Race for the Galaxy is my all time favorite game of all the universes. The game has already grown to monster size thanks to three amazing expansions. So when they announced a reboot of the game that was NOT compatible with the expansions, it caused quite a lot of controversy in the fan base. Fortunately, we could borrow a friend’s copy (Thanks, Frosty!).
It’s SO hard to look at this game without graduation goggles. Basically, Alien Artifacts adds an additional saucer to keep in the air: a mini-game of artifacts exploration. While you’re building up your galactic civilization, this huge floating alien spaceship has been discovered and all of you are competing to uncover the most of it and use it to your advantage. See, you can uncover artifacts that will give your building efforts a boost: a discount on developments, a free good to sell, an easier time exploring the alien ship… So you tend to go through waves of exploring and taking advantage of what you’ve found.
I’m not sure this reboot works as well with two people as the original game does. It feels like the Artifact exploring should be this mad scramble, and for us it’s just a leisurely walk in the park that we indulge in until our engine takes off. Then we ignore it while our tableau fires off the usual combo’s.
One design aspect really nags at me. One of the reasons Race is my favorite game is that the turns are simultaneous. I love simultaneous play, it means we play fast and furious and you always have stuff to do. But the Orb mini game… is played one person at a time. It’s not a big time drain (at least, not with two), but it does take away some of the awesome of the design, I think.
That said, it IS really cool to play our old favorite in a new version and see all the little changes. We easily play Race 10 times a year, but often we’ll be tempted more by newer games. So it’s kind of neat to be able to play our classic love in a new way.