Review: Race for the Galaxy (Mobile)


One of the best digital conversions to date

As tabletop releases continue to move at breakneck speeds, one recently caught my eye due to the recommendation of a friend -- Race for the Galaxy.

I've always been intrigued by the concept of tableau building, but Race for the Galaxy hit all the right notes with its sci-fi theme and deep mechanics. The digital rendition allows for all of that depth to thrive, and adds a few of its own welcome quirks in the process.

Race for the Galaxy (Android, iOS [reviewed]) 
Developer: Temple Gates Games
Publisher: Temple Gates Games
Released: July 10, 2017 (Base game) / December 14, 2017 (Latest expansion)
MSRP: $6.99

Race for the Galaxy eschews several tropes from other, similar card games with one simple concept -- there are five actions (explore, develop, settle, consume, produce -- all linked to drawing/playing cards or "selling" resources for points), and they can only be initiated in any given turn if a player chooses them.

This not only forces you to think five steps ahead, but to also directly consider your opponent's strategy which changes from game to game. To add to all that, you get a bonus for the action you select that round (like drawing more cards or earning more points for goods you consume). Some actions have a few different variations of bonuses, and different cards can only be played at certain times. Your job is to score as many victory points as possible, through settlements, trading, or military conquest. Most of what happens just impacts your own configuration -- as I said, the action choice is how you influence your opponent's side.

It's a rough game to learn, and wrapping your head around it will take some time. The in-game tutorial (broken up in three lessons) does a really poor job of communicating most of the game's intricacies or even basic rules, and after 30 minutes with it I was arguably more lost than I was before. Many details are skipped over, and the tutorial is just a modified real-time game with a few quick text prompts.

But I don't give up easily. I looked up the official rules, asked a few friends for help, and tried playing against the AI for a few hours. That entire process was a thrilling series of discoveries on its own, and once I really got the hang of it, I was addicted. It has all of the trappings of a building game with an insanely quick setup time, and every single game is going to be wildly different because of the choice to dictate which phases are going to happen. It almost feels like two separate games when you're playing 1v1 or with more players. You'll definitely want to play it on a tablet too, as all of the symbols are super easy to read, whereas the mobile version forced me to squint (especially when I wasn't familiar with the iconography yet).

One of the benefits of the Race for the Galaxy app is the AI. It's not just any old bot, it's a project developed by "AI Expert" Keldon Jones, and learns from player wins and from experimentation. It weighs all of that data through tens of thousands of games, and then acts accordingly. It makes even the easy bots challenging, and it's perfect for honing your skill at any level if you don't have anyone to play with.

Temple Gates has moved at a rapid pace. Whereas other board game conversions are meandering through their base versions months down the line, Race for the Galaxy is almost ready to host its third expansion (Brink of War) this month. That level of support that makes me confident in the app's future, not to mention the already solid base it's running right now.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Race for the Galaxy reviewed by Chris Carter



A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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