The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Truck Off
Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy is the first game designed by Ryan Lambert and the second game published by Adam's Apple Games. In the follow-up to Brewin' USA (my review), which was published and designed by Adam's Apple Games' Adam Rehberg, Rehberg and Lambert stick close to the formula that made Brewin' USA so successful, creating a lightweight gaming experience that plays a wide range of players and has an accessible, yet unique, theme -- without having a repeat experience as far as mechanics and gameplay are concerned. Where Brewin' USA focused on microbreweries, Truck Off highlights another hipster institution, the food truck, with a simultaneous selection and card management game for two-to-six players.
Truck Off plays over five rounds. In the first phase of each round, players will simultaneously decide where to place their two food trucks, from among a number of locations. There are six total locations in the game, including the gaming convention and the brewery, and the number used scales up with the number of players. Each location has a die associated with it, from a four-sided die all the way up to a twenty-sided die. After the players decide where to send their trucks, the dice for the locations are all rolled. However, before anyone takes any profit, cards are played.
In the next phase of the round, players will decide how many of their cards they want to play. Each player only has nine cards to use for the entire game. Cards have such effects as moving your truck to another location, rerolling the die on a location, shutting down another player's truck, or placing a third truck on a location for the round. Once the cards are chosen, players will play them one at a time in clockwise order, and all cards selected must be played, even if the effect is no longer desired.
Profits are then collected for each truck. Players with trucks on a location must split the total rolled on the die, rounded down. So, for example, if three trucks are on the location with the twelve-sided die, which has a value of eleven rolled on it, each truck would pocket $3.
After five rounds, the game ends and players are given monetary bonuses for unused cards in their hands. The player with the most money is the winner. There are some similarities between Truck Off and Seiji Kanai's Cheaty Mages, but Truck Off is not derivative, and is more intuitive, and hence, easier to understand and teach to others.
Pros: Easy to learn, easy to teach, and fun to play. Plays quickly, with lots of interaction and little downtime, even at higher player counts. Packs a lot of game play into a small box. Has a unique, family friendly theme with colorful artwork.
Cons: The two-player variant requires a dummy player, so the game plays smoothest with three or more players. Many cards have "take that" effects that can turn off certain types of players. Can be a bit chaotic at the highest player counts.
Considering how highly I regard Brewin' USA, I was apprehensive about whether Adam's Apple Games' next game could live up to my expectations, but they truly have with this one. Truck Off fits right into Adam's Apple Games' catalog thematically, but stands on its own as a quick playing, highly interactive, and very fun game. I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a beer and pretzels game that can play up to six.
Full disclosure: I received a preview copy of Truck Off from the publisher.