Slang for the Galaxy

It’s no news to any serious strategy gamer that Race For The Galaxy has rapidly become one of the most popular and frequently played designs of recent years. My gaming group plays it often enough that we’ve developed our own slang terms for certain frequently-occurring tactics and situations. In the hope that other players may find these enjoyable and useful, here they are:


The act of choosing the +5 Explore option, as opposed to the +1 +1 Explore. So called because of its use to snipe for a single key card that you need, as popposed to generally gathering resources.


Playing nothing but alternating IV(2xVP) and V phases. A smart thing to do if you have good VP consume powers and planets or developments that will pull cards into your hand during a Produce phase. This tactic may rely on other players choosing phases II and III so you don’t have to, or you may count on pumping more points per turn than anyone else can make by playing their planets and developments. There are three major variants of this:

blue pump

A pump with blue planets using Consumer Markets.

brown pump

A pump with brown planets using Mining Conglomerate and possibly Mining League.

gray pump

A pump based on gray worlds with consume powers, especially Tourist World and Galactic Trendsetters. This term is seldom used because it’s unusual to win with a pure gray pump; more commonly you’ll see a combination like a blue-gray pump or a brown-gray pump.

build out

To build out is to end the game by reaching the 12-card limit in your tableau. This term implies that you’re doing this deliberately early in order to shut down the game before someone else’s pump can outscore you.

fast build

A class of whole-game strategies that depend on building out before other players can get their own strategies in gear. This has variants:

military fast-build

This strategy relies on the combination of a military homeworld and an early Space Marines or Drop Ships to set up a situation in which every succeeding world you buy is paid for with military power rather than discards.

civilian fast-build

This strategy is much less common, and so is the term. It may start with a combination like Replicant Robots and either Mining Robots or Alien Rosetta Stone World.


An opening hand that does not obviously lend itself to any particular strategy, requiring one to thrash around Exploring for a couple of rounds seeking key cards. Probably from filboid studge. The emphatic form is “utter studge”. In extreme cases, one might do a take on the Monty Python “spam” routine: “Studge, studge, studge, studge…Lovely studge, wonderful studge!”

Fancifully, the elaborate mad-scientistic machine (doubtless equipped with arcing electrodes and many blinkylights) that performs point-pumping. Especially in the phrase “Fire up the consumerator!”

Other examples of usage:

“Yeah, I had New Galactic Order in my opening hand and went for a military-alien fast-build, but he beat me with a brown pump and Tourist World.”

A player in a two-hand game choosing I(+5) and III might say “Snipe and settle!”

On seeing somebody with two or more blue production worlds play Consumer Markets: “Uh oh, blue pump a-comin’.

On playing your first IV(2VP) + V in a two-hand game, it is appropriate to say “Engaging consumerator…NOW!” followed by your best Star Trek sound effect.

Um, yes, since you ask, yes my gaming friends are complete geeks. And proud of it. If this surprises you, you have not been paying attention.

(Also posted to the Race For The Galaxy:General forum on BoardGameGeek.)

Categorized as General


  1. It’s mostly just be me and my wife playing, but our first piece of slang is that we refer to New Sparta as Sparky. (“Oh no, I got Sparky again.”)

  2. >It’s mostly just be me and my wife playing, but our first piece of slang is that we refer to New Sparta as Sparky. (”Oh no, I got Sparky again.”)

    Heh. When my wife and I are playing and Sparta comes up, it’s likely to be “But what about Sparta?” or “Tonight…we dine…in Hell!”

  3. mnemex:
    Hmm. Don’t seems like you have a term for the Diversified Consumerator (Mixed Pump?)

    Or, and often related to it, the Green Pump — which often, due to the number of cards it gets to draw, turns into a green-gray pump, IMEX.

    Mind, our Race jargon isn’t nearly as…colorful.

    Thanks for the comment–but you should probably surf over to [info]esrblog’s actual blog, since we’ve tried and comments made over here don’t appear in his actual blog (and thus he won’t see them). Thanks.

    We haven’t had much success with mixed pumps, which is why we haven’t invented a term for them. We’d probably use “mixed pump”, though.

    esrblog is curious about the Green Pump you mention. Is that Pan Galactic League plus Galactic Trendsetters and/or Tourist World?

    Hmm. You could probably pretty easily write an RSS scraper that would grab new posts to, poll the rss comments feed for them for a few weeks after they went up (or after it was a week or two since the last comment to them), and then push them to the esr blog. Pushing replies back to the lj feed is an exercise for the reader, though.

    Mixed pumps kick — as the ELC or Centauri, drop a different production planet, produce (or after dropping a windfall planet, not so much, though you need work to make this work with Centauri), trade, drop diversified economy, produce (draw two cards), trade, drop a third production planet (ideally, Lost Species Arc world — in fact, probably the quickest entrance into a mixed or green pump from -any- homeworld is Colony Ship->LSAW first turn (1 card in hand, assumes someone else settles. Or in a duel, dev/settle (if you can’t assume an opponent will settle) or even dev/produce (really good for ELC; if opponent settles, you basically just win, with a huge card advantage on the first turn and a four point trade on the second), followed by produce and trade. (7 cards in hand + LSA on the fourth turn, more if people explore; can go pretty much anywhere from there, but Diverse Economy, particularly for ELC or AC, is a very good place to go; one more production planet and you can fire up the consumerator, but with 5 cards (at least) per two turns, still keep up with the heavy builders).

  4. >So what is this game, a cross between Twilight Imperium and what?

    It’s a card game of galactic exploration and conquest. Fast-playing but with complex and tricky strategy.

  5. ChrisGreen, to clarify a bit further the game itself is not very complex. It is unusual if you have not played anything like it before, and about the only game with close mechanics is the card game San Juan. If you’ve ever played Puerto Rico, you can imagine this as Puerto Rico turned into a card game and re-themed for space exploration/coloniziation/development. Every single card is different, however, so that creates a lot of detail complexity, especially when people talk about specific combinations of cards.

  6. FWIW, my understanding is that the Twilight Imperium parallel isn’t entirely unfounded; TI is a complex SF game based on Puerto Rico, whereas Race for the Galaxy is a simpler card game based on Puerto Rico.

  7. Diversified Economy is the bomb!

    I hate getting “studge” and thank you for a new term!


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