Reviewed by: Al Newman
(Czech Games Edition, 1-4 players, ages 8 to adult, about 30 minutes; $4.99)
They say in space, no one can hear you scream. But they may hear you laugh. A lot. Particularly if you’re playing Czech Games brand new iPad app Galaxy Trucker ($4.99 for a limited time). This is a faithful representation of the board game with one wonderful exception which makes asynchronous (turn based) gaming possible. You can take your turn, go back to your business and, when it’s your turn again, your iPad notifies you. Perfect!
Galaxy Trucker was designed by Vlaada Chvatil and won critical acclaim when it first appeared as a board game in 2007 (and was reviewed in the Spring 2008 issue of Gamers Alliance Report). Chvatil has since designed other popular games and is widely recognized as one of the best designers in the business.
The game is done in a cartoony style and is very much tongue-in-cheek. Given the spaceships you build will eventually be torn asunder by Pirates, Meteors and other bad events, the humor is spot on. Vlaada’s humorous comments are heard throughout the game.
A solitaire Campaign mode versus the AI includes many missions to keep players interested for weeks. Whether playing real time vs. online opponents or turn based vs. friends, players will likely have loads of fun with the app for many months to come. As well, a pass and play mode is available, so players can sit around a table and play. Since there is no setup or break down, the game should play more quickly than the board game version, perhaps as few as 30 minutes for four experienced players.
So what, exactly, is Galaxy Trucker? You build a space ship from space parts left around and travel around the galaxy hoping to pick up and deliver cargo for a few cents. You got that right. A few cents. A good final score might be only ten cents! In the real time version, a readily accessible pile of space junk tiles are face down. All the players start turning them up, one by one, choosing which ones are suitable, building their ships tile by tile. A good ship needs cannons, cargo holds, cabins for crew, engines and even shields. Of course, you may not always get everything you need and, since all of the stuff has to be properly connected, your space ship may wind up looking a bit silly, horribly lopsided or just a pathetic conglomeration of space junk haphazardly put together. In the turn based mode, players use a set number of action points to build, of which three can be saved for the following turn if need be. When the first player completes his ship, he takes the appropriate marker which limits the remainder of time or turns available for the others. Then the fun really begins.
The adventure is comprised of 8 cards that are turned up one at a time. The problem is that they are not all friendly. In fact, a few are downright mean. Face a Meteor Swarm that comes at you in two different directions and you better be prepared. Shields help greatly. If Pirates attack and you can’t properly defend, they are going to make off with part or all of your precious cargo. Cannons are essential. There’s more, of course. We can’t go through them all, but Sabotage may await you or an Epidemic could sideline your crew. On the plus side, Abandoned Ships typically have booty and Planets always offer goods you can place in your cargo holds to deliver and sell when you reach your destination. The player who gets to the Planets first has the best choice so Engines are also important. And crew. And Cargo Holds.
It’s a big job and half the fun is building your space ship. Do not expect it to look pretty. The other half of the fun is watching your opponents’ ships as they are blasted apart, chunk by chunk. Of course, their fun is in watching the same happen to you.
Galaxy Trucker may turn out to be the game app of the year. It’s got everything, including drama when the next Adventure card is revealed. And there are many possible journeys since there are 12 different Adventure cards. If you’re thinking of getting the app, go for it now. The $4.99 price is an introductory price and we expect the price will go up soon.
Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.
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