Some games are so weird and unique that they defy genres and exist entirely unto themselves. Galaxy Trucker very much belongs in this category, an anarchic scramble to create something beautiful followed by watching your baby get smashed to pieces by space rocks. Somehow trying to turn a profit throughout this whole mess.
The first thing you will notice about Galaxy trucker is the ships, made up of dozens of different components, lasers, engines, crew modules, all connected by a confusing array of pipes and tubes. This is what makes all the ships in Galaxy Trucker unique. You are building in real time from a shared pool of modules so what you are able to grab each game will be random, especially so since these components are facedown. Then there is the problem of actually assembling your ship legally, you might box yourself out of half of your ship if you cant find a piece with the right connectors.
By the time you get to the end of the building stage the dust will settle and you get to see the ship you’ll be flying in the encounter stage. Somehow there might be a ship which is just a giant engine block with no guns or cargo storage, or you could stock up on batteries with literally nothing that needs power. Almost every ship will have a horrifying weak point , a module that if destroyed will lead to a while half of the ship falling away into space.
And there is every chance that key component will be knocked out by Galaxy Trucker’s vicious encounter deck. The aim of the game in Galaxy trucker is to acquire money, and some of the encounter cards will help you do this, letting you pick up cargo or sending surplus crew to explore abandoned ships. However, the other part of the encounter deck will try to take your hard earned cash away from you, if you don’t have enough guns enemies might steal your hard earned cargo, enslave you crew, or send a few angry laser blasts your way. And meteor storms are always ready to knock off some exposed parts of your ship, maybe that fully loaded cargo hold stuck out on a limb because you had nowhere else to put it. On top of the deep emotional pain you feel at your ship falling apart, your wallet will burn as you also have to pay for each component lost as part of your space insurance, the most brutal insurance of them all.
Galaxy trucker has an amazing feeling of escalation, moving from your dinky round 1 ships with mildly damaging encounters, up to the massive round 3 ships being buffeted by meteor swarms as huge swathes of them are cut off, never to be seen again, and your one crew module with just an engine limps across the finish line. This increasing intensity also helps with teaching the game, as the first round can be a quick way for new players to realise rules they’ve got wrong and strategies that don’t work.
The game also has some excellent expansion content, adding new encounter cards, new components and new ship layouts. The ship layouts in particular are good because they add extra challenge to the building stage if you think you’re getting too good at the game, while newer players play with the standard ships. Additional components are very much a double edged sword; as even though they add new abilities like improved shields or recharges for your batteries you have to find room for them, and connect them properly when even in the base game you were already struggling to get enough stuff into your ship.
Galaxy Trucker is the game I own that is most unlike any other, while it seems byzantine and has an ungodly amount of components, it plays quick and can be done in under an hour. I would say at least the base game is something you need to own, you won’t be disappointed.