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Wasteland Express Delivery Service

I had heard that Wasteland Express was completely sold out prior to GenCon. There would be a second printing, but not until November. With this news, I resigned myself to a long wait, maybe even the possibility of never playing Wasteland Express. But there it was, taunting me on the shelf at my FLGS. In my mind, I enumerated all the reasons not to purchase this game (it's so heavy -- I can't carry it home without giving myself a hernia; it has so many pieces -- my Mom will never play this; the theme is too mature -- my wife won't let my son even look at at) before common sense prevailed and I threw my money at the store's proprietor.

Wasteland Express is a monster of a game. Don't expect to play this beast right out of the box. Punching the cardboard and sorting the pieces into the supplied trays took me 2 hours. And my first setup was a 45 minute exercise. Don't let any of this deter you however -- Wasteland Express is one of the best games my family has played this year.

(The included plastic trays really help make setup easier.)

Essentially Mad Max: The Board Game, Wasteland Express throws you into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Three factions are vying for control, and you are an independent courier, trading items among the factions while avoiding the ever present raiders.

I wouldn't call Wasteland Express a pick up and deliver game, although you are doing quit a bit of this in the game. For me it is more of a race game, where you are competing to complete public and private contracts before your opponents. First to complete 3 contracts wins. These can range from delivering 3 artifacts to The Depot to defeating Grand Lord Emperor Torque, the biggest, baddest raider in the wasteland. Of course you can't possibly do any of these contracts at the start of the game -- you must upgrade your truck with cargo space, machine guns, extra gunners and missiles to accomplish these tasks. And to upgrade your truck, you must earn money by trading goods between the faction cities. So you will be doing a lot of traveling between point A and point B. But the focus isn't on route efficiency -- Wasteland Express is more a market trading game.

To earn money you will buy resources (water, food and weapons) at a low price and sell at a high price. The price is set by demand using the simple market board. For each city demanding a resource the selling pricing goes up $1; satisfy demand in a city and the selling price goes down $1. Success hinges on being able to satisfy demand when it's high before your opponents. So rather than figuring out optimal routes between cities that are selling and cities that are buying, there are many more strategies available. You can max out cargo space on your truck so that you are always carrying some resources. Or you can turn your truck into a weapons heavy fortress and simply take out a wandering raider when you need a resource. Or you can simply ignore the market and focus on quickly completing private contracts.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much my 70+ year old mother enjoyed this game, actually requesting to play Wasteland Express on a number of occasions. That I attribute to its amazingly simple rules. All your are ever doing is moving your truck from here to there. The rules are there to support, not hinder, you in your goals. The defining moment for me was when my Mom stoped asking "what can I do?" and starting asking "how can I do?" Rather than giving you a goal and then putting constraints on your ability to achieve that goal, Wasteland Express provides a simple framework (move your truck around a board; buy resources low and sell high) for the player to construct their own goals. Simply wonderful.

This framework may not work well with children. While me an my Mom really appreciated the felexibility the game offers in terms of completing contracts, I noticed that my son had trouble piecing together the necessary steps. For example, one contract is to deliver 3 artifacts to the depot. Your truck only has two cargo spaces, so a first step towards this contract would be realizing you need to upgrade your truck with a third cargo space. Initially my son was a bit confused getting started on this contract. Once I explained some of the essential steps needed, he was fine. I really like that Wasteland Express can be used to teach higher level planning, but be aware you might need to help younger children with the first few steps towards making that plan.

Replayability is off the charts with Wasteland Express. Each board is randomly constructed, providing great variety just based on the layout. The public contracts are randomized each game, providing different challenges that need to be completed each game. In our first game one contract was defeating 4 raiders. In our second game, my Mom started right off attacking a raider. I asked why she was doing that -- she thought each game one of the conditions was to defeat 4 raiders! Once I explained that each game the contracts are different (this time we had vision quests) she seemed to appreciate Wasteland Express even more. And if all of this variability isn't enough, Wasteland Express comes with a complete campaign that chronicles the rise and fall of Grand Lord Emperor Torque.

My only negative about Wasteland Express is that it needs more cards! In a typical game we cycle through the raider deck a few times and nearly run through the event deck. And after a few plays you will be repeating contracts. It's fabulous that all this game needs is a release of expansion cards to keep interest high. There is already a pre-order deck with additional events and contracts (I hope there will be a way to get this deck later). I'm looking forward to what I hope will be regular releases of expansion content.

Wasteland Express was a hit for our family. Simple rules, deep gameplay, and amazing replayibility make this one of our favourite games this year.

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Matt Riddle
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great review, thanks!
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Jack Francisco
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I thought it was meh. Love post-apoc theme, but with pick-up-and-deliver? Didn't work for me. I agree that there aren't enough cards. Combat isn't exciting or risky enough. The "not welcome" token is thematically silly - "Oh, thanks for selling us this desperately needed water. We need food next - we just don't want it from you unless you go somewhere else." I understand why it's needed mechanically, but it jars me from the immersion. Merchants & Marauders might be twice as long, but I think it gives a better gameplay experience if you're looking for this type of game.
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Justin Allen
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senorcoo wrote:
I thought it was meh. Love post-apoc theme, but with pick-up-and-deliver? Didn't work for me. I agree that there aren't enough cards. Combat isn't exciting or risky enough. The "not welcome" token is thematically silly - "Oh, thanks for selling us this desperately needed water. We need food next - we just don't want it from you unless you go somewhere else." I understand why it's needed mechanically, but it jars me from the immersion. Merchants & Marauders might be twice as long, but I think it gives a better gameplay experience if you're looking for this type of game.


I'm thinking about trying (as an alternative to the "not welcome token") a variant where instead of placing the NW token, when you replace the new demand counter you keep it upside down until the next round of gameplay. I feel like it would make more sense thematically as the town doesn't have an immediate need after their latest need was resolved and doesn't have the weird not wanted thing. Also, outside of being lucky that you deliver as the last action in a round and then have the supply to sell first action next round, it wouldn't be advantageous to stay around waiting to hope you get lucky delivering to the same place.
 
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JonnyRotten
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jshaunallen wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
I thought it was meh. Love post-apoc theme, but with pick-up-and-deliver? Didn't work for me. I agree that there aren't enough cards. Combat isn't exciting or risky enough. The "not welcome" token is thematically silly - "Oh, thanks for selling us this desperately needed water. We need food next - we just don't want it from you unless you go somewhere else." I understand why it's needed mechanically, but it jars me from the immersion. Merchants & Marauders might be twice as long, but I think it gives a better gameplay experience if you're looking for this type of game.


I'm thinking about trying (as an alternative to the "not welcome token") a variant where instead of placing the NW token, when you replace the new demand counter you keep it upside down until the next round of gameplay. I feel like it would make more sense thematically as the town doesn't have an immediate need after their latest need was resolved and doesn't have the weird not wanted thing. Also, outside of being lucky that you deliver as the last action in a round and then have the supply to sell first action next round, it wouldn't be advantageous to stay around waiting to hope you get lucky delivering to the same place.


This will have a pretty big impact on the market.

The thematic reasoning is that they aren't entirely happy with your business purchases, and being charged high amounts for things required to live, so they need some time without seeing your face.
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Jonathan Franklin
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Could you get the same effect by saying that settlements will only buy goods when you arrive at the settlement? If this is just as a-thematic, could you reveal the demand marker when there are no trucks at the location, so rather than at the end of the round, just once there are no players at that location?

Not trying to mess with a good thing, but if random supply and random demand are problematic because you can camp on a site and sell twice, forcing the player to leave seems a reasonable compromise.
 
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Pandasaurus Games
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grandslam wrote:
Could you get the same effect by saying that settlements will only buy goods when you arrive at the settlement? If this is just as a-thematic, could you reveal the demand marker when there are no trucks at the location, so rather than at the end of the round, just once there are no players at that location?

Not trying to mess with a good thing, but if random supply and random demand are problematic because you can camp on a site and sell twice, forcing the player to leave seems a reasonable compromise.


It's designed to prevent someone from looping between two close-together locations.
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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I get that concern in a game with fixed buy/sell locations, but with random buy and sell, you would have to get lucky to hit it right a few times - is it worth the rules overhead?
 
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Ben Pinchback
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grandslam wrote:
I get that concern in a game with fixed buy/sell locations, but with random buy and sell, you would have to get lucky to hit it right a few times - is it worth the rules overhead?

Yes.
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Daniel Champagne
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I had some good things to say about the game (Components, fact that its not ameritrash, the theme)

But here's what we didn't like (We played it 3-4 times in our group)

1- Doing the same thing over and over. Let's be real, you are moving, buying battling or selling. I move there, I buy this and put it there, next... There's a lot of things to buy (MOD shop) But in all you need (Cargo holds and a lot of escorts)

2- A bit too much luck when doing battle. While a player had a machine gun and a gunner, he lost twice against a 4 force trucker, while another one won with nothing against a 6 trucker. A trucker should remain in his truck if he's not defeated. This part doesn't make any sense. Same truck different drivers each time!

3- The rulebook...OUCH! Do I need to say more?

4- 5 actions but *completing a card is an action (Even when you're on the spot or have the materials) It should be like Lords of Waterdeep and have something *with that action.

5- No way to slowdown a player (a part the raiders truck). A steal a mandatory contract, etc.

6- This game has no interactivity with other players.

7- This game is for 13+ (says even 12 +) Yet, some trucker cards have boobs hanging out, another with a spiked *wang* and latex clothes.

This is my point of view and *yeah* I do own this game and hope that some of the rules will be changed and especialy the rulebook that suffers a lot.

PS Sorry if my writing is so-so, Trying my best with english (A French Canadian gamer)
 
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