2-5 players, Semi- Competitive, Pick up and Deliver
Designer: Jonathan Gilmour, Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle
Artwork: Noah Adelman
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
You must dominate the wasteland to deliver the most goods, take down some raiders and mod up your rig if you hope to survive Wasteland Express Delivery Service!
The game runs usually right around the 2 hour mark. I’ve played a couple 2 player games and a 3 player game and both were the same amount of time. That said I wouldn’t be surprised if a higher player count also increased the duration of the game. Now having said that it really doesn’t feel like 2 hours went by after finishing this. The game’s turns are exceedingly smooth and there isn’t much for a player to just sit there and have to think about their turn for very long. To win the game you have to complete 3 missions and these vary drastically! The game comes with 8 completely different contract cards and you will only use 3 of those during a single game. However there are also a number of alternate mission cards that you can draw from the 3 factions in the game that you could also use to achieve victory. I have to say I am pretty impressed with the variety of the mission cards. The go from simple to just having you needing to donate a large sum of scrap (currency) at a certain location from buying a mod that allows you to haul a nuke and then hauling said nuke across the map without being attacked and it blowing up on you.
As far as the components are concerned they are mostly really great. The stand outs are the vehicle minis which are very detailed and just begging to be painted. The game comes with 6 different player rig minis, 3 raider truck minis and a mini for Grand Lord Emperor Torque which is only used during a specific mission. There are a TON of cardboard pieces that you will need to punch out initially. And just looking at all these different pieces is extremely daunting; luckily the game comes with the very best box insert I have ever seen in my life for any game (more on that in a moment). The card stock isn’t the best but it’s not bad either, the cards are of the slick variety. The dice are really nice with the symbols etched into the sides and it comes with 10 combat dice, 1 raider die and 1 RAD die. There are some cardboard standees included for the players but these are just used as markers in the game when you complete missions or make a delivery.
The box has a really nice feel to it. Its kinda slick on the outside but feels VERY sturdy. The real standout here though is the insert in the box. As I mentioned earlier far and away the BEST board game insert ever. Oh man where to start with this….I guess let’s start at the bottom of the box and work our way up to the lid. So the instructions tell you to place a number of USED punchboards to place in the bottom of the box when storing. Now this was very foreign to me initially as I was confused…like, “I need to put these used punchboards BACK in the box?!” It didn’t make sense so I initially place all pieces of the insert in the box without the used punch boards in the bottom and instantly saw why. It leaves a huge gap of space in the top of the box for everything to flop around when stored on the side. With the used punchboards in the box everything is nice and snug and won’t move no matter how you store it. Not only that but with future expansions you can simply remove pieces of the punchboard to add those new components to the box!
Anyways, above the punchboards sits the bottom part of the plastic insert which completely covers the base so you don’t even know those punchboards are there. It has cutouts to store the tiles for the game, the dice, little plastic individual holders for EACH deck of cards which there are 9 and all the player boards. Above that to one side sits the first plastic tray that holds all the scrap currency tokens and the cool little plastic water, food and ammo tokens as well as the damage tokens. Right across from that sits the other plastic tray that holds all the players pieces such as the standees and their respective plastic mini rig figures. All these trays have lids as well so nothing is going anywhere. On top of both of those plastic trays sits the holders for both the raider rigs and the AWESOME Mod store holder. There is a cardboard insert that you pop into the top of the mod store holder that shows all the placements for the different mods as well as the prices. This thing is great. It holds a bookoo of small cardboard mod pieces and just looks awesome on the table. After that you just slap the oversized paged instruction booklet on the top and put the lid on. Everything stays in place perfectly and I have not had a single problem with any components including the cards getting mixed up.
The artwork in the game is done very well in that it makes you feel like you are delving into a wasteland. It kinda reminds me of the videogame series, Borderlands, if you are familiar with that. Also very Mad max-ish. The tiles look nice as well although I wish they would have done more with them. The tiles are double sided so instantly you are thinking, “Woot! More options!” But nope the exact same art on both sides. Really wish they would have had different options on each side to increase playability with the terrain.
The rulebook is easy to read and understand and it takes you step by step through most everything. However I always seem to find something that is missing in most every rulebook I come across. First thing I noticed was that even though the game comes with awesome trays to store all the hundreds and hundreds of cardboard tokens you will be punching out, it doesn’t detail Where they are stored in the trays. Luckily there are a number of pictures in the rulebook that I could reference to match up the symbols on the token. Because when you first open everything up you have no clue what each symbol means on those tokens, you just kinda have to guess that, for example, the little purple arrows mean “boost” and that is where those tokens are stored. Also there were a few other rules that were omitted that although small, are not insignificant to gameplay. One such rule was the temporary mod “Escort” It doesn’t specify that you can only buy 1 at a time in the rules so one would think they could load up on this very powerful mod and just dominate……which my wife fully took advantage of. I took to the forums and did discover you actually can only hold one of these at a time. I’m sure this will be fixed in later versions of the game, but just something to be aware of.
Table Presence/Game Board
The setup time on this game is crazy fast due to the amazing insert. You just open the box, pull out the 3 plastic inserts, open their lids and set them aside. The game board itself is made up of tiles that you lay down in any order and then place the settlement locations down in between the gaps of the tiles. These can basically be laid down in any order as well other than the four raider enclaves which have to be on the 4 outside edges. Then again you can really experiment however you like when doing the setup. Since each tile is different with the terrain you encounter, such as RAD terrain and terrain that is more difficult to traverse so there are more movement points on it and so on. Once you get the tiles setup and the plastic trays set up next to the board along with all the decks of cards laid out and your individual player boards in front of you, you will have a very large landscape of gaming goodness in front of you. Lots of table space needed. But honestly with games anymore it’s about average when compared to others.
Table Talk/Fun Factor –
I was going into this expecting it to not have a ton of table talk as you are basically planning out the most efficient way to traverse the wasteland for yourself. And there really isn’t much player interaction either even though it is semi-competitive. Let’s talk about that for a moment. As players you are all working for the same company and are tasked with fulfilling 3 priority missions before anyone else. You can never attack another player directly BUT you can indirectly make things more difficult for them in the form of roaming raiders. There are 3 raider trucks of different factions sitting on the board and whenever you stop your rig in a spot on the board that contains the emblem of a particular raider truck, you can move that truck to an adjacent tile. AND if it happens that another players rig is on that tile, well that player gets ambushed and has to roll the dice to see if they get hit or not. Now these bits of damage can effectively slow down someone and give you the edge you need to beat the game before them. As they might have to take the time to repair at a specific location you are free to continue your deliveries. NOW having said all that, in all the games I’ve played none of us have actually tried to do that to anyone else but I do see the strategy in doing so.
So I WAS expecting the game to not have much table talk but I was wrong. You really end up discussing movement and situations with other players even though you are all working against one another. Many times I was about to make a delivery somewhere and another player would deliver elsewhere first and that would cause the market value of a good to plummet or go up. Which of course if it plummeted when I was about to deliver that particular good I would be like, “OHHHHH nooooo there goes my huge cash out delivery!” to which the other player would be like, “muehehehehe”. But I loved every moment of that. The game is very strategic that you have to optimize delivering goods and try to get a fair market price based on the demand at that moment AND what to spend on specific mods just to try to ultimately succeed in completing the 3 priority missions before anyone else.
Optimal Player Count
So the game is not meant to be a solo game BUT I had a ton of fun just playing 2 different player boards by myself when I was learning it. So for those of you who primarily play solo, it’s still a fun game to try different strategies and try to “beat yourself”. I haven’t tried a 5 player game but I almost feel like that would create a little too much waiting between turns which would lead to boredom. 3 players would be my optimum player count, you have enough players on the board to create interesting situations with market prices and raider interactions but not so many that waiting between turns is extreme.
Super fun game. There is a lot of strategy packed into this box with how you can go about completing missions and modding up your rig. Love the gameplay and the theme is great. Table talk isn’t the best I have seen but it is there. The setup inserts are OUTSTANDING and game length is perfect. If I could say one thing this game needs, it’s more terrain options to make the board more varied. Other than that I highly recommend this one!