How to Play
- Assemble all of the rides.
- Sort all of the components by type and set them off to the side.
- Shuffle the bonus cards.
- Place one visitor of every color into the bag.
- Put the dirt track so everyone can see it. Place the turn counter on the first space of the turn track.
- Place the turn order tokens within range of all the players. In a three player game put the 3rd player tile into the box. For a two player game put the 3rd and 2nd player tokens into the box.
- Each player takes six dice, one starting ground tile, and one pig board. Each player also draws six bonus cards. They look at the cards and decide which three they want to keep and which three to put back into the draw pile.
Playing the Game
Each game of Steam Park features six rounds. Each round has four steps:
In the first step of a round all of the players roll their dice simultaneously. One player starts the countdown and then all of the players roll their dice. After rolling their dice, players can choose which of their dice they would like to keep. Any dice that a player wants to keep are put on their pig board. These dice can no longer be rolled this round. All dice that aren’t placed on the pig board have to be re-rolled. Players can roll their dice as quick as they want. Players keep rolling their dice until they put all of the dice on their pig board.
When a player has played all of their dice on their pig board, they grab the lowest numbered turn order token that is available. If two players grab for the same order token at the same time, the player who touched it first gets it. If both people grab it at the same time, the players determine how to break the tie. Once all of the players except for one have grabbed a turn order token, the remaining player can roll their remaining dice up to three times.
In order to run your theme park, you will acquire dirt. At the end of the game dirt is worth negative points. After everyone has finished rolling their dice, everyone will collect their dirt for the current round. Players take one dirt token for each dirt symbol present on the dice rolled. Players also take one dirt token for each visitor currently on one of their rides.
Players can add or remove dirt tokens based on the turn order token they grabbed. The player who grabbed the first turn order token loses four dirt. The player who grabbed the second turn order token loses two dirt. The player who grabbed the last turn order token gets two additional dirt tokens.
At the end of the game players will lose the points associated with the amount of dirt they have based on the dirt board. If a player has 30 or more dirt at the end of the game, they are eliminated from the game.
The actions that a player can perform on their turn depends on what symbols they rolled on their dice. Each dice allows the player to take only one action. Players take turns based on which turn order token they took during the roll phase. The player who grabbed the first token gets to go first, etc. Players can take their actions in any order that they want.
Blanks are wasted dice and do not allow a player to take any actions.
For each build ride symbol rolled, the player is able to build rides into their park. The small rides use one symbol to build. The medium rides take two symbols to build. The large rides take three symbols to build. A player can build whatever combination of rides they want but a player cannot build two rides of the same size on the same turn.
When building rides into your park a couple rules must be followed:
- All rides must fill spots on the grid and may not be placed diagonally.
- Once a ride has been placed it cannot change positions.
- Rides may not touch a ride of a different color or any stands. No sides may touch and the rides/stands cannot share a corner.
- Rides of the same color must be played by other rides of the same color and can only share one side.
For each stand symbol rolled a player is able to add a stand to their park. Each stand costs one stand symbol. You can only buy one stand of each type during a turn. When placing stands in your park they cannot touch any rides or stands of a different type (including corners). All stands of the same type must be placed next to one another.
Once a stand is placed in a park it gives the player a special ability:
Security: For each security stand a player can return one visitor drawn from the bag and return it to the bag to draw a new visitor.
Info Point: For each info point, when a player draws a visitor that doesn’t match the color of any of their rides that have an open spot, they can temporarily add it to a ride that has an empty space. The player earns the income from that visitor and then returns the visitor to the pile of visitors.
Casino: For each casino a player can change one of their dice on their pig board to a symbol of their choice during their action phase.
Toilet: For each toilet, one clean dirt symbol counts as two clean dirt symbols.
Promotion: For each promotion stand, one attract visitor symbol counts as two attract visitor symbols.
For each attract visitor symbol rolled, a player gets an opportunity to add a visitor to their park. The player gets to choose one visitor from the visitor pool and add it to the bag. The player then draws a visitor from the bag without looking. If the visitor matches one of the player’s rides and there is an available spot on the ride (small-1 total visitor, medium 2-total visitors, large-3 total visitors), the player adds that visitor to the corresponding ride. The visitor stays on that ride for the rest of the game. If the visitor does not match one of the player’s rides, the visitor is returned to the visitor pile (not the bag).
For each clean dirt symbol rolled, the player gets rid of two of their dirt. A player cannot go below zero dirt.
Play Bonus Cards
For each play bonus cards symbol rolled, the player gets to choose one of their cards to play. Follow the text on the card and take the corresponding amount of money from the bank. A player can play multiple cards in a turn but can’t play two of the same card.
Expand the Park
If you don’t want to use a symbol for its’ ability, you can use the die to add a section to your park. You can use this ability for any symbol except for the blank symbol. A player can only add two blank tiles to their park in a round. A player can add a section to any part of their park as long as two of the squares of the tile touch other tiles in your park.
After everyone has taken their actions for the round, the income step begins. Players earn three money for each visitor in their park.
If a player has less then three cards in their hand, they draw two cards. The player chooses one of the cards to keep and discards the other card. If the player still doesn’t have three cards, they repeat this process.
End of Game
The game ends after the sixth round. Each player loses money corresponding to the number of dirt they have. Everyone then counts up their money and whichever player has the most money wins the game. If two or more players are tied the player with the most visitors in their park breaks the tie. If the game is still tied, the first player to touch the IELLO logo on the back of the box breaks the tie.
After hearing about Steam Park a couple years ago I was excited to try out the game. I am a sucker for the theme park theme and there aren’t enough games that utilize it in my opinion. The game is highly regarded by most players so I was pretty sure that I would enjoy the game. After getting a good deal on the game I finally picked it up. While it relies a little too much on luck, Steam Park is one of the best dice rolling games that I have ever played.
At its’ core Steam Park is a dice rolling game with a speed element. I am not a huge fan of dice rolling games (due to the reliance on luck) but Steam Park does a great job building other mechanics around the dice rolling that makes Steam Park an interesting game.
Using the dice to determine which actions you can take on a turn might frustrate some people but I think it is a good idea since it makes you adjust your strategy throughout the game. If the game let you take whatever actions you wanted on any given turn, the game could get pretty dull as players might use the same strategy every game. Relying on the dice means your strategy has to be flexible and I think that makes the game more unpredictable.
I like the speed element of the game since it forces players to think on their feet. The speed element gives players who roll poorly multiple chances to roll their dice and get the symbols they want in a given round. You need to roll the dice quickly though since the game does punish the slowest player quite a bit. People who don’t like to be rushed in games may hate this element of the game since you can take your time but you don’t want to always be last.
I would say that Steam Park is a light to moderate strategy game (more on the lighter side). The rules are pretty simple and take around five to ten minutes to explain to new players. New players may take a little extra time on their first couple rounds as they get to know the different symbols and actions. Once everyone is familiar with the different symbols though the game really picks up and moves quicker than I thought it would. Experienced players could probably finish a game in 30-45 minutes. I actually wish the game was a little longer since six rounds is kind of short and doesn’t really allow long term strategies to form.
The best way to address the rest of the game is to address the different actions you can take in the game one by one.
The most obvious action you can take is to acquire rides and place them into the park. The interesting decision when choosing rides is whether to get a bunch of rides of the same color or rides of multiple different colors. The benefit to getting a bunch of rides of the same color is that you can place all of the rides next to each other which saves you space in your park. If you build a lot of different rides you will need to add additional spaces to your park which requires you to use quite a few actions to place the spaces. The main benefit of building a bunch of different colored rides is that it will be easier to grab visitors that match one of your rides if you can draw one of many different colored visitors instead of relying on drawing just one color.
Building the rides is pretty straightforward but you need to think out how you are going to build your park or you could end up wasting quite a few actions just adding spaces to your park. The rule that rides can’t share corners in particular is important since it will prevent you from building a lot of the rides in the positions that you want. You need a plan on how you are going to expand your park or you will end up wasting a lot of time fixing a situation that wasn’t well thought out.
While the stands don’t directly get you any points in the game they are pretty critical to having success in the game. The special abilities that the stands provide are quite powerful. I really like the idea behind the stands because they add an interesting mechanic to the game where you have to decide whether to waste actions building the stands and waste space in your park to accommodate them. The stands can be critical for different strategies. The casino is by far the most powerful in my opinion since being able to change the symbol on a die after the fact is really powerful and will let you grab a turn order token quicker.
I don’t really know what to think about attracting visitors. I give the game credit for a creative way of addressing visitors entering your park. Randomly drawing visitors from a bag is an interesting mechanic . The more you perform the action the more you can fill the bag with the type of visitors you want which makes it easier for you to draw the guests you want while making it harder for your opponents to draw the visitors they want. This is a consolation prize for the fact that this mechanic does add a lot of luck to the game. In one game over half of the visitors in the bag were a color I could use and I had five attempts at drawing visitors (thanks to special abilities from the stands) and I couldn’t draw a single visitor that I could use. If you are going for a strategy involving getting a lot of visitors into your park and you draw poorly you won’t win the game.
One of the most interesting mechanics in the game is the idea of dirt. Early in the game the dirt might not seem like much of a problem but it can pile up really quickly and can force you into focusing on it in the later rounds to prevent losing a bunch of points. I think the dirt is interesting since it effects what actions you take in the game. Most actions end up giving you dirt and every visitor you get into your park will add additional dirt. So while each visitor gives you money every turn they also make cleaning up more difficult.
The dirt is the driving force behind trying to roll your dice as quick as possible. Getting one of the early turn order tokens is key in the game. If you regularly get the last place token you are going to have a hard time winning the game. Getting an earlier turn order token is important since it lets you get stands and rides before they are taken by other players. The more important reason to get an early turn order token is the ability to get rid of some of your dirt and avoid getting additional dirt. The player to take the first dirt token will get six less dirt than the player who takes the last token. That makes a big difference in the game.
Another thing I like about Steam Park is that it eliminates some of the luck from the dice rolling by allowing you to use any symbol rolled to add additional land to your park. If you roll a blank symbol you are out of luck but otherwise you can turn any roll that you didn’t really need into a roll that you can use. Everyone will need to add additional land to their park at some point so you can get something out of every non-blank roll you have in every round.
Strategy wise I think there are several different strategies you can implement in the game. The obvious strategy is to build rides and attract visitors. If you are going after attracting a lot of visitors you need to try and attract them early in the game since they are worth more earlier in the game since you will score from them every round. If you only attract visitors late in the game you won’t really score a lot of points from this strategy.
You can also try to build up a lot of stands in order to take advantage of their special abilities and use them to get a bunch of money in last couple of rounds. While the special abilities from the stands give you a big advantage you can’t spend too much time on acquiring a bunch of them since you only have six rounds and you won’t be able to catch up if you spend too much time on them.
Otherwise you can take advantage of the bonus cards. Using this strategy is kind of risky since your fate is decided by which cards you draw but you can make a lot of money using bonus cards. One player in my game utilized a lot of cards in their strategy which gave them a decisive victory. It didn’t hurt that in the last round they drew three cards that they could all use which scored a bunch of points.
While you can pursue quite a few different strategies, your early dice rolls will likely determine what you end up doing. With only six rounds you need to commit to a strategy pretty early. There is no reason to waste symbols rolled so you kind of have to tailor your strategy to the symbols you roll. After your first couple of rounds you need to commit to your strategy and make sure you roll the symbols you need to continue your strategy.
I really enjoyed Steam Park and think it is one of if not the best dice game I have ever played. My biggest complaint with the game is the problem I have with most dice games. The game relies quite a bit on luck. While the game has a lot more strategy than you would think, ultimately luck will play a role in who wins the game. If you don’t roll the right symbols quickly you won’t win the game. Add in the luck from drawing the right visitor meeples and getting the right bonus cards at the right times and sometimes it is better to be lucky in the game than to have a good strategy. The luck in Steam Park is significantly lower than most dice games but it still has a pretty big impact on the game.
Component wise Steam Park does a great job. The game comes with a lot of components but they are all pretty nice. The game’s artwork is fantastic. While the rides and stands take a while to assemble, they are really nice and make your parks come to life which wouldn’t have happened with 2D tokens. If you purchase a new copy of the game though I would be careful punching out some of the stands since the pieces aren’t cut that well so you need to be careful punching out some of the pieces to prevent tearing. The symbols on the dice are pretty self explanatory (after a couple rounds) but at least in my copy of the game there was some fading in the ink on some of the dice.
Steam Park is not a perfect game but it is a really good game. It is probably one if not the best dice rolling game I have ever played. Steam Park has quite a bit of strategy for a dice rolling game and yet is still pretty accessible for older children and people who don’t play a lot of board games. There are quite a few different strategies to pursue in Steam Park and you will regularly have to change your strategy to accommodate the symbols you roll. The only real complaint I have with the game is that while it eliminates some of the luck from traditional dice rolling games, luck is still a driving force in who ultimately wins the game.
If you hate dice games or games that rely quite a bit on luck, Steam Park may not be for you. If you don’t mind dice rolling games though and are looking for a light to moderate strategy game I would highly recommend Steam Park. If you would like to purchase Steam Park on Amazon you can purchase it here.