Pixel Tactics 2 Review

This review of Pixel Tactics 2 is brought to you by guest reviewer Jim F.

Pixel Tactics 2 is a stand alone sequel to 2012’s Pixel Tactics that can also be used to expand the original game. Both games were designed and published by D. Brad Dalton and Level 99 Games, respectively.

In Pixel Tactics 2, players control a leader and a group of fighters of varying fantasy classes in a tactical battle against 1 opponent. Each player will have a hand of cards, and a 3x3 grid in front of her, called her unit. Each player’s unit is a 3x3 grid. Before the game proper begins, each player will place a leader in the center spot. During the game, a player’s unit is made up of 3 ranks - vanguard, flank, and rear. When played to her unit this way, the cards represent Heroes that will have a different ability depending on which rank it was played to. Cards can also be played directly from a player’s hand as an Order (usually an instant, one-time event).

Gameplay proceeds through waves, one for each rank. So, during the Vanguard wave, each player will get two actions, only able to recruit, move, attack, etc., with heroes in the vanguard rank. The other two ranks will get a wave, and then gameplay moves back to the vanguard wave, with the first player marker changing hands. The game goes forward thusly, until one of the player’s Leader is reduced to 0 (or lower) health. The rules say that players should play best of 3 or 5.

The first pro I have for Pixel Tactics 2 is the sheer variety of everything you get in the box. Each and every card can be used in 5 different ways. One of those ways is to be played as a unit’s Leader. Leaders have powerful ongoing abilities that will drastically change a player’s overall strategy from game to game. That by itself lends a huge replayability and variability factor. Add to that the fact that all the Heroes you can play in the game will also have varying powers depending on where they are placed, and the game starts to feel almost infinite in its possibilities.

The next pro I have to Pixel Tactics 2 is its simplicity. Despite all the variable uses for each card, the overall structure of the game is quite simple. Each player takes two actions that correspond to the phasing rank, and then they move on to the next rank and repeat until one of the Leaders is killed. That’s it. I think Brad (the designer) realized that since the cards permit so much rules breaking, it was important to keep the rules structure that drives the game easy to understand.

My last pro for the game is that it does a good job of making players feel very powerful - with all the awesome options for Leaders and Heroes and Orders - but it also does a great job of making players feel very limited, and thus gameplay is very tense. I think there are two main factors that contribute to this feeling. First, card and hand management is very important in this game, so drawing more cards is very important, but with only two actions per turn, spending an action to draw one card is an agonizing decision every time. The second thing that contributes to the game’s tension is the fact that players are not allowed to attack with Heroes that have been moved or recruited during the current turn. This ensures that players need to play Heroes they wish to use next time around, and ensure that said Hero survives until then!

Pixel Tactics 2 is a strong design that I’m sure adds to the experience of Pixel Tactics. The game does have its flaws, however. The first con that comes to mind goes along with my first pro. There is so much to do with each card, that the game can get bogged down with new players or AP prone players. [Josh’s note: “AP” stands for “Analysis Paralysis” - the situation when a player spends large amounts of time thinking about each move.] This can change this tactical battle game into a drawn out, overly long game.

The next con I have is also related to another of my pros. The limitation of only two actions per turn was a little too limiting for me. I would have liked at least one more action per turn. As it is, the game does produce a great sense of tension and scarcity, but I would have liked it if the game moved a little bit faster. Even without an AP opponent, with only two actions per turn, the game can take a little bit longer than I would have liked to develop.

Overall Pixel Tactics 2 is a very solid game that just did not jive with me. I would give it a 7.0/10. I absolutely see the innovative and creative ways cards are being used here, and am not surprised in the least to see that the game has such a strong cult following. This game falls solidly in with other games that I would never ask to play, but that I would also rarely say no to if asked by someone else. I generally do enjoy these style of card based tactical battle games, but for me, this one took too long and felt too restrained me too much to enjoy it.

If Pixel Tactics 2 sounds interesting, you should also check out 51st State, Omen: A Reign of War, and Revolver.

I would like to thank Level 99 Games for providing a review copy of Pixel Tactics 2.

Final Note: The images from this post were originally posted on BoardGameGeek.com, and were used with permission of the publisher.

One Millionth Pageview Winner

Congratulations to my the winner of my One Millionth Pageview - +Matthew Foster.  Congrats, Matthew, you won a copy of Galaxy Trucker!

In case you're curious, here were the top +1'ed games:

Mice & Mystics - +54
Android: Netrunner - +47
Terra Mystica - +47
Galaxy Trucker - +46
Le Havre - +45
7 Wonders - +42
Alien Frontiers - +41
Through the Ages - +41

Thanks to all who participated!

Noah Review

Noah card game in play

A lightweight little card game that I was able to play recently is Noah.

In Noah, you are attempting to help Noah load animals onto ferries - which are then shipped out to the main ark.  To do this, each turn consists of loading an animal on a ferry, and then moving Noah.  When loading an animal onto a ferry, you must be careful not to overload the ferry (because it would be a bad thing if they sank - and so they game doesn't let you).  What this means is that each ferry can hold a total weight of 21. (21 what you ask?  Pounds?  Kilograms?  Tons?  I have no idea.)  Each animal weighs a certain amount, and will contribute his weight to the total on the boat.  Also, when placing animals on the boat, the animals must either be placed in alternating gender, or a boat must consist only of one gender.  (Again, you may be asking - why?  Because it makes the game more interesting.  Why, thematically?  Because apparently Noah like arbitrary restrictions for his ferry owners.)  And, if you successfully play an animal that matches the previous animal (two pandas in a row, for example), then you get to take another turn.  If a player cannot legally play a card on the current ferry (the one where Noah is located), then they must pick up the entire stack of animals, and then play whichever one they want from their hand.  After playing an animal, the current player must move Noah.  There are five ferries laid out in a hexagonal pattern.  If a male animal is played, then Noah must move to either of the ferries that are not immediately adjacent; if a female is played, then Noah can only move to an adjacent ferry.  Once a player manages to play all of their animals, then all of the other players count the number of tears that they make Noah shed by allowing their animals to drown.  The game is played over three rounds, and the player that makes Noah cry the least is the winner.  (Seriously - I didn't make that up.)

fat animals from Noah card game
Noah with the fat animals he dislikes
So, what is good about the game of Noah?  Honestly, my first pro is something that I didn't mention in the rule overview - some of the animals have different abilities.  For example, when you play a giraffe, you can look at an opponent's hand.  When you play a snail, it can be played as a male or a female.  More interestingly, a donkey prevents Noah from moving, and a woodpecker reduces the total weight limit on a ferry from 21 to 13 - because he can't help pecking at the ferry.  These different animal abilities allow you to have more options and strategic decisions when playing the game.  For example, if you use a giraffe to see what an opponent has, then you can make better decisions about where you should move Noah to prevent them from being able to play.  Or, if you hold onto a snail as one of your last animals, then you will have extra flexibility at the end of the round.

The next pro that I have for Noah is that it is light and easy to teach.  Anyone can understand the rules of Noah, regardless of how many "strategic" games they have played in the past.  Games like this are useful to have in your collection, as you never know who might wind up interested in a game.  Plus, with the theme of Noah's ark, many people will already be familiar with the subject material (though the theme doesn't make terribly much sense if you inspect it too closely).

So, with the pros about Noah, what are some of the cons?  Well, first, there are some things that make sense in game terms that make no sense thematically.  For example, different animals make Noah cry a different amount.  Specifically, Noah really loves pandas, but cares nothing about your fatter animals - giraffes, rhinos, and bears.  And, honestly, even in game terms I don't really love the fact that there are animals that aren't worth any tears.  If I successfully get rid of all of the cards from my hand, I feel like either I should get rewarded (for making Noah happy), or my opponent's should be punished (by making Noah cry).  But, since Noah doesn't care about fat animals, it's quite possible that you will be the first one to get rid of all of your cards, and yet at least one opponent may not get any points.

panda and Noah tile
Noah with his beloved Panda
The other con that I have for Noah is that the game isn't engaging enough that I would want to play it repeatedly.  Now, I realize that each person has their own opinions on what makes a game engaging, but in Noah, I felt like my decisions were far too repetitive.  Which animal do I want to play?  What about gender?  Should I fill the boats up with fat animals that Noah hates, or get rid of my lightweight animals that can easily fit on most boats (but that Noah would cry over losing)?  Where do I want to move Noah?  These decisions are important in the game, and making the best decisions based on what you have is strategically crucial.  However, I still found the game to be missing the "it" factor that made it really engaging.

Overall, I give Noah a 7.0/10.  The game is fine as a filler, or as a lightweight game to play with either kids or non-gamers, but it isn't one that I will really look to bring to the table very often.

If you're looking for games that can be played by anybody, you might also check out Dixit, 7 Wonders, and Crokinole.

Rockwell Review

Rockwell game in play

An interesting new game that is releasing later this month at Essen is Rockwell.  (As a note, this review is based off of a pre-production copy, so the pictures do not represent the final components.)

In Rockwell, your group of miners is seeking to gain the most prestige by digging up sweet resources, getting slick upgrades, building mine shafts, and making deliveries.  Each turn begins with an auction.  The winner of the auction gets to go first when placing "vice presidents."  (Vice presidents are used to determine what you are allowed to do on a turn, and how often you can do it.)  After the auction, each of the players gets to perform four drilling actions (moving a drill crew and potentially bribing another crew or hiring a subcontractor, and then checking to see if you can excavate the new tile - thus getting loot).  After the four rounds of mining, some players will get to buy and sell resources (based on vice president placement).  Finally, players will get to perform actions to end the round.  These actions include all of your upgrades, and also trading in resources for victory points.  The number of actions each player can perform is based on the location of their vice president.  Finally, throughout the game, various activities (such as getting 12 gold resources) will unlock achievements (which are worth victory points).  Once a majority of the players have drilled all the way into the center of the earth, or once one player has accomplished at least six achievements (including all three of the last ones), the game is over.  At that point, whoever has the most victory points from deliveries, achievements, and bonus points (earned for end of game resources) is the winner!

The first pro that I have for Rockwell is the tension of where to put your vice presidents.  They can be placed on three different boards, and you ultimately want to place them on all three.  However, you only have two VP's, and so you have to make tough decisions about what benefit you are going to neglect on each turn.  (Though, this decision might be made for you, if you bid too low in the opening auction.)  Are you going to pass on the opportunity to buy and sell goods?  That will allow you to perform actions and be able to bribe or subcontract while drilling.  But, will you still be able to afford the upgrades you want without selling your newly acquired resources?  Alternately, if you ignore the board that lets you bribe or subcontract, will you still have enough resources that it is worth having a vice president that lets you sell?  Ideally, you will take full advantage of your opportunities when they come along, and this will help when you are unable to perform the action later - for example, if you can sell enough resources to make $10,000 one turn, then you might be able to handle not selling resources on the next one.  (Which is really good, because there are not enough spaces on the buy/sell board for every player to place a vice president there, except for in a two-player game!  So, sometimes you're going to miss out - thus adding to the tension, and to the importance of the auction.)

Rockwell game boards
The different boards where you can place VP's
The next pro that I found for Rockwell is that I enjoy how players affect each others' mining results.  Whenever drill crews are on the same space, they work together.  (Aside from each wanting the loot.)  And, so when a tile is flipped, all of the loot is split as evenly as possible.  (Even if one player's drill crews had eight of the nine power you needed, and the other player only had one!)  However, after the even split, the player with "priority" (based on having a mine shaft, then having the most power, then being the one to trigger the excavation) gets all of the leftover resources.  So, you essentially have two choices when mining.  You can attempt to mine by yourself, or with other players.  If you mine by yourself, you will collect drastically more goods every time a tile is flipped over.  However, if you mine with other players, you will collect goods significantly more often.  Thus, the ideal strategy is to do a little of both.  Have some tiles that you are able to flip by using your best drill crews (not sharing any of the loot), but using some of your smaller drill crews to contribute just enough to other excavations to make sure that they still get their share!

The final pro that I will list for Rockwell is that I really liked the achievements.  There are only two ways to score during the game - achievements and deliveries.  It doesn't matter how amazing you are at drilling and gaining resources, if you neglect these two activities, the rest of your game doesn't matter and you will lose horribly.  And so, the achievements encourage you to do things that don't necessarily help "build your engine" (though they are never bad things).  So, sometimes you will make a decision that doesn't help your future mining activities, because if you go out of your way to accomplish the achievement, you might be able to do it first - and the first player scores the most points!  For example, one achievement is to own 10 silver resources.  Throughout the game, there is a good chance that you will mine that many silver, and so the achievement will take care of itself.  However, you could also buy some silver to get to this number faster.  Now, you aren't allowed to buy and sell the same type of resource in a turn.  So, if you buy silver, you will be stuck with it until the next turn - and it will also absorb some of the money that you were going to use for actions.  But, it will allow you to get the silver achievement first!  And that means victory points!  This is what I like about the achievements; most of them will naturally occur while playing the game, but you can choose to make them happen a bit earlier in order to get extra points.

closeup of Rockwell earth tiles
I'm not sure if the final copy has a center of the earth piece
Though I really enjoyed my time with Rockwell, there are a few cons that I will mention.  First, I found that the game seems to have a bit more down time than I would like.  This, of course, will be  affected by the people that you play with.  However, the main time that I have seen this occur is during the buying and selling phase.  As I mentioned earlier, there are not enough spaces for every player to buy and sell each turn.  This is neat, because it makes you think hard about where and when you place your first vice president.  However, if you are the player that is not able to buy or sell on a turn, then you will have quite a bit of time to sit around and wait while all of the other players are interacting with the market.  (This will be exaggerated if the other players are not very fast at math and don't have calculators handy.  Also, as a note - this game has quite a bit of math.  It's generally simple multiplication, but some people will still be a bit turned off by it.)

The other cons that I had were pretty trivial.  One is that I don't see much value in the subcontractor action.  However, I will admit that this might be a more subtle strategy that would emerge in more plays.  In some of my games, nobody bothered hiring subcontractors all game!  The other minor con that I have is related to the components.  Specifically, some of the components were a bit fiddly.  However, if the game is printed with high quality components (and I believe that it will be), then this con will go away entirely.

Overall, I give Rockwell an 8.5/10.  I was quite pleasantly surprised by the game, and everyone that I tried the game with seemed to share my enjoyment of it!  (And, as a final bonus, here's a strategy note - don't neglect deliveries!  Trading in resources for victory points doesn't build your engine, but you win based on victory points, not how cool your upgrades are!  So earn victory points!!)

If Rockwell sounds interesting, you might also check out Belfort, In The Year of the Dragon, and Galaxy Trucker.

I would like to thank Sit Down! Games for providing me with a review copy of Rockwell.

Note: Since posting this review, I have been provided with a link to a video of the final components - you can check them out here if you're interested.

Time's Up: Title Recall Review

Time's Up Title Recall

Occasionally you stop playing a type of game.  Maybe it's because of friends, maybe it's because you grew tired of that style of game, maybe it's something else.  Then, you encounter a new game, and that genre that you had given up on suddenly becomes a regular part of your gaming experience. Time's Up: Title Recall has recently done that for me by making me reconsider how often I should be playing party games.

In Time's Up: Title Recall, each player starts the game with a handful of cards - each representing a song, TV show, movie, book, etc.  Of these cards, they select two to be discarded, and the rest of them go into a pile of 40 cards.  This pile represents the cards that you will play with each game.  Now, the game is played over three rounds.  In the first round, you can say anything, except any part of the name on the card, in order to get your teammates to guess the answer.  During this round, you cannot pass a card, and so if you encounter a difficult clue, you might get stuck for a bit.  Play alternates around the table until all of the cards have been guessed.  After this round, someone goes through all of the answers and reads them aloud.  In the second round, you use the same cards, but this time you only get one word in order to get your teammates to guess the answers.  (You can also act things out in any round.)  However, you can pass as often as you want.  But, your teammates only get a single guess on each card.  The final round works exactly like the second round, except you don't get a word - you must act out the answers.  Once all of the answers have been guessed in the final round, players tally up their scores, and whichever team has gotten the most answers wins the game!

Time's Up: Title Recall - what's in the box
Most of the components are cards and a timer
My first pro for Time's Up is that the game builds on itself.  The different aspects of the game can be fun independently - the first part of the game is similar to Taboo, and the last part of the game is charades.  These games are enjoyable enough that people will play them as standalone games.  However, Time's Up is very fun (and very fast paced) because you use the same cards repeatedly.  Sometimes a clue that is given in the first round will be acted out in the final round - and sometimes it isn't even relevant to the answer itself!  For example, in one game that I played, the answer was The Goonies.  Well, one of the actors in The Goonies also played Rudy.  So, some of the clues given in the first round mentioned this fact.  In the last round, the player was actually miming throwing a football as the clue for The Goonies!!  Something that would have been completely nonsensical unless you had also seen the first round of the game!

The next pro that I have for Time's Up is that it allows people to make fools of themselves, but completely willingly.  There are many party games that simply tell you to do something stupid.  I played one in which everyone was given a card to represent some weird quirk that they were supposed to act out - like whenever someone mentions a "key" to you, you yell about a dog, or something.  I don't like that kind of game.  (I am admittedly somewhat shy and easily grow self conscious.)  However, Time's Up does not instruct you on how to act like a fool, but since you are timed and only have acting available, your competitiveness will quite likely kick in and you will start acting out things that you would be terribly embarrassed about outside of the game!  (For example, one of the cards I've seen is the 40 Year Old Virgin.  I'm sure you can imagine some of the ways this has been acted out.)

My third pro for Time's Up is that it is (relatively) flexible with number of players.  Granted, there are a few numbers (like 7) that really don't work very well for it, as you can't divide easily into even teams.  However, it is a party game that can be fun with as few as 4 players, and can easily accommodate 12 - or more!  Granted, some people will prefer the smaller games, as they enjoy giving clues.  But, there are very few games that can be played with both small groups and large ones, while keeping everyone actively engaged - but Time's Up does this very well.

Pile of TIme's Up cards
Better give clues fast!
My main con for Time's Up is that sometimes there will be cards placed in the deck that you know absolutely nothing about.  The Title Recall version of this is not quite as brutal when this happens - you can generally get your team to get the different pieces of the title, and then fit them together for the full answer.  However, I have played one game in which one of the answers was Achtung Baby.  I had never heard of Achtung Baby, and I still have no idea what it is.  Additionally, "achtung" is not a word in my vocabulary, and so you will never get me to guess this term.  So, when our team drew this card in the first round, we were basically stopped completely.  Granted, much of this is mitigated by the fact that you get to select which cards you play with at the start of the game - but people come from different backgrounds, and just because you are familiar with something does not mean that I am.

Overall, I give Time's Up: Title Recall a 9.5/10.  It has managed to get me to play a genre of games that I had basically given up on, and I have been amazed at how often I have wanted to play it over any of my more strategic options.

If you're looking for more party games, you might also read about Crappy Birthday, Say Anything, and The Resistance (which isn't a traditional party game).

I would like to thank R&R Games for providing me with a review copy of Time's Up: Title Recall.

One Million Pageviews Giveaway

So, according to Blogger, I am about to pass one million pageviews, since the start of my site!  Now, I don't actually trust their accuracy at all, but I still think that it's a really cool milestone.  And so I wanted to celebrate!

Additionally, I've realized that I have entirely neglected people that are fans of Google Plus.  Whereas I have a decent number of people that follow me on Facebook and Twitter, Google Plus has really been an afterthought.  And I want to change that!  So, what better way to try to grow my presence than with a giveaway?

So, here's how it works.  In order to enter, you have to follow me on Google Plus (there is a button on the side of the page that lets you do this easily).  You may be asking yourself, "But, what are you even giving away?"  Well, that is yet to be determined!  How this is going to work is that you can enter to win any game that I have reviewed!  (Here's a convenient link to see an alphabetical listing of my reviews.)  Simply select the game(s) that you want a chance to win, and +1 the corresponding review.  *Poof!*  You're entered to win that game.  So, obviously, if you +1 a lot of my reviews, then you have a much better chance of winning, but you are also less likely to win the specific game that you want.

But, but, but... does that mean you are giving away a copy of every game that you have reviewed???  No!  If I did that, then I would go broke!  Instead, I will go through and select one of the games that received the most +1's, and that will be the one that I will give away - after all, that will be one of the games that you guys are most interested in!  (I'm not guaranteeing that it will be the top one - I want some randomness in there to encourage you to enter to win your favorite option, and not just the game you think will get the most +1's.)  From there, I will randomly select one of the people that +1'ed that game, and they will be the winner!

Oh, and since I haven't told you yet, entries will be open for 3 weeks.  So, I will announce a winner sometime on October 25!

So, here's the rundown:
What is being given away?  One of the games that gets the most +1 votes
How do I enter?  Simply follow me on Google Plus, and +1 the game(s) you're interested in by selecting the link at the top of the corresponding review
When is it over?  October 25
Do I have to live in the US?  Nope!  I will, however, be ordering the winner the corresponding game from an online vendor, so if you are not in the US, I might need your help in determining how to get you a copy of the game.

Now.... get to +1'ing your favorite games!!

Galaxy Trucker Review

Galaxy Trucker board game in play

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!

USS Enterprise board in Galaxy Trucker game
The USS Enterprise getting ready to launch
The first pro for Galaxy Trucker is that it is the only game that I can think of that is really fun to be terrible at.  Most games grow increasingly frustrating if you feel like you're not doing well.  However, in Galaxy Trucker, if you're not doing well, it can be really amusing!  One of my fondest memories of playing the game is when we were playing on the USS Enterprise board (one of the options for the third round), and a player's ship got blown in half!  Yes, that's right - there is a (potential) weak spot on the Enterprise that consist of a single tile.  That tile was destroyed, and suddenly the back of the ship was no longer connected to the front of it!  This is definitely an extreme example, but there is something fun about watching your poorly constructed game fly out to its impending doom.

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. 

Cards from Galaxy Trucker game
Bad things happen in space...
My final pro for Galaxy Trucker is that it has a completely different feel than anything else that I have played.  I have played a few real-time games where everyone plays at the same time.  I've also played games where you pick up and deliver goods.  However, the total package of real time, with a goofy space theme, and building ships from a junk yard gives Galaxy Trucker a very distinct flavor.  I really appreciate that it stands apart from all of the other games that I would try to compare it with.

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.