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Subject: Steampunk Rally - just the Wacky Races with Inventors? rss

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Ken Savage
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We picked up Steampunk Rally from Kickstarter. My girlfriend was very excited about the look of it, which meant that I have to give it a good try!

First impressions - everything looks great. Artwork is super. Cards are of good quality. There's LOTS of cool looking dice! We got the metal cogs, which are very impressive. The board pieces look nice and are a decent thickness. The overall weight of the box is fine. All in all, it's a great start as far as production quality.

As my girlfriend was so excited about this game, the unthinkable has happened - she read the rules and explained them to me (normally always my job!). So I haven't read the rules from scratch, apart from looking up the odd rule here and there. But from what I've seen, the rules are all done quite well and explain things nicely.

Onto the game then and this is where things dip a little for me. A turn is made up of a few phases. The first is a draft phase - take a card and pass the rest on. So there's an element of wanting to know how your opponent's vehicles work - so you don't pass on an amazing card to them. This part works fine. Venting phase, you spend cogs to vent off existing dice from your vehicle - this is where the game starts to move into the solo-player phase. It takes little more than a cursory statement to your opponents as you remove dice pips here and there. Next is the race phase, and where I believe the game both gains and loses a lot of its charm. As the game goes on, your vehicle will get bigger and bigger - more interconnecting pieces generating certain dice which you will use in other parts of your machine. Optimizing the best way to balance your available dice, with preparing for future turns, movement and damage to your vehicle - the whole interaction can be quite intricate and fun. However, this part is entirely a game of solitaire. As I play with my girlfriend, I do watch her perform her turn. But as far as the gameplay goes, I don't really need to if I assume she won't cheat. We can just both do our solitaire gaming and just move ourselves along the course, as applicable, and take damage where required. Then we can both finish this part of the turn at the same time. Do I really need to know that she's taking a blue dice to put into a part which allowed her to generate 3 red dice, which allows her to move? Since I can't influence her vehicle at this stage of the game, all I really need to know is how far she has moved by the end of the turn. The lack of interaction at the key part of the game was pretty disappointing for me.

And then we do it all again until one person crosses the finish line, whereupon all players have one more turn to finish as far past the line as possible - furtherest player winning. This is actually a good winning condition - just letting your vehicle crawl over the line first is not a way to win!

For components, near the end of our 2 player games I noted that between us we had over half the blue dice attached to our vehicles. So a 4 player game would have been running low/out of blues and a 5 player game would have definitely been without. There's a LOT of dice with the game, but it doesn't seem enough for a bigger game.

Overall, I like the theme. I like the idea of the game. I like the drafting aspect. I do like the fiddlyness of building my best possible vehicle and it can be fun trying to optimise how to use all the parts of my vehicle to get the most out of it. But the game does feel a little bit let down by the solo player aspect of the main part of the turn. So while I feel this is a decent/good game that I'd be happy in playing again, I don't feel it will ever be a go-to game for me. Though since it is, actually, one of my girlfriend's favorite games - we do play it reasonably often!

For me, it's a 7/10

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Stephen Eckman
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Rodge wrote:
There's a LOT of dice with the game, but it doesn't seem enough for a bigger game.

FYI, I have played with 8 players multiple times and have never run out of dice. Maybe that is because with 8 players there is bound to be someone going fast and ending the game quickly.
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Kim Williams
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The rules do tell you to have all players play a phase simultaneously (page 4), so during the race phase we're all busily making our machines work. I think it would be a lot less fun if you were taking turns.
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Ken Savage
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steckman wrote:
FYI, I have played with 8 players multiple times and have never run out of dice. Maybe that is because with 8 players there is bound to be someone going fast and ending the game quickly.

That's actually a very good point. If all players play conservatively (like we often do in 2 player), then there's no need to rush - and conserving dice can work well. We often play trying to avoid taking damage, for example.

But if someone starts sprinting ahead (as you say, bound to happen in a bigger game), then everyone will be forced to try and keep up - meaning more dice being recycled with parts falling off the vehicles!

We often have more than 5 people over for games nights, you've made me think now that we could possibly take this game out! Thanks for the comment!

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Justin Y.
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I've also played with 8 players, where only two of us knew the game. It played well and there were no shortage of dice.

Once recently we had 5 or 6 players and *almost* ran out of blue dice at one point, but after checking around the table some players jettisoned parts with blue dice, so all was well.

I think interaction increases as you approach the finish line and (at least in my group) players start pulling out some of the "take that" Boost cards to pull ahead. When earthquakes and Greek fire start appearing in the last turn, it's fun to see how far we can make it without blowing up
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Daniel Norell
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Rodge wrote:
For components, near the end of our 2 player games I noted that between us we had over half the blue dice attached to our vehicles. So a 4 player game would have been running low/out of blues and a 5 player game would have definitely been without. There's a LOT of dice with the game, but it doesn't seem enough for a bigger game.


For my game, I went on eBay and picked up 108 "smoke-coloured" dice of the same size as those included in the game. I call them "exhaust dice". Exchanging spent fuel dice for exhaust dice at the end of each race phase takes a little more time, but it makes it much easier to keep track of things if you can't get rid of all the spent dice during the next vent phase, and a nice side effect is that it keeps the various fuel dice pools constantly replenished.
 
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Stephen Eckman
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XzavieR wrote:
Rodge wrote:
For components, near the end of our 2 player games I noted that between us we had over half the blue dice attached to our vehicles. So a 4 player game would have been running low/out of blues and a 5 player game would have definitely been without. There's a LOT of dice with the game, but it doesn't seem enough for a bigger game.


For my game, I went on eBay and picked up 108 "smoke-coloured" dice of the same size as those included in the game. I call them "exhaust dice". Exchanging spent fuel dice for exhaust dice at the end of each race phase takes a little more time, but it makes it much easier to keep track of things if you can't get rid of all the spent dice during the next vent phase, and a nice side effect is that it keeps the various fuel dice pools constantly replenished.

It would also make it a little harder when playing the event card that lets you take dice from an opponent's machine. You can't easily see which dice are available from which player.
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Daniel Norell
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steckman wrote:
It would also make it a little harder when playing the event card that lets you take dice from an opponent's machine. You can't easily see which dice are available from which player.

That's true. I guess we just haven't used those cards for a while so we haven't noticed. Still, it's a good point!

I think an "exhaust" marker is very useful as some players tend to build huge machines and it gets progressively more difficult to keep track of both your own and your opponents previously used dice (and thus it also becomes progressively easier to cheat or accidentally count an already spent dice). I guess the exhaust dice could just be placed as a simple marker next to each spent dice and leave them all on the machine until vented. Then of course my modification isn't very useful to combat the issue of empty dice pools, but it wasn't the primary purpose of the mod anyway.
 
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