Ok, is everybody up to speed? Let’s get back on the space highway.
Back On The Road
Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion is the second large box expansion to Galaxy Trucker. It’s not just a clever name, you see. It is comprised of several modules that can be mixed and matched in with each other, or with the modules found in the first Big Expansion. So, what will you find in the box?
Well, aliens and bomb-happy commandos. Basically, a big new mechanic for this expansion is intruders. They will come on your ship and either eat everything of value, including your precious crew. Or they will set some bomb charges and start making holes in your ship. These intruders take the form of event cards that can be shuffled into your flight decks. Luckily, you will also get some new tools to deal with these threats.
These fiends can slip straight past your normal blaster cannons, so you will have to deploy automated defence turrets. If one of these beasties happens to find their way to a defence turret tile, they will be taken care of swiftly and you will nab a nice little reward to top it off. You can also add armouries to your ship. Crew that are in a tile connected to an armoury are now armed and indeed dangerous.
These armed crew can also take care of any intruders that are unlucky enough to find themselves on your ship. There are also cards related to invaders that you can add to the rough roads and evil machinations decks found in the first Big Expansion.
There are other noteworthy new components in the box too. Solar panels that allow you to power adjacent components for free. Crubots allow you to temporarily boost your crew size in exchange for a battery. Lastly the thrusters that allow you to manoeuvre your ship. A large part of Galaxy Trucker is that various projectiles and other bad things will approach your ship on a given column or row number. This number is dictated by rolling two dice.
Thrusters allow you to shift these approaching obstacles by one row or column. This can be huge, as any experienced trucker will tell you. They cost a battery to operate so you may find you have to use them sparingly depending on how well equipped your ship is. But if you get the chance, I would definitely recommend bolting a set of thrusters to your ship.
In a class of their own
Next up we’ve got the new ship classes. There is a new cylinder-shaped class II ship that wraps around on the edges. It’s quite an interesting concept and is probably one of the trickiest ships to build well in the game. There are also some interesting rules to do with how this design deals with collisions with approaching threats.
I won’t go into it here in any detail as it is a little more complex than I think I could describe well without a whiteboard and a laser pointer. Suffice it to say, it makes it a lot harder to design a ship that can deal with a lot of collisions. There is a larger class III design that will have you rolling dice to determine which spaces you are not allowed to build on. The overall ship stays the same, but it is a little different every time you play with this model.
The last layouts are the giant class IV ships. This is a whole new class of ships which adds a whole new round to the game. These class IV ships are huge. You flip over both the new class II and class III ship boards and combine them to make one huge ship. These class IV sides all have slightly different layouts, meaning there are 25 unique designs to be tried. An interesting wrinkle arises regarding ship insurance with these ships though.
As a brief aside, this is how ship insurance works in galaxy trucker. Players can pay a small amount in order to limit the total cost they pay for lost and destroyed components. This is generally the same for all players, but with these two-part boards the insurance cost is on one board and the maximum cost is on the other. This means that certain combinations can lead to a better deal than others. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but it can sometimes feel a little unfair if your opponent has a much better deal that you do.
These class IV ships also have a whole heap of event cards to make up their own deck. These are generally meaner versions of the cards found in the base game and first expansion, but you can handle that, right? Your ship is huge now, I’m sure you can. It’ll be fine.
I get by with a little help from my friends
Lastly, we have the support team. I think this may be my favourite thing added by the two big expansions. I love a bit of asymmetrical powers in a board game and here is where they come into Galaxy Trucker. The support team take the form of a small deck of cards. These cards have unique powers that allow you to bend the rules of the game a little, or sometimes a lot. Each card has a charmingly illustrated member of staff that you can add to your trucking corporation. Each card has two powers. The first power can be used straight away after you acquire your new lackey.
The second power can only be used on that support crew member's second flight. Generally, each player will receive three potential support team members at the end of the first flight. They get to choose one and discard the rest. At the end of the second flight they get dealt another two choices and pick another one. This means that, in a standard three round game, you won’t get to use all of the abilities of your new crew members, so pick carefully. Or you could just play a longer game. Some of these abilities work really well with each other, so picking a good crew can make the difference when collecting your pay cheque.
As an alternative you can also select your crew in a first come first served fashion. You deal out one more crew card than there are players, and everybody gets to choose one in the order that they finished the last round. This is great for playing with experienced players. It really makes you consider whether you want to join in on event card actions. You could drop too far down the running order and end up with a less than ideal crew. It’s another small decision that can be added to the game which keeps the, admittedly weaker, second half of the game engaging.
Wrap it up, ship it out
And that is it. That is everything that is found in this expansion. As I mentioned in my look at the first Big Expansion, this is my favourite of the two. I really like the new massive ships. The intruders are a real threat to your ship, but you can handle them and there are some big rewards there if you do. The support team cards are fantastic and are definitely the best module in this expansion. If I am playing with somebody who knows how to play Galaxy Trucker, I am going to add them in. Because they aren’t in the first round of the game, I may add them in with complete newbies too if the first flight went well for them.
The new ship components are probably the weakest module to this expansion. Outside of the new bits related to intruders, there isn’t really much here. As I mentioned, the thrusters are very good. The crubots and solar panels are pretty good, but everything else is a little bit average. There are some combination pieces which are just combinations of components seen elsewhere. There is also the router module which means all modules connected to it are considered adjacent. This can be really useful, but I’ve found it to be incredibly niche.
Because of this, if you like Galaxy Trucker for the components, I’d say get the other Big Expansion first. But if you want more variety of events and more interaction during the second half of the game, this is the expansion for you. The new ships designs are more interesting in this expansion and the new massive class IV ships is a brilliant addition. Adding the support crew to this makes this a no brainer in my eyes. If you like Galaxy Trucker and all of the unpredictability it can bring, you really should be picking this expansion up.