Saturday, November 21, 2009

Steamy Trucker, or Trucker McSteamy? (Galaxy Trucker, Steam, Excape)

a.k.a. The night Luch learns a new strategy: it's called "Strategy".

Galaxy Trucker (w/The Big Expansion)

We started out with Galaxy Trucker. In the past few games, I've found that the first flight has lacked some tension, so I decided to introduce a few elements from The Big Expansion in order to liven things up. We added the new tiles and the Rough Road Ahead cards (at difficulty level:1). After a brief explanation of the new rules, we were off.

In our first round, the Rough Roads Ahead card we drew was a brutal one called "Remorseless Fate". Among other things, whenever a Combat Zone or Sabotage is encountered it automatically affects all players except the one with the highest relevant stat. Sadly, no events of this sort occurred in the first round, so the card had no impact. Once again, very little occurred at all. It may have been even worse for the others because at least I was in first place and got to face the weak challenges along the way... the others just sat and watched. I will have to introduce evil machinations and/or the new ship classes next time, because now that we know what we are doing round 1 feels like wasted time.

In our second round, we drew the "piercing projectiles" RRA card. This one causes any meteors or blasts that blow off a piece of your ship to also take the next one behind it. Sounded very interesting, but once again very little actually happened in the second round, so the card didn't have any impact. The round was mostly notable because Shemp realized just as we were about to start flying that he had built the round 1 ship again! He was a little embarrassed that despite his mistake, he only finished building second...

Anyway, either we are getting better at this, or we had an unusually tame 2nd round. Once again, I'm thinking evil machinations next time.

In our third round, we drew "Metal Fatigue". This one has us roll a coordinate on the board every time we cross open space. If a piece exists at the coordinates rolled it is destroyed. Ouch. This flight was more like it. We flew through meteor shower after meteor shower. Then, we flew through more meteor showers. It was insane. My left wing broke off early. The front of my ship was smashed by a large meteor. My starter crew cabin was destroyed (was it metal fatigue?). I limped past the finish line with the back right hand quarter of my ship still in one piece. It was really fun.

Despite my big lead from rounds 1 and 2, my disastrous round three knocked me back. The final tally put Luch in front, me and Kozure tied for second and Shemp last.

The new tiles didn't add as much to the experience as I'd expected. Mostly, they serve as modifiers to other pieces so they end up making the ship construction a little bit trickier as it's much easier to fill up your ship and discover that vital items (such as cannons, storage, crew quarters or thrusters) are entirely missing. My favorite pieces were the reactor furnace and the statis chambers (the engine booster also seems quite interesting, but it didn't get used in our game). My least favorite additions were the armor plating and the luxury cabins since they seem to do very little in practice. I quite liked removing a random number of pieces at the start because it adds an element of the unknown tot he distribution and could create shortages of certain types of pieces that players need to deal with. The RRA cards are a great idea and I like that players can set a difficulty level and simply draw more than one to make each flight harder. Overall, I'm very glad I bought the expansion because Galaxy Trucker is a game that is only fun when it is challenging, and the base game does get easier with time.


After our last game on the germany map, I wanted to revisit the USA/Canada map with four players since it's the tighter of the two. When we first played it a few months ago, we each stayed in our respective corners as we learned the ropes of the game. Would it play the same way now that we know what we are doing?

I started right away in the same section as Kozure since he was the leader in our previous games and I was determined not to let him run away with it. The two of us spent the entire game battling over the south and east of the board. Meanwhile, Luch and Shemp were coexisting much more peacefully in the west. The force competition with Kozure led to some very tight and intertwined track, as well as some strong competition and tension over the while game. Unfortunately, since the folks in the west were keeping to themselves it was much easier for them to prosper. Shemp got all his ducks in a row and also benefited somewhat from a very well place link that netted him a fair number of points on other player's deliveries. He won the game, I came in a relatively close second, followed by Luch and then Kozure.

When the board is open enough, or when players are feeling peaceful, all players can coexist in the game and the winner is solely determined by the best forward planner. I guess the trick is to identify who is in the lead and build networks that hamper that player, while simultaneously advancing your own agenda. We'll have to pay more attention next time!


We played with the house rule that the leading player can't benefit from rolling doubles. It worked well as a variant, and I think we'll be playing with it from now on. I won the game, which is something I've never managed to do. I pulled ahead to a significant early lead but stayed close to the end for quite a while. Shemp eventually overtook me, but it was shortlived and I made it to the end first. Luch started out playing his usual style, rolling high and placing low in order to bump as many players he could (and not getting himself very far in the process). At a certain point, he switched gears and started playing to benefit himself as much as possible. When it started working, he said "so this is why you guys use strategy!".

Of course, he has often won at this game and yet in the game he discovers "strategy" he does poorly. Shows what we know.


Galaxy Trucker and Steam are two of my favorite games in a long while. Yes, Galaxy Trucker could use a tweak in the difficulty of the first round. Also, yes, I miss some of the tactility of Railroad Tycoon (taking shares, the plastic trains, etc). Regardless, they are excellent games that do what they set out to do very well. When I get around to putting together an updated top 10 list, I'm sure both of these would find themselves there somewhere.

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