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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
Race for the Galaxy (RftG) is an excellent strategy card game with a fun space theme. In it, players settle planets and build developments. A game round starts with each player secretly selecting an action card, then revealing the actions selected together. Each action card selected means an action is available for all players that round, and the selecting player gets some privelege for being the one who selected it. Actions include Explore (drawing cards), Settle and Develop (for purchasing a planet or development card, respectively, among others. Game play continues until someone has played the twelfth card in their tableau (play area), after which victory points are added up.

An expansion to this game I cannot play it without is The Gathering Storm (TGS). TGS is the first of three expansions for the game. As expected, it adds a few cards to the pretty large amount in the base game. These cards are pretty well balanced and fill thematic and mechanical "holes" in the base game. For example, some cards have keywords that can be relevant when scoring happens. This adds more of those cards, which allow more interesting combinations. What really stands out, however, are the goal cards.

The goal cards are a set of goals that are randomly dealt out each game. Two large goals each worth five victory points and four small goals each worth three are in each game. The large goals function like the Longest Road/Largest Army cards in Settlers of Catan, in that they can change hands during the course of the game. One is for largest military, for example, and another is for largest number of large developments. The small ones are for the first person to reach the goal. These add some serious considerations for gameplay, since sometimes a few points can be the difference in first and second place in scoring. And if your draws aren't getting you the planets types you want, you can try focusing on the goal cards so that you're earning points while you're waiting to draw the next rare minerals world, or big development.

To summarize, I wouldn't play RftG without this expansion. The other two expansions don't seem as critical, as I can easily see playing without the additional rules from the Rebel vs. Imperium or Brink of War expansions (Prestige points and takeovers come to mind). This expansion really made Race for the Galaxy a better game. So, if you own the game, try this expansion if you haven't already. And share your thoughts! Tell us what you think of this expansion, or any other expansion for any game you cannot see playing without!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
I decided to take a look at adding expansions cards to the base set of RftG, however my reaction to this expansion was mixed. What I was looking for was new cards to add to the base game. What I got, well...

The first major change this expansion makes is by adding goal cards. The point of the goals is to meet them with various configurations of your tableau thereby gaining bonus victory points. Example goals include first player to play a six-cost development or the first player to have five or more victory points in chips. Goals are shuffled at the beginning of the game and drawn randomly, so this adds to variability. However it also slows game play, as players are having to pay close attention to the state of their tableaus to ensure they haven't missed a goal. The goals are useful if you're looking to add new strategies or modify existing ones.

The next major addition (arguably the biggest) this expansion makes is a solitaire play variant against a pre-programmed AI or "adaptable robot" as the rules call it. The box contains special components and rules. I can't give my opinion on it since I've not actually played it. I prefer the expertly-coded Windows PC app from Keldon Jones which you can find online for free. Still, it may be worth taking a look.

This expansion also adds a drafting variant for two or three players in which all player drafts five cards in alternating directions until they're all drawn. This breaks the main deck into separate "private decks" that players draw from for the remainder of the game. This was the most intriguing change to the game for me, as this allows players to tailor their decks and it reduces the randomness inherent in the original game's blind card draw. This is a good change if you want the game to be a bit more strategic and allow for some long-term planning.

Minor changes include four new starting planet cards, nine action cards for a fifth player, 18 new game cards, and 18 blank cards you can use to make your own. The new game cards include new game actions and new 6-point developments.

Verdict:
If you're a veteran RftG player looking to shake up game play from the original, then this will do you nicely. The bonus point goals will definitely alter the way the game is normally played and well-known strategies will have to be re-visited. The solitaire game looks interesting. The drafting mechanic is probably the best change, but you don't need this expansion to play with it. You can download the rulebook from Rio Grande's web site to read up on it.

If you're looking to simply add more cards to the base game, this expansion will disappoint. The addition of a fifth player and new starting planets adds more of the same (in a good way), but with only 18 new game cards added, this expansion has much less value for players not looking to change the overall game play.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2011
The Gathering Storm expansion adds two main things to the game: Goals and Solitaire Mode. There are a handful of extra cards as well which are nice too.

Goals
The goals addon is pretty simple: there are "first" goals which award 3 VP to the first player (or players if tied) to meet the requirements. This includes first to discard, first to one world of each production type, first to play a 6-cost development, and some others. The second type is "most" goals. These award 5 VP to the player with the "most" of a certain item. These are most developments, production worlds, windfall worlds, and largest army. These can be stolen from each other.

Honestly, this is something that should have been included in the original game and I think it adds interaction to what was essentially multi-player solitaire before.

Solitaire Mode
The solitaire mode looks incredibly complex upon first reading, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty straightforward. Place your 2 actions and roll 2 dice to see what the "robot" does and follow the instructions. One of the main issues I have with it is that it takes a completely different strategy to beat, so you can't really use it for practicing strategy. It also can be frustrating as you can't effectively play production and consume actions without giving the robot a ton of points.

Overall, it's a nice addition to the original game, but for ~$18 it's definitely on the pricey side for what you get. Especially since the main game mechanic should have been included in the original.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2011
I love the original game and this expansion is almost perfect. The start worlds are new and balanced and there are some very interesting new playing cards. The single player Robot is well done. It's challenging and takes a different strategy than a human player but is plenty beatable; well on easy anyway, I haven't tried the hard version. The only negative is that there are not all that many new cards in this set. However there is almost no filler, all of the new cards are unique. Combine that with a well done single player mode and I highly recommend this expansion for anyone who likes the original.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2009
This expansion allows an additional player to play Race for the Galaxy. The new cards and worlds added to the game by this expansion make new strategies viable. While the expansion is not required to play the base Race for the Galaxy game, once you have the expansion you will always be using it for your games.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2013
For a relatively small number of pieces, this adds a lot of variety to the game play of Race for the Galaxy, including various objectives that provide different strategic opportunities for victory points and even a solitaire mode. It is well worth your time as an expansion.
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on March 6, 2014
This expansion has added a really good idea: Goal system. This makes the game strategy more complicated and potentially more balanced. However, new cards added are pretty limited. And, most of all, a huge effort has been put to design a "robot" player strategy which can only be used for ONE player situation. As I mentioned in my review to the RFTG original version, there is a pretty good AI software on Windows which can play as an experienced human player. If I am on my own and feel like to play several RFTG games, the PC version will definitely be the top choice. So this "robot" player expansion is, to my opinion, a total waste of money and effort.
Since this big portion of the expansion is not useful at all, the overall value of the whole package is very poor... The goals can be simply written on paper and won't significantly down grade the playing experience. Then all the money is just for handful of new cards, which to my opinion don't really add much to the existing strategies.

So, in one word, this expansion pack is far below my expectation and I won't recommend it to anyone who is not a huge fan of RFTG and just want to have a complete set of expansion packs for his/her collection.
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on February 27, 2015
My only complaint about this expansion is the number of goal cards provided. The rules suggest you pick 2 of the 4 "ongoing" goals (the ones that change hands, depending on who has the most of <some card type>) and then 4 of the 6 "first to reach x" goals, which means that there is a lot of redundancy in what goals you see.

My wife and I easily came up with a number of other goals but without having a blank template like they provided for the actual cards, we had to come up with a more convoluted means of incorporating our own.

The rest of the expansion is fine and an excellent addition to the game. Though the new version of the Alien Rosetta Stone planet is stupid broken.
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on September 2, 2013
My wife and I play the original game quite a bit. This expansion, as well as the second expansion, was a great way to add more cards for more variety in play, and more players to the game. This expansion also comes with a few blank "make your own" cards which were a lot of fun to include in our usual group. There is also the addition of a single player "bot". While the bot feature is initially confusing, it turns out to be an elegant paper robot "AI" to play against. Unfortunately, while this is a novel idea, it is not a feature that I will use much because the whole point of table top games is to play with other people, still a neat idea.
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on June 30, 2015
I am a big fan of the Race for the Galaxy expansions that add players, start worlds, and more cards. One of the biggest issues with this game is going through cards too fast, so as far as I am concerned, the more cards the better! I bought this expansion for my own personal set as well as a gift, well received on both sides!

I recommend getting dragon shields for ALL the RFTG cards if you are adding expansions. That way you can't tell any difference in wear on the cards. I've loved them!

This is a perfect expansion for adding another player, and not really adding rules but just adding variety.
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