Race for the Galaxy - Board Game Box Shot

Race for the Galaxy

| Published: 2007

In Race for the Galaxy, players build galactic civilizations by game cards that represent worlds or technical and social developments.

Each round consists of one or more of five possible phases. In each round, each player secretly and simultaneously chooses one of seven different action cards and then reveals it. Only the selected phases occur. For these phases, every player performs the phase’s action, while the selecting player(s) also get a bonus for that phase.

For example, if at least one player chooses the Develop action, then the Develop phase will occur; otherwise it is skipped. In it, each player may simultaneously select a development from his hand of cards to build. After revealing the cards, each player adds his development to his tableau of cards on the table and then discards cards from his hand equal to its cost. Each player who chose Develop discards one card fewer as his bonus.

Explore allows a player to draw cards and select which of them to add to his hand. Settle allows a player to place a world in his tableau. Some worlds produce goods, represented by face down cards, when Produce is selected. These goods can be discarded for victory points or sold to add cards to the player’s hand by selecting Consume. With cards, players can settle new worlds and build more developments, gaining both victory points and card powers that provide advantages in certain phases.

The player who best manages his cards, phase and bonus selections, and card powers to build the greatest space empire, wins.

The winner is the player with the most victory points.

User Reviews (50)

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El Dorado
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Rated 100 Games
24 of 28 gamers found this helpful
“That Learning Curve...”

I finally tried this out since the gf and I have been looking for good two-player games to play. I wasn’t totally sure about this one since space and sci-fi isn’t my biggest preference for theme. But I had heard that the mechanics of the game were great and it was worth a shot.
I was also warned that there was a steep learning curve….

Oh, that learning curve! I feel like the entire first game we played was hand-held the entire way by the reference cards (which were extremely helpful) and the rulebook (which I found convoluted — one of those that introduces specific rule details in the ‘overview of the game’ section). Every little thing we did and every new card we discovered had to be double checked against the reference card. Thankfully those were well laid out and helpful for most of the numerous icons that we encountered. (Although there were some icons that were never decoded in either the reference cards or the rule book. We ended up guessing or ignoring them.)
It really felt like we weren’t quite playing the game ourselves, but rather being coached and guided by the rules. More of a tutorial situation than actual gameplay.

Despite this, I could see a very well constructed game underneath it all. And I appreciated the simplicity of the cards (once you finally figure out what everything means — which I assume takes a while). Overall, it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. But I would definitely be willing to revisit Race for the Galaxy at some point. I feel like that pull (even for a non-sci-fi guy) is what makes it a good game and a standby for most people.

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I play orange
23 of 27 gamers found this helpful
“A sci fi card game with hieroglyphics. ”

Race for the galaxy is,at its heart, a tableau building game with a strong sci fi theme. Similar to other games in the genre (like 7 wonders) it pits players against each other in a bid to quickly and efficiently build the most impressive space faring civilization.
Each round the players will choose one of several possible options. They will draw cards (explore), play a development card, settle a planet, sell resources (for points or cards), or produce resources. The game is fairly quick moving with little downtime as players choose and play their action simultaneously. Another mechanic that helps ,is that although players will gain a benefit from their choice, each other player also gets to take this same option.
Race for the galaxy plays equally well from 2 up to 4 players. Since there is very little direct action between players (no attacking) it really does feel like a race. Players must use the cards in their hand to pay the cost of the item. This means cards are the actions you take as well as the resources you use to pay for them. This can lead to some agonizing choices as you are often forced to discard the cards you want to pay for others.
In addition to building your tableau you also can earn victory point chips. This is mostly done through selling resources between your various cards. Many different strategies are available as cards can give discounts to other cards, some can increase their worth with different combinations, or let you draw or play additional cards.
The game continues until one player has a dozen cards on their tableau. This adds some interesting choices as you have to decide between playing a lower value card or saving for a larger point item. Do you focus on earning vp chips or a military option to conquer planets for free. There are many possible roads to victory.
I would not recommend this as an introductory game due to its complexity. Although the gameplay is straightforward the iconography on the cards makes for a fairly steep learning curve . Even with dozens of games under our belt I do still find us needing to refer to the rulebook for clarification with certain cards.
The base set is balanced but lacks options for a true military victory ( it is possible but you need to rely on luck to get the right combination). I also find the base set could use more possible start worlds for variety’s sake. We have since purchased the first expansion (the brink of war) and this really rounds out the game.
I feel race for the galaxy is an excellent mid level card game. It is fast moving, well designed and plays in roughly 30 minutes. The cards and the game pieces are of good quality with excellent art work that suits the theme. The variety of possible paths to possible victory add lots of replayability. This is a solid option for anyone looking to move up from the gateway difficulty games.

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I Am What I Am
Professional Grader
82 of 99 gamers found this helpful
“Great game once you get into it”

Race for the Galaxy has been my favorite game for a while, but it’s taken me quite some time to get Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm. But it is finally here. So far I’ve played it several times with 2 and 3 players.

Initial Impressions: I was very disappointed to open Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm. There was a stark difference between the backs of the cards from the original, and from the expansion. The border is much darker on my expansion cards. From the draw pile you can easily tell whether it is a new card or an old card. The obvious solution would be to just sleeve the whole deck in sleeves that have a solid back, so you cant see through, but that’s another chore and expense added onto the expansion.

What you Get: My biggest concern when purchasing an expansion is what it adds to the base game. I want to take a look at each of the components you get when purchasing the expansion, and tell you what I think it adds to the feel of Race for the Galaxy.

Action Cards For a 5th Player: These would come in handy supposing you have more friends then I. You get 9 cards in total, 7 for the base game and 2 for the advanced 2 player game. Since it is the 5th set, they don’t even really need the cards for the advanced 2 player game, but I guess now you get more color choices when playing. You also get more victory chips to accommodate the fifth player.

4 New Starting Worlds: I was excited to review these, they were exactly what my group wanted. These worlds add to the base games five to make a total of 9 different ways you can start your empire. I was also pleased to see these cards had the slight increase in complexity that is often desired in expansions. One forces you to discard down to 3 instead of 4, and another one will only produce if you discard a card. These new mechanics will integrate well with the rest of the set. My group definitely enjoyed the wider variety of starting options.

Goal Tiles: For me this was the crux of the expansion. There are 4 “most” goal tiles, and 6 “first” goal tiles, worth 5 and 3 points respectively. The goal tiles come in those thick cardboard sheets where you get to punch out your pieces, which by the way, is the most satisfying feeling in the world. Each game takes two random “most” tiles and 4 random “first” tiles.
The “first” goals are awarded permanently to the first player to achieve that goal, for instance the first player to play a 6-development card. The most cards may be traded back and forth based on who currently has the most of the goal. For instance the largest military (minimum of 6). You can certainly play around with the number of goals you want to add to your game, making even more variants possible. I like these goals because they force you to pay more attention to your opponents. Race for the Galaxy is often criticized for just being mulitplayer solitaire, but these goals really change the nature of the game. They aren’t worth gigantic amounts of VPs so that they dominate the flow of the game, but they are substantial, and often can make the difference between winning and losing. The implementation of these goals increases the social aspect of the game.

18 Game Cards: This seemed shockingly low to me. Only 18 more cards (plus unused home worlds) to add to my deck? And one of those was just an additional copy of Contact Specialist! I understand you don’t want to drastically alter the deck by adding expansions, but this seemed to hardly tweak it. Some of the new mechanics are great fun, I really enjoy cards like Space Mercenaries which give you more options in your game play. But honestly, I just felt like I spent a lot of money, and was not getting a lot for it.

18 Blank Game Cards: I’m tempted to complain about how the designer just got lazy and left the thinking up new cards to the players – but to be honest, I love blank cards. Adding my own touch to games is a whole lot of fun, and I’m sure this will be no exception. The cards are designed like normal Race cards, which is nice for appearances, but doesn’t do much for me in terms of practicality. The background of most of the cards is black, so small printing will become a must. And they have the color of the planets filled in already, so you can only add one per color, production and windfall. They even include blank developments, and 6-developments. Why not just make them all blank? Surely if I’m writing in everything else, I can manage to write a “6”. But at this point I’m just nitpicking.

Solitaire Board and Tiles: I’ve never cared for solo board gaming, unless the electricity is out, and this one isn’t an exception. I like the social aspect of gaming, and not even my favorite game can survive with just me. If solo gaming is your thing though, this may be a big plus.

Overall: I like this expansion, but I think it’s only because I LOVE the original. If you are only lukewarm on the original, I wouldn’t recommend buying this expansion. I just don’t think it adds much for the price. The goals are great, but once you have the idea for putting goals for VPs in the game, you really don’t need fancy card board push outs to play with them. Heck, in addition to the blank cards, I might even grab some index cards and make some new goals too.

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79 of 98 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic Card Game... With an Epic Learning Curve”

RFTG is easily one of the best card games I’ve ever played. It has deep strategy, tricky tactical decisions, and a surprisingly well-integrated theme. Role selection means there are plenty of reasons to pay attention to your fellow players. It’s fantastic.

Now that that’s is over, here are the ****** bits. It is a BEAST to learn. The iconography, once you learn it, is really well thought out and makes lots of sense. BUT, the first time you play, you will have NO IDEA what any of it means. As others have mentioned, it’s almost like learning a new language. Also, in order to play well, you’ve got to get to know the deck intimately.

However, this is not a reason to skip on this one. If you’ve got some patience, improving at this game is insanely rewarding. This is not a game that you will master in your first, second, or tenth play. I’ve played it dozens of times and I still find new card combos and tricks to mess with my opponents.

The expansions are a bit of a mixed bag. “Gathering Storm” is great, adding a nice goal mechanic on top of an already great game. “Rebel vs. Imperium” attempts to add more player interaction (with conquests) but it ends up being pretty rare and not very satisfying. “Brink of War” was a big disappointment for me, not succeeding in anything but complicating a really elegant game. Honestly, though, I am satisfied with the base game.

It plays great with 2, 3, or 4, and, with experienced players, can have a play time around 30 minutes.

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Bronze Supporter
22 of 29 gamers found this helpful
“Tough at first, awesome afterwards.”

The first time I played this game I had no idea what I was doing. The second time I had some idea and even got close to win. After that… wow, this game is just so awesome. Even though luck is a very important factor, foresight and planning (with flexibility) become your best assets. Knowing the cards and what they do and knowing all the symbols and their meanings is important in order to plan better. Then you need to see what your opponent is going for and then you can play actions that may mess what you infer their plan is.

Now I play it whenever I get a chance and every game is quite different, because it also depends on what other players are going for. It is a race for resources and infrastructure. A fine balance between building up and harvesting the benefits is needed for optimal performance.

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I play purple
38 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Chaos Meets Uncontrollable”

Race for the Galaxy is not a good game. It is a good concept, but the game execution is horrible flawed. While you can “know” the decks and number crunch your brain into paralysis, the lack of concentrated strategy outside of sheer luck is a sour dagger.

– Components are nice
– Appears to have a level of strategy that could make a good game

– That “level of strategy” is really overcomplicated chaos
– Lack of mid-term or long-term strategy
– Too much relies on luck of the draw
– Only gets more complicated and worse with expansions
– Not a game for serious card-based strategists

When it comes down to it, Race for the Galaxy is overly hard to grasp once you’ve played it a few times, but that barely (if at all) prepares you to play it as it was no doubt imagined to be. What could have been layered strategy is no more than luck-driven “do what you can with what you have, but only for this turn.” While that can be good for some games, it doesn’t feel right for this one. If you’re looking for a game where you can build a strategy and engine as you play, do not play Race for the Galaxy.

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Gamer - Level 1
26 of 36 gamers found this helpful
“My favorite card game!”

Race for the Galaxy is my all time favorite card game. It is evident from the design that a lot of planning went into the construction of the core set and allowing room for planned expansions to slide right into the game.

It is a game where there are many paths to victory: there are economic produce/sell cycles, military dominance, exploration and settlement, alien technology, prestige, etc. The expansions offer other modes to add to the game as well, be it a solitaire game with some limited AI or using optional takeover rules to occupy the settlements of other players.

It is also scalable. Each expansion is clearly marked so you can remove or add each one as you choose. I may not always win (in fact, I hardly ever do :p ), but I’ll never turn down a game of RftG.

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Reporter Intern
Critic - Level 2
36 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Difficult to master, but oh so worth the effort.”

This game is really one of the greatest card games the industry has to offer. Granted it is difficult to learn at first, as you will have to learn more than just a handful of (some would say) archaic/difficult to recognize icons. The game does come with a very handy ‘cheat sheet’ and after a handful of plays you will very rarely have to consult it. The game play is very deep, and scales well from a solitaire game to a multiplayer.

I would highly recommend this game to anyone that loves games that require serious thought. That being said, this game (with the proper expansion(s)) can offer satisfying play to more militant players as well.

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42 of 63 gamers found this helpful
“A favorite filler game for power gamers”

Show me another game that has constant strategic choices, yet finishes in under an hour. Yes, as others have commented, the learning curve getting into the game is steep. After introducing a dozens of new players, it still takes me half an hour to get the core concepts of the game across, and the new player doesn’t stand a chance for their first game while they put the ideas into practice. But what deeply strategic game with high replay value doesn’t face the same issue?

In my play group, Race is the game of choice when nobody has another game of Battlestar or Agricola left in them, but isn’t ready to call it a night quite yet. Or when we’ve got 2+ tables of games going, and one table needs to kill half an hour waiting for the second to finish up before we start the next round of big games. It’s worth playing on it’s own, but it’s ability to satisfy power gamers while squeezing into the cracks between other games is what keeps Race on the top of the shelf.

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Gamer - Level 8
Expert Recruiter
Count / Countess
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
34 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“Love the game... hate teaching it. ”

I really like Race for the Galaxy. It’s a good game. I would call it more tactical than strategic, but sometimes that’s what is called for. It really takes the system of San Juan and up the ante. It is very satisfying to build up a tableau of planets and developments and then throw down a couple six-point develpoments that makes your score skyrocket.

My biggest issue is teaching the game. It’s a steep buy-in to learn the iconography, and more casual gamers will almost always be put off by it. Then add in the fiddly rules of the expansions… and suddenly I have a great game that I absolutely never want to teach to anyone again.

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Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
25 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Tough to learn, TOUGH to master”

I love playing this game. However, even as an avid gamer, it took me at least two playthroughs to figure out what all the cards meant and how to play the game. After that, it was at least ten more games before I could say “these are the coherent strategies.”

Given that you have gotten your mind around how the game functions, Race is one of my favorite games to play, ESPECIALLY the two-player variant, which adds a little more strategy and a little less chance to the mix.

One downside: I never remember the name of this game. If I tell my friends I want to play Race for the Future, they just have to shake their heads and be ready to take over the galaxy.

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41 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“Satisfying, but not demanding”

I have taught this game to about a bunch of different people with different gaming backgrounds and it was a hit with all of them. The basic mechanic of discarding playable cards is absolutely brilliant and really lets this game shine. It is hard chucking that yellow alien card to get a decent 6 cost development out, but sacrifice is a major part of the appeal. The only wall I have hit teaching people is the nature of goods and the nature of windfalls. Otherwise the game goes through flawlessly. While I have not tried any of the expansions, the core game is still extraordinary. Games are quick, and starting the next round takes less than a minute. The lack of direct confrontation (which I found changes with one or two of the expansions) is also a bonus, as the strong players are apparent, but the weaker players are also not crushed under the boots of a collective effort. The pieces are basic, the cards are decent quality and the icon system for the most part simplifies gameplay (but the number of times a friend has not read the little description box at the bottom of some cards drives me crazy). With a very reasonable price, it is a great addition to your collection.

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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
BoardGaming.com Beta 2.0 Tester
Amateur Advisor
45 of 86 gamers found this helpful
“One of my all time favorites”

At first Race for the Galaxy doesn’t seem like much, but I find myself playing this game over and over again. Whenever the question is “which game do we play?” Race for the Galaxy seems to be the best and most agreed upon answer.

The rhythm of the different strategies in the game is what really gets in my bones. Military explores for new cards and settles. Alien and genes strategies produce and consume trade, with brief forays to settle or develop. Development strategies explore and develop.

On top of this, the strategy can be really deep, the interaction is limited in a good way, and the special bonus yellow chips make varied strategies viable. I love this game.

That said, the attempted symbolic communication of individual card mechanics is inscrutable for new players. They really should have just stuck with words.

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My First Wish!
22 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Slow at first but plays fast later on”

This is game that takes time to learn, but if you don’t give up you will master a game that is truly great.

The sudden moment you see a strategy emerge you get this wonderful feeling of “Yes, now I got it!”. And you can get this several times with this game.

But don’t forget to look at the nice card art. When you try to learn the game you are so focused on all the icons, symbols and numbers that you miss the art. Later on you want to play fast and you miss looking at them again. Slow down a bit and see what’s really going on in your part of the universe.

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Gamer - Level 2
22 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic Card Game”

This is a fantastic card game by the creator of San Juan, only better (by his words). The learning curve is steep, but once all the icons are memorized it’s a great game for quick matches and doesn’t take nearly as long as Dominion to set up. This is a favorite with our weekly gaming group (and my wife)!


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