Last Night Games’ newest tabletop project is Galaxy Rush, a quick two player experience that has you exploring and discovering the vast expanse of the cosmos! We don’t see a lot of light board games nowadays, especially space themed ones, so this one definitely fills a void in most players’ collections.
You can think of this game as a combination between Splendor and 7 Wonders Duel, where you grab limited resources to build an effective engine. The premise is that you and your opponent are space pilots competing for resources to go on expeditions to earn a reputation to see who can be the best in the galaxy. The game is broken down into 4 seasons, or rounds, and provides many different ways for you to earn reputation points. These can be earned through traveling the most distance in a season, grabbing heroic cards, purchasing discovery cards, completing expeditions, scoring end-game bonuses, or performing successful predictions.
The board is set up with two tracks, with the player on the first track moving first. Each track contains six cards that provide various resources for you to collect. These include materials needed to make discoveries, such as space ores and mysterious cores, along with expedition and heroic cards. Resource cards are needed to make discoveries, and they are never spent or lost. Think of this as the engine building from Splendor. If you have enough resources, then you can purchase an available discovery card. Expedition cards are scored when you collect a set of cards, such as 10 asteroid cards or 3 nebula cards. Lastly, there are heroic cards, which are just straight up victory points.
There also exists an acceleration mechanic that allows the second player to zoom ahead of the first at the expense of an additional resource space. Once the end of a track is reached, the next season starts. Another interesting mechanic is that you can flip every single card on a track face down, which has a distance number on it, depicted with the au unit of measurement. The player who travels the furthest distance at the end of the game earns medals that also grant reputation points. End game bonuses come in the form of predictions, which have you guessing which player will satisfy the requirements on the card, such as who will travel the farthest distance, along with achievements, which are basically global goals such as completing 7 expeditions.
Despite taking around 20 minutes to finish, Galaxy Rush still requires some strategy and thinking. There’s quite a lot of variety when it comes to scoring points, since you and your opponent can either compete for the same end goals or aim for completely different tracks. That being said, after a few playthroughs, I do feel like some tracks are more advantageous than others, which makes the game a bit unbalanced. For example, collecting resources and building your engine doesn’t always work out depending on what discoveries are available for you to buy, whereas going for expeditions and heroics is guaranteed to score lots of points.
Galaxy Rush fits snugly in a compact square box and comes with a built-in plastic insert for all the pieces. All of the components feel high quality and the artwork is beautiful, depicting various neon colors that encapsulate the cosmos theme. The game does require a lot of shuffling of cards though, so that might wear them down quickly. You even get a handy dandy paper score sheet to jot down the results of your playthroughs (sadly, no pencil is included). Setup is quick and easy, although it does take quite a lot of table space. The included prediction card and orbit start board are a bit unnecessary as they serve pretty much no purpose other than placing your wooden ships on them at the start.
The instruction manual, on the other hand, could use some more work, as it doesn’t describe the gameplay mechanics in enough detail. My partner and I had some trouble understanding the accelerating mechanic, especially when it comes to what track the player’s spaceship is on after they accelerate, and what happens when the other player accelerates back again. I would like to see the manual cover all possible cases, especially when explaining a mechanic that can come off as confusing from the get-go. It would be great to see a solo player mode for this as well, given how fun it can be for 2 players.
I think Galaxy Rush is a great addition to anyone’s tabletop collection if they need something space themed and quick and easy for a 2 player session. It contains a great balance of strategy for beginners and board game veterans alike. The compactness of the game allows it to be brought on the go with ease as it can fit snugly in a backpack or suitcase. That being said, the overall balance could use some tweaking and this is probably just a filler game at the end of the day.