Name: Steam Park
Type: Strategy game
Best with: 2-3
Length of Playtime: 1 hour
Give It to Me Quick: Steam Park is a game where you will build your own theme park and fill the rides with visitors. You’ll be planning a strategy, then rolling dice as quickly as you can to land the Actions that you need. You’ll be choosing different types of rides, organizing them on your park board, and minimizing nasty Dirt in order to best handle the visitors that you need to make money and ultimately, win the game.
The winner of Steam Park is the player who ends with the most cash. To get cash, players will build rides with the hopes of landing visitors. Visitors and bonus cards will gain the player cash each turn.
Each round of Steam Park starts with rolling dice; each player has a set of dice that they will roll, set aside, and re-roll until they acquire the resources that they need. The first player to be satisfied with their roll will grab the First Player token. The benefits of the Turn tokens go from helpful to bad, depending on how slow the player is taking the next token.
Once the player has their dice roll, gameplay continues based on the dice rolled:
Build Rides – There are six different rides, of three different sizes.
Build Stands – Stands give additional options per turn.
Attract Visitor – The player will choose a color of visitor, place them into the bag, and draw out to hopefully place on the corresponding ride.
Clean Dirt – The player can clear dirt from their park.
Play Bonus Cards – The player can play one of the bonus cards in their hand.
Players will arrange their rides and stands on their game board, which can also be expanded. During the game, players will try to draw Visitors to place on the corresponding color rides.
Dirt accumulates in each player’s park when they build something or at the end of the turn per Visitor in their park. If players don’t control their dirt, it costs them cash at the end of the game.
How many players is it best with?
A two player game feels a lot different than a four player game, since the rides that can be purchased are limited and run out much quicker with four players. This creates indirect conflict by taking rides and stands before other players can purchase them. This can be played as cutthroat as the players want it to be.
Four player games can drag while waiting for each player to take their turn. You’ll have just finished rolling your dice madly when you have to stop and wait for a few minutes before you can play.
The first impression of the game is fun; you’ll be arranging 3-D cardboard rides, rolling cool custom dice, and battling the other players for the fastest rolls. It’s satisfying in a shot of adrenaline when your roll lands exactly how you planned it and you snatch up the First Player token.
The bonus cards add a (necessary) general game plan and variety to each game. Without them it would be easy to fall into the same strategy every time you play and wait on the die rolling to determine the game.
I like how the strategy works with adding visitors to your park. The game starts with one visitor of each color in the bag. Depending on the number of visitor dice rolled, players will place new visitors in the bag and draw out randomly. If you’ve paid attention during the game, you can get a feel for what is still in the bag and the odds can be swung in your favor by stacking the bag with the color you’re trying to pull out.
Near the end of the game, you’ll appreciate the balance introduced by the Dirt. For example, a player who spent the first four or five rounds mostly building up his park and adding visitors will need to devote an entire turn or two cleaning up all the dirt that he piled up. Meanwhile, players with a more balanced approach might pull off a last second win by landing four visitors in their rides on the last turn of the game.
You’ll probably play the first few times without stands. Once the different stands are in play, it opens up the game some more and creates other ways to win. With so much dice rolling, there is definitely some luck involved but players with a strategy in mind and the help of a few well placed bonus cards will usually come out ahead.
Maybe a misplaced expectation, but I thought that Steam Park would feel more like, well, a theme park. For a game so heavily invested in theme, I was expecting more interesting decisions–upgrading rides, creating the best park design to attract visitors, raising prices, hiring entertainers. The rides are different in the sense that they are different colors and have different artwork, but that’s about it. It’s not like they function differently in the game.
|for a Party||Nope.|
|Casual||This is on the far end of what a cooperative Casual gamer will be willing to try. Difficult.|
|Competitive||Nope, it’s a cooperative name, not competitive.|
|Strategic||Yes, there are a lot of risk vs. reward decisions to be made. There is also some dice rolling that introduces chance into the mix. It makes a lot of thematic sense though; what would happen if you were exploring an unknown territory? Who knows, and the game has a lot of theme embedded in this.|
Final Thoughts on Steam Park
Steam Park at first will create a panic attack for players who like to take their time and think about the decisions they want to make. I’m one of these players, so my first several games of Steam Park playing with my wife I felt like I was careening through the game haphazardly without a plan. You can start the dice-rolling with a general idea of what you’re aiming for, but that goes out the window when your first three rolls don’t land anything you’re looking for. Some people will love this fast faced, somewhat random part of the game; those we’ve played with so far have been split.
I like the theme of Steam Park, which isn’t surprising as I loved Rollercoaster Tycoon. It never quite feels as open-ended as that, though. I never really felt like I was “designing” a park, but rather figuring out how to arrange different sized game pieces on a grid.
It’s a fun game, just not exactly what I was hoping for. Good unique game to have on the shelf.
Check out more reviews!