Board Game App Review: Galaxy Trucker – Alien Technologies | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Board Game App Review: Galaxy Trucker – Alien Technologies

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We’ve reviewed the Galaxy Trucker App in the past. Now we take a look at the Alien Technologies in-app expansion. Short version – it’s fantastic. New modules, clever story mode, great multiplayer, and an interface that is both effective and strongly reminiscent of the physical game. With its success, it was only a matter of time before an in-app expansion arrived. And that time is now.

Alien Technologies is sort of a hybrid expansion. It adds in many items from the Big Expansion to the base game. This includes cyan aliens, lasers that point in different directions, and indestructible plating. These items are especially great in multi-player.  Like the board game, the new components provide unique choices and strategies.

But the app isn’t just about porting over the cardboard components to the digital platform. It also includes new single player scenarios. While it certainly takes its cues from the original game, it goes in a slightly different direction. Rather than having missions with simple win/lose conditions, each mission now comes in three progressions of difficulty. Beat the easy version first, and then you can move on to hard or extra hard.

Organic Ship. On Advanced. Serious Business.

Organic Ship. On Advanced. Serious Business.

Most of the missions are very doable on easy. On my play through, I beat most of them on my first shot and a few gave me any trouble. Once you start upping the difficulty, though, and playing them on the more advanced levels, they become much more challenging. And, since the game is typically won or lost during ship construction, it makes that real time event all the more tense.

Like the original app, Alien Technologies also includes some concepts that are not present in the physical game. Among the new additions, and my personal favorite, is the organic ship. The organic ship grows to accommodate your components in any direction – but it will only grow so far.

From a mechanical perspective, you basically have a blank canvass on which to create your ship. You can have weird holes, flaring rockets, or a large face-plate of lasers. The organic ship restricts you to small number of total components. This makes the build more challenging. When you have an outline, you can sort of see where engines should go, and where lasers need to be placed. But with the organic ship, that free form build makes it much easier to make a mistake and place something in what turns out to be a bad spot.

While building is mostly real-time, a few missions make use of the turn based system

While building is mostly real-time, a few missions make use of the turn based system

From a useability and interface standard, it relies on the same fantastic system from the base game for most of the play. However, as you go to each of the new missions, you can pull it up and it will show you the unique components, the size of the ship, and allow you to choose the difficulty level. This helps you jump right in and refreshes your memory of what a mission is all about if the little character doesn’t remind you.

But what really sets the new missions apart from the old ones are the objectives. In the base app, you would be told that you had to transport explosives. And, when it came time to build your ship, there it was already in place. In the expansion, it’s up to you to find explosives and add them to your ship. Like the Galaxy Trucker Missions expansion to the physical game, the special tiles have a different colored back which makes them easier to locate.

To win a mission, you also need to meet all objectives

To win a mission, you also need to meet all objectives

So, you can come in first place all you want, but if you don’t deliver the requested cargo, or finish within the particular requirements of the mission, you won’t pass. And sometimes that can be challenging. One mission, for example, wants you to finish with an alien of each kind. It’s surprisingly difficult to make room for three aliens (each with their own life support system) on your ship and still have enough extra stuff to avoid getting shot by pirates or destroyed by asteroids. After all, a slaver or an asteroid can knock off your alien’s cabin, and then you didn’t meet the objective.

My one complaint is that the single player missions are sort of segregated off from the base game campaign. So instead of flying to all the same planets and interacting with the new missions within that existing framework, you are sent to a separate area where the missions come in linear fashion.  A minor complaint, but worth noting.

A junkyard stop

A junkyard stop

Alien Technologies is a great addition to the base app. Galaxy Trucker is perhaps the best digital implementation of a board game. And the expansion continues that trend. It adds familiar items from the physical game, and all new challenges unique to the app. If you have the base game app (and why wouldn’t you?), then it’s time to grab some cyan aliens and expand your experience.

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