Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Game Night Picks 1: Galaxy Trucker

This is Jack Burton on the Pork Chop Express, talking to whoever's listening out there. Like I told my ex-wife, "Honey, I never drive faster than I can see. And besides, it's all in the reflexes."
- Kurt Russell, "Big Trouble in Little China"

Imagine you are a trucker. You have to build your own truck from parts found in a junk yard. You have to select each piece individually, hoping you can connect everything and have enough power for the equipment needed to keep you and your cargo safe. You need to focus on the time, otherwise other truckers gain advantage over cargo found on the journey. If, when time runs out, your truck isn't put together properly, parts become dislodged and you drive with whatever crew and parts are left around the engine. Imagine leaving with your malformed truck, picking up whatever scraps you can carry, and trying to avoid further damage. Imagine doing all this again, trying to build a more complex truck each time. Also, imagine this is in space.

This is Galaxy trucker, a three (or four) round board game that simulates what the Firefly crew would do if the Serenity was never built.

Each round has two parts: the building phase and the launch phase. The building phase is the funniest part of the game, because this is the phase that determines how horrible of time you will have flying your ship.  Players have to build the truck on a space ship board using face-down tiles, turning tiles up one at a time. Anything placed on your ship's board cannot be moved. There are rules regarding how to place the tiles together, so you can't just grab a bunch of titles, slap then down, and declare you're done. You have to think about the construction and logistics of everything. The game will penalize you for placing lasers that are facing other parts of the ship, placing the engines backwards, or not placing life support on alien cabins. The building phase is also timed, which is used to determine which player goes first. It also is used to create so much tension that you forget about little things like engine placement and life support. If you have two tiles connected by incompatible receptacles, they become detached at the end of the building phase. If your imaginations are good enough, you can actually picture your friend's truck launching, breaking in half, and flying around with whatever parts are attached to their pilot's cabin.

Assuming everyone has a monstrosity of a truck built, the next part is the launch phase. This is when action cards are revealed, allowing players to acquire cargo, fight space pirates, and wonder Open Space. Gaining cargo gives you "cosmic credits" at the end of the game, i.e. money. Oh, this is also when your truck gets blasted with lasers and meteors and can fall apart even more. The more open contacts your truck has from damage (or design), the less money you get at the end of the game. The game has a track built to monitor which player is flying in first, second, third place: this gives players who lead in flight to have a bigger end-of-round bonus. There are ways to change the order on the track, such as having enough engines to move through Open Space. All the events after launching are all affected by the choices made during the building phase.

So what is the point to all this?

Addressing the terms of victory, rule book states the following: "The game ends after Round 3, once all the rewards have been collected and all the penalties paid. Add up all your cosmic credits. If that number is one of more, you win!" This is a beautiful thing. You can brag about having the most intact ship or having the most crew members unharmed; but at the end of the game, all that matters is that you made something. Also, if you really want to enjoy the game to its fullest, read the rule book. It's full of tongue-in-cheek dialogue and will give you a good chuckle.

Game Night Picks Scores (look at the previous post for details)

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: The game says it takes about an hour, but playing it the first time might take longer.

Sobriety Check Point: This game is best played sober, but it's funny to see at least one person struggle at the building phase after a few drinks. My advice is to start the night easy, maybe pour drinks after you read the rules.

Friendship Integrity: Solid. No one is going to get upset with each other because everyone's ship falls apart,

Overall thoughts: play this game. It's too creative and too funny to pass up. Have fun playing, and as Jack Burton said, "Go off to rule the universe beyond the grave... or check into a psycho ward, which ever comes first!"

No comments:

Post a Comment