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Review of Galaxy Trucker

Review of Galaxy Trucker, by Thomas Taylor

I was going to write this review in my previous "Two sides of the coin" style, but I'm still trying some different ideas out to see what sticks.

If you prefer that style of review please let me know.

Galaxy Trucker is a pretty unique game. And I mean Unique Good. Not "Oh she has a nice personality" unique.

The basic premise of the game is there are 2 halves to the game play that consist of
1. A timed mad dash where you draw random face-down tiles in an effort to build your ship before everyone else does.
2. Taking said completed ship (or not most times) out for 3 space adventures each one more dangerous than the last.

Player who does the best with his patchwork ship after 3 adventures wins the game.

Tiles consist of crew cabins, freight cabins, Guns, Thrusters, and a few other oddities. Tiles also have a connection system that basically consists of even, odd or universal joints. To be placed, a piece must connect legally.

There is some strategy to flipping the timer to end the ship building round to end it to benefit you, but its not huge.

So, once you have all completed your building phase, you take your SS POS out for its 3 flights. The player that completes his or her ship first starts in first in the Race sequence and so on.

The leader then flips a card from the "event" deck, and things go down from there. Planets to land and take goods from, smugglers come and steal those goods if you don't have enough guns, slavers come and steal your crew members, pirates just blow you up randomly. Also...meteor showers are the most deadly, they randomly hit all ships in the same locations and if you have an exposed junction facing outwards...it goes boom. If that piece is the only piece supporting other pieces...they go bye bye too. So, your ship falls apart slowly as you fly it. This makes the game pretty fun to watch happen, and it keeps things tense.

This continues for 2 more flight rounds (with 2 new ship boards, both bigger and badder than the last) and whichever player finishes with the most VPs wins.

This sounds relatively simple, right? It is..and it isn't. The nuances to building your ship are pretty huge. You can also peek at the deck, taking time out of your building phase to get a look at some of the incoming disasters headed your way.

Some people will not like the "build your ship and things happen to it" aspect of this game, but I have yet to find one. Its tense, its fun, and just when you get bored of watching your ship get blown to hell, you get to build a new, bigger ship.

This game is fun, pure and simple.

Bits: There are high quality tiles, high quality boards, and very cute high quality space-meeples, and some slightly phallic spaceships. The spacemen and aliens are a highlight. Also the manual is hilarious to read. Its the only manual I read twice once I "got the game" just to get all the humor that the manual is chock full of.

Playing time/Elimination: Game never feels like its going to long. Ends just when it should. Occasionally your ship gets blown up mid-flight, but you just build a new one in the next phase, so by the time you get up and get a coke, its go time again.

Screwage: There really isn't any. You can get to planets first and plunder their loots first, but that's something you can control. You just have to select different loots if you come late to the party, usually.

Summary: I love this game. Everyone who has played this game, girlfriends, grognards, AT'ers, Eurosnoots, neighbors, puppies, have all liked this game. Its short-ish, its cute, its fun, and the theme lends itself to all sorts of Star Wars/Trek/Firefly/etc humor. Most importantly this game is an absolute hoot to play.

Its very clear someone put a lot of love into this game and it shows.

As unhappy as I was with some of the other Essen releases *cough*League of Six*cough*, I am ecstatic with this purchase.

Why do I like this game? I own a lot of games, and none of them are like this one. It shoehorns frantic strategy and pressure into a light fun, semi-not-really competitive game.

The turns are non-existent, everything is simultaneous, and mostly real-time. All in all this game is a brilliant design. I can think of 50 brilliantly (over) designed games I own that just aren't fun. This one definitely is.

What's fun about it? Well...you spend 5 minutes frantically making your ship and lovingly crafting it...then you take it out for a drive and watch it get blown to hell one piece at a time. Sometimes the random elements coalesce into really funny happenings.

Case in point I was playing with a friend and I had built the perfect ship. Not a wasted space or an exposed port anywhere. Lots of battery life, lots of guns, and a whole lot of thrust. His ship looked like the SS Minnow on crack. I was clearly going to smoke his ship on our 3 hour tour. So, there are 2 epidemic cards in the decks. Basically any cabins that are connected to other cabins, each lose one crew member.

The first card of the mission flipped over, and it was an epidemic. I looked down and I realized I had 5 cabins, all interconnected. Well there goes 5 of my 10 crew. (2 per cabin in initial setup) A tragic loss, but my 5 homies were well protected, I'd be fine. Second card...ANOTHER EPIDEMIC. My ship spent the remainder of the round floating listlessly through space as all of her crew were dead. My opponent cheerfully piloted the remains of the SS minnow to a clear victory and giggled about it the whole way.

I managed to lose horribly and I still had a damn good time doing it.

In the words of Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago. If you have the means, I highly recommend you get one.

Note: Galaxy Trucker will be released by Rio Grande Games in March, 2008.

 
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