A to Z Gaming: Galaxy of Trian

We set up trade routes, collected minerals, and explored the outer reaches of space in Galaxy of Trian, the next game in our A to Z game-shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Galaxy of Trian
Players: 2-4
Time: 45 Minutes
Designer: Grzegorz Kalarus, Sebastian Oliwa, Seweryn Piotrowski
Artist: Andrzej Sykut
Publisher: CreativeMaker LLC

Galaxy of Trian is a tile-laying game where players take on the role of aliens setting up mineral mining stations, finding planetary trade routes, and exploring the outer reaches of space.

The game is set up with each player choosing an alien race to play, grabbing the associated player mat, emissary tokens, research stations, and space stations. The double-sided tiles are shuffled, ensuring that the special items – Trade Outposts, Exmitters, and Transporters – are face down, then placed in two stacks near the play area.

On their turn, players first collect gems in nebulas they control (explained below), Then they take a tile from one of the two face up tiles, choose which side to play face-up, and place the tile into the play area, ensuring that it touches at least one side of an already-played tile and that the touching edge(s) are the same type of feature (nebula, open space, or planetary system). If they’ve placed an Exmitter, any emissaries adjacent to it are returned to their respective player.

Next, they choose an action from the following: place an emissary into a region on the just-placed tile, upgrade a previously-played emissary into a research station (by playing a research station on top of the emissary in a completed region), upgrade a research station into a space station, use a just-played Trade Outpost (place an emissary there to take two additional actions), use a just-played Teleporter (move an adjacent emissary elsewhere), or perform research (take 2 points).

Finally, the player checks for regions completed that turn – this could be a trade route with no more open ends, a fully-enclosed nebula, or a fully-enclosed region of empty space. If they complete a trade route, the controlling player (the one with the most emissaries in that system) scores 2 points per tile in the trade region. If they complete a nebula, the controlling player scores 1 point per tile in the nebula. In addition, mineral pieces are played into the nebula equal to the number of tiles involved plus the number of extractors. The player who completes a region of empty space gets 3 points per tile.

When a region is completed by the player controlling it, they have the chance to remove any of their emissaries. However, if a region is completed by a non-controlling player, all of the controlling emissaries are stuck there. In all cases, non-controlling emissaries are returned to their respective players.

The game ends at the end of the player’s turn who plays the last tile. Players then score each of their controlled regions again, using a different formula for each region – this time based on the number of research stations and space stations in the region. Finally, players tally up points for their miners (3 points each). Whoever has the highest score wins.

I picked this game up through Kickstarter – honestly I was drawn in by the art. I love the various alien races, and would love prints of most of them.

The game play feels somewhat similar to Carcassonne – you play a tile and then decide whether or not to play an emissary on it, either on a trade route, in a nebula, or to use a trade outpost. You do get additional actions if you don’t play an emissary, but the general feeling is quite similar. Plus, you are trying to control the various areas that will bring you points – again, similar to Carcassonne.

The Kickstarter version also came with a number of expansions, but I haven’t managed to get any of them to the table. I feel like there’s enough to the main game that I don’t really want more, and the number of additional pieces and rules are just a bit much for me to want to delve into. They may add a lot to the game – I don’t know – but I also don’t care enough to find out.

One thing that might be a barrier to several players is the complicated game-end scoring. The final scoring for each research station in a planetary system is equal to the number of planets plus the number of emissaries all times four; the scoring for each space station is the sum of the planets and emissaries all times ten. The score for each nebula is more complicated – and there’s an equation in the rule book to help out.

I’m not afraid of math, of course – I have a degree in it, after all. However, I’m not sure scoring a game should require complex-enough calculations that you need to spell out an equation for it!

How is it as a 2-player game?  Like many games with an area-control aspect, Galaxy of Trian is perhaps not at its best with just two players. There’s a choice whether to concentrate on your own thing or try to mess with your opponent, and we tend to just do our own thing, trying to build up the best systems we can. If we were the kind of players to attack more, I suspect we’d spend a lot of time trying to mess with the other player, and spend less time building up our own areas.

How about the art and component quality? As I already mentioned, I love the aliens in this game – they are gorgeous and feel realistic. This is what drew me into the Kickstarter.

The components are good quality – there’s a nice wooden holder for the tiles and the mineral pieces are plastic gems (similar to those in Century Golem Edition). The player mats have places for the emissaries, research stations, and space stations, and are also where players keep track of their score. In addition, there’s turn order reminder for each player – the symbols take a moment to get used to, but once you’re familiar with the game, they make sense.

I will say that I don’t know how non-Kickstarter editions might be different…the art is certainly the same, but I don’t know which components were Kickstarter-exclusives, if any.

Will this stay in my collection?  No, I don’t think so. It’s a solid game, and I’ve enjoyed it when I get it to the table. However, given that I have other games that scratch the same tile-laying-and-area-control itch, I feel like I can pass this one along to someone else who may get it to the table more often.

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