I've mentioned on the Race for the Galaxy forums a few times that I'm not a fan of the massive amount of iconography utilized in the game. That said, I am in love with the game from the perspective of gameplay and theme. We just found in our group that after the second and then third expansion we were less and less interested in playing - it became too much of a chore to keep up on all the new icons.
Ultimately I solved the problem, in a way that is sure to cause some argument amongst die hard fans, but my group is once again enjoying the greatness that is this game. Here's what I did:
I split the game out into the separate expansions, and assessed each one individually. I quickly concluded that the base game and the 1st expansion, The Gathering Storm, were no-brainers. All of the associated cards and goals went into the newly combined game.
I spent a lot of time deliberating what to do with the second expansion, Rebels vs Imperium. I loved how the set's cards really seem round out the game, in addition to the added goals. However, I was not a fan of the takeover system. While I love the idea of takeovers, I couldn't help but think this is where/when things started to go south for me and my group. When you look at all the cards in the set, there are only 6 (3 for Rebels and 3 for Imperium) that actually have to do with the takeovers, and those cards have a TON of new icons all over them. In addition, the related slides, counters, and wooden blocks add many extra components and rules to the game. In short, I ripped them all out - we will simply not play with takeovers, and I removed the 6 cards from the deck so we won't ever see all those extra icons.
Then I moved on to the third expansion, The Brink of War. As with the takeover system, I like the idea of the Prestige system, but not at the expense of the extra icons, rules, counters, etc. Unfortunately, almost the entire set is dependent on the Prestige system, as well as the aforementioned takeover system, and so I concluded that it was really an all or nothing decision - alas, this expansion has been removed from my combined game altogether.
Where does this leave us? I have a great combined game, consisting of the base game, all of expansion 1, and all of expansion 2 minus the 6 takeover cards and related extra components. I am not using expansion 3 at all, and the result is a game that we are all once again comfortable playing. Highly recommended approach for anyone else who experienced what we did, but please don't crucify me for butchering the game! - it's just the approach that worked for us.
My biggest concern is the newest expansion, Alien Artifacts, which I have yet to take a look at. My suspicion is that it's like the previous expansions in that it requires EACH of the previous expansions in order to be played, which means I am now simply ineligible to enjoy whatever it may add. On the flipside, it may add so many new icons and systems to the game that I really shouldn't care.
In any case, I am thrilled to once again be playing this great game!!
Anyone else had a similar experience? How have you modified the game? Are you using all the expansions, including the newest one? I'd love to hear your experiences.