One of the most unique games that I've played recently has to be Galaxy Trucker.
In Galaxy Trucker, players take on the roles of intergalactic truckers that are building ships to pick up and deliver goods (while fighting off pirates, finding abandoned stations, and weaving through asteroids). The game is played over three rounds, with each round following a similar structure - build your ship, then go fly it (but with the later rounds having bigger ships and flying to more places). When building your ship, everyone is playing at the same time in an attempt to find components that you want on your ship, and make sure that you connect them together properly. During this phase, players will also be flipping sand timers to determine when the phase is over. Also, players will start the second phase of the turn (the "go do stuff" phase) in the order that they complete their ships. In the second phase, the players collectively go through the encounter deck. Some of the encounters are good (finding abandoned ships, or collecting goods to transport) while others are bad (intergalactic slave traders, or meteor storms). And, whoever is ahead on the space track encounters each card first (though this order can change in a few different ways). Additionally, some of the bad encounters can damage your ship; or even completely incapacitate it. Once all of the encounters are completed, players get to sell all of the goods that they have collected, but then must pay money for all of the different elements of their ship that were blown apart. At the end of the third round, whoever has the most money wins the game!
|The USS Enterprise getting ready to launch|
The next pro that I have for Galaxy Trucker is that the pace of the game is set by its players. This is somewhat true in most games - but in most games, the flow of the game can really be impeded by a single player. However, in Galaxy Trucker, if the players (or any single one of them) want to go at an insanely fast pace, then the game will be fast. Conversely, if everyone wants to build the most solid ships possible, then the game will be a bit more leisurely. It's really just up to you to play it how you want.
My third pro for Galaxy Trucker is that I think it does a phenomenal job with real time mechanics. I have played a few other real time games - enjoying some (Wok Star), and hating others (Frenzy). But, Galaxy Trucker really strikes the perfect balance of making meaningful decisions, while being forced to do it quickly. The main decisions that you have to make revolve around how to balance your ship (cargo, engines, shields, batteries, crew quarters, guns). But you're also allowed to look at (most of) the cards that you will encounter that round - so you have to decide when to look at cards as opposed to building your ship. And while doing all of these things, you're forced to rush not only because of players flipping the sand timers, but also because the components are limited - so if you wait too long, then you might miss out on certain components.
|Bad things happen in space...|
Though I think that Galaxy Trucker is a great game, there are still a few cons that I will mention. First, I feel like all of the action is in the first phase - building your ship. There are a few decisions that you make during the second phase (you make more decisions if you're earlier on the track, and less decisions if you're really far behind). But, most of these decisions are really easy - should I take the abandoned ship (that's full of free money)? Should I collect these resources that I built my ship to be able to hold? Should I power all of my weapons in order to destroy the pirates, instead of getting attacked by them? Occasionally a decision will be a bit trickier because it might move you into a worse position on the track, but overall the second phase is much less demanding than the first.
The other con that I have is that Galaxy Trucker becomes a little bit less fun when it is highly competitive. If everyone is actually good at the game, then it takes away from my first pro. The ships don't get blown up as much, and so you don't get as many laughs from watching ill equipped ships get destroyed in space. (However, I hear that the expansions help with this.)
Overall, I give Galaxy Trucker a 9.0/10. I think that it is an amazing game, and I'm glad that I finally broke down and tried it out!
If Galaxy Trucker sounds interesting, you might also check out Jab: Real Time Boxing, Space Alert, and Escape: The Curse of the Temple.