Review: Steam Park

Steampark

Length

Release Date
Designer: Aureliano Buonfino, Lorenzo Silva, Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino
Publisher: IELLO
Category: City building, Dice, Real-time, Science fiction
Player Count: 2-4
Price: $48.15
The peaceful town of Roboburg is abuzz with anticipation of the fair that comes to town only one time a year. For six whole days, the citizens of this robotic community take a collective break from their jobs and visit the parks of the illustrious builders in hopes of finding an attraction that suits their fancy and simply getting away from their daily jobs to have some fun. As the builder of one of these theme parks, it’s your job to build rides and stands, attract visitors, manage your park, and keep it clean. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, the work is all hidden under the clever guise of a game. So, how much fun can one have while trying to provide fun for fictional robotic people? Let’s find out.

Content Guide

Steam Park is about building a theme park for robots and contains no offensive or inappropriate content.

Review

Steam Park is played over 6 rounds. At the end of the final round, whoever has the most denarii is declared the winner. The main factor you will want to keep an eye on as you play and once you tally your final score is how much dirt you have in your park’s dump. As you tally your score, you have to pay to remove the dirt from your dump, thus subtracting from your total score.
Opening a new game box is always a delightful experience and Steam Park is no different. I found myself having a blast as I punched out the many game components. The rides are each little structures that stand upright and do require some assembly, but it’s not too involved and once you get the hang of it, you’ll get them put together in no time. Twenty-four dice, 4 starting ground tiles, 4 pig boards, 18 rides, 20 stands, and 42 visitors are all just a look into how many components there are to this game. So there’s quite a few. There’s a lot going on in this game, but the developer has done a good job of providing a lot of components while keeping the game relatively simple.
At the beginning of each game, every player receives a pig board, 6 die, a starting ground tile, and 6 bonus cards of which they will choose and keep 3; the remaining unchosen cards get shuffled back into the deck. The 4 turn order tokens are placed in the center of the table, easily accessible by each player. In addition, 6 visitors (one of each color) are placed into a black velvet bag.
As I said before, Steam Park consists of 6 rounds and each round consists of 4 phases. This makes the game a bit more unique as it integrates simultaneous, turn based gameplay.
Phase 1: Roll Phase.
During the roll phase, all players simultaneously roll their 6 dice in an attempt to roll the desired actions. If they like what they see, they can place their die on the pig board; once that is done that die may not be rerolled. They reroll the remaining dice and repeat the process until all 6 of their dice is on their board. Once that is done, they quickly reach in and grab a turn order token signifying the order in which they get to take their actions. Being first grants a bonus during the next phase, while coming in last grants a penalty. Once only one turn order token remains, the remaining player has 3 final rolls to get their desired outcome on their dice. Once they finish the third roll, they must accept their fate.
Phase 2: Dirt Phase.
Directly after the roll phase is the dirt phase. Each player receives 1 dirt per visitor in their park, and per dirt symbol shown on their dice. Those who were slow during the roll phase receive their penalty during the dirt phase. Taking an additional dirt or two—depending on what order they came in while those who were fast—receive a bonus of being able to eliminate one or two of the dirt pieces for coming in first or second.
Phase 3: Action Phase
This is the phase that you actually get to see your plans come to life by spending your dice. There are 6 possible things you can do during this phase.
  1. Build rides by spending wrench die. Without rides, you can’t attract visitors and as a result, it’s difficult to make money.
  2. Build stands to grant yourself special abilities.
  3. Attract visitors by choosing a visitor out of the visitor pool and placing them in the visitor bag. If you pull out the same color visitor as your ride, they hop on and don’t leave until the end of the game.
  4. Clean dirt. The broom die allows you to rid yourself of that nasty dirt.
  5. Play bonus cards. The shovel die allows you to play a card out of your hand and receive the denarii bonus.
  6. Expand your park. This allows you to add an extra 4×4 piece to your starting ground tile. While there is not a symbol dedicated to this action, a player may choose to spend one of their other action die to do this instead of what that particular die was meant for, giving the die a new sense of purpose. This can only be done up to twice per turn.
Each die is only worth one action, but you can have multiple of the same action depending on how you want to build your park. For instance, there are 3 sizes of each ride: big, medium, and small. The big rides cost 3 wrench die, medium rides cost 2, and small rides cost one. There are 6 different colors granting a grand total of 18 rides to choose from as you build your park. It’s also important to note that different colored rides cannot touch, even at a corner, while some colored rides must connect. The same rule applies to stands. In addition, you cannot build two of the same sized ride in the same turn, or two of the same stand in the same turn.
Phase 4: Income Phase:
This is where all of your hard work pays off. It’s the end of the day and time to see what came of all of your hard work. During this phase, each player receives 3 denarii per visitor in their park. It may not sound like much, but attracting multiple visitors to your park adds up over 6 rounds.
Rinse and repeat 5 more times. At the end of the 6th round, the player with the most denarii is declared the winner and is showered with praises by the hardworking citizens of Roboburg for giving them 6 whole days of nothing but fun! Well, that last bit may be a little over exaggerated, but you get the point.
The theme of Steam Park is easily identified from the time you take a gander at the box, to the time you’re putting it away. This is something I look for in every game I play and the success or failure of the theme is always attributed to the artist. The artist for Steam Park, Marie Cardouat, did a fabulous job in my opinion. The art is right on target with what I would expect from a game about building a theme park for hard-working robots who just want to have some fun one week out of the year.
The gameplay was smooth and easily taught. Like I said before, there’s a lot going on, but the rules were clearly and thoroughly stated and explained in the rulebook, making my job of explaining to people how to play the game all the more easier. It also helped that the rulebook contained quite a bit of sarcasm and entertaining examples.
It was neat to watch as the different strategies that were displayed on the table unfolded. For instance, I took on a visitor strategy, attempting to build as many rides and attract as many visitors as possible for the ultimate payoff. One of my opponents adopted a very different strategy that we’ll call the bonus card strategy. During the course of the game, he played several bonus cards and collected the rewards immediately while also collecting income from whatever visitors he had in his park. In the end, I came up short, but only by 6 denarii.
Steam Park is silly, it’s over the top, and it’s a load of fun. It can be played in right around an hour. This is the sweet spot for a game like this. Any shorter and it would leave you wanting, any longer and you’d be wondering when it was going to end. As I explained above, there are different strategies to adopt and you’ll look back on previous rounds thinking of what you could have and probably should have done differently to maximize your income and take the win. I know I’m already planning my strategy for when this hits my table again and I’m excited to see if it works out in the end. So, in conclusion, I would totally recommend checking out Steam Park if you haven’t already. It’s worth the price tag and will continue to provide you with good times as you try out different strategies and give those robot people something to look forward to.

The Bottom Line

 

Vince Chapman

Vince is a husband, father, and children's pastor in addition to the work he does for Geeks Under Grace.