Monday, 22 March 2010

Alien Oort Cloud Refinery

The Brink of War, the next Race for the Galaxy expansion, is due soon. This is fairly exciting.

The first expansion came with a collection of blank cards (with the same back) so that players can make up new cards, and there have been 'card contests' for the second and third expansions where people can send in card ideas - the prize being having the card in the expansion and a mention in the rulebook.

The winners of the card contest for Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War are:
* Michael Brough for inspiring Alien Oort Cloud Refinery,
* Kester Jarvis for inspiring Golden Age of Terraforming, and
* Ville Halonen and Raine Rönnholm for inspiring Universal Peace Institute.

This is even more exciting.
(The reason it says "for inspiring" is that they take the cards through their full development process to make sure they're balanced and fit the theme.)

The card I submitted was:
(ALIEN?) Rainbow World
Multicolour Windfall
Cost: 0, VP: 1
$: you may not trade goods from this world.
IV: you may consume goods from this world as any colour.
V: you may produce on this world with a "produce on windfall" power of any colour.

And the form it ended up in was:
ALIEN Oort Cloud Refinery
Multicolour Windfall
Cost: 0, VP: 1
$: you may not trade goods from this world.
ANY PHASE / GAME END: choose this world's colour.

So the only mechanical change was that they simplified and strengthened the property of "being any colour" - it does basically the same thing, but it's expressed much more cleanly and has synergy with more different powers (now it applies to cards that score for different coloured worlds, powers that let you draw cards for producing goods of a particular colour, and the new powers on e.g. Golden Age of Terraforming, which allow discarding goods of particular colours to gain discounts on other phases).
I'm really pleased not only that my card made it in, but that it was changed very little, meaning I'd already done a good job of balancing it. I'd actually started it at cost 3, and progressively reduced the cost as we played with it until it had cost 1, then cut it to 0 at the last minute before sending it off.


  1. Congratulations, this is really cool! If only they had named it ALIEN Brog World or something equally memorable.

    We've started playing Race a bit more since you mentioned it on facebook, just the base game so far. Do the expansions add much interaction between the players?

  2. The second expansion adds military takeovers, but they don't come up terribly often - some of the people I play with are cowards and like to play with them turned off anyway though. Third expansion is adding more takeover powers (including a way of taking non-military worlds), so maybe it'll happen more often.

    But in general there really is a lot of interaction; it's just subtle and parasitic and beginners take a while to understand it. Basically, if you think there's not much interaction, I will beat you >75% of the time.

    In general, if you can predict what actions your opponent is going to take, you can twist them to your advantage.
    Some examples:
    - If I predict that you're going to play Settle, and I don't have any goods, I can play Trade anyway, place a windfall world on your Settle action, and gain an advantage of several cards. (Even better if you're forced to consume a good you wanted to trade later.)
    - If I spot early on that you're heading towards a Produce/Consume*2 strategy, and I put down powers that leech off those phases, then I get a lot of free points and card draws.
    - If I want to place a development, but I know you're going to play Develop, I can Explore instead and come out with the same number of cards, but a slight advantage because mine have had more selection.
    - If you don't have many cards in your hand, I can probably Develop/Settle without you being able to afford anything much.

  3. Oh! I forgot one bit of interaction the first expansion adds: goals. These are a new way of earning points; you get a bonus for being the first to make SOMETHING or for having the most of SOMETHING (where the SOMETHINGs are randomly assigned at game start). I don't much like them myself, but they do add a new type of player interaction.

    First expansion also adds some cards that shake things up a bit, like "Improved Logistics", which makes it easier for a military player to end the game quickly when they need to stop someone's economy getting out of hand.