In 2015 teams of inventors first donned goggles and took up their welding torches in card-drafting, dice-rolling race game, for 2 – 8 players, Steampunk Rally. Then Orin Bishop looked upon this complicated box of delights and cried “more!” And so, in early 2020 a Kickstarter launched for Steampunk Rally Fusion.

SRF takes all the gameplay of the original and adds new courses, new types of dice, new inventors, new vehicle parts, new boosts, event decks, crowd challenges, and a solo mode. Due to how I backed, this review covers Steampunk Rally Fusion – Atomic Edition, which neatly puts both versions of the game in the same box for an absolutely huge experience.

Initially the contents can be a little overwhelming. There’s gold silver and bronze parts, as well as boosts for both editions, a staggering number of inventors, and enough dice to square up to a copy of Chip Theory Games’ Too Many Bones (including the new fusion dice which are beautiful 2 colour d6 numbered 4-9). However, once you’ve got through your first few turns, it will all come clear.

The aim of the game is to race along a modular track and make it as far over the finish line as possible. Along the way you will be adding various parts to your vehicle to propel you onward, damage your opponents, or generate resources to help you do that other stuff.

Players start by picking an inventor and taking their associated starting vehicle part. They then arrange them so that valve symbols on each card are matched up. All parts that are attached to these wild machines must include an unbroken line of valves going back to the cockpit. Luckily you can rearrange these mechanical monstrosities on the fly (or roll, or hover).

Each round sees players draw a card from each of the three parts decks and one from the boost deck. They then take a card and pass their hand on to the next player. Bronze parts have valves one all four sides so are mostly about expansion; silver parts help you gain and multiply dice, as well as converting dice to different types; finally the gold parts are mostly about movement. It is a race after all.

When drafting cards, players can either attach them to their craft or sell them off to gain dice or cogs. Meanwhile boost cards can also be sold or kept secret, to be used later for benefits such as extra cogs or damage to opponents.

With the draft down players can get moving (there’s another phase but I’ll come back to that). Time to roll all those dice you’ve generated and start placing them around your vehicle to get moving, raise shields, or make attacks. Here cogs can be spent to either raise the value of a die by one or reroll it.

Most machine parts will give you some reward based on the value of the die or dice you add. For example, inserting blue dice with a total value of 15 into a part which grants one forward motion for every five points will grant you three movement.

Some things to consider though. There are some areas of terrain that will damage you if you’re unable to raise enough shielding or move smoothly. For each point of damage you fail to defend against during the race phase, you’ll have to remove a part of your machine. If your final part explodes, you’ll be sent to the space behind the player in last place and have to start your vehicle from scratch.

With the race phase over and damage done it’s time to wipe down your engine (ooh-er) and get ready for the next round. All unused dice are put back in the supply and damage counters are reset. However all spent dice stay in place. Sadly this means you’re going to have to find a way to clear them out if you want to use that part again. This is where the vent phase comes in.

Following the drafting phase, players can spend a cog to remove two pips of value from any die (or split the points across two dice). Once they reach 0 it can be removed and the slot can be freed up to use again.

Eventually someone will cross the finish line. However, this isn’t about who finished first, it’s who got furthest over. As such a final round is played out and whoever is furthest over the line at the end of that round is crowned the winner. Although it’s probably like golden goggles instead of an actual crown, because, you know, steampunk.

Well, that’s it, race over, nothing more to see.

But wait, there’s still more stuff in this dang box. Check out optional extras like secret projects. At any time during the race phase you can add a run of dice in any colour to add a point to your total for each die spent this way. There are powerful bonuses for activating your secret at 4, 8, or 12 points. However, you only get one shot, so if you use it early on with only 4 points, there will be no chance to get use of the full 12 point bonus.

There’s trap effects and a special effect deck for some spaces on the Machu Picchu track. On the Mars course there’s canals which require either two movement from the same vehicle part or one smooth movement, as well as tripod cards which affect all players on red track spaces. There’s a solo mode where you’re aiming for a high score to beat in future games. Lastly there’s challenges such as crowd pleasing spaces and various locales to trade cogs for dice and vice versa.

For a fairly standard sized board game box, Steampunk Rally Fusion – Atomic Edition packs a huge amount inside. That said, for the right price either edition on its own would be plenty to be getting on with.

The manual is clear in describing each phase of the game. However I did find it a little difficult to make decisions as to what I should be taking or selling on my first few drafts as fitting all the information from the manual into actual play proved difficult. That said. After playing a practice round, everyone found it clicked and we were able to start over with a proper understanding.

On the subject of learning, there is an official video on Roxley’s YouTube channel, however the over the top acting and voices made it quite difficult for me to follow. Your mileage may vary (especially if your vehicle explodes on the way).

Steampunk Rally Fusion – Atomic Edition is a really fun game with so much in the box that no two games will ever be the same. It’s fun to look at the ridiculousness of your creation laid out before you and the fact you’re never completely out means that there’s always a chance to make a comeback.

Pros:

  • The consistency of card art means all the parts flow together in really fun ways
  • Great fun
  • The fusion dice are so pretty

Cons:

  • Found some blemishes on a couple of the normal dice
  • Initial learning curve can be a little overwhelming
  • The vac tray takes up a lot of space that could have been better used as components can feel squeezed in after initial box setup.

Final Score: 7/10

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