Every planet has a story. We only know birth and life of our Earth, but there are countless such histories in the universe. But while we breathe clean and clear air, elsewhere lungs are adapted to a much worse environment. Planet we are looking at looks gray and its atmosphere is full of steam and much more water. That does not prevent the beings from living in this world, they are similar to us, and they wanted nothing more than to get rich.
And there’s a new board game set on this planet that Heinz-Georg Thiemann has prepared for us and its called Planet Steam. It was first released in 2008 (we talk about second edition of 2013) and prepared it for us at Fantasy Flight Games. Czarna took care of the successful illustrations.
Both picture on the lid and name of the game suggest this is a steampunk game. And so we have no choice but to dip into that vapor and brown pale world with the opening of this large square box. Inside, players have a big game plan that only a real world map viewed from above only on its half. The second part of board is devoted to various scales and indicators. This part is called the terminal of raw materials and shows their prices. It is the players who prepare at the beginning of the game by marking the positions dyed in red. In the adjacent column for each source, players will mark the potential gain for that item.
Each player chooses their color and puts the tokens of the given color in front of them, basic vehicles, and according to the table (depending on the number of players) receives starting amount of credits as well as individual resources. Players place them straight onto their transports. They will also receive an overview card. It is only now that they place their claim tokens on the map of the world according to the prescribed layout. Remaining components will be placed next to the board: a set of specialist cards, building licenses and luxury suites, as well as tank miniatures (they’re in fact raw material factories), transformers, and all raw materials.
The whole match is again divided into turns as is customary. And each of the many then takes place in four phases. Everything will always start by expanding player’s business empire. They can get specialists’ cards and some pieces of raw materials. Characters will be auctioned as well as one zone selected by one of the participants. After that, players choose another zone they want to control, but they need dice roll to do so. If he rolls a low number, he must occupy another position.
Immediately afterwards, they will use locations with their tanks. This is the second phase, in which these facilities are used for water extraction with expanding converters provide raw materials. But first, he has to pay the activation price in the form of one unit of water. This qualifies player to buy a tank and converter, but also other improvements. The newly acquired container are payed for with water and credits and then player places it in one of his controlled areas. Later, these machines can be moved as well as the equipment between the tanks.
All tanks will be useful once the third phase begins. Its main and the only focus are the resources. Players get their raw materials first and then sell or buy them. Of course, trading must follow the scale, that determines price for the element. Purchase is limited by the supply (the second column), while any quantity can be sold away. At the end of this trade player will adjust the price accordingly.
Each round then ends with a specific phase, in which new tanks are made and only then moves the wheel pointer one box forwards. Once this token reaches the last field, players compare their wealth. They add up value of their ownership, controlled zones, tanks, luxury housing and, of course, credits themselves. The one who has the most money in his pocket is the winner.
Planet Steam is a completely functional business game. It guarantees fun to those who like to collect money, build an empire, and get more and more banknotes. And in all these things, it excels. That’s because it’s doing everything right and just like this kind of business game should work.
In the first place, we have the commodity market itself. Their prices change with every deal and the stocks are not endless. And yet, players can mine with their gear even the more difficult. And this is where the tanks and their improvements step in. These are really great and thanks to the good processing, everything is obvious at first glance.
There is also a very important phase in the game, that is all about the struggle for control of territories. Only in the controlled area that is labeled with the player’s token can tanks be located. But the game also involves very important transport cards. Players get weaker at first, but later they can also improve them.
Game emphasizes planning. And although it uses dice in extreme situations, most of the time coincidence does not play a crucial role. However, you can not say that you will not have any conflicts. There is many of them in the first part of each round, as players are fighting for territory and offer of cards in the auction.
The map changes with the number of players. This ensures that even in two you enjoy a comparable experience. And yet only in higher numbers, preferably in four, you will find the most interesting development and thrilling battle for each credit. On the contrary, in five, longer turns will appear and this cast a negative shadow on the gameplay and its length . But because the game is not easy at all and contains a lot of tiny details that we have overlooked here, it will definitely last for two or more hours and is not suitable for beginners.
If Planet Steam collects plus points somewhere, then it’s definitely in the processing section. Steampunk theme radiates from every bit of graphics and dark environments. The figurines, cards and tokens get the overall impression, and the game looks really amazing. Planet Steam is definitely not for everyone, but anyone who likes to be an economist, will really enjoy this game.
+ game is conflicting
+ small rules makes the game more interesting
+ fun in all counts
+ quality processing
+ finance is fun
- "just" an economic game
- longer game time
- five players make it slow