Galaxy Trucker puts fun at the core of its game. Winning becomes a mere afterthought when playing. Players are still happy if their created ship survives the most perilous third round. Surprisingly, the game is built around failure, rather than winning. No single player feels victimised because often the same bad event effects every player equally. There is a sense of communal failing where players are all at the games mercy together. Especially as one stray large meteor could spell the end for multiple players.
One issue is that experience does somewhat show in Galaxy Trucker. When playing with a group of similar experience chances are players will finish building at approximately the same time. On top of this, the ship designs will be at times be equally entertainingly bad, but then again this is all part of the fun. If one or more players have played a decent amount before then their ships will be potentially better suited at swatting incoming threats. The speed they can build at also helps a veteran trucker claim the first-place prize, a potential advantage if planets come up in the round. Due to the random adventure cards in the deck that players must journey on, on top of balancing the amount of each tile type, experience doesn’t guarantee victory. Pirates can always cause doom if their cannons land hits.
Building from the pile of junk bits in front of you is both stressful and comical at the same time. That is until the sand timer is brought into play. If used the sand timer signals that one player has finished building and players now have limited time to complete their crafts. Combining the rush caused by the sand timer with feeling that it is necessity to fill every available space on the ship board can see some extremely unique ship designs from players. Despite attempting to fill the board this can result in ships being more dishevelled than normal and worryingly incomplete.
Going first in some board games is a given throughout the game. This is not the case in Galaxy Trucker as positioning becomes a commodity. The first player for instance is the first to get the option to sell abandoned ships to crew, of which planet to obtain resource from and to roll the dice for incoming meteor storms. Being first isn’t always a benefit in the game as other players can see what you do first when it comes to engine speeds or how many cannons you’re firing. This being said going first does open opportunities up, even if it is the first attempt at killing an incoming pirate. It even comes with benefits at the end of the round if you can hold onto first place.
Galaxy Truckers is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and it is clear to see why the game has remained popular. The theming is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen in a board game, from the small space suited humans through to the tiny titbits of lore in the rulebook, it is ever present. The enjoyment that the game delivers for new players through to veterans of the space junk venturing is constantly on show with the excitement when the game hits the tables. You may fail to get your ship through the perilous journey but even when all is lost, after a meteor wipes out your last remaining human crew members, you can laugh at your attempt. Not many games are built to almost encourage such gracious losing, after you curse the meteor that is. For entertainment value alone, after 10 years of fun the only thing Galaxy Truckers deserves is another solid 10 years on gamers’ tables!
[Editor’s Note: Galaxy Trucker was provided to us by Czech Games for review purposes.]