So, what’s the deal with Galaxy Trucker?
In the far future, shipping companies have developed the ingenious business model of building their spacecraft out of the materials to be shipped! Unfortunately for the pilots responsible for delivering the material intact, this business model throws ancient concepts like “safety” out the window…
What makes Galaxy Trucker special?
Galaxy Trucker is my recommendation whenever someone asks for a game that is “not like anything I’ve ever played before.” You know, unless they’ve already played Galaxy Trucker.
It is part speed game, part puzzle, and part cruel joke on the the players who work so very hard to build spaceworthy ships only to watch them spectacularly blow apart. Of course, that’s part of the fun!
Alright, so what’s the gameplay like?
The game takes place over three rounds, with each turn separated into two phases – the build and the flight.
During the build, each player constructs their spacecraft for the round. This is done in real time – there are no turns – and it is a mad scramble to get your ship pieced together. There are a bunch of ship parts on tiles, which all start upside-down. Once building starts, players are allowed to grab one tile at a time, bring it over their board, and then flip it over. Once the tile is revealed (the box containing the part is now open), the player may choose to add it to their ship, return it to the pile face-up, or place it on the side of their board to save for later.
When adding a piece to the ship, it is important to match the connectors on the pieces. There are three types of connectors: single, double, and universal connectors. Single connectors may only connect to other single connectors or universal connectors, and double may only connect to other double connectors or universal connectors. Universal connectors may connect to any other connector.
Ship pieces are all sorts of useful – cannons provide firepower to defeat nefarious space pirates, while engines keep your ship moving through long stretches of open space. Cargo holds are necessary for transporting any extra goods you find along the way, and crew cabins provide a home for crew or even helpful aliens. The all-important shield generators can protect your ship from otherwise certain doom, but make sure you have batteries to power them!
Once your ship is ready to go – or at least as ready as you’re going to get it – grab a turn order token. If you’re the first to do so, you also get to flip the timer – everyone else has to finish their ships before the timer is out!
After a brief interlude during which players check each others’ ships to make sure they haven’t broken any laws (of physics), the flight begins. The flight consists of a deck of cards with different events on them. The top card is flipped and the players play through the event on the card before moving to the next one. Events can range from purely beneficial, such as planets or abandoned stations where players can get cargo, to purely harmful, such as meteor swarms in which the best outcome is that you are no worse off than you started. As your ship takes damage from meteors, pirates, and even other players, it may start to gradually fall apart. If your ship starts to fall apart, well, at least it didn’t get shorn in half right off the bat!
Once the flight is complete, anyone who has finished the flight gets some money depending on the order in which they finished. Everyone can also sell any cargo they’ve found for some extra money.
In round 2 and again in round 3, the ships get bigger and the flights get longer and more dangerous. At the end of round 3, you count up how many credits you’ve earned. If this number is higher than zero, you win! After all, you set out to make some money, and if you have money, you’ve achieved your goal.
Of course, some pilots win more than others…
I think I get it. Who do you recommend this game to?
Before I start, let me be clear – I absolutely love this game and the majority of people I know who have played it also love it. That said, there are a lot of barriers to entry. As you may be able to tell, there is a lot to keep track of and the first game is often overwhelming. Players that do not care for spatial reasoning will likely not enjoy building their ships, and I know plenty of folks that don’t like speed elements in games.
However, I think the biggest thing that makes or breaks Galaxy Trucker is frustration tolerance. Galaxy Trucker is very much a “go with the flow” kind of game – first building a ship out of whatever you are lucky enough to snag from the other players, and next watching that ship face overwhelming odds during the fight. Players need to be okay with – and indeed, enjoy – this process. If you think you can enjoy a silly but intense game and can laugh at your own misfortune, I highly recommend Galaxy Trucker.
Time: 90 minutes, though varies based on number and experience of players
Game Elements: Spatial reasoning, speed, tile laying, indirect conflict, direct conflict, trying very hard to build something only to watch it fall apart in your face and laughing the entire time