Last year we reviewed the utterly fantastic Race of the Galaxy mobile app. Temple Games took a much loved card game and polished it up to a shine with their digital version. Since then, they’ve released three expansions for the app, which we are going to take a quick look at today and see if the are worth the in-app purchase.
However, as we rarely review iOS board game expansion, I’m going to keep this one to a general overview and quick thoughts. If you want in-depth analysis on any of the expansions, they’ve all been around for a very long time, so there are plenty of articles with that focus.
The three expansions actually have to be bought in order, as you can’t play the second without the first (or the third without the previous two). Regardless of the purchase order, Gathering Storm is a must own in my opinion. This expansion adds a few new things: 4 new start worlds and 18 new game cards. Those are nice, but the real star of this expansions are the goals. Every game will have 3 “most” goals, which will be awarded to the player with the most of something (most alien planets, for example) and ownership of the token can switch during the game. The other goals are “first” goals that are awarded to the player that first achieves something (first to have a power in all phases, for example).
The goals are a great addition and seamlessly slide into the game play.The sit along the right side of the screen and can be tapped to zoom in and see the requirements. Once obtained, they will shift to the owning player’s play area. After you play a few games, you’ll be able to recognize most of the goals on sight of the icons.
Rebel vs Imperium
For players that likes a bit more player interaction, Rebel vs Imperium can help add that to the game. This expansion adds a few new starting worlds, and about 40 more cards to the general deck. The major change introduced in this expansion is the takeover mechanic. These are cards that will let you use your military to take over an opponents planet. While it sounds neat in theory, it doesn’t work all that well in practice. The takeover cards are few and far between, so building a strategy around them is pretty hard to do unless you get lucky in an early draw. Actually taking over a planet is not hard, especially if your opponent has not built up their military. The app does include the option to disable the takeover mechanic in a game, should you not want to play with it.
The Brink of War
This 3rd expansion was a bit hit or miss for me. Again, it includes the usual new starting worlds and pile of game cards. The big addition for this expansion was the prestige tokens. Prestige is a new kind of currency that can be earned in various ways and is also worth 1vp each at the end of the game. Prestige can be spent on card powers to earn VPs, cards, or other game effects. The player with the most prestige also earns 1 bonus VP at the end of the round.
To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the prestige mechanic. It felt a bit like the rich getting richer and I’d often just try and play any card that will get me prestige to stop my opponent from earning that 1vp every round.
That being said, my favorite addition from this expansion has to be the new search mechanic. Once per game, a player can search the deck for a card that meets one of 9 specific requirements, such as an alien world or a military world with a defense of 5+. This is a great action to use mid-game when you are looking for just that one card that seems to be eluding you.
I loved the Race for the Galaxy app and I think all three of these expansions are worth owning. While I mostly called out the highlights above, they all add more cards to the deck and, thus, a lot more variety. Gathering Storm is probably the easiest one to purchase, as there is nothing I didn’t like about that one. The other two are worth picking up depending on how much you play the app and if you are looking for more replay value.
I think the biggest barrier here is that there is no bundle option. Each expansion will set you back $3.99, so it would have been nice for Temple Games to offer up a modest discount if you bought all three at once.
That being said, all the expansions have the same polish and shine Temple gave the core game and are definitely worth grabbing if you are a fan of Race for the Galaxy.