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I just acquired the game Race for the Galaxy, and I plan to play it at work. It would be nice to play with up to 5 or 6 players, though, and the base game supports only 4.

I see that two expansions to the game ("The Gathering Storm" and "Rebel versus Imperium") each add one player.

Since none of us has played the game before, I'd prefer not to add extra complexity to the game right away. However, it would be nice if we could make use of the extra players provided by these expansions.

If I were to purchase these expansions, would I be able to play the "base" game with more players (as is the case with Pandemic's "On the Brink" expansion), or do the extra players promised come at the price of more complexity?

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Bear in mind that extra players adds extra complexity anyway, since they all get to choose actions, so there's a lot more to look at when trying to guess what actions might come up each round. –  ire_and_curses Dec 1 '11 at 18:01
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Yes. It's possible to just use the new player cards and take out the cards which use new mechanics.

I've also just left all the cards in and just simply ignored the Prestige rules, Goals and Takeovers; although that makes some cards weaker as they are costed with these additional mechanics in mind.

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Leaving out goals doesn't usually imbalance things too much; the goals mostly just reward you for making particular decisions, say prioritizing consume powers, or aliens worlds. The game was also designed to be played without takeovers half the time, so removing them isn't a huge deal. Prestige has a much more direct VP impact, though. I'd argue that at a minimum, you should make cards that come with prestige worth 1VP more. This doesn't fix everything, but it helps. (e.g. Interstellar Casus Belli is still completely worthless) –  Jefromi Dec 2 '11 at 17:07
    
@Jefromi Yes, I was specifically thinking about Prestige. Good idea to add 1VP per prestige card. –  ghoppe Dec 2 '11 at 17:17
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The expansions for Race for the Galaxy give identical phase selection cards. They can be used alone with no other components of the expansion to add more players.

The only limiting factor becomes the size of the deck. Without adding the expansion more people are drawing from the same amount of cards. This will trigger more reshuffles.

This can be mitigated by not using cards form the top of the deck to track goods.

Also the first two expansions do not add many more rules. After a couple of plays I strongly recommend adding them. While the takeover rules are difficult, players often choose to not use them.

Overall base-game + two expansions and no takeovers, seems like the most fun the game has to offer.

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The deck size can get really strained with 5 players and only the base game deck. Towards the end of the game when players hands and tableaus are full of cards, you end up with a very, very small draw deck.

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But you reshuffle the discard pile if the supply runs out; doesn't seem like a huge deal. –  Jefromi Nov 10 '12 at 18:35
    
The cards get super stale. If the players are any good, no good late game cards get shuffled into the discard, the game feels very different than usual. You can either trust me (or the designer, Tom Lehmann), or just try it. –  rrenaud Nov 10 '12 at 20:14
    
Ah, I missed that you said only the base deck - the question was asking about playing with expansions. In any case, when I've seen two or three players go through the base deck, or more players go through the deck with expansions, there's still usually plenty of good stuff left, because you simply can't hold onto most of the good stuff you draw. –  Jefromi Nov 10 '12 at 20:20
    
If I parsed the original correctly (and I think I did), the question is about buying the expansions just for the additional action cards for the 5th (and possibly 6th) player. OTOH, The first expansion cards, without adding goals, aren't much additional complexity, so introducing a new player to the base game + gathering storm without goals is barely any more difficult than just the base game (Improved logistics and the parrallelness of the settles is the only actual confusing thing it introduces, IIRC). –  rrenaud Nov 10 '12 at 21:15
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