Full disclosure: A review copy of Galaxy Trucker was provided by Czech Games Edition.
This time, we’re trying out a new version of an old classic! Yes, it’s Galaxy Trucker, from Czech Games Edition! I think I played this or at least saw it at my workplace’s board game library many years ago, and was always intrigued by it. And now, thanks our buds at CGE, I’m actually trying it out! It’s happening, get excited, et cetera. This is a new edition of Galaxy Trucker, so, let’s see how it plays!
In Galaxy Trucker, you’re gainfully employed by a company that has figured out the perfect way to transport its goods. It’ll build spaceships out of them and then hire you to drive them! Unfortunately, the journey isn’t exactly what I would call “easy”. It’s much closer to what I would call “harrowing”. But you need to build your ship pretty quickly and pretty cleverly if you want to be first in line for the various rewards (and hazards) of the trip. Hell, maybe you’ll even survive and make some money along the way! Will you be able to come out ahead in this galactic journey?
Player Count Differences
The big difference that comes up across player counts is just in terms of where you’re placed, relative to other players. With fewer players, you’re entitled to more rewards, but you also have less defense (in terms of other players being functional meat shields against various attackers). I’d say it roughly amortizes out across various player counts, plus, there are fewer players (at low player counts) taking your coveted ship parts, so you might actually be able to build a better (?) ship with fewer players. That is inherently extremely subjective, though, so don’t take that as gospel. I find the higher chaos of more players appealing, though, so it all kind of shakes out. I don’t have a strong preference for player count for Galaxy Trucker; I’d happily play it at two, three, or four players.
- Be quick but methodical when building. You want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success, long term, so lots of connections between ship parts are pretty ideal. You don’t want to have long corridors of singly-connected parts, because if any piece in that chain gets disconnected, you lose a massive chunk of your ship. Be careful about that! It’s not only extremely expensive, but you’ll probably lose some useful functionality along the way. That said, if you spend too much time planning your ideal ship, other players will take all the components you were looking for, so, still, be fast!
- Generally, lots of cannons and lots of engines are fun and helpful, but you’ll ideally want lots of cannons if you have more engines. The more engines you have, the more likely you’ll be at the front of the pack. Being first is good, but also, it opens you to the most damage from enemies that you encounter along your trek. So if you’re going hard on the engines, make sure you have the cannons to match (and the batteries to power any of your doubles).
- Trying to get good shield coverage is good. I generally like to have full shield coverage, and I try to put the shield components close to the center of my ship so that they’re least likely to come off. Otherwise, I find it difficult to keep my ship together. It’s a process.
- Ideally, your less-useful components will be on the outside of your ship. Generally speaking, this is where I put things like cannons and engines. Not because they’re not useful, but because I can stand to lose them. I don’t want to lose cabins and cargo! That’s what makes me the money.
- Similarly, try to use up batteries from the edges of the ship first. I’ll put some of my batteries on the outside as well, just because then I can use them up to power things. Once the battery is dead, if a meteor or some stray laser fire knocks the thing off of my ship, that’s sad, but not overwhelmingly critical. If you save the batteries on the edges for last, you run the risk of them getting knocked off and you just losing the tokens. Not ideal.
- You need to make sure you don’t run out of engine strength or crew members. If you run out of either, that’s effectively game over, for you. This means you should really focus on making sure you have a strong core of engines and crew that you won’t lose even in a bad situation.
- You can’t defend against heavy laser fire, so … try to not get hit by heavy laser fire? Really, the goal here is just “make sure you have enough cannon strength to avoid attackers”, but it’s also worth remembering that not every type of damage can be prevented or blocked. Sometimes, your ship is just going to take a hit, so make sure you’ve built a robust ship that won’t fall apart if it gets smacked in a key location.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Galaxy Trucker’s greatest, most enduring strength continues to be that the entire game just happens to you, and the collective player reaction to getting clowned is really just to laugh. Galaxy Trucker is, I think, the ideal blend of silly and strategy, and it knows what it is about. It presents as nothing else, and even your ship exploding and your travels ending is hilarious. I think it’s a genuinely fun experience, and I can see why they made a new version! Galaxy Trucker is surprisingly easy to get into, and the end-to-end experience is very pleasant.
- I love the rulebook for this game. I laughed several times, and I’m annoyed about it. It’s surprisingly and pleasantly clever. The jokes land well, and it makes learning the game a lot of fun. I’m mostly just annoyed that a rulebook got me. Good laugh, though.
- Honestly, you can get away with just teaching the building rules for the first game and then just rolling with it. The game is, largely, a bit of a series of disasters that happen to your ship, so even being prepared for it only gets you so far. You can honestly just tell players how building works and then let them see a game in action, and then try again! It’s plenty quick enough.
- The component quality is quite nice. It’s cardboard for the tiles and the board, but the actual components (the battery tokens, the crew tokens, the aliens); those are all pretty nice. I like them a lot! I particularly like the battery tokens, but frankly, they’re a bit small. They look super cool, though!
- I like that there are many different levels of complexity for players to explore! There are a lot of options. You can have up to three tiers of complexity, as well as a multi-game tournament, things like that. This is definitely a game that grows with players, if you’re looking for that sort of thing.
- The art style is a lot of fun, too. I love bright, neon space, aesthetically. Space should be bright and goofy and colorful. There are a lot of fun colors in the game, and I like the cartoony art style and how it all clicks together. The app is particularly fun, since it adds some motion elements to it, but I haven’t played it; I’ve only seen it played.
- Thematically, the game is incredibly silly, and I love it. I just think it’s a silly concept, you just kind of throwing a spaceship together made from spare parts and blast off into space. It’s a bad time and an experience all at once. I like that it’s a goofy game and still a challenging experience all at once.
- I love the real-time construction elements of the game, also. Real-time elements are some of my favorite parts of a game. It’s quick and fun! Plus, I like that you can look ahead at which cards are coming so you can factor that into your building process. Do I do it often? No, not really, but I appreciate that the option is available. Plus, the ship is fun to build! I really like that there are two different types of pipes to add some extra challenge to things.
- It’s nice that a player can only activate the final timer once they’re finished building, and that there aren’t a ton of intense restrictions on how the timing works. I really like how casual the timer is in this game, despite being a somewhat real-time game. Nobody can really force you into anything; the timer is mostly there to make sure that players feel some sense of urgency as they play, which I appreciate.
- More generally, I would love for slavers to not be a thing that exists in a game, even for comedy reasons, but that’s mostly my own comfort. Like I get it, but honestly, it kind of sours the comedy aspect of the game somewhat for me when slavers come up in a game while I’m playing it. It’s fiction. You can imagine anything. Why add slavers?
- There’s not really any sort of insert in the box, which is a bit disappointing. It’s just a pile of stuff in the box, but thankfully I have enough bags that it covers my bases pretty well. It does largely feel like they just offloaded any insert / organizational work to third parties to sell consumers additional stuff, but, whatever. I just find it somewhat frustrating.
- I think you really have to be in the mindset for this game. If you’re very “serious strategy only”, you may find the absolute unbridled chaos of this game frustrating. I can’t imagine someone reading the rulebook and thinking “ah, yes, this game is very serious”, but this is a truly goofy, chaotic game, and if you’re not looking for that, you’re absolutely going to have a bad time. I’m a big fan of it, but I can definitely see how this is not a game for everyone. As always, if you’re not sure, ask your gaming group!
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I think Galaxy Trucker is a blast! I think I played the original or saw it played many years ago, so I barely remember it, but I found this version to be a great introduction to a variety of different types of play. For one, there’s real-time tile-placement, as players frantically try to build a starship to match some criteria, and the other major part of the game is the racing and predicting that comes with trying to figure out what will happen along your route. They’re both equally-weighted, but I probably enjoy the construction aspect of the game the most. Just, if you’re the same, don’t get too attached to the ship you build; it’s going to come apart sooner or later. I think Galaxy Trucker’s brilliance is in helping players understand the joy and humor of catastrophic failure. That’s a pretty critical part of just gaming in general to learn, and Galaxy Trucker makes sure that players experience some level of absolute calamity at some point as they play. And we all have fun doing it! We yell, we laugh, and we get a bit horrified because we realize that after teaching the game we forgot to put any cannons on our ship. It’s the beauty of the shared tragedy that makes Galaxy Trucker so compelling, and a modern re-release of a classic game is always a great way to get new players engaged in a game that’s just, at the end of all things, goofy, silly, and fun. I love Galaxy Trucker because it’s all of this chaos packed into a bright, colorful, neon vision of space, and if you want to adventure forth into the great unknown in the most rickety spaceship you can find and you don’t mind getting blown up in the process, Galaxy Trucker might be right up your alley!
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