Expansion Buzz – Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion

Last year, I was pretty excited that Vlaada Chvátil had four products coming out at Spiel.  In the end, only three of them made it – Dungeon Petz, Mage Knight, and Pictomania.  The fourth was delayed, and is now one of two big Vlaada expansions coming out this year.  The first, and probably this single thing I’m most excited about from all of Spiel 2012:

image by BGG user karel_danek

Another Big Expansion is the second expansion for Galaxy Trucker, Vlaada Chvátil’s 2007 game of space mayhem.  Czech Games Edition is the puclisher, and Rio Grande puts the games out domestically.  Galaxy Trucker was the first game for CGE, which has really established themselves as a force in the gaming world and is celebrating by releasing a 5th anniversary edition of GT, including the base game and all expansions.

Galaxy Trucker is a game for 2-4 players aged 10 and up.  It is played over three rounds, with each round having two distinct phases.  In the first phase, you’ll be digging through a ton of ship components, trying to build a ship that will a) survive the treacherous journey through space, and b) will make you lots of money.  Components include cabins to hold your crew; life support for aliens; cargo holds to carry goods; engines to get your through space faster; guns to shoot asteroids and fight bad guys; shields to give you some protection; batteries to power double cannons, double engines, and shields; and structural components that hold your ship together.

The second phase of a round is the actual journey.  You’ll be flipping cards and encountering whatever is there.  You could find open space; you could find a planet with goods to pick up; you could find an abandoned ship or space station and pick up some extra cash; you could run into pirates, smugglers, or other bad people; you could encounter sabotage or an epidemic on your ship; you could hit an asteroid field; or you could find yourself in a combat zone.

Whatever is left of your ship at the end of the second phase makes money.  After three rounds, anyone with money is declared to be the winner (though the person with the most is a little bit more of a winner).

The Big Expansion, which came out in 2008, added new ship components (stasis chambers, bi-directional cannons, cannon engines, mixed cargo holds, battery holds, shield boosters, cannon boosters, engine boosters, reactor furnaces, indestructible plating, and life support for a new alien class).  There were also components and rules for a fifth player; new ship classes; Evil Machinations and Rough Roads cards to make life even more difficult; and some new bonus adventure cards for the standard set.

And now we have Another Big Expansion.  This one comes with new technology, new ship classes, new adventure cards, intruders, and a support team.  Let’s dive in and take a look.

NEW TECHNOLOGY

As with the previous expansion, you get 42 new component tiles (and no, that number is not a coincidence).  I think this brings the total from the three sets up to 228, and you’ll have to remove some before play if you have fewer than the maximum number of 5 players.  This expansion’s new components are:

  • Solar Panels – One of the biggest issues with building a ship is that you run through your batteries quickly.  Solar panels can be used in place of batteries, but can only be used once per adventure card and must be connected to the component they are powering.
  • Thrusters – Thrusters can be powered by a battery to nudge your ship to the side during an attack.  This way, you can miss a shot entirely, or have it hit a less critical part.
  • Router Modules – Like structural modules, these mostly serve to hold your ship together in critical places.  However, they link the components they are connected to.  So, if a router module is between three cabins and a life support system, those are all connected and an alien can survive in each cabin.
  • Mixed Life Support Systems – These can connect to a cabin so you have a choice of the type of alien to house there.  You can still only keep one alien per cabin.
  • Crubot Stations – You can spend a battery to activate four crubots, which add to your crew strength for the current adventure card.  You can’t leave them on Abandoned Ships or lose them in combat, but you can use them to activate an Abandoned Station or to avoid negative effects in Combat Zones.  They can also be used against intruders (echoes of Space Alert, I think).
  • Auto-Defense Systems – These are primarily used against intruders, but each joined pair of ADS counts as +1 cannon strength.
  • Armory – If this is connected to a component that contains astronauts, they count twice when adding up crew strength.
  • Components with Indestructible Plating – Indestructible plating was introduced in the first expansion, and is exactly what it sounds like…the side that is plated is protected from everything.  These add components like cargo holds with plating on one side.

Of those, I think I’m most excited about the possibilities of the thrusters.  Everything else sounds useful – the router modules in particular look like they could introduce some great combos with parts that need to be connected – but I love the idea of being able to nudge your ship out of the way.  That’s a part I’d definitely look for when building my ship.

NEW SHIP CLASSES

I’m always dying to find out what new ship classes are coming in the expansion.  The original ships got bigger each time, but didn’t really change the game.  The new classes in The Big Expansion took things to the next level, with a ship that could point in any direction (but had essentially a 100% chance of getting hit) and a double ship.  Three new classes have been introduced in Another Big Expansion.

Class IIB – image by BGG user PaulGrogan
  • IIB – The most striking thing about IIB is that there is no edge.  You have a flattened out blueprint for the ship, but you have to imagine that it’s actually a cylinder.  This means that the sides are connected to each other and subject to the rules of connection.  Cannons pointing to the side still need an empty space in front of them.  When being attacked from the front, you’ll roll two dice and find the matching column result.  If you’re being attacked from the side, you’ll roll one die.  If it’s a 1 or 6, it’s a miss.  If not, you’ll then roll the other die – 1-3 means you’ll start the attack from the arrows on the left, and 4-6 means you’ll start from the arrows on the right.
  • Class IIIB – image by BGG user PaulGrogan

    IIIB – This ship is a little simpler to understand, though it will make your life much more difficult.  At the beginning of the round, you’ll roll the two dice.  The two numbers shown cannot be built on.  They are effectively blocked.

  • IV – This is a standard class ship with no special rules, it’s just big.  It takes up the back of the IIB and IIIB ships.  The big difference is the insurance.  You must pay for insurance, and then there’s a maximum copay for losing parts.  If you don’t pay for the insurance, you have to pay for every part you lose.

These are going to make life SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT.  I love ’em.  The cylindrical ship, in particular, is brilliant.  The class IIB ship, with holes preprogrammed in, is completely evil.  And the class IV ship is going to be fun, simply because of…

NEW ADVENTURE CARDS

Decks I, II, and III all get four new cards – 3 intruders, and one Hazardous Sector.  The HS adds two cards from the next level deck to the current deck of adventure cards.  This is going to make life complicated, particularly if one of the two cards is another Hazardous Sector.  This makes it possible, though probably unlikely, that you’ll get two level IV cards in the first flight.

Level IV cards – image by BGG user PaulGrogan

And there’s a level IV deck!  With a new class of ship comes new cards.  These take old adventure cards and twists them a bit.

  • Eviler Enemies –  Smugglers and slavers now shoot at you rather than just steal your goods and crew.  Pirates are apparently worse, but I haven’t seen an example and the rules are being kind of cagey.
  • Meteor Pairs – It’s what it sounds like.  Meteors come in pairs.  A large one followed by a small on in the same row or column.  So the big one will take something out if not dealt with, and the small one will hit your newly exposed connectors.  Wonderful.
  • Not Quite Abandoned Vessels – Whoever decides to use the abandoned ship or station gets shot at first.
  • Developed Planets – Here, you can pick up goods AND crew.
  • Mostly Open Space – It’s just like regular open space, with one exception.  The player who uses the most engine strength gets his own personal meteor swarm.
  • Radiation Leak – First, you lose a crew member from any component connected to a battery component.  Then you look for any contiguous cluster of battery components, and if there are four or more batteries, you lose ’em.

All I have to say is YIKES.  But then, we have the dreaded…

INTRUDERS

These boogers come flying at your ship like an asteroid or a cannon shot.  You roll for the column or row.  If they miss, fine.  If not, but they encounter a defended component (with auto-defense or an armed crewman), they turn and run.  In any other case, they invade your ship.  The card will tell you how far they can move and their general direction.  If moving clockwise, you’ll use the left hand rule.  The intruder will keep their left hand on the wall at all times and move accordingly.  If you’re moving counterclockwise, you’ll use the right hand rule.  The intruder will keep moving until it reaches the number of steps specified on the card, or until it encounters an ADS or an armed crewman.  There are several types of intruder cards:

  • Predators – The Predator will eat everything in its path, including goods, humans, aliens, and battery tokens.  If you defeat it, you’ll get a cash reward.  If not, it flies away with a full belly.
  • Commandos – The Commando will plant charges in their path.  The card will indicate a number of steps, and may indicate more steps.  After all charges are placed, the components with charges blow up.  If it encounters an ADS or an armed crewman after placing charges, the charges already placed still blow up.  Defeating a commando gets you a reward in goods.
  • Double Intruders – Two for the price of one, both moving in opposite directions.
  • Predator Commando – The Commando is taking his Predator on a walk through your ship.  The Predator eats, the Commando drops charages.

Pure evilness.  Fortunately, we have…

SUPPORT TEAM

You don’t get a support team in the first round, but you’ll be dealt three and can choose one in the second round.  You can use its A ability.  In the third round, you’ll be dealt two more support team members and you can choose one.  You can use the A ability of this one, but you can use the A or B ability of your previous ST.  If you’re playing a fourth round, you’ll be dealt one more ST, which you can use for its A and use the A or B of the other two.  I’m not going through them all, but there’s an Advertiser, an Architect, an Assembler, a Bureaucrat, a Buyer, a Deliveryman, a Hotel Clerk, a Hypergeometer, an Inspector, a Plumber, a Planner, a Saboteur, a Security Guard, a Smuggler, a Stock Boy, a Swindler, a Trader, and a Welder.  These are FINALLY something that will help you out, and significantly.

I’m very excited about this expansion.  As it is, I still haven’t played with The Big Expansion, but I’m inspired now to get it out.  I think I’m most interested in the new ships, but the new Adventure cards sound promising and the Intruders are going to throw a big ole monkey wrench in people’s plans.  The new components sound interesting, but it doesn’t hold quite as much interest for me (other than the thrusters).  I don’t think this expansion is going to solve anyone’s problem with the chaotic nature of the game – I think fans of the game will love it, and the haters won’t even try it.  So, in that, I think it accomplishes its mission.  Looking forward to it…thanks for reading!

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