Sunday, June 23, 2024

Practice Makes Perfect In CGE’s ‘Galaxy Trucker’

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Galaxy Trucker has been around since 2007 and is still looked upon as one of the best real time strategic yet chaotic games out there. The experience has not been duplicated by any other games and has been successful throughout the years because of that. Galaxy Trucker is a game of preparing for unknown dangers and building a spaceship to help in these unknown events. Players all pick up tiles to make their own spaceship obeying rules on how to place some tiles. Event cards are flipped over, and players have to defend or compete against others to gain benefits or possibly suffer some consequences.

The game is for 2-4 players and plays in about an hour and a half at first but can eventually be played in about an hour or less.The game can be frustrating for very strategic players, but the experience is just amazing and super fun to experience, especially when you somehow benefit from all the events and you see all the other player’s ships tear apart. This second edition of the game was published by CGE, and they are coming out with some amazing games that I hope to review for you all, but more importantly at least play them. Starship Captains and Deal with the Devil are the top two games I need and most likely you need as well.

What’s in the Box?

Galaxy Trucker box
  • 1 flight board
  • 8 ship boards
  • 60 adventure cards
  • 64 cosmic credits
  • 144 spaceship tiles
  • 4 numbered tiles
  • 40 white figures
  • 8 alien figures
  • 8 rocket markers
  • 36 battery tokens
  • 56 goods blocks
  • 1 two-sided card with rules
  • 2 dice
  • 1 timer
  • Instructions

How’s It Play?

Players need to build a space ship, launch it into space, and then survive and benefit from random actions that happen in space. Players gain space credits for completing certain events or by taking the least amount of days to return back home. 

So the first phase is all about building your ship, which is a huge part in the game. If you have a crappy ship, you won’t be going far, nor will you have crew, guns, engines, or anything that a cool ship would have. So your goal is to make the coolest and best ship to withstand all bad events that come, but also take advantage of all the other possible ways to gain credits. 

When building your ship, each player starts with a blank board, tiles are placed on squares on the board. All tiles start face down in the middle of the table. Players simultaneously take one of the tiles from the center of the table to place on their player board. If the tile is face down, players have to bring it to their player board before flipping it over. After looking at the tile, the player can add it to their board, but it needs to be connected by appropriate connectors. 

One-pipe connectors can connect to other one-pipe connectors or with a universal connector. Two-pipe connectors can be connected with other two-pipe connectors or with a universal connector. Universal connector can be connect to any other connector. So really, one-pipe connectors just can’t connect with two-pipe connectors ever in a ship.

As players build their ship, they obey the connection rules and also pay attention to what type of tiles they draw. If they ever don’t want the tile they draw, they can return it back to the supply face up for any other player to take. So as the game progresses, players can grab any face down or face up tiles to add to their ship, but can only take one tile at a time. 

Knowing each type of tile and why you might want it will help with strategy and help you build the coolest and best ship.

Cabins – This gives you crew.

Engines – These need to be placed so that no other tile sits on the square behind it, and they let you go faster.

Cannons – These need to be placed so no other tile sits on the square in front of it, and help in combat and shoot large asteroids. 

Double engines and cannons – These are the same as above, except they cost a battery to use them and count as 2.

Batteries – These give either 2 or 3 batteries to use towards other tiles on your ship.

Shield generators – This requires a battery to protect your ship from small asteroids in certain directions. 

Cargo holds – This is a place to hold cargo that you hold to sell for credits.

Special cargo holds – Red cargo can only be stored in special cargo holds and red cargo can be sold for more credits.

Structural modules – Help arrange connections to open up organization in your ship.

Life support systems – when placed near a cabin, an alien can be placed instead of crew. The purple alien will help with guns, brown aliens help with engines. 

So players continue adding tiles until they are satisfied and then grab the lowest numbered tile, which will affect how events in the next phase occur.

After all players have a numbered tile, their position on the flight track is determined. The player  that finished first has the best spot with the last player having the worst spot. All the other components are then pulled out and players add crew, and batteries to their matching spaces. Then adventure cards are flipped over. Events cause players to change how they use their ship and their tiles, and doing these actions also cause players to use extra time, moving them backwards on the space track. The goal is to gain the most credits. 

Bad events can happen as well, which damage your ship and cause you to possibly lose tiles on your ship. So planning what tiles to use in your ship and where you put them is very important, but it’s also fun to see other player’s ships being hit by an asteroid, or attacked by aliens. 

Galaxy Trucker planets

Besides the action cards themselves, once the entire deck is gone through players are rewarded with credits for being ahead on the space track, i.e., losing the least amount of days. The player with the least amount of open connectors gains credits for having the prettiest ship. The player with the most engines gains credits, and players sell off their cargo for the number of credits connected to to that type of cargo. 

Players have 3 rounds of building new ships each round and then launching them into space to experience all the actions that take place in space. The player who has the most credits at the end wins the game.

The Verdict

So there are two phases for each round in the game. The first one is all about keeping your cool and use your speed to pick up tiles, turn them over, and build the coolest ship you have ever seen. But instead the first round turns into frantically picking up tiles and then taking too much time after flipping it over to see if that tile will benefit your ship or not. Many times throughout the game you might return a tile you probably should have kept, and it might even benefit another player when they see it face up in the pile and quickly grab it. Or you might take a tile that is a good tile, but the way the tile is orientated will not benefit the design of your ship, and you might even cut off areas that were meant for expansion. Doing this narrows down the types of tiles you can use in the future. 

So keep your cool as much as you can, and think about each tile. At the beginning of the game you probably want to keep your options open so get tiles that let you expand your ship in all directions. Then when getting to a certain side, either the left, the right, and front or the back, place those specific tiles in those areas so you’re not cutting off other potential in the future.

Galaxy Trucker player board cards

Also, knowing what obstacles you will be facing is important, after some practice games, there are further actions that let you peek at stacks of cards that are ones that could appear out, this is a good idea, because if you know potentially that you need a certain amount of crew, then when you pick up a tile that gives you more crew, you can better plan for that possible action occurring. Just remember, the way you build your ship is directly correlated with how well you do with the obstacles and actions that occur to your ship.

As rounds progress, you build larger ships and face additional obstacles or actions till you get through the entire game.  As you face these events you might have a chance to gain credits by multiple things, with selling cargo being a big part of gaining credits. But whoever gains any amount of credits at the end of the game wins. Of course a player can have more money than another and win by more, but the game is a survival game and if you get through all the mayhem and earn just one credit, you win the game. 

And mayhem is exactly what happens to some players during the game. Sometimes those events just end up being so bad for some and others just luck out. But that’s also the fun part of this game. Watching other players get hit by meteors while you shoot yours down, or they get attacked by space pirates and you don’t. Don’t worry there are enough fun events for something bad to happen to you, but its fun to see how all these events play out and sometimes it can just circle around a particular player.

So what can go wrong in the game? Well you can panic too much, you can build a bad ship, or you can ignore the design of a ship and cause bad things to happen to it. But most of the time a player can make some money between the rounds and still win the game.

Galaxy Trucker board

The rulebook is different from most other rulebooks. They include some comedy and distractions to lighten the game up so it’s not so intense. And this fun just continues into the game when players are looking for a certain tile and they just can’t seem to find it. But the game still has a lot of strategic decisions on top of the silliness that it brings.

The great thing about playing the game and doing well is that when you have this really cool ship that does very well with the events, you become very satisfied and want to go again. Other times it feels like you bought a brand new car, and while you stand outside looking at it, a semi truck smashes into it right in front of your eyes. What just happened to your baby?

Galaxy Trucker meteor swarm

The game can be a random experience, and even the best engineers will have some problems happen.  Don’t get me wrong, there are strategic choices, but there is no way to have a bullet proof ship that can cruise throughout the galaxy without anything happening to it. Something will happen. But lots of good things can happen as well. 

The components are fun, most are made out of plastic, but they have a good dexterity feel to them to help bring a ship made out of tiles into a more 2d or 3d form with all the other added components. 

Players who are good at designing or foreseeing what they would like to make might do better in the game, but again you never know how the events will affect each ship and even the best designed ship might not make the most money. 

Galaxy Trucker player board

The other thing to know. This game gives a different experience than most other games do. It’s not the typical board game. So just playing the game to gain a different experience opens up your eyes to something new. This might not be that strategic game that is old reliable, but it’s still a strategic game with some fun random elements to make everyone laugh. And practicing and playing it more will help you do better in future games.

You can pick up a copy of Galaxy Trucker and its expansion Keep On Truckin’ from Amazon or your FLGS! You can also snag a copy of the digital version on both the ios store and Google Play shop.

Images Courtesy of CGE Games and Brody Sheard

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