Home Game Reviews USPS: The Great American Mail Race Review

USPS: The Great American Mail Race Review

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Board Game Review by::
Andrew Smith
Price:
$30

Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On Apr 18, 2023
Last modified:Apr 18, 2023

Summary:

We review USPS: The Great American Mail Race, a pick up and deliver game published by Big Potato Games. In The Great American Mail Race, players are racing around the country trying to deliver the mail.

The Great American Mail RaceAs far as strategy board game mechanisms go, pick-up and deliver is among the most common. Right up there with worker placement. And if you are going to make a game about picking stuff up and taking it somewhere, the United States Postal Service seems like a good partner to have.

And that’s The Great American Mail Race. Players will pick up mail and move it about the strangely named cities on the board in an attempt to deliver the most stuff and score a bunch of points.

Gameplay Overview:

The rules are about as simple as it gets. You’ll pick a mail truck to start with, matching one of the colors of the regions on the board, and start in that region. Each region has a depot that starts with a cube just waiting to be delivered. And there is also a deck of destinations for each of the four regions which will have one card face-up at all times, basically, the place that cube wants to go.

The Great American Mail Race Letters
You’ll have to deliver to the cities shown on the destination cards.

You start the game with a hand of transport cards and on each turn you get three actions. You can play a transport card to move the number of spaces indicated (and along the type of routes that card allows). If you end a movement action on a mail cube you’ll put it in your truck. And, unsurprisingly, if you end your movement in the matching destination, you deliver that cube.

Here’s the best part… then you get to use the included stamp to mark the delivery on your score sheet. There are different stamps to collect for the different types of mail: letters, parcels, and postcards. You can also get bonus points for delivering mail from your starting region, parcels marked as fragile, and from picking up and delivering the cube in the same turn.

And the worst part… if you land your movement with another truck you can steal a cube they have. “Assisting with the delivery,” according to the rules. Not sure that would hold up in court, you mail thief…

The game ends after the transport deck runs out. The mail carrier with the most points is the best mail carrier.

The Great American Mail Race Gameplay
Mail delivery is pretty easy, just pick up a cube and take it to the correct colored mailbox.

Game Experience:

So let’s start with the good. The stamp is fun. It’s a good, family-weight game. Easy to learn and the theme of delivering mail will likely be familiar to most everyone. Movement cards don’t always make a ton of sense thematically as you get more powerful cards as the game progresses, but it’s not a big concern.

The Great American Mail Race Stamp
You get to stamp your score pad each time you make a delivery.

And with three players, I’ve mostly enjoyed The Great American Mail Race. Someone stealing your package is still pretty dumb. It makes the game feel longer and a bit repetitive.

With four players, the game is pretty tight and there aren’t enough cubes to go around. You can hold two in your truck at any given time so players will find themselves doing a lot of “assisting.” Such direct conflict in a family-weight game with a light theme seems exceptionally out of place.

The Great American Mail Race Cards
Movement cards determine how many spaces you can move and which routes you can travel on.

With two players, it’s just unplayable in its current form. There is nothing that scales in the rules as is… so you will play through the entire deck of cards the same way a four-player game would. And your score sheet only has room for four stamps of each type of parcel. Both players will almost entirely fill their sheet before the game is over, likely with some turns to go.

There is a proposed “fix” on BGG that just changes which cards are in the deck based on player count. It’s an obvious fix and an easy one to make. But really calls into question if anyone bothered playing with two players prior to printing this.

Final Thoughts:

It’s hard to recommend The Great American Mail Race. It’s best at 3 when the stealing is less frequent and the game still works. But there is still conflict and some folks might be ok with that… heck, generally I like some direct player interaction… but it just feels so out of place here. And other player counts are meaner or unplayable.

If you don’t mind house ruling and using the proposed changes for two players and being a mail person is super appealing to you as a theme, sure, go ahead.

Final Score: 2 Stars – A fine straightforward light strategy game…that is ruined by scaling issues and mean interactions.

2 StarsHits:
• Easy to learn and play.
• Simple mechanics and occasionally fun.

Misses:
• Stealing packages feels out of place and drags the game out.
• No scaling based on player count makes two-player game not work at all.

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