When comparing Race for the Galaxy vs Heroscape, the Slant community recommends Heroscape for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Heroscape is ranked 19th while Race for the Galaxy is ranked 35th. The most important reason people chose Heroscape is:
The game includes all kinds of well-designed figures, a various terrain tiles, and a bunch of different terrain accessories that make up the big 3D landscape. The characters are a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, history, mythology and all kinds of other genres. Terrain tiles can range from grass to swamp, to lava, to snow and other types. What’s more, they can be stacked on top of one another to create hills.
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Pro Great for quick gameplay sessions
A group of experienced players can play a game of Race for the Galaxy in 30-60 minutes easily. There are no complex boards or pieces to manage, and each game usually only lasts about 7-12 turns.
Pro Each round is different and exciting
At the start of every round, players each choose one action card from among a pool of their seven cards and place it face down on the table. After everyone has chosen, all the cards are flipped over and the round begins.
Any action chosen can be completed by all players. For example, if you choose to Explore, then everyone else may also explore on that turn. If your opponent chose to Produce, then you are also free to produce.
Since you never know what actions the people around you are going to choose for that turn, it's possible that any or all actions will come into play that round. This keeps things fresh and exciting on a per round basis as you never know (except for your own choice) which actions will be 100% in play.
Pro Many different ways to win
There are seven different actions that can be taken each turn such as Produce, Explore, Develop, etc. Each of these actions will then influence which cards you can play from your hand, and also the points you get from all active cards already in play. There are are an almost unlimited amount of possible scenarios and ways to accumulate the most points. No one strategy will ever overpower another thanks to so many random factors and paths to victory.
Pro Organized rule book makes locating rules convenient
The rules may be complex, but the rule book itself is incredibly well-organized and contains clear instructions, diagrams, and pictures. Each page contains a handy summary section with a quick overview of each rule. There's also a detailed glossary that contains the description for each and every symbol that appears on the game cards. When you inevitably need to look up anything mid-game, the information is at least easy to locate.
Pro High quality, durable cards
All the game cards feature high quality artwork of planets, ships, and various sci-fi technology. They are printed on durable cardboard that doesn't bend or tear easily. When properly used and stored, they should stay in good condition for a long time.
Pro Setup is fast and easy
There are no complex boards or game pieces to deal with. Each player simply chooses a home world and is given seven action cards and dealt some play cards. Then, victory tokens are placed in a pile (12 per player). Thanks to a small amount of pieces and very little preparation, this game can be setup and ready to play in under a minute.
Pro Deep and strategic
Race for the Galaxy is deep and offers plenty of room for customized strategies, so those who enjoy more advanced games should really enjoy it.
For example, you may put together an intelligent play by trying to predict which phase your opponents are going to choose on any given turn. If your opponent controls an area that allows them to trade resources for cards, they might choose the Trade Phase that turn. Since all players can participate in any other player's chosen phase, you may want to counterplay with the Settle Phase so you can join the area and take advantage of the trade too.
There are hundreds of scenarios like this. The amount of sheer strategy and paths to victory combined with the random nature of cards can create plenty of interesting and deep gameplay sessions.
Pro Good design
The game includes all kinds of well-designed figures, a various terrain tiles, and a bunch of different terrain accessories that make up the big 3D landscape.
The characters are a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, history, mythology and all kinds of other genres. Terrain tiles can range from grass to swamp, to lava, to snow and other types. What’s more, they can be stacked on top of one another to create hills.
Pro Play time decided by the players
The play time highly depends on the scenario chosen and the size of the playing surface, but since the game encourages customization, players are free to choose a scenario that's easy and quick to play through and construct a smaller battlefield to accommodate it, for example, "last team standing " on a small surface.
Pro Can be built to fit any group
Heroscape can make both a decent 1v1 or 2v2 tournament and a massive party attraction. Although the game is best balanced to be a game for 2-4 players, if you have more sets you can create a map that can potentially scale up to any group.
Moreover, all ages are welcome, so it can be a great family game as well.
Pro Simple rules
This is one of the games that fits the description of “Easy to learn, hard to master” quite well.
The basic gist is quite simple - in their turn the player chooses an army card, moves the pictured figures and attacks with the figures. Movement is done based on the “Move number” on the card and attacking is done by rolling the attack dice based on the “Attack number” on the card. Players alternate turns until the game is over. The win condition is chosen by the players
There are a few more detailed mechanics, but they are very easy to understand, because they link to the physical aspect of the game. For example, an enemy is in line of sight if the figure is "able to see it" from its position - if there's a huge dragon figure behind a mountain and its head is poking out, then the soldier further back on the hill has line of sight. Another example - if a figure physically can't fit somewhere, then it can't move to that tile - a dinosaur figurine won't fit under a small bridge over a river, so it can't go there.
The basics of the game are not hard at all, the rules are simple enough even for children, it’s suited for ages 8+.
Pro Great customization possibilities
The game offers a lot of customizability both in terms of playing surface and the game itself.
Since the playing surface is fully customizable, you can either create it from instructions (found in the game guide or online) or arrange the construction pieces however you want. Because of this every game can be different in some way – you can, for example, relocate a hill, place a river and do much more.
Though the game offers a scenario booklet with some basic scenarios, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and make up your own objectives, manipulate some of the rules or add house rules.
Pro Well-made materials
The game materials have a relatively high production quality.
There’s no need to worry about game components not being able to sustain normal wear and tear or an accidental drop here or there - the hexagonal pieces and the painted character figurines are made out of durable plastic. The character figures are also quite flexible - bending swords, legs and hands of figures doesn't leave a lasting problem.
The paint job of the pieces is also well done and paint won't wear off even when rigorously scraped.
Pro Active community
Despite the printing of the game being discontinued in 2010, there’s still a very active community at https://www.heroscapers.com/ that are keeping the game alive. There are forums for custom units, local gaming events, online Heroscape games and more.
Since sets and accessories tend to cost a lot of money, some dedicated fans even banded together to create https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/, offering a selection of, as the name suggests, all things related to Heroscape – figures, terrain sets, expansions, etc.
Pro Can be visually impressive
Some fans of the game have even gone out of their way to design huge and beautiful battlefields, spanning many tables. A lot of great creations can be found on the internet - some examples.
Pro Fun to set up
The setting up of the game is another game itself and it makes for a good family / friend activity. It could be compared to LEGO construction – you attach the hexagonal pieces together to create whatever playing surface you want or just follow an instruction.
The pieces smoothly link together and don’t accidentally come apart, so there's no need to worry about a small accident ruining your hard work.
Since the playfield is quite big, everyone can join in creating the landscape. Some people could even get more excited to play while seeing the battlefield grow and imagining how fun the nearing game could be.
Con Iconography can be difficult to learn
This game relies heavily on a variety of symbols to indicate what each card does. This can make it very difficult for new players that don't yet understand what each symbol means. These symbols range from different colored shapes like circles and diamonds to shapes with various icons inside them. It's not always intuitive what they mean, so expect to consult the rule book quite often while learning.
Con Strict, complex rules ruin some of the enjoyment
It can be really hard to enjoy the game when you're more focused on the rules than having fun. Having to consult the rule book several times per turn can get old after a while, and may turn new players off completely.
Con Steep learning curve
This is a difficult game to learn. Not only does each card contain symbols which need to be memorized, it has very complex rules in general. Each turn is defined by a very rigid and detailed ruleset.
Con Not much player interactivity
The cards you play have an influence what your opponent can and cannot do each turn, but it all feels so random and impersonal. There's little to no communication required among the group. Everyone just scrambles to get their points without really worrying too much about what the player sitting next to them is doing. This issue is fixed in the expansions, but those who only own the base game are out of luck.
Con Expansions are nearly mandatory
In order to get the most out of this game, buying the expansions is considered mandatory in the board gaming community. The gameplay itself doesn't quite feel complete without all the additional rules and cards. The base game is fully playable, but most of the focus on player interactivity and balance went into the expansions.
Con Different rules when playing with only 2 players
It is highly recommended to play with 3 or more players, but there is a rule set available for when only 2 players are available. However, this requires learning an entirely modified set of advanced rules. This can be especially complex and frustrating for people who are still struggling with the standard rules.
Con Takes up a lot of room
The landscapes tend to get quite big and, unfortunately, there is no convenient way to store the tiles and character figures unless you spend some extra cash on boxes or other forms of storage.
Con Long set up and take down times
Depending on the scenario, the setup might take as long as the scenario itself. A basic setup could take anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes. This is because of how big the playing surface can be and how many pieces and accessories it consists of.
The sets, expansions and accessories tend to cost a lot of money mostly due to the game being out of print since 2010.
Con Out of print
The game has been out of print since 2010.
Con Inconsistent theme
The terrain is customizable enough to create a running theme, but units are more difficult. Some people might enjoy the idea of heroes from all kinds of genres clashing in one big game, others might be thrown off by historical characters like samurai and cowboys battling alongside werewolves, robots or vampires.