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I'd like to teach my 10-year-old son to play Race for the Galaxy. I'd also like it to be easier to teach new players. Are there any simplified/beginner rules for Race for the Galaxy?

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I'm not aware of any simplified rules. I suspect it'd be pretty difficult to remove significant things without throwing the game out of whack.

But the base game does have suggested starting hands for your first game, which is easy to forget. From the setup section:

[normal rules for dealing start worlds]

Your first game: instead, for two players, use start worlds 1 and 2; for three, use start worlds 1-3; and, for four, use start worlds 1-4.

[normal rules for dealing starting hands]

Your first game: instead, each player uses the four numbered game cards matching his start world’s number as his initial (preset) hand. After finding these preset hand cards, shuffle all the remaining game cards, including any left over start worlds and preset hand cards, together.

This is sort of like simplified rules in that your first choices are pretty obvious, and that initial setup will guide the rest of your game.

The quick summaries in the margins of the rules also provide a nice way of explaining the important things to new players without getting bogged down too much in details. Most importantly, you really don't want to explain a lot of individual cards' powers before you start playing - that can wait until you're looking at them in a game.

If you're playing with experienced gamers, that's probably enough; they can figure it out as they go along, especially with you watching out for anything they might misunderstand on cards. If you want to make it a bit friendlier, playing the first game open hands takes off a lot of the pressure and makes sure everyone gets to see how it all works. It can also be extremely helpful to run through an example turn before you start; some people don't really grok the whole selecting phases deal until they see it.


For what it's worth, by far the hardest and most time-consuming thing for new players is having to read so many cards during their first game. You have to do it all the time - not just when picking a phase, but when picking what to keep from explore, when picking what to spend to develop/settle, and so on. If you still really want to simplify the rules, that's probably the thing you want to attack. I'm not sure exactly what to suggest, but perhaps something like keeping half the cards you draw face down, so that they're purely resources to spend, not options to consider? It'd make your options more limited and slow everyone down, of course, but if it's only for the first game it might be tolerable?

  • It might be reasonable to try removing certain aspects of the game to simplify the decision tree. For instance, maybe you ignore the "selecting phase" aspect, and just go through all the phases each round. That way, novices can get a feel for how the various actions of deploying, trading, consuming, etc. work. – Hao Ye Aug 1 '15 at 21:37
  • @HaoYe I suppose, but I'm a bit wary. It'll save you from having to plan ahead, but at the same time it'll introduce a ton of extra decisions since you'll have to decide every single turn whether you want to develop and settle. And if you include explore, you'll have to pick cards every turn, which I think is actually the hardest part - you have to read them all and think about your plans. – Cascabel Aug 1 '15 at 23:16
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    I guess another option is to just use the dice from the first expansion to choose a phase at random? – Hao Ye Aug 3 '15 at 19:58
  • Maybe so, though then unlucky rolls can make for useless turns. I guess more broadly I think that picking a phase is actually one of the very important and fairly simple choices, so if you want to simplify the game into something that's a stepping stone to the full one, ideally you'd leave that choice in and try to take out some of the less significant choices. (I did edit one idea into the answer.) – Cascabel Aug 3 '15 at 20:00
  • If something more extreme than the beginner starting hands is needed it might work to filter all the cards for one strategy out, so that all the cards your son draws are decent choices. E.g. Give him all the industry cards, or all the military cards. – Isaac Aug 4 '15 at 13:31
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As an off-the-wall answer, consider playing "San Juan" instead. It's basically the same game, themed like Puerto-Rico, but with a much more limited set of cards.

It's a much easier learning curve than RftG. Some of us even think it's better! ;)

  • Suggesting a different game in no way answers the question, regardless of how similar you might think the games are. – bwarner Aug 3 '15 at 18:54
  • They are almost exactly the same game, only with different cards. They aren't just similar - San Juan is basically a simplified version of RftG. – xorsyst Aug 4 '15 at 23:04
  • Um, actually, basically a simplified version of RftG is Jump Drive boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/205597/jump-drive – Deo Mar 16 '17 at 8:17
  • Cool - although that was released /after/ my answer ;) – xorsyst Mar 17 '17 at 22:41
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    Actually both games come from the same source. When board game Puerto Rico was a great success, publisher Alea asked authors (in a kind of competition) for ideas for a (simplified) card game version of PR. They found two of the submissions really appealing. The simpler then became San Juan, but Alea said they liked the other concept so much that they gave permission to publish it with a different theme - that became RftG. That explains the similarity in both games, and even though I don't support the "play SJ instead of Race"-approach, I suggest teaching SJ first, then Race. – Volker Landgraf Oct 16 '18 at 10:02
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I found this summary helpful: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/661014/quick-and-basic-rules-get-you-playing

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    I would suggest summarizing the link, so that if the link is no longer valid it will still be an acceptable answer – Robert Wertz Jan 15 '16 at 15:23

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