At first glance Steam Park seems like a light, simple game in the vein of Roller Coaster Tycoon. However there is a surprising amount of strategy stuffed into this whimsical package.
Over six rounds you are trying to develop the most profitable and cleanest theme park you can. The rounds are broken into unique phases that blend speedy dice rolling, action selection and income and dirt distribution.
At the start of each round players will simultaneously start rolling their own six dice. Results can be used to construct rides, build stands, score point cards, attract visitors and clean up dirt that will accumulate in the park. What you roll is very important, but how fast you roll it can carry equal importance. As soon as you’ve locked in all of your dice you’re going to grab a turn order marker. This will affect not only turn order, but how much dirt each player acquires. The lower the turn order the less dirt you get.
Actions are played out in turn with players able to spend their dice to develop their park. Any die can be spent to add additions on to your park…and you’re going to want to invest in some additions. Rides and stands will fill up your starting grounds very quickly and rules for placement further clog up your park. Basically nothing can tough anything else unless they are of the same type. Rides of the same colour must be touching, but different rides and stands must be separate. You can’t even connect them diagonally.
What would a theme park be without people (or in this case robots) to come and spend money? There are six different customer colours that correspond to the six different ride types and they are pretty finicky about the rides they’ll go on. Blue customers want to ride the super slide, red prefer the giant roller coaster and they won’t stick around if you haven’t built the right kind of ride.
The artwork in this game is done by Marie Cardouat who did the the art for Dixit. The rides you can build come in three different sizes and six different varieties each appealing to a specific group of customers. The designs of the rides are amazing, both artistically and functionally. Cardouat has created attractions that are right out of a Tim Burton movie; roller coasters that challenge the laws of gravity, slides that go on forever and tea cup rides that balance on the arms of a giant, mechanical octopus. Each ride is a 3-D construction that you assemble the first time you play. It’s a bit of a long process, but you only have to do it once. The rides fit really nicely in the box for easy set up and take down each time you play.
With Steam Park’s presentation you might have trouble convincing hardcore gamers that it’s worth a go, but by the time you’ve finished your first round it should be obvious that there is enough strategy to keep even the most clockwork brains chugging along.