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In Race For The Galaxy, I'm usually focused on my own cards, and only find out who wins during the scoring at the end of the game.

Is this a feature of the game — that is, is it low on interaction? Or is my strategy inadequate?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

While low interaction is a frequent critique of the game, I think most experienced players would tell you that you're not playing the game as effectively as you could. First, I'm assuming you're playing the game without the Brink of War rules which add direct player conflict to the game. Second, a large part of the subtlety of the game is the need to very carefully make decisions about role selection - optimally, you want to balance your selection against the roles you think other players will select while avoiding selections that benefit other players more than they benefit you (in other words, you want to maximize the value/activity you achieve during a term while minimizing the value/activity of your opponents).

Another subtle point is the need to review other player's tableaus for point scoring combos - when you see someone else's combo fall into place, it's generally advisable to move the game to its end (unless of course your own combo is up and running and superior). The last tidbit that is typically overlooked is card denial. In most games of RftG, the deck will be shuffled a few times, increasing the odds that your opponents will get the chance to play rarer cards that can shift the victory point totals significantly. Holding on to cards that you intend to spend for a bit longer can mean that a useful card never sees play due to the timing of shuffles!

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I'm definitely in the "Card Denial" camp. One of the best parts of this game is holding/discarding the cards that my opponents need. –  My Turn Yet Oct 29 '10 at 4:47
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You can certainly place Race while in your own "bubble". Many newbies do this since they're still learning and have too many things to worry about. However, even though there's no direct or negative interaction (well, exp #2 and exp #3 add takeovers, but you can't always count on that anyways), being able to anticipate what others will call so you can leech off of them, and avoiding phases that help others, while calling phases that help you more are what separate those who win disproportionately more games vs. luck.

heck, uou can even play war games or their rough equivalent like Civilization the Board game, Small World, or Eclipse in your own bubble, but you especially want to pay attention to others here too.

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I think it is worth extending the answers already here,

As a big fan of RTFG, I do not think there is low or no interaction with other players. The thing is, that after the learning curve has been surpassed (it is a bit extended) you will find yourself responding to opponent actions or forcing him to do the same.

The model simply doesn't feature card taking (until extensions) nor a visible pool of card that players compete for.

As the game states, it is called Race For the Galaxy, thus you are all racing to build a better empire. To anyone reading this, if you are a new player:

Ever thought that "the game is too fast" or "I was about to play this or that card"? That's precisely the point, you shouldn't look at your hand only and devise the most point combo, but rather look at your hand and your opponent's tableu: that's the race condition right there; any advantage in developping, settling, trade, etc may give him the edge.

Finally about the takeovers, I will add that while it is true that they allow for direct interaction, they are used rarely at least in all the games I've seen, simply because there's always an alternative to them. Even if there are takeovers it doesn't happen more than 1 or twice in a 4+ players game.

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The key interaction that we've found has been the timing of production and consumption roles. If your opponent is always playing the consumption roles, they're getting a bunch of extra cards and points that you aren't. Sometimes you have to play these roles a bit earlier than you would like, just to avoid getting scooped.

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