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Steampunk Rally (One Couple's Review)

Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
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Board Game: Steampunk Rally

I got this game in a math trade, I think in 2018. I initially wanted to get it because I really liked the Wacky Races vibe this game has. As you can tell I had a hard time getting it to the table. I think it is me, but there was something about the rulebook layout that I found hard to comprehend. I would kind of get through the rules and plan on figuring the rest out on the table. Yet each time I did this it did not get played, and it would end up back on the shelf for quite some time. Finally, I forced myself to sit down and figure this game out. Now that we got it played does this game place high or did it fall apart on the course?

Game Overview
In this game players take the role of a 19th century scientist who is racing their invention down a course. As the race goes on, parts will be added and fall off these inventions. The game is played simultaneously as each player resolves the various phases at the same time.

The first phase is the drafting phase, where players keep a card and then pass the rest of the cards. The card a player keeps can be used in a couple of different ways. First it can be discarded for its energy value. If this is done the player takes the color and number of dice listed and adds them to their dice pool. Conversely, the card could be discarded for its cog value. Finally, the card can be kept. If it is an invention part it is added to the invention. Each part has half a valve and it must connect to an open valve already on the invention. If it is an event, the card is kept secret until it is played.

The next phase is the vent phase. When dice are placed on the invention to make it do things they stay until they are cleared. Some card effects can clear a die, but otherwise the way to do it is vent. Players can discard cogs to vent. Each spent cog allows for two pips worth of reduction on the dice. When a die is reduced to zero it is removed and it frees the spot back up.

Next is the race phase. Players will roll their die pool and they can start allocating them to their invention. Most cards on the invention will require a specific type of energy (die color). When the right color is assigned it produces an effect. A lot of these effects are done in multiples. For instance a wheel might require blue dice (steam energy). It might have spots for three dice. For every three pips assigned it produces one movement effect which allows the invention to move one space on the track. Some other common effects are generating different dice types and armor.

As the inventions move they will encounter terrain. Each terrain feature does damage of 1 to 3. Players mark this on the damage gauge. Terrain can be negated through armor or through creating a smooth motion effect which ignores terrain damage.

After all players have completed the race phase it moves to the damage phase. For each damage taken the player will need to discard a card from their invention. If this ever causes the cockpit to be discarded then bad things happen. Next is the clean up phase and everything starts again.

The game continues until a player crosses the finish line which triggers the end game. There is then one more round and which ever player makes it the furthest is the winner.
Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

My Rating:
My Comments: This game feels like a chaotic mess, but I am certain that is by design. There is a lot of luck but there is also a lot of ways to mitigate that luck. This means the game feels like a machine is speeding down a hill, just barely holding together. I think that was what they were going through and it is impressive that the mechanisms help deliver the theme so well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: A lot of the rules and mechanisms of this game hit me the wrong way. I really dislike that by design inventions are supposed to fall apart. I find that annoying. I also do not like the venting, I understand why it is there but the experience becomes more of a frustration than a challenge.

My Rating:
My Comments: I think the game captures the crazy race feel well. I like the inclusion of real scientists, but the whole game feels like playing a cartoon and that is not a bad thing.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I could not connect or get into this theme at all. I do not really get the whole appeal of steampunk so this is probably just a personal preference more than anything.

My Rating:
My Comments: There are some different track configurations and there are several different scientists who all start with a little bit different beginning point. It would be nice if there was just a little bit more card variety though.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is a lot of replayability intentionally put into the box and I like that.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The game's phase structure works well. Each round goes quickly. The game keeps up a quick pace like a race game should.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game moves at a pace that works well for it.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I enjoyed this game and I found it a lot of fun. With the drafting I think it would be better with four to five players.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do not think this is a bad game, but when I ask myself am I having fun playing it, the answer is no not really.

Final Score


On paper this game seems like a game my wife should like. It has a lot of mechanisms that usually draw her in like cards being used in multiple ways, dice placement, and creating engine building synergy. However, the more chaotic race elements really turned her off. Since she does not want to play it we will likely be looking to move this game along.
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