pretty well in a board game, doesn’t it? Well, it just so happens…

First released back in 2010, The Phantom League by Timo Multamaki takes the idea of Elite and turns it from a solo experience in front of a screen into a competitive battle for glory on your tabletop – and it mostly succeeds. There are a few issues (many of which are actually resolved by the game’s first expansion, Mostly Harmless) but all told, this is a pretty solid game that delights in looking to its digital roots – even down to crediting its digital daddy. Let’s kick off with the good stuff first…

Phantom League does a great job of giving players the option to do pretty much whatever they please without being directionless. During the game’s opening phases you’ll be wavering between the forces of good or evil as you attempt to work out what the best course of action will be – however, once you commit to a side, that’s it. Crossing that point of no return sees you set on a path that, curiously for a game that is very focused on the numbers, adds a wonderful element of storytelling to the proceedings. It’s a lot of fun taking a totally different tack to the other players, and yet is equally entertaining when you’re all aligned the same way but are attempting to outdo each other with your deeds, be they good or nefarious.

Exploration is nice and simple, though – as you’d expect – you don’t get the near infinite variety of worlds to travel to that even the basic computers of the eighties could handle. This is made up in no small part by the fact that the game set-up means a totally randomised play area, so while it’s not exactly endless there’s definitely a feeling of ‘no two games are the same’. As you and your fellow explorers begin the game you’re in the centre of a ‘known’ universe, surrounded by an as yet unrevealed area of inky blackness. Each piece of space is made up of two half-hexes which shows the planet, asteroid or space station that resides there and the kind of stuff they’re interested in buying and selling. This is an excellent aspect of the game, really giving you a feeling of jetting around the galaxy and finding new people.

Being a fan of the pick up and deliver genre, the travelling through space and trading part of the game really got its hooks into me. Add in the fact that your chosen destiny has an effect on what happens when you dock and I was wondering why no-one had thought of doing something along these lines before. If you’re carrying contraband there’s a good chance you’ll be punished for doing so, but they can offer a much greater reward… do you run the risk or play by the book?

The many and various options open to players are also great to see and again harken back to Elite. Though you start with only a modest craft, upgrading your vessel is easy enough to do and can actually become quite vital as you progress. You see, another element thrown in is deciding when you should side with other players, creating the Phantom Leagues that give the game its name. These loose affiliations can be broken at any time, putting the game in that curious hinterland of being both co-op and competitive. It’s rarely done and even harder to pull of well, but Phantom League succeeds in doing so.

Sadly, there are flipsides to consider. The combat system, for example, is probably the worst aspect of the game. This is particularly gutting; after all, when you’re playing at being an intergalactic pirate looking to steal fortunes while evading the law, you want a solid way to fight at your disposal. The same goes for the other side – if someone (or something!) is attempting to steal your hard earned cargo, you want to be able to put up a decent defence. Sadly, Phantom League struggles to do this well – it’s a bit of a convoluted system where you and your opponent end up building Combat Decks of various cards, direct attacks at your targets, play defensive and offensive tactics, do some maths and then have a little cry in the corner.

It drains a chunk of fun from the game, and after seeing other releases (such as Eclipse) handle battling in a much more entertaining way, you may wonder why Timo went for this slightly clumsy method. Sure, it puts full control into the players’ hands, but there’s no chance of firing off that luck shot that could hit a thermal exhaust port no bigger than a womp rat, for example.

It also takes its sweet time, but surely you should expect that in a game that involves exploring the darkest corners of an unknown universe? Before even considering sitting round the table, let your fellow players know that they’re in for at least a good couple of hours of brain burning activity. Finishing up a game of Phantom League feels like you’ve gone ten rounds in the ring with a particularly heavy hitting boxer, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Sure, it may place it squarely in that section of games that aren’t for everybody, but (cliche alert) fans of the genre will bloody love it. I know I do.

One last thing: DO NOT play using the rules included in the box – they’re bloody awful. Instead, head on over to BoardGameGeek and get the latest ones there. Or, y’know, you could pick up the Mostly Harmless expansion which fixes a lot of the issues. Not only does it come with a much improved rulebook (although the one linked to above is the latest and greatest), it also fixes a few problems that popped up with some cards. Best of all, it differentiates between the choices you make in your destiny, meaning that choosing to go down the good or evil paths have a much more significant effect on your Phantom League experience. Sure, it’s still not utterly perfect, but man… it really does get pretty damn close.

MostlyHarmlessCOVER

The Phantom League, designed by Timo Multamaki and published by Dragon Dawn Productions, plays with between two and six people (though it’s best with four or five, I reckon) and takes around two hours. Should you desire a copy, speak to Gameslore! They’ll sort you out one for £36.99!

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Empire State of Mind – Race for the Galaxy review

RaceCOVER

The story behind Race for the Galaxy is an interesting one. Originally conceived as a card game version of Andreas Seyfarth’s classic Puerto Rico, designer Tom Lehmann’s work was seemingly all for naught when it was revealed that Seyfarth had actually been working on a follow-up called San Juan all along.  Not one to chuck away a good idea, Lehmann continued developing his new game and eventually ended up moving it into the realm science fiction. Now, some six years after its initial release, Race for the Galaxy has surpassed all expectations and easily outstrips San Juan in the popularity stakes. With three expansions out already and a fourth on the way, what is it about Race that means it is so well regarded?

Simply put, it’s a card based game of civilisation building but there’s so much more to the experience than that. The cards you hold in your hand are split into either Worlds or Technologies, both types of which will help you expand your galactic empire in countless different ways. Once a player has at least twelve cards in front of them, the endgame is triggered and the highest points total is the winner. The journey to get that victory, though? It’s immense, filled with choices and knife-edge decisions that can make or break you in the space of moments.

The seven standard Action cards - choose one each turn and everyone gets to do it. You'll be rewarded with a bonus.

The seven standard Action cards – choose one each turn and everyone gets to do it. You’ll be rewarded with a bonus.

The engine that runs the game are the Action Selection cards that are the same for each player. At the beginning of each turn, players select one secretly and all are simultaneously revealed. With seven different options available to the players, only the Actions that are chosen will actually happen in that round; for example, if in a three player game two were to choose Settle and the third Develop, only those two would occur.

The order of the Actions is vital – most of the time your plans will take place over the space of a couple of rounds, so be sure you know exactly what you want to do but keep a second option open at all times. In order, you can choose from one of the following:

–          Explore, which allows you to draw extra cards to your hand

–          Develop lets you play a Development card to the table from your hand

–          Settle brings World cards to your tableau

–          Consume is all about spending goods created by your Worlds to get points or more cards

–          Produce refills goods on certain Worlds

Now, you’ll notice that there’s only five Actions there; both Explore and Consume actually have two different ways of being used. When an Action is chosen every player at the table gets to perform it, but those who actually flipped the card to make it happen also get a bonus. It may be a discount on bringing a card out or a way of getting some extras into your hand – whatever it is, these boons are very useful indeed and if you can manage to pull them off at a time when your selected Action isn’t so useful for everyone else, you’re well on the path to winning.

A selection of Developments. The cost is in the diamond while the hexagon shows how many Victory Points you'll get at the end of the game.

A selection of Developments. The cost is in the diamond while the hexagon shows how many Victory Points you’ll get at the end of the game. The  6-cost improvements can be gamechangers!

You may be wondering why there’s so much emphasis on getting cards. Well, not only will you be playing various Technologies and Worlds down in front of you to score points, you also have to use cards to pay for them – yes, they’re the game’s currency too. Any time you decide to Develop or Settle, you’ll need to discard the amount noted in the top corner of your chosen card. Exploration and Production will expand the number of cards in your hand, not only opening up your options but also allowing you to pay for them.

Much has been made of Race for the Galaxy’s use of iconography and while it is true that it can be spectacularly confusing when you first get into the game, it only takes a few plays with a decent crib sheet at hand before you start truly understanding the symbols. Playing a game like this requires investment of your time to grab hold of its nuances – I’ve been playing it regularly for a year or so and still only feel like I’ve scratched the surface. There are a ridiculous amount of paths to victory, and no matter if you’re reacting to your opponents or forging ahead with no regard for anyone else you will always have a way of pulling things around your way.

A sample of some World cards. Again, the cost is in the circle. This also says what kind of goods it will produce.

A sample of some World cards. Again, the cost is in the circle. This also says what kind of goods it will produce. The symbols next to the numerals down the left side show when special abilities may be triggered. Bring your cheat sheet of symbols!

Race’s reputation as one of the Great Games is well deserved. The amount of work that has been put into it is well documented – Tom Lehmann is one of my dream guests to get on the podcast – and the care that has been put into its development shines through. Years of playtesting, not just for the base set but the expansions too, mean that you have a game before you that is smooth and streamlined. Yes, it takes a bit of effort to become fluent in the language of the game but with a little determination you’ll soon discover something incredible inside that small box. Such depth of play doesn’t come along too often, so if you’re seeking a challenging game that will be nearly endlessly replayable, this should be high up on your list.

Race for the Galaxy was designed by Tom Lehmann. Originally released in 2007 by Rio Grande Games, between two and four can play using the base set alone – expansions bring in more players as well as the option of solo gaming. A copy from Gameslore will set you back £23 with expansions normally coming in at around £17 apiece. A single game should normally take you 30-45 minutes, but as you get more experienced you should be able to knock that down significantly! And if you’re looking for a good way to learn the game, check out the How To Play Podcast with Ryan Sturm – I highly recommend it.

 

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