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Galaxy Trucker

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Board Game (2007). Czech Games Edition. Designed by Vlaada Chvátil.

Galaxy Trucker is a board game in which players take on the role of space captains who must assemble and pilot a Spaceship built from tiles depicting various spaceship spare parts, and subsequently navigate a circular route around a board, undertaking various quests and challenges as determined by a series of cards. The game depends on the player creating a robust spaceship in order to survive relatively intact, and to equip it with enough other elements to successfully collect cargo (for example by sending crew members to pillage abandoned Space Stations), earn money honestly or otherwise (by hoarding contraband items) and fight off enemy craft (see Space Flight) while avoiding such hazards as Asteroids. Players usually have to choose a combination of these elements, and may find it impossible to achieve all of them at once.

Galaxy Trucker emerged at a time when board games were experimenting with different strategies and moving away from the "European" style of games (Eurogames), which focus on resource management, detailed planning and accumulating assets. An early forerunner to the game is the management simulation Cosmic Encounter (1977). Galaxy Trucker contains some of these elements, but it also bears similarity to Roguelike Videogames, in which the player must first equip their character (in this case, ship) and then survive for as long as possible.

Galaxy Trucker is protean in form because the building stage is so markedly different from the rest of the game. Although piloting the ship through various travails and challenges is an interesting element of the game, it is the building stage that is most innovative. Here, players must quickly put their ship together by taking tiles from a pile in the centre of the table, using only one hand. Variants of the game make this activity a timed one, so players find themselves scrabbling for the best resources and having to make their ships piecemeal. Although a ship will always fly, there is no guarantee that it will arrive at its destination intact, or be able to carry out any of the challenges set during the rest of the game. Part of the joy of Galaxy Trucker is therefore realizing that your craft is not only untenable, but watching in dismay as a simple action like being hit by an Asteroid causes huge sections of the ship to drift away into space. The "build your own spaceship" concept is easy to grasp, meaning that Galaxy Trucker is also a good entry-level game for new board game players, and seguing into the rest of the game, which is more traditionally oriented toward moving around the board and choosing which assets to deploy. The manual encourages this, being written in a familiar style that suggests that the player is a rather inept, potentially (morally) bankrupt captain on the cusp of either regaining their fortune or disappearing into ignominy. Overall, this lends the game a light-hearted tone – a quality often rather lacking from many of the more "serious" Eurogames.

There are two expansions for Galaxy Trucker: The Big Expansion (2008) and Another Big Expansion (2012), both of which add new pieces and gameplay elements. The game was converted into an IoS app in 2015. [EMS]

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