By Scott Schweinfurth
Type of game: Puzzle
Rating: 5 out of 5 hands
In a galaxy far, far away… they need sewer systems, too. Corporation Incorporated builds them. Everyone knows their drivers — the brave men and women who fear no danger and would, if the pay was good enough, even fly through Hell. Now you can join them. You will gain access to prefabricated spaceship components cleverly made from sewer pipes. Can you build a space ship durable enough to weather storms of meteors? Armed enough to defend against pirates? Big enough to carry a large crew and valuable cargo? Fast enough to get there first?
Of course, you can. Become a Galaxy Trucker. It’s loads of fun.
Galaxy Trucker is a 2-4 person game divided into two phases. In the first phase, players (or “truckers”) will build their ships by grabbing tiles from a communal pool and adding them to their ships layout. In the second phase, the ships are put to the test, flying a route randomly determined by a card draw. During the route, the truckers may encounter pirates, smugglers, space dust, asteroids, or new planets from which to collect cargo.
I love Galaxy Trucker and my favorite part is the first phase. Galaxy Trucker employs a mechanism that I rarely see in board games: real time. A pile of components is placed into the center of the play area face down, and when the game starts players grab a tile, bring it back to their play mat, and then turn it over and see if they want to add it to their ship. If yes, then they add the component to any available legal spot. If not, they place it back into the center pile face up. Tiles cannot be rearranged once placed. I love this part, as my friends and I frantically go through the components trying to make the best possible ship for a route we know little to nothing about. Should we be focusing on weapons? Engines? Cargo space? Crew? At the beginning of the phase you won’t have any idea, but after you’ve placed a few tiles, you can look at the route cards three at a time to get an idea. However, since the game is in real time, you will be looking at cards while the other players continue to build their ships. The knowledge of what you are going to need may very well cost you the opportunity to get them, and I love that fact. There are so many choices to make in Galaxy Trucker. I personally feel that the indicator of a good game is when it’s over you can look back and find the choice (or choices) where you went wrong, and I think Galaxy Trucker has this in spades. Once you are finished building your ship, you grab the 1st position tile. Players continue building until all but one of the position tiles have been collected, at which point the last player has 30 seconds to finish their ship.
While I don’t like the second phase as much as the first, I still enjoy it quite a bit. In this phase, you get to see how well your choices stand up to the rigors of interstellar travel. Now, there aren’t as many choices to make in the second phase, and some people complain that it’s a little too random and out of your control, but I still enjoy it. The second phase is really just seeing how your creation stands up. I’ve sat there and watched ships get blown to pieces in a war zone, but I’ve also seen ships not get a scratch, and I’ve still had a blast watching my ship fall apart in front of me. I personally feel like you can make enough good decisions in the first phase to mitigate the randomness of the second, but understand that some people don’t share that opinion.
Galaxy Trucker is a fun game with a real-time element that doesn’t feel like other games I’ve played. It is unique, and I appreciate its concept and approach.