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William Shields
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The Game

Galaxy Trucker is a game over three rounds (or more if you wish). In each round you and your opponents seek to build a ship and then send it to a destination by progressing through a series of events. There is a pool of hidden components in the center of the table that you turn over and use or not.

Each of these does different things (laser, engine, cargo storage, crew cabin, etc) and you have limited room on your ship. There are rules about how they can fit together as well.

In the early rounds your ship is smaller and there are less events and those events are less (potentially) deadly.

The game is somewhat timed because there is an egg timer that players can choose to turn over. When it runs out everyone's ship is locked in.

The only thing I'll say about the components is that they're excellent. The components are good and easy to read. The ship boards are high quality and the event cards don't seem to wear easily.

Building Your Ship

In each round you start with a board limiting where you can place components. Each round has successively bigger (potential) ships and more (potential) time to build it. But the pool of components remains the same. This means in the last round with four players you will quite likely use 90% or more of those components.

There are also alternate ships you can use.

When someone finishes they take a place marker and they're done. In the first round this means the other players have about 1m40s (one flip of the timer) to finish their ships.

In subsequent rounds there must be two then three flips of the timer. The last can only be done when someone is finished giving the other players a time advantage made up for having a possible place advantage.

There is a lot of luck in finding the right components at the right time. Lasers mostly need to go at the front. Engines have to go at the back (technically nothing can be in the square in front of a laser or the square behind the engine but you don't want to waste space so 95% of the time they go right at the front or back).

The third round ship in particular is quite large so before you get to the front or back of the ship you have to build a "skeleton" or "spine" of crew quarters (which you never put adjacent to other crew quarters because of the Epidemic event that's possible in the second or third round), cargo storage, batteries, shields and (if your'e stuck) connectors (which have lots of friendly connections but do nothing else).

Once placed a piece can't be moved (once you start looking at other pieces) and you can save two pieces to use later, which gives you some flexibility, but ultimately pulling the right pieces early (and randomly) from the pile makes a huge difference.

Events

Each round your ships will go through a number of events (8, 12 and 16). Some of these (6, 9 and 12) will be face down next to the board and you can spend some of your building time looking at them. There are some (2, 3 and 4) that will be added after that you know nothing about but the knowledge can be useful and I generally advise people to look.

You won't know the order as the known and unknown cards will be shuffled.

Combats

Combats happen because of smugglers and pirates generally. For this you basically need a certain number of guns (6, 8 and 10 are the benchmark figures I use for the first, second and third rounds). Each single gun is a point and costs nothing to use. A double gun is 2 but uses a battery to use.

Meteors

Another big danger (and use for guns) is meteors. A meteor shower will throw a certain number of meteors at each ship being a mix of small and large from a variety of directions. The exact row or column they hit is determined by a dice roll.

Small meteors are mostly harmless. If they hit an exposed connector they will kill that component unless you have a shield facing that way and power it.

Large meteors are more dangerous. They will take out a component unless shot. It's slightly easier to shoot side large meteors (and they don't appear in the first round) but from the front this basically means you want a gun at the front on every column.

Cargo

Cargo is worth money if you get it to the end so cargo space is important if there will be planets to land on or abandoned stations to explore. Both of these take time (you lose days on the movement track) and stations require a minimum number of crew to explore.

This is one good reason to look at the cards. If you see a lot of planets and stations then load up on cargo and you will need an early order.

Empty Space

This is just an opportunity to take out people with no engines (if you can't move you drop out of the race) and to change the order of players by each player exercising their engines.

Epidemic

This can happen in the second and third rounds and is a good reason to never put crew quarters adjacent. If they are then each will lose one crew.

Other Events

There are others but I don't want to exhaustively go through them all.

Losing Components

Certain events can take out components. If this ever splits your ship you choose which half to keep and the rest are abandoned (these become minuses at the end of the round). This is why you want to "spine" that holds you ship together to be fairly deep in your ship so one bad dice roll only takes out 1-2 components and not 10.

Movement

Once everyone has built a ship and taken a turn order marker the ships are placed on the track (separated by 1, 2 or 3 empty spaces). Each space is a day. Spend a day and you go back one space. No players can be on the same space so there are no tied positions.

On each turn a new event is revealed and resolved. Smugglers, pirates, planets, abandoned ships and abandoned stations happen to the front player. If they resolve the event it goes no further. Otherwise it goes down the line, which is why turn order can be important. If you can't kill the pirates you want to be behind someone who can. If you have a lot of cargo room you want to be first.

Players can choose to drop out too and get partial payment. They can be forced out by losing all their crew, having no propulsion and hitting empty space and a couple of other circumstances.

Race End

After all events are resolved money is awarded. Cargo is sold (half if you dropped out). Place gives payment. Least exposed connectors gives placement.

The Fun

When I first played Galaxy Trucker it was a lot of fun. Random stuff happens (and it can be very random) but that's OK. The game does (generally) reward quick thinking in ship design.

The Not So Fun

To me there are two broad types of gamers. There are those--and I count myself as one of these--who are technical gamers. We like games that aren't heavily luck-based, that reward strategy and tactics and allow you to formulate and execute a plan. Think Agricola, Through the Ages, Steam, Caylus, etc.

On the other hand you have what I term experience gamers, meaning they are more interested in the experience than technical aspects. These players like games like Tales of the Arabian Nights, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, Shadows Over Camelot, Adventurer and so on.

It's probably fairer to say that rather than two types, it's a spectrum from highly technical to highly experiential where most people lie somewhere in between.

Games too lie somewhere in this range.

Galaxy Trucker for me is largely an experience rather than a technical challenge. For that it's fine but if you're into technical games you probably won't get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Conclusion

Now I have some friends who (like me) are fairly technical gamers (to varying degrees) and this is what I noticed. Galaxy Trucker quickly became optimized. 6/8/10 games, 4-8 engines, 0/0-1/1-2 aliens, 2-8 battery, left-right spine from the central cabin of your ship and so on.

This becomes somewhat "same-y". What's more one player in particular is very good at this and can build a ship very very quickly. It's not necessarily the best ship but it's better than what other people can build in the same time frame. And he wins a lot because of it.

There is nothing bad or wrong about that but for me it detracts from the enjoyment of my personal game because I have no investment in my ship. It's just randomly cobbled together as fast as possible and disappointing in so many ways whereas earlier games I had more investment because I had a little more time to build the ship.

Combine that with the luck of the draw (in both components and events and the dice rolls on those events) and you end up with something that I don't think is technical enough for technical game play but has a detracted experience when played technically my conclusion is that the game is fine when played with the right crowd.

Overall I'd give it 7 out of 10.
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David desJardins
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hagin wrote:
To me there are two broad types of gamers. There are those--and I count myself as one of these--who are technical gamers. We like games that aren't heavily luck-based, that reward strategy and tactics and allow you to formulate and execute a plan. Think Agricola, Through the Ages, Steam, Caylus, etc.


I think you should delete the "luck" part of that definition. There's plenty of luck in Through the Ages, for example. I think whether people like games that are more what you call "technical" is pretty much orthogonal to how much luck they like in them.

Quote:
Now I have some friends who (like me) are fairly technical gamers (to varying degrees) and this is what I noticed. Galaxy Trucker quickly became optimized. 6/8/10 games, 4-8 engines, 0/0-1/1-2 aliens, 2-8 battery, left-right spine from the central cabin of your ship and so on.


Well, that's what the expansion is for.

But I think it's a bit odd to simultaneously say that the game is "not technical" and also that one player is significantly better at it than you and your other friends. There must be something "technical" about it if he can outplay you.
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William Shields
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I think you should delete the "luck" part of that definition. There's plenty of luck in Through the Ages, for example. I think whether people like games that are more what you call "technical" is pretty much orthogonal to how much luck they like in them.


Luck is a question of degree rather than an on/off switch.

Quote:
Well, that's what the expansion is for.


The expansion is a separate topic.

Quote:
But I think it's a bit odd to simultaneously say that the game is "not technical" and also that one player is significantly better at it than you and your other friends. There must be something "technical" about it if he can outplay you.


Not at all. There's simply a disconnect between playing for the experience and playing more technically. This issue isn't unique to Galaxy Trucker. Playing GT quick and well isn't bad or wrong, it simply detracts from the experience (for me).

Mileage may vary.
 
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David desJardins
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hagin wrote:
Not at all. There's simply a disconnect between playing for the experience and playing more technically.


You can say that, but how could you empirically demonstrate it? It seems pretty clear that the people who are playing "well" are also playing "technically". If they were ignoring the skill elements of the game, they would have to do badly, or at least no better than anyone else. So it seems to me that the existence of players who take the game seriously, and consistently play it well, is evidence that there's plenty to engage people "technically".

I also don't understand how you can separate the question of whether play becomes stereotyped when players become experienced at the game from discussion of the expansion. The expansion is that part of the game system specifically designed to add variety and challenge for experienced players.
 
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KJ Mustermann
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Hi,

i personally think the luck part in GT isn't that high as it apperas after the first few games. To pick up your classification i would consider myself a "technical"-gamer. I do not like games with a huge degree of luck, but still plays them if i'm outvoted.

To the issue:
It's absolutly necessary to make quick decisions, thats a major difference to a lot of other games, where you may take your time to think about what you're doing. But you still have to make smart decisions, while building your ship. It's not about building a perfect ship, it's about building a better ship compared to the others, in a quicker time (you pointed this out). If it's not a 4 player game i prefer to take out some modules, cause otherwise it's to easy to build a good ship. You may also take out some modules in a 4 player game to make it more challanging or as mentioned put in parts from the expansion.

By the way, i consider "Agricola" has quite a lot luck in it, i mean the drawing card issue. It's a nice game but it's just frustating if you got the weakest cards.

Another example i even consider Stone Age has more luck in it then Galaxy Trucker, and i don't mean rolling dices for resources, but it's just so important, which cards/huts are on top when you're starting player, and what position you have in turn order.

Conclusion:
Galaxy Trucker is not really a tactial or strategy game (no discussion about that), but it still requires skills (quick decisions). When it comes to fun i consider Galaxy Trucker as one of the best games. We allways laugh so hard when other ships fall apart, even if it's mine, but that doesn't happen a lot
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William Shields
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hitzkopf wrote:
i personally think the luck part in GT isn't that high as it apperas after the first few games. To pick up your classification i would consider myself a "technical"-gamer. I do not like games with a huge degree of luck, but still plays them if i'm outvoted.


My personal attitude is the amount of luck needs to be inversely proportional to the length of the game. I also love games that distill game genres down to quicker versions that keep most or all of the tactical aspects (eg Through the Ages compared to Civilization).

Powerboats has some skill to it but luck too but imho its a great game because you can do 3 races in under an hour. Compare that to, say, Formula D, which probably has as much or almost as much luck but takes twice as long. And you only get one race for that.

I realize mileage may vary on this and this can be a point of consternation with some I game with who are very fond of the long "experience" games (Arkham Horror, arguably Android, etc). To each their own.

Quote:
To the issue:
It's absolutly necessary to make quick decisions, thats a major difference to a lot of other games, where you may take your time to think about what you're doing.


Just like I don't like RTS computer games (which seem to devolve into "clickfests") over turn-based games. I realize this is a matter of preference. I don't have an issue with the time-based aspect of GT however, just whether it works as a complete package.

Quote:
By the way, i consider "Agricola" has quite a lot luck in it, i mean the drawing card issue. It's a nice game but it's just frustating if you got the weakest cards.


Cards matter in Agricola. No question. Some are even arguably broken but there are only a handful of those. Even excluding those not all cards are created equal. We tend to play with the Mulligans. Each of your hands of 7 you can discard and get 6 replacements. You can then discard those for 5 and so on.

That mostly evens out card differences as you rarely play all 7 of either kind of card.

Also I think the card aspect of Agricola tends to be overstated. I've won plenty of games playing hardly any cards at all. I've seen people play the Wet Nurse, Taster or Chamberlain and still lose.

Quote:
Another example i even consider Stone Age has more luck in it then Galaxy Trucker, and i don't mean rolling dices for resources, but it's just so important, which cards/huts are on top when you're starting player, and what position you have in turn order.


In all the games of Stone Age I've played I've had a pool of resources so I can take pretty much any building. Excess resources get burnt on cards. The only buildings that I think really matter are those where you can turn in a variable number of variable resources as that could be a lot of points in one action. Everything else is largely a wash.

Quote:
Conclusion:
Galaxy Trucker is not really a tactial or strategy game (no discussion about that), but it still requires skills (quick decisions).


No argument there. Like I said, there's one player I play with who is much better and faster at it than I am. In a game where the experience trumps the tactical however that ultimately detracts from the game (for me). That was my point.
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David desJardins
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hagin wrote:
No argument there. Like I said, there's one player I play with who is much better and faster at it than I am. In a game where the experience trumps the tactical however that ultimately detracts from the game (for me). That was my point.


So if the game had less theme then you would enjoy being crushed every time by the same opponent?
 
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