Race for the Galaxy Strategy – Rebel versus Imperium Updates, part 2: Game Changers

In boardgames, race for the galaxy, strategy advice on May 18th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Although Rebel vs. Imperium adds a couple of game changers to the play environment, it specializes in second tier cards – cards which are strong and interesting, but don’t define a strategy. There is nothing in Rebel vs Imperium that shakes up the environment in the same way Improved Logistics, Terraforming Guild and Alien Toy Shop did when first playing with The Gathering Storm.

To get everyone up to speed, here is an overview of the new Game Changers, presented in the same format I used in the original article. The third Rebel vs. Imperium update will cover new Second Tier cards, which are considerably more numerous than Game Changers, and the fourth will talk about new combos for the Game Changers and Second Tier cards in earlier sets.

Gene Designers

Gene Designers is the real genes Consume engine after Galactic Genome Project teased us. GGP is a nice card, but it doesn’t provide cards. Gene Designers fixes this, and is also a production world. The biggest problem is that it is a world, not a development, so there are fewer discounts to apply to it. Colony Ship and Doomed World can fill this void, but they cost a tempo, wiping out some of the advantage of the production power (this is a topic unto itself that I plan to take up in a future post).

Of course, getting three genes worlds up and running is no mean feat, especially when one of the easier targets, Plague World, doesn’t really combine with Gene Designers. A bit of military can mitigate this problem assuming you get to the point where you can play Hive World and Malevolent Lifeforms.

A larger issue, especially in multiplayer games, is that it’s card generation is focused on the Consume phase. The logical solution to this is Lost Species Ark World, but that’s almost as expensive as Gene Designers, and getting both cards into play can be horribly slow, even using Colony Ships. If you do go down this road and have a choice, playing Lost Species Ark World first is your best bet, since you can generate more cards quickly with Produce followed by Trade. Other candidates for Produce-phase card generation like Pan-Galactic League and Uplift Code aren’t any less expensive than Lost Species Ark World.


Genetics Lab and Universal Symbionts both make it easier to get Gene Designers running at full strength by letting you Produce on two genes windfall worlds instead of just one. Universal Symbionts is doubly useful here since you can Produce on it as the role privilege while using it’s power to Produce on a second windfall.

Abandoned Alien Uplift Camp is all kinds of useful. It gives immediate access to the 2-defense Uplift windfalls, and helps get Hive World and Malevolent Lifeforms into play. It also makes Gene Designers itself, and Lost Species Ark World easier to manage. After Colony Ship, this may be the best card to find in your opening hand alongside Gene Designers.

Lost Species Ark World, Pan-Galactic League, Uplift Code, Colony Ship and Doomed World are all discussed above, although it’s worth pointing out that Doomed World is more awkward than Colony Ship since it requires an additional Settle phase, unless it is your start world (and if it is, do a little happy dance inside).

Galactic Exchange

Superficially, Galactic Exchange is Diversified Economy dressed up in six-development camouflage, and it is definitely another engine for a diversified Consume strategy, but it is a very different beast from it’s cousin.

First, Galactic Exchange can Consume one or two goods, and can also Consume four, provided they are all different colours. This is a huge change from Diversified Economy‘s three-good gulp. It gives you the freedom to use Galactic Exchange as your engine even in the early phase of the game, Consuming for VP and cards without having to meet an arbitrary limitation (well, a less restrictive one, at least). This also means that Galactic Exchange plays better with other strong Consume powers like Galactic Trendsetters and Tourist World than Diversified Economy does.

Second, it generates (essentially) one card per colour of good you have during the Consume phase rather than the Produce phase. This means that it interacts with other card-generating powers in a very different way than Diversified Economy. Where commodity worlds are almost redundant with Diversified Economy, they are an excellent complement to Galactic Exchange, as are other Produce-phase card generation powers (including, of course, Diversified Economy).

Of course, the cost is a harder pill to swallow. Where it is feasible to play Diversified Economy after a single Trade, especially if Produce has been called in the same round, Galactic Exchange is quite likely to empty your hand entirely, and you’re better off Trading than using Galactic Exchange‘s Consume power to refill your hand. If you wait until the middlegame to play Galactic Exchange you are more likely to have discounts and production worlds in play that can help you defray the higher cost without having to break tempo.


Diversified Economy does balance card production with Galactic Exchange, in addition to scoring an extra three points at the end of the game. The Consume powers fight a bit with each other, though, since using Diversified Economy is liable to cut deeply into Galactic Exchange‘s card production, and they put a huge premium on diversification.

Rebel Alliance & Galactic Imperium including takeover powers

If you know how takeovers work and what these cards do, the significance of these cards when takeovers are active is rather obvious. Also, my regular playgroup does not play with takeovers very often, so I’m not qualified to comment in depth.

I will discuss Rebel Alliance as a Second Tier card below, and Imperium Seat at some point in the future when I discuss the 6-cost developments that are not game changers or second tier cards.

  1. Thanks so much for all these RFTG strategy articles. I just got hooked on the game recently and was in need of some tips. Keep up the good work!

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