I have a confession to make. I am the one who most often drives us from point A to point B. I also hate to be late and this means I’d rather be early then on time. Because of this, I tend to sometimes drive a little faster then I should… Since Tomasz hates this, he has gotten me the perfect game to prevent me from speeding in real life. In Steampunk rally, your goal is to cross the finish line as fast as you can with as much distance as you can. You do this with an invention you have build and modified yourself. Just make sure you maintain your invention well so you don’t explode. Easy, right?
How to play
For the setup you get to choose which racetrack you want to use. Pick a side of the tiles, place the starting tile and tree random (or chosen) middle tiles and place the finish line at the end. You can choose the layout of your own track. Place all dice and cogs nearby and create four separate decks of the three machine parts and boost cards. If you want to play with challenges, place no more then three challenges on the race track on spaces that don’t already have a challenge. Then each player chooses an inventor and takes the inventor cockpit, machine part and matching inventor pawn. Place the pawns on the starting places and construct your invention so that both cards align with each other. Lastly take a light bulb with the on side facing up and a damage gauge starting with zero.
You start your turn with the draft phase. Each player takes one card from all four decks. Choose one of these cards and place it face down in front of you. There are two kinds of cards, boost cards and machine part cards. Cards with a black border are boost cards which can be played later to gain the benefits or effects on the cards. Machine parts can be added to your invention. Once every player has chosen their card, reveal it simultaneously and choose what to do with your card. You can discard it and gain the dices displayed on the card or the cogs displayed. You can stash boost cards under your damage gauge to have for later use, or you can add machine parts to your machine. To add the next part, simply connect the half valve on your card with an existing half valve on your invention. Machine cards cannot be rotated and need to be placed in a way that the name is always in the upper left corner. Once all players have fulfilled their choice, pass the remaining cards to the player in the direction of the direction play token, then repeat this process until there are no cards left to pass on.
After the draft phase, comes the vent phase. Here you may pay cogs to reduce the value of your dice by two, or two dice by one. This is important since dice will not disappear on their own. Once played, you have to reduce the value of the dices until they are gone so you can use the same spot again. Some boost cards are also specifically played during the vent phase as stated on the cards. Next is the race phase. All the dices you have collected in previous phases, will be important now. At the start of this phase, roll all the dice you have collected as well as any stored dice. You can always discard a cog to re-roll a die or to increase the value of a die by one. Most machine parts have die slots with a color type of die shown. If you have dices in matching colors, you can place them in the dice slots of those machine parts in order to activate them. Most machine parts show a number value the dice must have in order to be placed, others are a one time use that can be activated with any value on a die. Those machine parts can be recognized by a star icon. Lastly you can use your lightbulb to activate machine parts that have a lightbulb icon. Once you flip your lightbulb, you have to activate all machine parts with a lightbulb. As long as you have dices and spaces for the dices, you can activate one machine at a time in any order. Machine activations can make you gain dices or discard them from machines, let you gain defense or cogs, or let’s you move your invention forward.
Some machine parts or parts of the race track, might cause you to have damage. If you receive damage, update your damage gauge. At the end of the race phase, check your damage. If your damage is lower then zero, you have to discard a number of machine parts equal to the number on your damage gauge. Then reset your damage gauge to zero. If you discard machine parts, also discard any remaining dice on those parts.
If you have no machine parts left other then your cockpit, you explode. Move your pawn behind the last player (or one space backwards if you are already last), then reset your damage gauge to zero. After the damage phase, a new round starts. Flip your lightbulb back to the on side, return any unused die to the supply or place them in storage die slots, then flip the direction die to the other side.
When a player crosses the finish line, one last round will be played. The player who is the furthest on the racing track, wins the game.
Playthrough of the game
As always I went through the rulebook and then explained the rules to Tomasz. Then we started racing. My game seemed to go terrible while Tomasz his invention was just so fast. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. That’s when I noticed he was playing the entire game wrong by taking dices out when he needed it… Unfortunately he did not hear the part of me explaining where you have to pay with cogs to get them down in value or to find another way to ‘legally’ discard them. Needless to say, this had left some trust issues resulting in me looking over his shoulder in every move he made in our second game. I’m very lucky to have such a patient boyfriend who doesn’t mind to have a girlfriend that likes to win. Once we were on the same page again, our second game went much better and our inventions were kind of moving at the same speed. We learned throughout the game what machine part combos worked the best for our inventions and what machine parts were better to move on. In the end, I had my win with only one space further then Tomasz.
With many different characters to choose from, machine parts to combine and racetracks to make, we noticed that not only is every game different, but you can also make the racetrack as hard as you want to. The track in the mountains has less dangers on the track then the steampunk tracks for example, but the shape and tiles you choose also make a difference. The characters also all have a different ability and different dices for those ability. This will make you want to collect different kind of dices for your invention in every game. We really like the system of the dice placement (even Tomasz after his learning curve) and the ability to play almost the entire game simultaneously. There is not really a downtime for other players because of this. Once you have played a couple of rounds, the game is also very easy. But it might take a couple of games to master. You can make the biggest inventions to have maximum space for dices or make crazy combinations in a small invention. We also love the art in this game and especially of the inventions with how the cards blend together.
Steampunk Rally is a strategic racing game with a steam punk theme. If you are the furthest over the finish line with your home made invention, you will win the game. With many characters, machine parts and different race tracks to choose from, no game will be the same. There is also almost no downtime since most phases of this game can be played simultaneously. Even though the game is easy to learn after a couple of rounds, there is some depth to be mastered after a couple of games. All together we love the look of this game, the flow of the game and the replayability.