Race for the Galaxy
Here's another game that follows the competing, technological ascension of interstellar civilizations. However, two main differences set "Race for the Galaxy" apart from the pack: It's entirely card-based and depends more on abstraction and symbolism.
Players start the game with a home world and, across five possible game phases, build out a tableau of technological and social development cards representing their civilization's development. When any one player accumulates a tableau of 12 or more cards, gameplay ends and everyone adds up victory points.
Of course, there's a bit more to it than that, and multiple expansion packs add additional game features and cards to what is already a complex game design. Still, serious gamers can't get enough of this very serious sci-fi board game.