Steampunk Rally: A Review
Last night I had a few friends over for some board gaming. One such friend brought a new game he’d picked up through Kickstarter: Steampunk Rally. So, we decided to give it a spin (wakka, wakka).
In Steampunk Rally the players take on the role of historical inventers creating an insane driving device, trying to be the first to cross the finish line. Each turn players draw new cards, which they can use to add to their invention, or trade in for electricity, fire or steam to power the vehicle they already have.
As players add pieces to the inventions they become crazier and harder to manage, but offer greater advantages with respect to the race.
This game looks fantastic. Every piece of the vehicle has cool design and every “boost” card has a neat picture to go along with it.
While it might have about 8000 pieces (see Ugly below) nothing about this game feels cheap or low quality.
The version we were playing with even came with real metal gears, which was geek-out crazy cool.
First of all, any game where a player can explode and still participate is great in my books. The crazy steampunk feel of the game never breaks for a moment. We found ourselves laughing, staring in wonder and enjoying just about every minute of it.
With not a single person at the table having ever played before it only took a couple of turns for us to figure out the what-nots.
The rules are written very clearly and concisely. It really helps you jump into your first game quickly.
This is a double edged sword. Without the mechanics the way they are, some of the mood and feel of the game would be lost.
But, the mechanics are crazy and disorganized and especially during phases where every player is supposed to go simultaneously, they are kind of chaotic.
The crazy nature of these phases bothered me, as I really wanted to see what my fellow players were doing, and not knowing ruined some of the enjoyment of the game.
So as I stated earlier players have to power their inventions with one of the three power types. However, before an invention piece can be powered up each turn a player has to vent the energy dice they used to power their inventions in the previous turn. This is called venting.
Venting is super important to game play. It stops a player from just going balls-to-the-wall each and every turn, and cranks up the strategy level. And these are good things, except I actually found venting kind of a pain to understand and annoying to do each turn. To be clear, not the fact that I had to vent, but the way venting is done felt awkward and fiddly.
First of all, any dice you can’t vent just hang around your invention, taking up space that could be used to power it. I love that, but they are the same dice, leaving a player to remember which ones he placed this turn and which ones are the leftovers. Maybe a forth color of dice (black or white) to signify unvented power would help.
(Disclaimer: I played this game with four other people that had not played it before. If we were doing something wrong, please let me know.)
Second, each gear a player collects lets him remove 2 pips worth from his dice that require venting. This makes for even more fiddling around with gears and dice.
Now, no one at my table that night had a problem doing many, many, small, simple calculations in their head. Which is good, because the game requires lots of them each and every turn.
So while there were no problems when we played I could really see those who require a bit more time to do division in their head might get frustrated.
As stated earlier, this game comes with lots of pieces. Lots, mega lots. And it needs each and every type of them.
Each and every turn a player must muck about with a number of cards, gears, dice and their own token on the race track.
Again, I was mildly annoyed at the number of fiddly bits. However, I could really see some people really being bothered by it.
Now, after all the fiddling, and odd mechanics, the biggest question is: Did I have fun?
I sure did. In fact, I am pretty sure all five of us had fun.
Next question: Would I play it again?
In a hot minute.
So, in the end Steampunk Rally was a rousing success. I recommend playing it with at least one person that has played before, but I foremost recommend playing it.
Thanks for Reading,