Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Aureliano Buonfino, Lorenzo Silva, Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino

Cranio Creations

No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Italian publisher CRANIO CREATIONS is quite famous for their crazy game Dungeon Fighter, and up to now their games always had that certain something: new, interesting game mechanisms, a crazy story and funny graphics. So, it is no wonder that their fan community as well as their booth size at the SPIEL-convention had been growing over the last years. At the SIEL ’13 they released their newest game Steam Park, and in In this game the players take the roles of owners of Steam Parks at a fair for robots. Yes, exactly - not a fair for humans about robots, but really a fair for the robots. These robots are living in a merry town called Roboburg and there they are working so hard in the factories that - once a year like humans - they are in need of some amusement. As you can see on the cover of the gamebox they seem to be really looking forward to holidays at these Steam Parks, and equipped with last year’s wages the robots are ready to spend their money for the best attractions they can find. And it is this money which the players are longing for. So, each player builds up his own Steam Park and tries to attract as many robots as possible… Indeed, this once more sounds like a crazy background story and a promising game, so let’s see how it works:


First of all we all get our own empty ground tiles fort a start. This is the area where we can build rides and stands during the game. In addition, we are also equipped with six dice with strange symbols and a so-called “Pig board”. With this equipment we can begin the game and at a certain command all players begin to roll their dice. Similar to last year's < b>Escape a quick rolling hand is essential, since the rolling of the dice and playing decisions should be done as fast as possible. Re-rolling of any dice is allowed because only dice that the players have chosen to place on their respective Pig boards may not be re-rolled again. Each symbol on a dice stands for a special action that can be done in the next phase. But why is it essential to be faster putting dice onto the Pig board than the other players? The reason for this is that the first player who has placed all of his dice on the Pig board will begin the next phase, the second fastest comes next and so on. As you will see, it can be a big advantage to play before the other players, and so the simultaneous rolling of the dice creates a lot of hustle-bustle and often you find yourself ending with dice on your Pig board which do not fully match your intentions for the upcoming action phase. However, this also guarantees some malicious glee of the other players, and in fact it is this phase that most players in my testing rounds loved best.

Before we come to the next phase another real nuisance takes place. Those robots really have the brass neck to produce dirt and the city council does not really like dirt in their city. During the fair this is no problem, but at the end of the game, dirt can really ruin the benefit of your whole Steam Park, because there are big penalties if you leave your area dirty. Now the advantage of being among the first players who finished rolling already unfolds. While the player with the first order token (the one who was fastest) can get rid of up to four dirt tokens, the player who took the last order token must take two new dirt tokens. Although there are more possibilities to get rid of pollution, I saw no one winning the game with a high number of pollution tokens (some players really tend to be slow, if you know what I mean...).


After the pollution has been handled, it is time for actions. With every die on our Pig boards we can build new rides to make space for more visitors, build stands that give us various bonuses and attract new visitors – all depending on the chosen symbols. New visitors are randomly drawn from a bag. As you will have noticed by now, the robots in Steam Park are quite picky. They can only be attracted if we have built the corresponding rides, otherwise they say good-bye to you again (and are put back into the supply). For matching reasons the rides as well as the robot-visitors are divided into six different colors. If no alterations have been made by the means of stands, only red visitors are attracted by red rides, blue visitors by blue rides etc.. At the beginning of the game we start with one visitor of each colour in the bag, and so it’s not quite likely that you will draw a corresponding visitor for your rides unless you have a choice of different colours in your Park. However, this is no easy feat as well, because you first will have had to build the different rides and then space is limited, too. And as if this was not enough, there are also the building regulations which require the players to leave at least one free space between rides and stands of different colours respectively kinds. Luckily enough, we have some possibilities to influence our destiny, and for each visitor symbol on one of the dice on the Pig board we are allowed to throw one additional visitor of our choice into the bag before we draw the visitors. So, the composition of the visitor group available in the bag changes permanently during the course of the game.

The building of stands on the other hand will alter the game rules and give other bonuses. So, for example, an "information" enables us to place one visitor onto a ride of a different colour, whereas a “toilet” reduces the pollution created by our visitors at the end of a round. Still other stands enable us to exchange symbols of the dice at our Pig board. A total of five different kinds of stands can be found in the game, and for the game’s duration and the complexity level this is definitely enough to give each player a chance to influence the rules in a way which seems beneficial for him.


However, the chosen dice-rolling mechanism requires that all of these options must be considered in the phase before, when the dice are rolled and the Pig board is assembled. So, if you have not chosen a die with a stand symbol, you cannot build a stand in this round. On the other hand, to build a new attraction could give you more options for future rounds, and there are also actions to get rid of more of the dirt and to play bonus cards from your hand (most for additional income dependent on various circumstances). It is this variety of actions in connection with the fast gameplay in the first phase which makes it hard for new players to grasp their possibilities during the first rounds of play. But in the end, everybody will find their way into the game after some introductory rounds, and it also helps that no dice really go wasted. There is always the chance to buy ground tiles with dice which cannot be used for other options, and this at least may be helpful for adding further expansions to a player’s Steam Park.

All of the building and robots attracting is quite nice, but what really counts in the end is the final phase of each round. In this income phase we are paid by each of the visitors we could attract to our parks. However, we also must take further pollution markers during this phase as each visitor produces dirt, too. In the final scoring we must pay a fee for all the dirt we could not dispose of.

Although I still have not won the game, I really like playing Steam Park. The game might not be as crazy and innovative as Dungeon Fighter, but with its funny background story, the fast gameplay and its comparatively easy access for new players I think it is an enrichment for every game collection. Of course, you must have a group of gamers to appreciate this kind of game, a fact which is quite common for games like Escape or Galaxy Trucker which require some degree of quickness. If there are only deep thinkers in your group, it might be hard to convince them of playing another round. On the other hand, the various benefits of the stands make the game more strategic than it might seem on first sight. You just have to be really fast in the first phase in order to get a chance to perform the desired actions...

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Copyright & copy; 2013 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany