Galaxy Trucker 2021 Edition
There was a bit of news over the weekend that has a lot of cardboardhead-board-game-fans excited, and it’s not immediately obvious why.
Galaxy Trucker is getting relaunched this fall.
The fact that people are excited over a reprint doesn’t seem strange, but why is there hype around Galaxy Trucker? Recent hits like Wingspan, Root, Terraforming Mars, and other mega-names have created a lot of buzz, and people outside the board game hobby have taken note. But no one's been talking about Galaxy Trucker recently - why is reprinting it exciting?
Galaxy Trucker puts players in charge of a cargo ship, flying through the vast cosmos, picking up cargo to turn a profit. A cool twist is that players build their ships piece-by-piece out of ship tiles before each trip, to shape their strategy and anticipate new dangers. A fitting gameplay experience for a game named Galaxy Trucker. Sounds pretty standard, right? Building ships out of LEGO-like spare parts is fun, collecting those little wooden cubes is fun, and completing the journey and getting paid is fun. Seems like this is a nice, happy jaunt through the stars while your hard work builds your wealth, right?
Actually, it’s not at all.
The Cosmos Gives, and the Cosmos Takes Away
You see, space is dangerous. The empty void that seems like smooth sailing is actually filled with the most vicious breed of space rocks, eager to tear your lovely little ship apart. The planets that offer valuable cargo also hide monsters that see your crew as delicious fear-flavored hors d'oeuvres. Then there’s pirates lurking in the shadows that’ll steal your cargo and capture your crew.
This is why one of the best tools available to a galaxy trucker, in addition to a portable welder and a reliable vacsuit, is a strong sense of sardonic irony. In an uncaring, chaotic galaxy, you gotta have a sense of humor when the luck of the stars shine on you, only to take their favor away when you least expect it. Profit is the dream and the goal; but you gotta learn to appreciate it when all you can get is survival.
This is what makes Galaxy Trucker one of the most unique, and frankly, beloved hobby board games. It’s only superficially about galaxies or trucks, about building ships and turning profits. Galaxy Trucker is actually about irony. Many games are expressions of cleverness or adventure, but few are able to succinctly capture a feeling as complex as dark humor and satire.
Can you (quickly!) assemble a spaceship that will withstand the rigors of space and earn you a few credits from cargo?— BoardGameGeek (@BoardGameGeek) April 21, 2021
Publisher @czechgames is launching a new edition of Vlaada Chvátil's Galaxy Trucker in Q3 2021. Details on the game and what's new: https://t.co/hrpeptwdIx —WEM pic.twitter.com/8MTJOd5Ruv
Sprucing Up the Ol’ Spaceship
So, we see there is a certain charm that partly explains the hype around a new edition of Galaxy Trucker. But, why is the Game taking up one of the top 5 spots on Board Game Geek right now?
Galaxy Trucker was published back in 2007, with a healthy dose of art and graphic design left over from 1997. It won awards from Eastern Europe to the UK to the USA and even from Japan. Out of the hundred of thousands of games on BoardGameGeek, Galaxy Trucker is ranked a prestigious 197. It’s a foundation of the now prolific and esteemed publisher Czech Games Edition. While Galaxy Trucker hasn’t made the rounds amongst bloggers and YouTubers recently, it’s a hobby classic and a must-play.
So yeah, getting a facelift for this fan favorite really is exciting news. The publisher has released only a few pics and short description of the new version, but this is enough to get the hype train rolling. While the new Galaxy Trucker keeps the same cartoony (but subtly satirical) art style, it’s been updated and modernized, making the game easier on the eyes but still charming. There’s a few more details we can infer from the publishers teaser, as well:
While the old Galaxy Trucker art makes one nostalgic for 90s rave flyers, the art update is very welcome.
More ship tiles
The base Galaxy Trucker game included 7 or 8 different kinds of ship tiles used to build ships. Its two expansions introduced 12 new kinds of ship tiles. This bullet point probably refers to the fancier multidirectional weapon and engine tiles seen in the expansions - or it could be entirely new tiles never seen before. Shiny!
Tweaked card effects
This probably refers to the Adventure Cards in the original Galaxy Trucker. If there’s any complaint about them, it would be that being language-independent helped players forget small rules when resolving them. Streamlining the cards and their icons and language would be very nice.
Streamlined gameplay that consists of only a single flight through space
Originally, a game Galaxy Trucker spanned three rounds; each round is a new Adventure Card deck and new ship. This gave the game a nice beginning-middle-end narrative arc, but could take a while to complete as well. One long round instead of three short rounds would help tighten up the whole experience.
Three-flight campaign known as the "Transgalactic Trek"
An inclusion for long-time Galaxy Trucker fans, which would allow players to upgrade their ships between rounds. It’s not clear how this interacts with the “streamlined single flight” rules in the new edition, but there are plenty of dedicated players who wouldn’t mind a longer dose of galactic chaos.
Retrofitted and Relaunching Our Favorite Ship
Galaxy Trucker is a unique and accessible experience that longtime fans, modern board game fans, and even non-hobby fans can enjoy (as long as they don’t get too attached to the ships they create). It’s sardonic sense of humor isn’t found much else in tabletop gaming, and we can’t be more glad that Czech Games Edition is reintroducing a new generation of board game fans to this classic. Additionally, the classic was in much need of some improved art and game mechanics. We’re aboard the hype train for the new edition of the Galaxy Trucker and eager like much of the board game community.