Gaaaaaahhh! It finally arrived! My very own copy of Steampunk Rally. I was so excited about the concept of this game that I had to get in on the Kickstarter campaign. It’s been several months and numerous stretch goals later, and a box finally made it to my doorstep on Saturday. The Mrs. and I were so excited that we had to tear off the wrapping and give it a try. We brought it to one of the Friendly Local Game Shops (FLGS) nearby and played our first game.
The concept here is that each player is one of several famous, historic inventors, all battling to be the best. They argued and argued and couldn’t reach a conclusion. So to finally decide which inventor was the greatest, they decided to have a race through the Swiss Alps! (There’s also a second track, the Hoverdome, on the flip side of the tiles.)
Each player chooses an inventor, and takes the corresponding cards that represent their crazy racing contraption. There’s a cockpit and one machine part for each inventor, all of them being unique. The rule booklet also dishes out details on the achievements of each of these inventors, showing how they made their mark in history. The game supports anywhere from 2-8 players.
There are quite a few parts to the game, but don’t let it be intimidating. This game is pretty simple, once you get into playing it.
Each round consists of four phases: Draft, Vent, Race, and Damage. Each phase is completed simultaneously by all players.
During the Draft phase, each player takes a card from the top of each of the four draw piles (3 machine parts and a boost card). Each player chooses one card to keep, and all players reveal and use their chosen card simultaneously (so no one else knows what you’re doing when they choose their card). Each card can be placed into the machine, if it’s a part, stashed for later in your boost pile, or discarded to gain cogs or dice of a particular color, shown in the upper-right corner of each card.
The Vent phase allows players to reduce or remove dice that are already inserted in to their contraptions by discarding cogs. Each cog reduced a die value by 2 pips. Some Boost cards also specify they can only be played during this phase.
Then there’s the Race phase. The one to which everyone is looking forward. Players roll all dice in their dice pool and then place them in their contraptions to activate various components. They can be activated in any order, thus giving the players movement, even more dice (which get rolled and added to their dice pool immediately), reinforcement for their vehicle, or even damage points from various parts or terrain. This phase can become a bit convoluted as players attach more and more components to their contraptions. It can almost turn into a sort of Rube Goldberg machine, with one thing activating another, then another, and so on. Dice played stay in the contraptions until vented out, but provide no benefit after the round in which they’re played. So, players have to take the time to vent the contraptions to make room so they can activate parts again. (Or they can simply discard those items and add new parts later.)
Lastly, the damage phase requires players to give up machine parts if they’ve taken damage during the round. For each point below zero on their damage counter, players must discard a machine part that’s attached to their vehicle. Sometimes whizzing through several spaces on the track will incur several points of damage, so it can get pretty interesting seeing these inventions fly apart. If there aren’t enough pieces to discard, the invention explodes apart, tossing the inventor with only their cockpit back behind the player that’s in last place.
Overall, this game reminds me a bit of the cartoon Wacky Races. I love it! Crazy inventions, cobbled together from various parts, move players along the road. Sometimes they fly apart on their own! And sometimes they get sabotaged. It’s all just another day in the world of Steampunk Rally.
If you enjoy a combination of history, steampunk, luck, strategy, and just a touch of chaos, you’ll really love Steampunk Rally.