Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Speed Round

We've all had those experiences with a gamer who experiences "analysis paralysis." You know what I mean, don't you? You have time to fall asleep when an opponent is taking his turn because he takes so much time thinking out his move. He repetitively reviews his position, his resources, and possible moves while you begin to snore. Just before your head hits the table and upsets the board he announces his move only to immediately decide that move isn't going to work for him and he needs to rethink the move. Back to square one.

We discovered a game that really punishes the player who attempts to over-think his game. The name of the game is Galaxy Trucker and it is a real hoot, though our slowpoke player really despises the game because it forces him to rush.

This is not a typical strategy game by any means, but it is a lot of fun. Each player has a placard that represents a spaceship. Tiles are placed face down on the table and players must pick up tiles and either place them (according to placement rules) on his ship. There are cargo compartments, alien life support systems, engines, lasers, shields, etc. At any point during this segment of the game another player can flip an hourglass making it a timed process. Players madly attempt to find the component that they need with the proper type of connnection, etc. before the time expires. When time expires, players check each other's ships for illegal configurations and those illegally placed items are removed and players are penalized during the scoring round for each one of these.

You can well imagine that the more thoughtful player doesn't enjoy being rushed in his building process. After the build, players venture forth on a trek. Along the way, they will encounter asteroids, have a chance to land and pick up cargo, fight pirates or slavers, etc. These events (represented by cards) all interact with the manner in which a player has built his ship. For example, a player may need a certain number of lasers to defeat pirates. A player may have parts of his ship destroyed by asteroids or he may have placed shields to protect him. Then, there is a scoring round. Players lose points for parts of their ships that are destroyed and gain points for delivering cargo, etc.

Players then flip their placards to a more advanced ship (holds more tiles) and go through the process over again. This time, more difficult event cards are randomly added and players have a little longer adventure. After the third round, the player with the most victory points wins.

The whole game can be played in about forty minutes or so and provides a great deal of laughter-from most of our group anyway. The slowest player still doesn't really enjoy it much. Galaxy Trucker isn't the most strategic of games, but it makes a good "filler" game. No deep thinking required here and Rio Grande offers a few expansions if the basic game becomes stale.

David "the preacher" Wilson

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