It’s hard to believe that Vlaada Chvátil’s Galaxy Trucker first debuted back in 2007. Back then, real-time games weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now—especially in modern gaming. Yet this frantic game of tile grabbing, and shipbuilding has clearly stood the test of time. Since its launch, Galaxy Trucker has spawned a number of expansions and different print runs. Yet today, our hastily designed ship has been given a fresh coat of paint and a few tweaks under the hood. Once again titled only Galaxy Trucker, this 2021 version promises to be the best and most streamlined version of the game yet. Is it? Let’s find out!
In Galaxy Trucker, you and your fellow players will be competing for the most money as sci-fi long-haul truckers… in space. Galaxy Trucker is a game of two parts that will have you building your ship and then seeing how well it performs.
In phase one, players will be constructing their ships by hastily grabbing tiles from a literal pile of them in the center of the table. There are a variety of different components that you might choose: canons, cargo pods, crew modules, engines, batteries, and shields are all options. How you attach and which of each component you choose will depend on what strategy you are going for. Want to carry a lot of cargo? Fill up on pods. Want to fight off pirates, load up on guns. Unless you take the time to scout the decks, you won’t know what hazards lie in store for you.
Once everyone’s ship is finished (there are timers to flip once the first player has built theirs), it’s off to the races. Each round, a player draws a card from the deck and resolves it based on player order. There are a few different types of cards, but the common factor is that they all will all factor in what you have on your ship. You’ll need crew if you want to collect derelict space ships, engines to zoom ahead in open space, pods to store cargo from planets, canons to fight off pirates and large meteors, and shields to handle small ones. Those last few can be really nasty. Fail to have a canon in the right spot (or enough of them) and a meteor can rampage through your ship, turning all your had work into piles of scrap.
After the deck has been cycled through, any surviving ships arrive at the finish line and collect their payouts for cargo delivered. The player who earned the most money is the winner.
If you are one of the many current owners of Galaxy Trucker, you might be wondering what’s in this new version and if it’s worth the upgrade. To give you a quick idea as to what’s changed: the art is all new (and much improved), races have been shortened to just one lap instead of the build, race, build race… system. And also, this ship track is a bit shorter, allowing for more jockey for position between players.
Other than that, it’s mostly the Galaxy Trucker that you’ve come to know and love. Even after more than a decade, it’s still a great game. For me though, the star of the show has always been the first half of the game. Grabbing components and building ships is something all players can gravitate to. If you’ve ever built something out of legos, you know the feeling. And thanks to the plethora of ship tiles, there are a LOT of routes you can go with your ship.
Depending on the complexity level you are looking for, the game includes three different sizes of ships (now all together in one foldable board). So, if you want a sprawling mega ship instead of working on a small flyer, have at it. The hardest part about the building phase, at least for new players, will be remembering what all the tiles do and trying to figure out what they need. There are not only rules for attachments and how things work, but also which way things might need to face. It can be a lot for a first-time player to wrap their head around.
Yet that’s also one of the nice things about the new race format. It gives players a chance to do a quick learning game to get their feet wet. Galaxy Trucker is now a 20-30 minute game instead of a 60 minute one, which feels about right to me. But for new player, once you see a race in action, things should start to click more. But the best part of races is watching players’ ships get hit with a wrecking ball. Sure, grabbing cargo and killing pirates will earn you the most money. But seeing a meteor crash through the center of someone’s ship is just a ton of fun to watch.
If you are already an owner of all things Galaxy Trucker, you probably don’t need to splurge for this upgrade. You can play with the existing rules (for the most part) with your current game. Yet if you’ve long been curious about this title, the 2021 version is the perfect jumping in point for this real-time game. The art in Galaxy Trucker is vastly improved, the gameplay a bit more streamlined, and the mechanics solid as ever.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A classic real time game gets a few welcome rule tweaks and a fresh coat of paint.
• Ship building is still a ton of fun
• Great new art
• Streamlined game play makes it quicker to play
• Good variety in the box
• New players will still have a bit of a learning curve as to how things work