Exploring The Galaxy One Hand At A Time: Race For The Galaxy


Updated on:

Veteran designer Tom Lehmann’s acclaimed card game Race for the Galaxy has made the jump to iOS in stellar fashion

Exploring the Galaxy One Hand at a Time: A Comprehensive Review of Race for the Galaxy

Capturing the sci-fi theme and addictive gameplay that’s made it a modern classic, this mobile port offers the ultimate space exploration experience right on your phone or tablet.

In Race for the Galaxy, you develop galactic civilizations by settling new worlds and building up technological and political prowess. Rounds revolve around selecting from a pool of actions including exploring new planets, developing technologies, and settling or trading goods. The depth comes from efficient role selection and engine building across military, scientific, and trade strategies.

This iOS version smoothly adapts the original card gameplay into an intuitive touch interface. The developers added beautiful new artwork and thorough tutorials that teach newcomers, while retaining strategic depth for experienced gamers. I especially appreciate the AI opponents that scale smartly in difficulty and realistically emulate multiplayer.

My only knocks are the lack of online multiplayer and expansions so far. But the engrossing solo campaign is replayable enough that I’m satisfied playing for now. Matchmaking would provide the icing on the cake in the future.

Now to dive deeper! In case you’re unfamiliar, Race for the Galaxy has you developing spacefaring civilizations by exploring new worlds and developing technologies. Turns revolve around role selection phases where you secretly pick from settlement, development, production, trade, and more. After revealing choices, phases execute in order based on selections.

This role selection mechanic forms the heart of strategy. Maximizing phases aligned with your goals while minimizing wasted actions is crucial. You aim to build an efficient engine that gains tempo over time, aligned to a military, scientific, or trade strategy. Settlement and production planets power card development engines. Technologies confer game-breaking powers if combined correctly. And trading goods for cards accelerates your progress.

Mastering exactly when to shift into heavy building versus speeding development is key. I love optimizing my engine’s synergy across card abilities, technologies, produced goods, and planet types. The myriad strategies and paths to efficiency make each session fresh and brain burning.

Visually, the game utilizes a clean sci-fi aesthetic with gorgeous new artwork for every card. Vibrant colors mark settlements, technologies, and worlds with distinctiveness. The app condenses table space elegantly while retaining intuitive gameplay. Smooth animations and space ambience further enhance immersion.

That said, more avatar and game board customization options would further personalize the experience. And additional music variety across sessions would keep the soundtrack fresh. Tiny text on some cards can also be hard to read on smaller screens.

But overall, the app delivers Race for the Galaxy in its addictive glory to mobile beautifully. Fans of the original will delight at faithful gameplay and stellar production value. And the excellent tutorial ensures new players can dive right in to exploring, developing, and settling the galaxy.


Role Selection

  • The heart of the game is efficiently choosing roles like Settle, Develop, Trade, etc.
  • You aim to maximize phases that benefit your strategy while minimizing useless phases.
  • Timing when to shift between development and settlement is key.
  • Worlds with advanced settlements confer powerful phase selection powers.

Engine Building

  • Combining card abilities, technologies, and produced goods creates powerful synergies.
  • For example, trading technologies with production worlds generates huge card draw.
  • Military worlds with attack technologies can lock down opponent’s developments.
  • Optimizing your engine efficiency takes experience and experimentation.


  • Military – Using attack technologies and military worlds to block opponents.
  • Scientific – Focusing on technologies to enable game-breaking combos.
  • Trader – Settling diverse worlds and maximizing goods production for trades.
  • Balanced – Having flexibility across all strategies to respond to opponents’ moves.

Card Combos

  • Cards like Galactic Trendsetters double production on worlds when grouped together.
  • New Vinland + Spice World provides free trades every round.
  • Mining Robots + Mining World powers card draw and discounts.

Just be warned: the game’s “just one more turn” compulsion will cost you sleep. Planetary colonization and engine building have never been so exquisitely optimized for mobile play. So gear up for the deepest sci-fi 4X experience on iOS yet – one gripping hand at a time!

9/10 – excellent

BGG: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/28143/race-galaxy

App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/race-for-the-galaxy/id1190675052

Leave a Comment