When the game Race for the Galaxy came out in 2007, I was briefly excited. It was billed as San Juan in space, and I like both San Juan and space, so this seemed like a must-have. I discovered, though, that it made a fundamental change to the San Juan rules that really bugged me. In my mind it took what little interaction there was in that game and threw even it away, resulting in a largely solitaire affair that I saw little point in. In blog posts here and elsewhere I made fun of the “multiplayer solitaire” nature of RftG:
as well as its seemingly impenetrable card icons:
And RftG was just one of those games I didn’t really care for.
A while later I got hold of a different game, 51st State, which I really liked, and was later revamped into The New Era, which I love. Lately I’ve been trying to get more people to appreciate The New Era, so I’ve been teaching it at places like Trashfest NE and Unity Games. And I noticed that when I teach The New Era to folks I remark by saying that it’s similar to Race for the Galaxy, which it is. It even has the same level of arcane symbology — I’ve played a dozen times and still have to look up what some cards do. (51st State is actually more like RftG because it doesn’t have the same level of interaction as The New Era.)
With me digging The New Era, San Juan, and now Pax Porfiriana, which is similar to those, I thought it might be time to give RftG another chance. I bought an inexpensive copy of it, read the rules, and played it with Matt.
The verdict? I really liked it! Not only did I enjoy the game we played, but for days afterwards I was wishing I could play again.
That’s when I remembered the downloadable fan-made Race for the Galaxy computer game available here. I installed it and it’s become my go-to for What To Do While Waiting For Queries to Run.
So yeah, it seems like I’ve finally come around on this game. Some of my complaints, I think, are still valid: the level of interaction is best described as “homeopathic”, though you still want to try and predict what action the opponent will pick so you can piggyback off it. But I guess I’ve embraced the “Race” portion of it, where you’re mainly just trying to get your VPs faster than your opponent is. But I’m not ashamed to admit I was wrong; on the contrary, I’m glad to be wrong and to have another game that I enjoy playing.
Ricochet Robots, though, is still a load of cack.