Thursday session: Race for the Galaxy and Canal Mania

Race for the Galaxy box

We started the session with Race for the Galaxy. Our game took something like 40 minutes this time, so it’s getting faster, perhaps. I went with the novelty goods, as my start cards were bent that way. I got a pretty good engine going there, with Consume: Trade producing a hefty pile of cards and some points.

In the end, I wasn’t effective enough. Olli’s mixed strategy went faster and he finished the game when I was at ten cards. I got one six-point development in the game and had another in my hand waiting to be played. One more round and I would’ve won, I think, as I only lost by two points.

Canal Mania box

Canal Mania was next. We had five players, the maximum. It worked well, though there was a bit too much downtime, so in the future, I’ll probably prefer four — or five, if everybody plays fast. The turns itself aren’t that long, after all.

Canal Mania is a railroad game in water, that is players build canals in pre-railroad England and ship goods to score points. The routebuilding is interesting, as players don’t have liberty to do what they want: canals are built based on contracts that list the termini. Sometimes there are possibilities or requirements of including town or two in the canal, but there are also tile limits, which make lengthy detours impossible.

The building is based on building cards: either you build as much as you want or you take three cards from five face up cards. There are locks and stretches for normal ground and aqueducts and tunnels for higher ground: the basic idea is that two adjacent tiles must be different. Locks, aqueducts and tunnels are generally slightly or a lot harder to build than stretches and are also worth points.

Canal Mania board

Goods move between towns — there are no target towns like in Age of Steam, but instead you can take any good and ship it anywhere, scoring one point per town as long as you own the last canal section the good travels and the route doesn’t involve two towns of the same colour. That restricts the movement a lot.

It was fun. The game moves fast — or would move with fast players — and there’s some good excitement about it. Choosing between building or collecting more build cards is fun and there are generally more things you’d like to do than you can. Getting goods on board and moving them is interesting and the end game is pretty good as well. All in all, pretty good game.

Right now my rating is a solid eight. If the game doesn’t get any faster and remains a two-hour game, expect a lower rating and a sold game. If the game could consistently be played in 90 minutes, a rating of nine wouldn’t be impossible. We’ll have to see about it. If you have any experience about this, drop a comment.

(Note: the picture you see in this entry was taken with my phone camera. Not bad, unless you take a closer look. But overall, I’d say it’s an improvement to having no pictures at all. It isn’t quite as easy a process as it should be — for some reason, Movable Type wasn’t able to create a thumbnail of the picture and the memory card is hard to remove from my phone — but you can expect a picture every now and then!)

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