2 to 8 Players
Type: Card Drafting, Dice Placement, Race, Competitive

How to prove you are the greatest inventor of the 19th Century? A race!

How to play / win
Draft cards to build a better invention, gain dice (Electrical, Steam, and Heat energy) or Cogs, or stash that Boost that might make all the difference to take the lead. Spend Cogs to Vent used dice or to improve your rolls. Spend dice to activate the machines parts that generate movement, repair your invention, remove used dice, or generate even more dice to activate even more parts! It’s isn’t just the first to cross the finish line but the furthest and as long as your famed inventor in the cockpit makes it, it still counts as a finish.

Take the short cut and risk more damage? Take the safer but longer route?

What I liked
This is another example of a game that makes more sense when played than reading the rules. Once we got going, it went quickly. Ideally, all players can do each game phase at the same time. As we were learning, we slowed it down to acting one player at a time to keep the chaos to a minimum.

I really liked that the rules included short biographies on each of the inventors, from the famed Nikola Tesla to the lesser known Margaret Knight. There are plenty of inventors with unique abilities and lots of different machine parts so there is a good variety for future replay.

Most games that depend on dice rolling can swing a fair bit but Steampunk Rally has mechanics that minimize the worst of it. Dice that roll low are easier to Vent and remove to make room for new dice. Dice that roll high can do more but are harder to clear. Cogs are easy enough to gain to modify your rolls to the results you need.

The game is very forgiving in invention construction, permitting reorganizing of the machine parts as needed and as long as it all fits, it works. If damage pushes your invention into the negatives, you lose that many parts before resetting to zero. Even if your invention loses the final piece, you aren’t out of the game, just bumped to last place and it isn’t difficult to rebuild with the card draft next turn.

Big numbers on the dice means you can activate a part multiple times, but you can’t use that space until you can remove the dice or use cogs to reduce the pips to 0

With this I took issue …
There are plenty of options, between the 4 card draft every turn, how to spend your dice to activate multiple parts, and what order to activate those parts. For some, this might easily lead to analysis paralysis and being overwhelmed. It can be easy to lose track of what you’ve done or planned until you work out ways to prep like placing rolled dice beside the part as a prompt.

If rolling big piles of dice isn’t your thing, then you might not like this game. Even with the Cogs to modify the dice, a couple of rounds of really good or really bad rolling will take their toll.

Other Games
Steampunk Rally Fusion – Same idea but with new event cards, Secret Projects, and Fusion energy.
Circus Maximus – The racing classic of the Roman Circus with much fewer dice.
Ben Hurt – The Cheap Ass Games answer to Circus Maximus, with racing and event cards like ‘A Well Aimed Cat’, ‘Orangutan’, and ‘Banana Slug’ to liven things up.
Formula 1 – Another racing game classic with multiple expansions for additional race tracks.

*Inspired by the excellent podcast, “Into the Meepleverse” and their discussion of gaming resolutions for the year, I decided to make some resolutions of my own including trying to play at least ten boardgames new to me for 2021.