In appreciation of modern board and card games.

Keldon's Race for the Galaxy AI

One of my personal favorite game bloggers, Hiew, recently wrote up a couple of nicepieces that feature Keldon’s AI software for Race for the Galaxy.

Playing against the Race AI is a challenging and satisfying endeavor. At first, I won less than 20% of my 2-player games, but now that I’ve had some practice, I’m hovering around 6040% (the Brink of War expansion just came out, and I’m getting familiar with the strategy still). Like Hiew, even though I have well over 100 games under my belt by this point, I feel like a very mediocre player. What’s more, I still learn something new about Race every time I play.

That, friends, is depth. It’s a testament not only to the quality of the game itself, but also to that of Keldon’s AI software. I downloaded the source to have a look under the hood, and though I’m hardly a Tcl developer, the code appears to be very soundly designed and well thought-out. Granted, it lacks the polished user interaction of a commercial app, but for a free download, I’m impressed.

What’s more, Keldon recently updated the app to include the most recent expansion, Brink of War, and this new version includes networked multiplayer (read: human vs. human) support. I have not played against many human players yet, but look forward to doing so.

In the same spirit as Hiew’s posts on the subject, below are a few screenshots and descriptions of the results of some recent games of RFTG I’ve played using Keldon’s platform. Obviously, you’ll need to have played Race a few times to appreciate any of this, but perhaps it will make some curious enough to check the game out.

All three games were 3-player games, me vs. two AI players, with all three expansions in play and takeovers active.

Game 1: Uplift Smackdown

Screenshot - Uplift Smackdown

In the first game, I began with Doomed World, which I discarded for a turn-3 Armaments World. I actually laid down a 6-cost development, Pan-Galactic Research, on turn 2, which is very unusual for me, but it paid off big. I had Uplift Code in my hand early, and I started slapping down Uplift worlds like crazy. I also was able to achieve some kind of crazy Imperium synergy with both Imperium Seat and Imperium Lords, topping off my tableau with the 7-cost Rebel Homeworld and the 9-cost Alien Departure Point.

My opponent to the left, Red, started off with Rebel Cantina, but didn’t really do anything with it, switching gears to more of an Alien scoring strategy that featured Alien Cornucopia. Green, on the right, initially began with the militaristic New Sparta, but like his counterpart, never fully took advantage of it.

The final scores were 82-61-49, with me winning the day and Red bringing up the rear. 82 is about as high as I can remember ever scoring, but it’s certainly not high compared to scores I’ve seen posted by others.

Game 2: Brown World Rush

Screenshot - Brown World Rush

The second game was very different from the first. I took full advantage of the special ability of my start world, Galactic Scavengers, which allowed me to stash one card from every purchase I made, and recover them on every produce phase. This can be very powerful when used properly. It basically equates to a 1-card “manufacturer’s rebate” on everything you buy.

My starting hand also contained both Alpha Centauri and Gem Smugglers, two brown worlds that gave discounts on brown worlds, so it was pretty clear what direction I had to take. An early Improved Logistics helped me rush to fill out my tableau with a bunch of other brown and blue worlds before either of the other players got their engines fully started. I didn’t even bother playing a 6-cost dev because it would have slowed me down too much. I did have to prestige-consume in the final turn, however, because Green was coming on strong.

Final scores were 33-30-18, again in my favor. Red had a terrible showing, but he actually took over one of my military worlds at the end, almost as if he were trying to play kingmaker. Green nearly stole the game with Terraforming Guild and his 3 windfall worlds.

Game 3: Mining League


Initially, I went after a Rebel strategy, but when the cards weren’t there, I committed to the Mining League. I was able to get 3 quality brown production worlds and Mining Robots played, but Red put together a very nice consume-based strategy from the very start, and eventually blew by me with a pile of victory point chips before I got close to hitting 12 cards in my tableau. I think Green might have helped Red out a little too much, because he kept producing in order to get prestige. Oh well.

This score was 53-44-25, with Red winning, me in second, and Green last. The game ended due to VP chips running out, with Red claiming 33 of them. I shake my fist at you, Red.

Check out Keldon’s AI for RFTG

Whether your computing platform of choice is PC, Mac, or Linux, if you want to learn Race for the Galaxy or improve your gameplay, look no further than Keldon’s excellent AI. It’s superb, it’s cross-platform, it’s a free download, and the rules of Race for the Galaxy (and its expansions) are freely available from Rio Grande Games.

For the legally astute, Rio Grande Games, the publisher of Race for the Galaxy, has given Keldon permission to use actual card images and names in the app, so it’s all above board. Play away.