Race For the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts Delayed. Again. (Plus a Bonus Rant!)

AlienBy Firestone I'm starting to think we're going to discover actual alien artifacts before the new Race For the Galaxy expansion is released...

BGG user KissaTalkuri noticed that the Rio Grande Games site now has a release date of 12/1/2013 for the game. You might remember that I wrote about Rio Grande Games telling us December of 2012 that the game's release was imminent. I expressed some doubt about that—given Rio Grande's past issues with release dates.

Sometimes I hate it when I'm right...

Here's what's in the box:

  • ~45 new cards and start worlds to add to the base set, plus a set of action cards and start hand for a fifth player.
  • ~45 cards and Alien tokens used to represent the Alien Orb which players jointly map and explore, gaining tokens of various types that provide powers and VPs. There are also five new Explore action cards used to map the Orb (instead of gaining an additional card or greater card selection).

How in the world can it take so long to print that? Rio Grande Games is becoming a joke. I can't trust anything that comes out of Jay's mouth regarding release dates.

TikalLet's look at just a few examples.

  • Years ago El Grande was out-of-print and it took YEARS for the reprint to show up, despite repeated and then bumped release dates given. And then the game had errors on the action cards!
  • Tikal was also out of print for years. We also got promises and bumps. It finally arrived and it wasn't nearly as great as the others in the Mask series! (Okay, that's not Rio Grande's fault... But it's still true!)
  • Then we have Arctic Scavengers. It took Rio Grande THREE YEARS to get this one out. Way to strike while the iron is hot...

This is no different. Race For the Galaxy is an amazing game, and this expansion is certainly going to be snatched up by all of the fans out there (myself included!). But...I can't remember the last time anyone in our group played RFtG. It's a classic, but not one that's often thought of anymore. The longer you delay the expansion, the less relevant the base game seems.

Jay at Rio Grande doesn't seem to have any problems getting Dominion expansions out the door. Of course, that game is still hot enough that printing a new expansion is like printing money. It would be nice if he put some of the same effort into games that aren't Dominion...

ArcticRio Grande used to sit atop the heap when it came to Euro publishers. That's not the case anymore. Lots of new companies have come risen up to challenge that—and they're winning. There are lots of factors when it comes to why these new publishers have been able to grow and become players in the market, and I'm convinced that one of them is Rio Grande's inability to hold a release date on anything that's not Dominion.

Ask yourself this: If you had a new game design, and Rio Grande was publishing it, would you be excited, or worried that they'd make you wait three years, while the nimble publishers out there are printing game after game every month?

I truly hope Rio Grande turns things around. My earliest games, when I jumped into this hobby nine years ago, were almost all Rio Grande ones. I love what they've done and I love what they do. I just wish they did it better.

Sorry this news piece turned into a rant...but COME ON!

Thanks for reading. And we've got a new giveaway to announce soon! The only heads-up I'm going to tell you now is that you should go subscribe to our YouTube channel. And while you're there, check out our first foray into video reviews: Awesome Level 9000.

What You Missed...

MeThanks for joining us on another grand week here at Theology Of Games. Here's what you might have missed. After playing the DC Deck-Building game with Son The Elder, I wondered if anyone out there let their kids win. We got some great responses!

Then we brought you the news that the 4x game Eclipse is out on the iPad!

We interviewed Arctic Scavengers designer Kyle Gabhart.

The we had a Double Double-Take Review, of the cute games Pick-A-Pig and Pick-A-Dog.

And finally, Firestone took a look at the trick-taking game Little Devils.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for more fun next week! (And we'll have a big Kickstarter Weekly tomorrow. Don't miss it!)

An Interview With Kyle Gabhart, Designer of Arctic Scavengers!

ArcticToday’s interview is with Robert K. Gabhart (but he goes by Kyle), designer of Arctic Scavengers—the very first deck-building game to come out after that...other...mildly popular one. We’re super excited he agreed to answer some questions from us. And awaaaaay we go! Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m a Pisces; I enjoy candlelight dinners, and long walks on the beach.

 You’re from Texas. My (Firestone) wife is, too. Why are you people so stinking obnoxious about being Texans?

Never ask a man if he’s from Texas, because if he is, then he’ll come right out and tell you.  And if he’s not…well, why embarrass him?

The truth is that Texans are a proud bunch because we have just a little bit more awesome inside of us than anyone else seems to have. We have our own electric grid, we are the only state that gets to fly our flag at the same height as the US flag, and we only remain in the union out of pity for the rest of you.

So, Arctic Scavengers: Were you working on a deck-building game before Dominion came out? Or was it designed after you played Dominion? Tell us the design story of Arctic Scavengers.

So Dominion was only the 5th designer board game that was even introduced to me.  A buddy introduced me to the hobby in November of 2008.  My initial games included: San Juan, Ra, Pandemic, Manila, and Dominion.  Dominion particularly piqued my interest.

The truth is that the winter of 2008 / 2009 was a very difficult one for me.  For years I struggled with chronic, severe back pain and then in December of 2009 I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS, a rare form of arthritis that is similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis). That led to a bit of depression and an intense need to pour myself into something.  So I poured myself into creating a euro-ish game set in Feudal Japan.  That was in January 2009.  Then in February, after several games of back-to-back Dominion, it dawned on me that Dominion could really benefit from a more tightly woven theme and more direct player interaction.  Starting at 11:00pm one night, I proceeded to work on the core mechanics and structure of Arctic Scavengers (AS) in a marathon design session consisting of pencil and note cards.  By 7:00am the next morning I had the bulk of what became the base game.  Roughly 70% of what went into the base AS game was designed during that initial night of crazed inspiration.

What made you decide to self-publish the 1st edition?

I wanted to see the game come to light sooner rather than later and I didn’t have any existing connections in the industry.  I looked around at a few publishers and no one really seemed very eager to accept design submissions, so I figured I would just go ahead and do it myself.

ArcticCardsWe noticed that the Rio Grande Games version includes the HQ expansion. What does that add to the game?

The HQ expansion really opens up the play possibilities.  There are Tribal Leaders, which grant unique player powers (The Cannibal eats tribe members for food, The Mentor can use a Refugee to modify any action, and The Organizer has a special draw action), Buildings (Bunker, Hydroponic Garden, Armory, and Pharmacy) that the Engineer mercenary can construct back at your base to enable hand management, A Medic mercenary that enables you to acquire medicine through hunting and serves as a counter to Sniper Team attacks, and there are gangs that bestow end-game points based upon accumulating certain resources.

How has your faith affected your journey as a game designer?

Interesting question. Game design is a creative activity driven by passion, and it borders on being a spiritual experience for me. I have been blessed with an immense passion for games and with a spark of creativity and wonder. As for the game design journey itself, my faith has helped me to not sweat the small stuff and leave the process of how and when things unfold in the far more capable hands of my Lord and savior. His timing is perfect and his perspective is far broader and more informed than my own. Things will happen when they need to happen, and in a way that is far more awesome than they would if it were all up to me. This awareness frees me from a lot of the stress and anxiety that could potentially exist as a game designer and publisher.

Do you have a game group you play with regularly? (Besides your wife and 6(!) kids, of course.) Which recent game has come out of left field and surprised you with how good it is?

I try to get over to the Dallas Games Marathon as often as I can.  Usually that is once every couple of months.  I also have a couple of guys that I collaborate with on game designs. Finally, my wife and I host a game night at our house several times a year. So I wouldn’t say that I have a regular group, but I do find lots of opportunities to play games. That having been said, it is true that I have probably logged more games of Zombie Dice, Martian Dice, San Juan, and Pandemic than most of the designers of those games. These are favorites of my family and so we play them an inordinate amount of time.

What are your five favorite games—and what do you love about them?

The Resistance – Bluffing, acting, and shifting alliances

Galaxy Trucker – Controlled chaos

Agricola – Farming and making babies

Tichu – Wishes, Dragons, and Bombs

Arctic Scavengers – They put my name on the box!!!

So do you have any upcoming designs you can share with us?

I have a game that I designed a month BEFORE Arctic Scavengers that is just waiting to see the light of day.  It has a euro-style economic engine and victory point system with an American-style combat system. It’s set in Feudal Japan and manages to fit into the 60-90 minute window.  It’s called Kingdoms of Rice, has absolutely STUNNING artwork, and will be Kickstarted (Lord willing) this summer.

One-Word Answer Questions! (Short phrases are allowed if necessary)

Favorite Pixar movie? KnickKnack

Favorite Dr. Who episode? When?

Favorite comedian? Louis CK

If you were one of the Three Amigos, which one would you be? Martin

Favorite Proverb? Proverbs 27:14

Thanks so much, Kyle! Go check out his game—it's a solid addition to the deck-building genre! Thanks for reading! And make sure you check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!

Arctic Scavengers is Almost Here...

ArcticWay back in 2009 I (Firestone) played an indie-published game called Arctic Scavengers. As far as I know, it was the very first post-Dominion deck-building game. But most people never got a chance to play it, because it was a small print run from a small publisher. Enter Rio Grande Games, who agreed to publish the game to a wider audience. Well, THREE YEARS LATER, it's finally happening. Rio Grande announced on their Facebook page that copies of the game should be on their way to distributors in the next couple of weeks. I love Rio Grande Games, but this is one of the worst board game delays I've ever seen. The game is pretty fun—and the theme is 1,000,000 times better than Dominion. But instead of striking while the iron was hot (3 years ago), now Arctic Scavengers will seem like "just another Dominion clone" even though...well...it was the original "Dominion clone."

Okay, it's not exactly like Dominion. You're a tribe, trying to survive against the other tribes (players) in a cold, post-apocalyptic world where you're scavenging for weapons and supplies and medicine. It was a little rough around the edges, but I liked it—and it was more interactive than Dominion. I have no idea what is different with the new edition, but if you like deck-building games, you should definitely check out Arctic Scavengers.

A Big Rio Grande Games Release Update

GoblinsThis week Rio Grande Game posted a release update on their Facebook page. Unfortunately, it looks like Race For the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts has been pushed from two months ago to sometime this spring. Oh well...there are a BUNCH of games to play until then. "December and January have seen the release of several new games from Rio Grande Games. The games we have released are Monster Factory, Power Grid: Northern Europe/UK, Cavemen, A Fool’s Fortune, Spin Monkeys, Tzolk’in, Goblins, Inc, Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion, Galaxy Trucker: Anniversary Edition, Copycat, Unexpected Treasures, Maria, The Doge Ship, Myrmes, and Antike:Duellum.

We have several other new games in the pipeline which we plan to release in February. These include Cinque Terre, Piñata (a rethemed version of Balloon Cup by Stephen Glenn) and Arctic Scavengers.

Later this spring we plan to release Credit Mobilier, Mogul, Dominion:The Guilds, and Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts. We also have planned several reprints for the spring:El Caballero, Tikal, Space Alert, and Space Alert: New Frontier."

I (Firestone) played Tzolk'in on Tuesday, and it was AMAZING. We'll have a full review up next week.

Thanks for reading, and as always you can find and even "Like" us on Facebook. And over on Twitter too!