Some Words on Iconography
Race for the Galaxy gets a lot of flack for its iconography. I think most of this flack is undeserved. The iconography on the cards is there to prevent players having to frequently refer to the rulebook. Most of the icons are very intuitive, and the ones that aren’t are accompanied by a descriptive block of text which typically immediately elucidates the meaning of said icons.
Dee and I had guests over last night for boardgaming. We settled on 7 Wonders and played 3 games back to back. We started with 6 and pared down to 5 players for the last game and a half. 7 Wonders makes a good comparison for RftG with regards to iconography. Based on our experience last night, I would say there are a lot of icons in 7 Wonders that are a lot less intuitive than any of the icons in RftG. Unlike RftG, you don’t get any exlanatory text either - you’re forced to go back to the rulebook. When I use the term “intuitive” here, I really mean that. We had several debates on the meanings of certain icons. There were 3 distinct disagreements about iconography, usually with one person in the group reading it as meaning something different from the rest. In two of the three cases, the majority of the group was completely wrong.
I think this is interesting because I haven’t read a review of RftG yet that doesn’t bring up its iconography as a negative. With 7 Wonders, however, I’ve never heard a word about it. I strongly suspect that if you simply don’t mention iconography, then anybody learning RftG will have no issues picking it up, outside of any issues they may normally encounter trying to learn a new game.