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

Another fun week here on our humble blog. Here's what you might have missed...

  • We kicked the week off with a glimmer of hope regarding the new Race for The Galaxy expansion, Alien Artifacts. Apparently it really shakes things up.
  • Finally we gave you a heads-up on a cool-looking Kickstarter project—that's almost over!—for the game Boss Battles.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a great weekend!

An Interview With Board Game Luminary Mark Jackson!




Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions, Mark!

First tell us a little about yourself, and then tell us how you got involved in the board game hobby.

I am guy who wears a lot of hats: I'm the pastor of a small Southern Baptist church, the husband of Shari Jo (22 years!), and the father of two boys - ages 7 & 11 - who both (thankfully) love board games. I also blog on a semi-regular basis and have been a guest on a number of gaming podcasts, including The Dice Steeple.

I've played games all my life... my grandmother was a big part of that. Even as she got older, she'd get down in the floor with us to play Monopoly or whatever else I brought out of my room. And it was her daughter—my Aunt Nancy—who bought me my first Avalon Hill game (Outdoor Survival) and started me on the path to gaming geekdom.

• How has being a pastor enhanced—or run up against—your love of board games?

I've used board games in a number of different ways in ministry: as sermon illustrations, as ice-breakers in small groups, as social events (family game night) to connect people together. My church here has been gracious to allow me to host a regular gaming group in our social hall for a number of years, which helps me build relationships with people outside the "holy huddle."

• Have there been any games that you refused to play because you found the theme/ gameplay objectionable?

There are certain games I choose not to play (Hellrail, Lunch Money, Funny Friends, Chaos in the Old World, etc.) and other games I'm glad they re-themed (Twilight -> Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde) based on what I believe. I wrote some years ago that "my strongly held beliefs in Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible obviously play a role in my hobby. (If strongly held beliefs don't play a role in your whole life, then they're not strongly held beliefs.)" That's still true.

• You’re stranded on an island, but you somehow have the foresight to bring one game with you to play until such time as you’re rescued—or die due to exposure, starvation, or the awful disease those weird-looking lizards carry. What’s that game? (We’ll assume you’re stranded with the number of people that game plays best with…)

Oooo... so difficult. If I can carry expansions with me (I'll assume i can!), it would either be The Settlers of Catan or Memoir '44. (Just one? Seriously?)

• You have a wonderful blog. Which post has caused the most controversy?

Thanks for the kind words... it's a lot of fun.

I don't seem to generate wild levels of controversy, though I got some interesting private comments about my post The M Wordwhich was part of a series of posts about sex, pornography & passion.

On the gaming front, I got a bit of grief over my bad attitude about FFG and Battlelore...be warned: I'm in full-on irritated fan mode in these posts,

I've also had a lot of comment about my posts about why I quit playing D&D: The Day I Quit Playing D&D, and DW, Bill Cosby & Evercrack.

• I can barely keep up with all of your updates on Goodreads. Who are some of your favorite authors?

On the theological front, I'm drawn to C.S. Lewis & Tim Keller. As a pastor, I've been mentored via books by Larry Osborne, Erwin McManus & Andy Stanley.

As far as fiction goes, I think Kurt Busiek's graphic novel series ASTRO CITY is tremendous... and Stephen Lawhead continues to write brilliant genre fiction.

My non-fiction recommendations are all over the map - though I'm particularly fond of Marc Reisner (Cadillac Desert) and Robert Andrews (The Storm of War).

• You’ve been able to play many prototypes and advance copies of games. Are there any (that you can talk about without getting a hit put out on you) that we should be on the lookout for?

Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts is a great addition to the franchise - and makes it easier for players who were overwhelmed by the previous trilogy of expansions to jump back into the game.

The Dungeon Lords expansion (Festival Season) is more of what you love IF you loved Dungeon Lords: more monsters, more heroes (minstrels!), more traps, and so on.

Matt Leacock has a fantastic prototype using his Roll Through the Ages system that I'm not sure I can say much more about - but it's a delightful twist that I've loved every time I've played it. (Yes, it's still an "ancients" theme; no, it's not a civ-building game.)

• Is your wife a gamer?

No. She'll play games - she likes cooperative games like Pandemic & Lord of the Rings - but she is definitely not a gamer.

• You have two kids with different ages. What are your favorite games to play with each of them right now?

My 7 year old has fallen in love with all things Catan - enough so that he told me the other day that he wanted to play "a game with hexagons where you get resources from rolling dice" - yes, that's kind of specific. He & I have been having a great time playing The Rivals for Catan and are looking forward to getting our review copy of the Age of Englightenment expansion.

My 11 year old has a wider variety of gamer interests - right now, we're particularly enjoying The Ares Project. He would gladly play Risk: Legacy every day if only we could convince his younger brother to join in.

Here’s the One-Word Answer section. • Favorite theologian who goes by his first two initials?

C.S. Lewis (with G.K. Chesterton a close 2nd)

• Favorite LEGO line/theme of all time?

Time Cruisers (I still have the blimp set!)

• Favorite Disney ride/attraction?

Radiator Springs Racers (CA Adventure), though Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom) is a close 2nd

• Favorite minor character in the Star Wars universe?

Admiral Ackbar

• Favorite comedian?

Bill Cosby (love me some of his OLD stuff)

• Favorite Batman villain?

Riddler (the comic book one, NOT the movie)

• Favorite Bible verse?

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to answer our questions! And thanks to you for reading!

The Wait is Over...Almost. Race for the Galaxy Expands!

The super-long-awaited fourth expansion for Race for the Galaxy is nearly here! Rio Grande has announced a December 2012 release for Alien Artifacts. The expansion will change the trajectory of the game and will not be compatible with the three previous expansions of the title.Rio Grande has also scheduled Roll for the Galaxy—the obligatory dice version of the successful title, that's been rumored for years.You can check out the official Rio Grande page for Alien Artifacts right here. Thanks for reading!