Published on September 12th, 2016 | by Nicole Jekich0
One Galaesh, Two Galaesh, Three Galaesh, Four
Res Publica 2230AD
Res Publica 2230AD is a colorful and highly thematic space game with aliens and futuristic technology and is a re-imagined version of Renier Knizia’s original 1991 game. Like the original game, 2230AD focuses on trading and set collection mechanics to drive player interactions. Players are trying to settle new lands, trade and build cities with different alien cultures. The player who collects the most victory points and the game’s end will win.
The 2230AD version was published by Mage Company after a successful Kickstarter campaign and it contains new additions to the game like neutral races, new buildings and the Narkh Aduul Planet to track victory point achievements in the game. (If you want an in-depth comparison of the original and current version of Res Publica there is a great write up on As A Board Gamer ).
Our review copy of Respublica 2230AD was provided by Mage Company.
Trading Simulation Between Alien Cultures
Res Publica 2230AD is a lot of game in a small box with 175 cards plus a reference board for each player, tokens and planet mission tokens. There are 6 different races traveling the galaxy and looking to build new settlements, establish trade and build up grand cities for a growing galactic civilization; however these aliens in this galaxy will need to share space and resources if they are to build those achievements.
Those are the driving conflicts of 2230AD and players will be collecting these Alien Races as resources to use when building. One building players will need to buy fairly early is a Space Station as that is the only way to draw Technology cards, the other in-game resource, and collect them for the next tiered buildings. The Technology cards work just like the Alien Race cards–players can acquire them in trades with other players and then turn them in to build a building. All of the trading and building are the steps needed to reach the end game victory of having the most VPs.
In addition to the buildings having VPs, players have their Narkh Aduul Planet – a cleverly divided planet which gives players the potential for bonus points in game. Each of the 4 puzzle pieces that make up this planet represent a different achievement: build 2 space stations; successfully make 3 trades with players; build 2 cities; and turn in 5 different technology cards. Once a player successfully completes all these achievements or if the last technology card is drawn from the deck, the games ends and the final tally of victory points begins.
Stifling Trading Rules
Trading is the first action each player performs on their turn and it is the main way to gather the cards you want. Players can try to rely on their blind draws from the top of the decks, but that isn’t a reliable way to get the pairing of cards you will need. At the start of each player’s turn they may offer a number of any one specific card in their hand to trade or that player may request a number of a one specific type of card. After the active player announces their offer or request, players in turn order state what they are willing to trade for the offer or request. After all offers are heard, the active player will either accept one offer or reject them all. There is no back and forth haggling. No counter offers. Nothing. Nada. Players move onto the next phase.
Those strict trading rules are what made Res Publica feel stifling and both of the different gaming groups who played 2230AD with me expressed similar frustrations. As the game progressed, players wanted to make more complicated trades- maybe a specific technology and a specific alien race would complete the resource requirements you need for your next two upgrades; but players could never make “and/or” trades.
If you don’t mind the restrictive trading, Res Publica 2230AD makes a decent tableau building game. My favorite addition to the game is the Narkh Arduul Planet which is split into 4 quadrant tokens, each with its own achievement and VP reward. These achievements are aligned with what you are trying to accomplish in game so it gives players a stepping stone of VPs as they work to collect sets of cards for the buildings.
I do enjoy that some information like the type or resources each player has in hand is secret while the trade offers, requests and trade itself is public information. How much you are actually helping your opponent in this game isn’t apparent until that player turns in a grip of resources to buy the building you’ve been eyeing for your next turn.
Trading with Aliens is Frustrating
I imagine the limited trading in Res Publica is set this way to represent trading between cultures and people who share no common language or culture but who do need resources to survive. While a clever nod to the pioneers who established those trades and connections, it sure does make for frustrating gameplay with people I can actually talk to. I see Res Publica’s gameplay as fun exercise for the classroom; but in a competitive race for victory points where players have to rely on getting resources from others, the game feels long and drawn out and I feel like I achieve less than if I just had a game where I could rely on collecting my own resources.
Have you played Res Publica–the new version or the original? What do you think about the limited trading mechanics?