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Subject: Should you buy or play? -- Steam Park rss

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Patrick Ho
Kuala Lumpur
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Steam Park is a real-time dice rolling-based game. Your luck, quick-thinking, and quick reactions, are the three most important essence to win this game. I bought a used copy of this game.

How does this game work?

The objective in this game is to earn the most money by building and then attracting robots to your theme park. While doing so, you will have to expand your theme park, build stands for different special powers, as well as clean-up your park as these pesky robots leave a trail of oil in your park. To select your action, you need to roll 6 dice, and if you have got your rolls, you grab the order token. The slow-poke players get the last token and more dirt in their park.

Your possible actions are:
1. construct ride
2. attract robots
3. clean-up dirt
4. build stands
5. play bonus cards
6. expand park space

Although possible actions seem simple enough, building and managing space in your park is not easy. Your park needs space for robots to walk. So you need to think of the right balance of actions to perform each turn. Build too much and you'll end up earning too little. Attract too many robots and your park gets very dirty. The right balance of actions, and with a good pinch of luck, will eventually reward you sufficiently with cash and you don't end up with too much dirt or too much empty space (or insufficient). The player with the most cash at the end of 6 rounds wins.

Play/Buy this game if you like: Real-time action! Being slow has its consequences, while the fastest player will have a advantages. You are allowed to re-roll your dice until you are satisfied with your rolls, so luck plays a major part too. There is a strategy to just grab the first player token regardless of your dice results. I'd personally say this is risky, but the player who often does this do have quite a good chance of winning.

Do not play/buy if you dislike: Lack of strategy involved. Choices of things to build in your park are mainly governed by the bonus cards that will help you score more points when you play them.

Components: Meet expectations. Can't complain about the rides and stands being made out of cardboards (28 different miniatures would have bumped the cost severely). Theme park spaces are also cardboards, as are cash, dirt, and turn-order tokens, whereas the robot visitors are wood. Dice are custom-made, and cards are of standard quality. A black velvet bag is provided for the random draw of robots.

Thematic: Excellent. The actions are designed to fit the theme park theme. The visitors are robots because these robots are color-OCD. They only sit only the rides that are of the same color as themselves. Such pesky little robots. Oh well... they give you cash and they never leave your park.

Gameplay: Fast. Although there are more than average number of actions, abilities, and park restrictions to explain, new players can pick up the rules quite easily as they are very thematic. However, do expect them to be slower in the first couple of rounds of dice throws, and there are bonus cards which alters your choices slightly. Therefore, strategy is modular, and mastering of the game may not be straightforward. Overall gameplay is fast due to the quick reactions expected of players in order to win.

Setup: 5-10 minutes. Just slightly longer than average due to numerous components to arrange, and then you need to ensure a clear space where every player's reach is equal. Otherwise you'll get a whining player if they lose. Some of the rides can come loose from their base, so some fixing may be required.

Balance: Fair balance between strategy and luck. A strategy is usually thought out before you roll your dice so that you are well-prepared to quickly separate your want and unwanted dice results. Although your strategy may be well-thought of, your fate ultimately depends on your dice rolls. Alternatively, think on your toes and adapt to whatever your dice gives you.

Replayability: Above average. The bonus cards give players a different approach to their strategies. Working the best course of actions, while maintaining balance, and earning extra money from bonus cards to give you a good advantage. Gameplay peters out after about 3 gameplays-in-a-row. This is because the bonus cards are quite limited, and the number of rides and stands are also limited. However, this game gets to the table fairly often, due to its overall simplicity and unique real-time dice mechanism.

Malice: Low. There's no actions you can directly attack/harm your opponents. They only way to stop them from getting what they is to throw your dice faster.

Interaction: Medium. Although actions doesn't require interaction directly, except during the shouting of the start of dice rolling. Somehow, the game ends up being quite interactive in the sense that players check-up on each other's dices and theme park.

My opinion: Play before buy. This game is simple, fun, rare mechanism, and fits the medium-filler category.
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Nick Bos
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Nice review. Whenever I play this game, I enjoy it. However, I forget about it instantly again. It doesn't really have very interesting tales to tell afterwards, which is why I'm getting rid of it.

I dislike the real-time dicerolling, but really like the claustrophobic building rules.
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