Galaxy Trucker by Czech Games Edition
Players: 1 to 4
Playtime: 20 to 30 minutes
Perfect for: Families and groups who relish fast-paced, real-time, tile-drafting games with a dash of luck.
Galaxy Trucker is a game of hauling goods through space! Players must (rather rapidly) construct a vessel that can withstand the hostile environment of interplanetary travel which includes trigger-happy enemies, meteors, and more. But ship design is only half the challenge—once completed, players vie for who can collect the most goods along their journey and beat the opposition to the finish line…assuming they can survive the trek.
To begin Galaxy Trucker, one to four players prepare their ship board: a grid of connected empty slots. The ship parts (the tiles) get placed into a face-down pile within reach of all. Upon starting, a sand timer is activated and players scramble to collect pieces, looking for the ones they think will be most valuable and placing them in their ships. Parts include items like laser cannons, engines, shields, and crew quarters. However, players must abide certain connectivity rules when piecing together their vessel, ensuring all elements align properly.
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Once time has expired, Galaxy Trucker progresses to phase II of gameplay: the expedition. For this portion, cards get revealed one at a time from a previously assembled deck. These indicate the obstacles or events the captains encounter along their way. For example, balls of flaming space rock could come hurdling towards the ship’s starboard side. In that case, players would roll dice to see exactly where the meteors hit and whether or not damage gets taken. In other situations, players may discover planets from which they could excavate precious cargo. Play proceeds until the deck runs out, or all ships are destroyed save one. At the end, points get awarded for who was leading the race through space, the amount and type of goods on board, and various other milestones. The player with the most points wins the game.
What works in Galaxy Trucker is the joy of assembling what (one thinks) will be a sturdy and effective spaceship along with the absolute thrill of watching it attempt to navigate peril. The race against time component can be a little nerve racking, but there’s an embedded mediation rule—players can agree on more time or be lax on how fast the timer runs out. There’s just something so immensely satisfying at building your pride and joy…only to see it get pummeled during flight. But even the second phase is joyous given the incredible suspense. Here, Galaxy Trucker has a great push-your-luck type component as players choose to expend resources, trying to maintain some sort of balance between collecting points and not exploding.
Players who don’t enjoy the intensity of beat-the-clock situations, or leaving a substantial margin of the win condition to chance, may not enjoy Galaxy Trucker as much as others. The alacrity of ship building can be very intense, if not frustrating, especially if players don’t find the pieces they need or want. In Phase II, while many of the decisions are choice-based, a large portion of how the ship gets damaged comes from dice-rolling. This means that occasionally some poor captains are going to watch their dear spacecraft get obliterated all due to luck.
Galaxy Trucker was first released in 2007, and this second edition is timely and welcome. Gameplay is both expanded and streamlined meaning: more ship component options, new hazards, and faster playthroughs. The replay, enjoyment, and engagement values are off-the-chart, making this a highly recommended addition to your game collection.
Recommended if you like: I struggled with this! I’ve honestly not played anything quite like Galaxy Trucker, so Tabletop Community, help me out!