Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm
List Price: $24.95
Your Price: $19.99
(Worth 1,999 Funagain Points!)
from 3 customer reviews
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This first expansion for Race for the Galaxy adds cards, a 5th player, and other ways to expand your universe.
While expansions to games generally add more depth to a game, they unfortunately do it at the expense of simplicity. This is a wonderful expansion as it adds a fair amount of depth (goal tiles, more players) without really adding more complexity to the ruleset. The goals are pretty clear and simple to understand, but add more options to your strategy. It also helps with new players who can be overwhelmed with the scope of the game, as going for the goals can help alleviate the common "what do I have to do to win?" confusion. I absolutely recommend this expansion even for people starting out with this game, and if you like the base set there is literally no reason why you shouldn't pick this up (other than budget of course ;))
Like the previous reviewer, I cannot emphasize enough how adding the victory point goals change this game for the better. In each game you compete for 22 points worth of victory points (two five point goals, four three point goals), and winning these often makes the difference in close games. It should be noted that I have seen many games won without significant bonus points, so they do not change the game so fundamentally that a player should abandon a particular strategy just to chase down extra points.
Since there are ten goal tiles but only six are chosen the game gains quite a bit of variability. A few more tiles would have been nice here, but that is addressed in the second expansion. The addition of four new start worlds also mixes up the game nicely. There are new cards as well, but not all that many in the grand scheme. I would have preferred a slimmer box and a smaller price tag overall as the solitaire version holds no special appeal, but this is just minor nitpicking. Race For The Galaxy is a fine card game and the expansion simply makes it better. If you enjoy Race, the expansion is practically a must have. It takes a solid game that grows stale after the first couple of dozen hands and propels it to a new level. For new players to the game, I recommend buying both the base game and this expansion. The expansion adds very little in the way of complexity, it simply adds more options. Multiple paths to victory are a highlight of all the best Eurogames, after all.
Okay, first I'm a huge fan of the base game "Race for the Galaxy" so I could hardly contain myself when I finally received my copy of the first expansion "The Gathering Storm"! I'm happy to say it did not disappoint!!!
The new start worlds and game cards add some interesting nuances and new combinations to the already rich "galaxy". It's also nice to be able to play with up to five players (which really should have been an option with the base game, in my opinion). But the real value is in the addition of the goals and the (very well designed) solitaire engine.
The goals really enhance the multi-player game by pitting the players in direct competition to be the first to complete certain combinations and/or to finish with the most of a particular card type. Whereas the base game was often more about building a particular point generation engine, the goals really drive home the "race" elements of "Race for the Galaxy". While engine generation may still be a significant key to victory, the "first" goals often provide an early lead, forcing opponents to alter strategies to "make up" points. Also, a well-timed play may swing one of the "most" goals from one player to another, swinging the lead and/or the victory in the process!
Also, while I like the social aspect of gaming (which is why I like that they've added a fifth player), I love that I can take this out of the box and play an intelligently programmed "robot" player. And, I do mean intelligent! I've lost to the robot at the medium level over a dozen times, and the closest I've ever come is 3 points. Usually, the margin is much greater (in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 points). I've tried all of the major strategies that seem to work in a multi-player game, but so far the robot outmaneuvers me every time. Don't get me wrong, though. If it were easy to beat, it would lose it's replayability very fast. And, I always feel like I'm in it right to the end. When you can't find a living, breathing opponent, this solitaire engine will more than suffice.
Overall, this is a great addition to a rock-solid base game. I give it my highest recommendation!