Ever since you were a little kid, you had to wait for your turn. And it’s the same in board games. Take your turn, wait for others. But sometimes you want to let loose those shackles, forget about taking turns, and just have a wild free-for-all. And there are some awesome games that let you do just that. These are three of the best real-time games.
In Galaxy Trucker, the players work for a trucking company delivering sewer pipes. It may not sound glamorous, but a planet without sewer pipes is even less so. Each round occurs in two phases. First, players build a ship using tiles from a common pool. Then, the players fly those ships through a gauntlet of destruction. It could be meteors, pirates, open space, planets to grab cargo, war zones, and a host of other challenges. If your ship was built well, you should get through in one piece. Poorly built ships, though, often turn into many pieces.
The building phase uses a common pile of tiles turned face down. As you grab one tile, it becomes unavailable to everyone else. And it is conducted in real time. No turns, no niceties, no careful discussion. Instead, it’s a massive kill-or-be-killed brawl to grab the tiles you want and build your ship quickly.
Which makes Galaxy Trucker a ton of fun. You have to scan the available tiles faster than your opponents and grab the ones you want before they get them. But you can’t just grab anything. Your tiles must connect together in the right way, or your ship will fall apart before it even launches. The game requires you to use brain power at a breakneck pace – always an exhilarating challenge.
But it isn’t just competitive games that allow you to shed the turn structure. Cooperative games are actually a great place to see this occur. In Space Cadets, the players are all part of a crew on a capital space ship. Clearly inspired by Star Trek, you’ll have a helmsman, an engineer, a captain, etc. The goal is typically to fly through the galaxy collecting resources and fighting off enemies before a big bad guy blows you out of the sky.
And there aren’t really individual player turns. Instead, it’s an amalgam of everything. Sure, some things occur before others – you have to build and load the torpedoes before you can fire them – but most of the player actions take place simultaneously. Better yet, each station is like a mini game that plays differently. The helmsman has a series of cards that he can draw and then play to program the ship’s movement. The weapon’s officer flicks discs to see how much damage the torpedoes do. And the engineer completes little puzzles with tiles in order to give extra boosts to the other stations.
Meanwhile, the Captain is there to bark out orders and direct the crew, which is a fun role to be in. On the one hand, the players should listen to the captain as having a single directing voice will usually produce better results. But being the captain is hard to manage when every other player is engaged in their own little task and you have almost no ability to manage them directly. What emerges is an exciting cooperative game where every player is a necessary cog.
Reprinted in English as Pelican Cove, Uluru is about dreambirds with goals all their own. There are eight birds in total. Each player gets a set of the eight birds along with a board featuring eight spaces. Then, a card is dealt for each color bird. So it might show that the green bird wants to be on the right side of the board, the pink bird wants to be next to orange, and the red bird wants to do whatever the blue bird is doing.
From there, the players have 45 seconds to make it happen. They’ll take their differently colored birds and try to match them up on the board so each is satisfied. And everyone does so simultaneously. No turns, and no time to really stop and analyze. With only 45 seconds, you have to go, go, go. Once the timer rings, each board is analyzed. For every bird that didn’t get what it wants, you get a broken dream. The player with the fewest broken dreams at the end is the winner.
If you like logic puzzles, then Uluru is the game for you. It’s an exciting challenge, and is even more fun when the birds’ desires nest within each other. For example, maybe green wants to do what blue is doing, blue wants to do the opposite of orange. And orange wants to do what white is doing. White wants to be across from green. If you had all day to figure it out, players could satisfy all of the birds all of the time. But with only 45 seconds, the pressure is high to avoid mistakes. And you can’t always do so. That real time intensity is what makes Uluru so fun.
What realtime games do you enjoy most? Tell us about it in the comments.
Image Credits: Czech Games Edition, Stronghold Games, and SimplyFun
Featured Image Credit: Stronghold Games