Board Game Review

Pirates Stole my Ride (Galaxy Trucker)

I know this is another tile placement based game.. but this one is the definition of panic placement. Galaxy Trucker is one of those games where, even without knowing fully what you’re doing, you can panic place pieces to construct a garbage ship that will outrun every other player’s tactically built flying trash heap.

A quick run down of what it is to be a Galaxy Trucker…

  • Every player takes on the role of a Trucker, making a ship out of garbage parts on a tiled board to best make it through obstacles along the way.
  • Players are given time to build a ship out of the literally pile of face down tiles, choosing one at a time and placing it so it makes sense and fits appropriately.
  • Choosing from cargo storage, batteries, weapons, engines, human habitation and alien habitation, players must build a ship best to contend with the set obstacles ahead of them.
  • Players build three ships over three rounds, gradually increasing in build size, that are scored based on different requirements. Each round’s obstacles increase in difficulty and danger, but also in reward. A time limit begins the moment the first player finishes their ship.
  • Obstacles along the way are designed to remove and break parts of the players’ ships, removing the different parts of it and reducing its cargo capacity, weapon power, engine power and crew size. If a player has no more crew or engines, they drop out of that round.
  • Some obstacles will hit your ship on specific rows or columns of your build, determined by dice rolls.
  • The player who earns the most credits by meeting objectives from obstacles or lasting long periods of time is the winner.

Galaxy Trucker is one of the first memorable games I was introduced to way back when. The anarchy of building a rust bucket to launch into space as quickly as possible, knowing you’re unlikely to get anything of use or create something aesthetically pleasing seemed to suit my play style. Some people I’ve played with have tried to take their time to build something of beauty and symmetrical genius, although the moment someone says they’re done and takes the first place token all bets are off. Your Mona Lisa of the garbage ships quickly becomes the garbage ship of garbage ships when the timer is flipped. There is no perfect ship build; the obstacles and dangers that appear on your journeys are too unpredictable to account for all disasters; take too many weapons and you’ll miss out on cargo, not enough engines and you’ll be the target for a war zone. It’s very hit and miss – the dice rolls can also screw you over too very quickly; one open component hit by a tiny meteorite can remove the whole left side of your ship!

Unlike so many other games I’ve played, no one game sticks in my mind with Galaxy Trucker, and that isn’t because it isn’t memorable! Certain events and spells of bad luck stick with you more than an entire play through. The game itself has fantastic ideas and demonstrates how tile based games can be used in a more competitive/free for all style. I remember playing once where a friend had specialised (and I say specialised very loosely) their ship to have more engines than anyone else. Being first for them was far more important than fire power or masses of storage as they could get to the cargo on planets first and guarantee the best quality haul, which, in theory, was a fantastic play… Until slavers came and abducted their entire crew within the first 2 danger cards! Hazard cards affect every player starting with whomever is first and going down the list. With things like slavers and pirates, if a player defeats them, they don’t go for the next sequential players.. Had they been second in the queue another player would have easily defeated them and kept Mr Speedy in the game!

Another time I remember is when I had been the perfectionist, trying to get equal amounts of guns on each side of my ship to ensure I wasn’t at risk of meteor storms or pirates. Of course with so many variations of tile I was fighting a losing battle before I’d even begun! Usually I’m not even remotely interested in symmetry or balance, but after a few bad runs with my usual method I thought I’d have a go at the whole planned approach. It didn’t work in my favour; the first round I lost very little of my ship but was struggling to hold cargo, and the second run I believe I had tonnes of engine power but no weapons. On the third round I know full well what happened as it sticks in my mind. I’d got lucky with my tile draws and managed to balance out guns, engines, cargo and crew. My ship was a beacon of excellence amongst my other truckers, they could bask in my glory as the owner of this piece of art. As always, it didn’t go to plan. Early on I was hit in the mid section by a large meteor it which exposed a crucial junction for all my connecting tiles, and it didn’t take long for a pirate to see that. Boom went my right wing, boom went my central command and boom went any hope I had of winning. With less than 12 credits I came dead last!

Pros

  1. The game is, as far as I’m aware, unique for how it allows players to make use of tiles in a competitive format.
  2. The adventure you take your ship on is different every time. Some rounds may be easy sailing, some may be terribly strenuous.
  3. Being first isn’t necessarily a good thing, and can land you in hot water quickly meaning players are more tactical about when they make use of their powered engines.
  4. It’s an easy game to pick up and follow.

Cons

  1. The anarchy of finding that perfect piece can cause you to overlook the overall objective.
  2. Some cards in the third round can be brutal to the point where everyone is knocked out.
  3. The game can become repetitive if played multiple times in one sitting, the novelty soon wears off if you have a bad round.