Since a young age I have always enjoyed theme parks. The thrill you experience as the rollercoaster twists and turns along its track. The amazing taste of the very unhealthy food from the food stands. These are all memories I cherish.
I have from time to time left a theme park and thought to myself that maybe I could have designed a better park. Steam Park takes the premise of creating your own theme park and injects it with a dose of robots. Robots and theme parks what could be better?
What is it about?
The robots of Roboburg have the day off. It is your job to build a theme park for them to visit during their day off. This means optimizing your limited space, cleaning the oil spills and dirt left by your visitors and of course choosing the best rides for your park.
What is in the box?
When you open the box you are greeted by heaps of cardboard. This can seem very intimidating at first, but putting together the 3-dimensional rides was easy and intuitive. Steam Park is one of those rare board games where punching out the cardboard to build the components is actually quite fun. When assembled the 3-dimensional rides look great. I was afraid that they would start to fall apart with multiple playthroughs, but they stood up to the punishment quite well.
Not only do you get heaps of cardboard to build the rides from, you also receive cardboard tokens, ground tiles and money (Danari). The cardboard stock used for these components are nice and thick.
The wooden robot meeples are a great addition, and look really good when standing on top of a ride.
The wooden dice is also top notch. The icons on each side are easy to understand and read. I did notice that some of the icons had started to wear off, but this was only with one or two of the dice.
I found the bonus cards easy to read and understand.
Lastly, the art in Steam Park is great. It is colourful and really adds to the theme of the game. I liked the fact that each set of rides has their own feel and design that makes them totally different from the other sets of rides. This really is a beautiful game.
How does it play?
The game starts with each player receiving their respective ground tile, piggy bank and six dice. One robot meeple visitor of each colour is placed into the black bag (visitor bag). The turn order markers are placed in reach of all the players. Each player draws six bonus cards and chooses three. Now you can start building your Steam Park!
A turn consists of four phases:
Roll phase – In this phase players simultaneously roll their six dice. Players can re-roll their dice and “bank” the ones with the desired icon. Each icon corresponds to a specific action. When a player has “banked” all their dice, they then grab a turn order marker (starting with the first one). When the last turn order marker is left the remaining player may re-roll their dice only three more times. Finishing sooner gives you a benefit in the dirt phase, but also means that you have fewer chances of rolling the desired actions.
Dirt phase – The effect of building your park and getting more robots to visit is that your park tends to start filling up with dirt and the occasional oil spill. Each player receives one dirt token for each robot visitor meeple in their park as well as for each dirt icon on their “banked” dice. Players will also receive or discard dirt tokens depending on their turn order marker. Dirt has the undesired effect of eating into your profits at the end of the game, so controlling the amount in your park is very important.
Action phase – This is the phase in which you start to build your park. Players now spend their “banked” dice to perform actions. The actions are:
Build rides: You can use the wrench icons to build new rides (of different shapes and colours). The rides that can be built depend on the amount of wrench dice you have available.
Build stands: You can use the stand icons to build new stands. Each stand has a special ability associated with it.
Attract visitors: For each robot visitor icon, you have you can add a robot meeple to the visitor bag. You can the draw one visitor from the bag. If the visitor matches the colour of any of your rides they hop on and stay on the ride for the remainder of the game.
Clean dirt: As mentioned, dirt is a bad thing. Using the broom icons you can clean two dirt tokens per icon.
Play bonus cards: Bonus cards can be played by using the shovel icons. These cards give the player certain scoring bonuses.
Expand land: Any dice icon (except for blank icons) can be used to expand your ground tiles.
Income phase – Truth be told this phase is the real reason for building your park. In this phase, the players receive 3 Danari for each visitor at their park as well as drawing new bonus cards should you have used any in the previous phase. After six turns, each player adds up their dirt totals and pays the indicated fine. The player who has made the most Danari at the end of the six turns is the winner and owner of the best Steam Park in Roboburg.
What did I think of it?
When I first saw the colourful box and art for Steam Park I expected a family game with very little depth. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a lot more strategy in Steam Park than first meets the eye.
I found the game really easy to understand and teach. By no means does this indicate that the game has no depth. I enjoyed the fact that there were multiple ways for you to optimize your park’s profitability. For instance, do you concentrate more on mitigating your bad dice rolls by building more stands, do you build one type of colour rides or do you concentrate on multiple colour rides. The bonus cards also help broaden your choices, and deciding when to play them can sometimes be critical in maximising their outcome.
Most of the people I played with fell in love with the game during their second play through. This happened to me as well, mainly due to the fact that on the second play through I realized just how many options the player has available. Steam Park occupies a strange place in the gaming hierarchy. It is defiantly not a light weight game and some might not even call it a medium weight game. To me, it is nestled somewhere in between. It’s easy enough for beginners to learn and grasp yet has enough depth to keep the more seasoned players happy.
Some players may be put off by the elements of luck in the game. I do feel that the game has struck a great balance between the luck elements and the mitigation thereof. Even if you are unlucky with the bonus card draws and dice rolls you always have options available to you. In all of the games we played the scoring was quite close, there was never one player who had a score that the other could not catch up to.
All and all I enjoyed Steam Park immensely, even if it took a few play through to realize it. It is definitely one of my favourite games. The artwork is great, the game looks beautiful when set up and is crammed full of theme. Steam Park is one of those rare games that walks the fine line between satisfying more seasoned players without scaring away beginners. This is a game that I will be playing with my family for years to come.
Gameplay: 9/10 The game was really easy to teach and understand. The rulebook is written really well. The game doesn’t drag on and play time is long enough to keep the players attention. I enjoyed the different mechanics of the game.
Components: 5/5 The artwork is great and the game itself looks beautiful when set up. All the components are top notch. Overall I really enjoyed the aesthetic.
Complexity vs. Depth: 4.5/5 I found the game to have quite a bit of depth without being over complex. The game can be played by the whole family, and even seasoned players would enjoy it.
Theme: 5/5 There is no doubt that Steam Park is an amazing looking game. Every component fits into the theme. The art direction is great and very unique.
Overall: 4.5/5 Steam Park is a great family game. It is short enough and does not drag on for long. It looks great and plays great. Everyone I played it with enjoyed it.
It is a game I will be keeping in my collection for quite a while.
Board game supplier by Boardgames SA (www.boardgames.co.za)