Planet Rush Review

Planet Rush
Area Influence, Auction/Bidding
Victory Point Games
Reiner Knizia
Clark Miller

Planet Rush is a simple auction game that doesn't suffer for its pasted on theme one bit.  Accessible bidding mechanics make for quick turns, and reasonably friendly area majority scoring rules make this light filler a good little palette-cleanser.

In Planet Rush, players take on the roles of competing space corporations, each trying to earn the most money by completing construction projects on the planet of Zenobia.  But since this is a euro from the unbelievably prolific Reiner Knizia, the only part of that last sentence that matters is ‘Get the most money’ – the paper-thin theme of Planet Rush is barely pasted on.

Jess:  That said, though, this straightforward auction game doesn’t suffer for its themeless nature.  Just don’t go in expecting gameplay to have anything to do with planets.  Or rushing.

Planet Rush is all about buildings, rather than planets.

In Planet Rush, players will bid against each other for the right to participate in the construction of various structures, each of which requires a different amount of resources (sorry, space resources).  Each building is divided into one or more segments, and when all the segments of a building card are constructed, it is flipped over and scoring takes place.

Once both these segments are built, the building is considered finished.

Each turn follows this simple two-phase order:

  • Build phase, where the active player either simply draws a material card, or triggers a round of bidding to build one of the building segments
  • Resource phase, where everyone draws a card
Resource and negotiation cards

The way bidding works is the active player places the bidding marker (sorry, rocket ship) beside the segment they are looking to build, which also determines which material is needed.  Then all other players secretly commit any number of material cards from their hand.  Once everyone has chosen, all bids are revealed, and the active player assesses each one-by-one, either accepting their bid or rejecting it.

Rejected bids are simply returned to a player’s hand, with nothing lost aside from having divulged that they are holding the cards they showed.  Accepted bids mean that the bidding player(s) will participate in the construction of the segment.  For each card they contributed, they will add one of their colored tokens to the segment.  The active player may contribute as many resources as they wish as well, either supplementing the bids they accept from other players or even in place of those bids altogether – for each card the active player contributes to the project, they place one of their own pieces on the segment.

The active player may accept any, all, or none of the bids, but the segment will only get built if the active player can gather exactly the number of resources needed to complete the segment – if that is impossible, the segment doesn’t get built and everyone keeps their cards.

Each unbuilt segment has a bonus chip at the bottom.  These chips come in 3 flavors that score differently, and they are awarded to the active player who builds a segment – unless a Negotiation card was accepted during bidding.

Andrew:  The negotiation card is one of the very few bits of strategy in this otherwise very simple game.  Basically, if you add your Negotiation card to your bid, you are saying that the active player, not you, can place bits for the cards you contribute in exchange for you taking the bonus token for that segment.

Once a structure has been completely built, it is scored by majority – the player who contributed the most (and has the most of their cubes on the structure) earns the most points, with the second and possibly third place contributors getting fewer points.  Ties are friendly, with everyone earning that tier of points.

The game ends when 7 out of the 8 structures are built, and then a quick round of bonus points are awarded to any player who has contributed to 5,6, or 7 structures.  That done, whoever has earned the most space bucks wins!

Star Bonus tokens add up, but not especially quickly.

Andrew:  As long as one is in the mood for something light and quick, I actually liked Planet Rush well enough.  There isn’t much in the way of strategy – the mechanics are relatively shallow.  But accepting that going in, I had fun with it.

Jess:  Yeah, I agree. The only thing that I thought was a bummer is the fact that it doesn’t play 2 players; if it could have done so, the relatively simplistic gameplay would have made for a good, quick filler.  By calling for 3 or more players, it may be asking for more attention at the table than is strictly necessary.  Still, fun premise, accessible gameplay, and nice art make for a good, small package.  This one’s solid!

(Gameosity received a review copy of this game.  We were not otherwise compensated.)

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