Planet Rush Game Review
To say I was excited to try a Reiner Knizia game was an understatement. I have barely scratched the surface of Knizia's extensive list of designs. I’ve not even played some of his biggest and most well known, yet each game I have played I have been impressed with the wonderful and simple designs that work mechanically while still providing depth to game play. I won't pretend like I am leading to some big but here, I'm not. Planet Rush was as well designed and thoroughly enjoyable as any of Knizia's other games and I am pleased to recommend it. This was despite the fact that the game contained bidding, one of my least favourite mechanics. I was concerned the bidding would dampen my enjoyment of the area control, my favourite game mechanic. As I hope to show the bidding actually added value to the game and was a vital and enjoyable element of play.
Planet Rush from Victory Point Games
Planet Rush is a 3-5 player game that takes about 45 minutes. Published by Victory Point Games it comes in a small shoe box style package that has a retro style feel. Each card, player board, and planet construction board is beautifully crafted and drawn by artist Clark Millar. The cardboard is very thin, possibly a money saving decision, but the look of the game is stunning.
The rule book is all of 8 pages long and easy to read. Learning this game is simple, but that does not mean the game itself should be considered overly simple. You and your friends will not only be terraforming a planet, but also competing to make the biggest contribution and reap the rewards in doing so. 7 of the 8 structures need to be completed to trigger the end game. Each structure is broken down into smaller segments with materials required for their construction. Each section has room for a randomly assigned bonus token that mostly impacts end game scoring.
To construct one section of a terraforming structure in Planet Rush, you need the exact type and quantity of materials. This may be completed by playing cards from your hand, but you may ask for bids from other players. Each player will offer various amounts of the required materials. The active player may agree to any offer or reject all offers. The materials that are used, whether entirely form your hand, entirely from another person, or a combination of both is converted into player tokens on the chosen section. Once the structure is completed by having all sections filled with player tokens the board is turned over to reveal its completed side. Players with tokens in the structure are ranked based on the amount of materials the player contributed to the building. At the end of the game players score based on their rank and number of completed buildings they have scoring tokens on. The bidding phase in Planet Rush means that each turn is a potential opportunity for players to have an impact on the game by contributing materials and getting tokens on the board. This eliminates down time by making each player's turn relevant to everyone at the table.
Each section of the structure has randomly assigned bonus tokens that provide additional scoring opportunities. Each player has a faction card in their hand at all times. When making bids with materials you may include your faction card. Only one faction card can be selected from among all the bids. If two people offer their faction card as part of the bid then only one of those bids can be selected, the other must be rejected. If your faction card is selected in addition to the tokens you place, you also get the bonus token. Should no faction cards be accepted in the bid then the turn player takes the token.
Planet Rush – Lovely artwork
Planet Rush may seem like an simple game and I would agree. It took our mixed experience group of players two rounds to feel at ease with the bidding and area control mechanics. The addition of the faction cards and bonuses on each section really adds to the depth of decision making. There is often a lot to consider for each player on their turn. Accepting materials from competitors gets you onto the structure, but also advantages them. Do you accept the smaller bid with the faction card or over-commit from your own hand to take the bonus? You may consider trying to forge ahead with the material in your hand, but you risk others shutting you out from the structure entirely if you seem to much of a threat. As you can imagine, the game can become tricky to balance presence and scoring opportunities.
Planet Rush was a game that left everyone at the table eager to set up and play again. Each turn has something for you to do and you are constantly engaged with every facet of what is happening. Planet Rush can be tactical and strategic, but mostly it is just fun. It provides a lot of interesting decision making for a game that is so easily accessible. I thoroughly enjoyed Planet Rush and highly recommend it as a fun, light, and affordable addition to any collection.