Steampunk Rally building & racing fun!

Steampunk Rally board game

Let’s get this race started!

Playing Steampunk Rally reminds me of building crazy contraptions with LEGOs as a kid and racing them around the room.

Sure they could have some wheels hooked on like you’d expect in a race car. But wheels weren’t required because I’d just imagine they were rocket-propelled and could fly instead.

And I could lose a part here or there and it wouldn’t really matter because I’d adjust and keep on flying.

If you’ve ever done such imaginary races, then you’ll have a good feel for what it’s like to play Steampunk Rally.

But that’s not all.

In addition to the racing, there’s also card-drafting as well as dice-rolling.

Combining all that into one game may sound like a convoluted mess.

But instead, Roxley Games pulls it off. Steampunk Rally is a lot of fun to play!


What is Steampunk Rally?

Steampunk Rally is a card-drafting, dice-placement game where players compete to build the best invention and get it through the race in first place.

Steampunk Rally board game

Plenty of cards, tiles, dice, and tokens for fun times.

Of course, building the best invention won’t come easy. Nor will it be a “one-and-done” sort of operation.

During the race, players will have to deal with the loss of machine parts and will need to reconfigure their invention on the fly to keep steaming ahead.

And winning isn’t about getting across the finish line first. The winner is actually the player furthest along the track at the end of the final round. Crossing the finish line just signals that the next round will be the last round of the game.

So players have to plan out their final push to the end with a bit of strategy and momentum.

Players need a bit of strategy and a bit of luck among the chaos to finish victorious.


How to play Steampunk Rally

Steampunk Rally board game

16 Inventors to choose from.

During a game of Steampunk Rally, up to 8 players will be drafting machine parts, building their invention, gaining dice, rolling and placing those dice on their invention to generate motion, gain more dice, and prevent & repair damage. Players can also harness the power of various boost technologies to gain an advantage or thwart their opponents.

One of the cool things about Steampunk Rally is that the rulebook is so easy to follow. The instructions are clear and the formatting makes finding specific sections a breeze. It also includes biographical snippets of each of the 16 inventors represented in the game – a very cool thing to include.

Start Your Engines

Steampunk Rally board game

This 8-player game is ready to start!

The first thing players do is select which track they want to race on. The 6 racetrack tiles are double-sided with different terrain elements depending on the side chosen. (We really like the style and track elements of the Hoverdrome racetrack, but spaces and marks are easier to identify on the Swiss Alps track.)

Players then each pick an Inventor and get the associated Inventor Cockpit and Machine Part to start construction of their invention. They also place their Inventor pawn on the racetrack Start space.

Each player also receives a Damage Gauge where they’ll track the condition of their invention each round.

Steampunk Rally is played over a series of rounds. Each round consists of 4 Phases and players perform the actions in each phase simultaneously rather than taking turns (just like they would in a real race).

  1. Draft: Add Machine Parts; Gain dice, Cogs, and Boost cards.
  2. Vent: Spend Cogs to subtract pips from dice currently occupying Die Slots on Machine Parts.
  3. Race: Roll dice and use them to activate Machine Parts.
  4. Damage: Discard Machine Parts if Damage Gauge is below 0.



Steampunk Rally board game

Which card should I keep to use?

During the Draft phase, there are 4 different types of cards players will get in their hands. Each type has a different color border and their own draw deck and discard pile.

To begin the Draft phase, each player draws one card from each deck to form their starting hand of 4 cards.

Players then choose 1 card to use and place it face down in front of them. Once everyone has chosen their card, they’re flipped over and used.

A Machine Part card can be used in various ways.

Steampunk Rally board game

Building cool inventions is what it’s all about.

First, it can be added to the player’s invention. To do so, it must be able to be attached to their existing invention through a valve connection.

All Machine Parts in an invention must always connect to the cockpit through a chain of complete value connections. At any time, players may freely rearrange any/all of the Machine Parts. If a part cannot adequately connect, even after rearranging, then it can’t be added to the invention.

Another option is to discard the Machine Part card for Dice or Cogs. In the upper right corner of each card are icons representing colored dice and Cogs. A player may discard the card to gain either the colored dice or the cog tokens indicated on the card.

Dice gained this way are placed in that player’s Dice Pool (to be rolled and used during the Race phase).

Steampunk Rally board game

Discard a card to gain Dice or Cogs.

If a player selects a black-bordered Boost card, they place it face down under their Damage Gauge for later use (at the appropriate time indicated on the card).

The remaining cards (those not chosen) are then passed to the next player. Each player again selects 1 card from the cards they received and places it face down to use once everyone has selected their card.

This continues until there are no more cards to pass. Then play moves on to the Vent phase.


Although the Vent phase doesn’t happen in the first round, it’s an important part of the working of these racing inventions. During the Race phase, dice will be placed on Machine parts to use the ability of the card. But in order to use that card ability again, the dice on the card need to be cleared out. Thus, the dice need to be Vented off of the card. Think of it as the Steam part of the game.

During the Vent phase, players may spend Cog tokens to reduce the pip value of dice.

Each Cog discarded allows a player to reduce the value of the dice by a total of up to 2 pips. After a die is reduces to less than 1 pip, it is removed from that Machine part.


Steampunk Rally board game

We’ve built some cool inventions.

While it’s very cool to build awesome inventions in the Draft phase, the Race phase is where the action happens!

At the start of this phase, players roll all the dice in their Dice Pool as well as any dice stored on storage cards they may have (e.g. Flywheel).

Then players can use these dice to activate Machine Parts in their invention.

To activate a part, a player places a corresponding colored die into an open Die Slot. The sum of the pips on all dice placed during a single activation represents the Activation Power. (Dice are already on slots from a previous activation (or round) do not count towards that activation power.)

The player then divides the Activation Power by the value shown on the dice icon on the Machine Part card. This is how many times the player generates that race effect.

Steampunk Rally board game

The 6 total pips generate 2 Motion actions.

For example, Marconi’s Induction Motor Machine Part generates 1 motion for every 3 pips. So if a player places dice totaling 6 pips on that Machine Part, they will generate 2 motion race effects – get to move 2 spaces on the racetrack.

Not all Machine Parts generate motion though – and that’s ok.

Machine Parts may also generate more dice, cogs, or even some shields (which will help in the upcoming Damage phase). And there are also Boost cards that can be useful to play during the Race phase.

The only limit to the number of activations a player can perform is the number of die slots in a player’s invention and dice they have in their pool.

Keep in mind that placing high-valued dice may be fantastic to generate a lot of movement on a turn (or other cool race effect), but that ability won’t be able to be used again until those high-valued dice are removed from those slots by venting in a subsequent round.


Motion and cool race effects can take a toll on these fun racing contraptions. But mostly it will be the terrain on the racetrack that causes damage to inventions.

Steampunk Rally board game

With 2 damage points still left, I have to discard 2 parts of my invention.

Any damage accumulated during the round may cause players to lose Machine Parts from their invention.

As players take on damage, they turn their Damage Gauge to track the amount. If a player’s Damage Gauge is lower than 0, they must discard a number of Machine Parts from their invention equal to the number shown on their gauge.

Then they’ll reset their gauge to zero.

If a player’s Damage Gauge is showing a number above zero, they don’t adjust the gauge. That protection continues into the next round.

In addition, at any time players may discard unwanted Machine Parts from their invention.

If a player’s invention takes on so much damage that they would be forced to discard their Inventor Cockpit, their invention violently explodes!

Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re out of the race. (There isn’t any player elimination in this game.)

Instead, that player must move their Inventor pawn to the space behind the player currently in last place on the racetrack. They’ll also discard all Machine Parts except for the cockpit and reset their damage gauge to zero.

Steampunk Rally board game

The round after crossing the finish line determines the winner.

Once the Damage phase is complete, players check to see if anyone has crossed the finish line.

If so, the next round will be the last.

Remember, just because a player crosses the finish line first, doesn’t mean they’ll be the winner. After all, their invention may violently explode on the next round!

After completing the End of Round steps (store dice if possible, return remaining dice to the supply), players begin a new round with the Draft phase and the race continues!


Can the whole family enjoy Steampunk Rally?

Steampunk Rally board game

I can’t wait to use this Auger.

We’ve really enjoyed playing Steampunk Rally. It’s got a very fun theme and we’ve loved building (and destroying) our racing inventions.

And there’s also plenty to think about during the game.

As such, Steampunk Rally isn’t a game well-suited for young kids.

That being said, we think the published recommended age of 14+ is also too high. We think a 12+ age is about right. And if playing with adults to explain it to them, 10+ is a good target.

Playing with a mix of teens and adults is a lot of fun.


What makes Steampunk Rally great

There are many reasons why we think Steampunk Rally is a great family game.


Steampunk Rally board game

The different types of cards are fun to combine into cool inventions.

For starters, the very nature of building inventions from a variety of machine parts is awesome!

Choosing which machine parts to add and where to place them is a lot of fun. And since they’ll change throughout the game (from damage), it’s also fun to rearrange the parts in different ways.

It’s also really cool to construct an invention with sweet combos of parts working together. For example, getting a part that generates more dice, which you can then use to create even more movement.

The other neat thing about the cards is the way they’re acquired. Yes, they’re selected by drafting. But even before that, each player gets one card from each deck. So at the start of each round there isn’t an imbalance in the types of cards in each hand. That will change depending on which card each person selects to play, but the distribution in those starting hands each round mitigates the luck factor considerably.


Steampunk Rally board game

The starting Inventor Cockpits and Machine Parts are well-suited for each Inventor.

We also really like that right from the start the theme of being different inventors plays out. Each inventor is modeled after real inventors in history and their starting cockpit and machine part powers play to their real-life strengths. For example, Edison is great at harnessing electricity.

Minimal down time

Another fantastic element of the game is the simultaneous play.

Board games with a lot of down time between turns aren’t much fun. With simultaneous play however, players are always actively engaged with some element of the game.

And Steampunk Rally keeps things moving along as players simultaneously draft and use cards, vent their machine parts, roll and use dice, and check for damage.

Steampunk Rally board game

Helpful reference cards are included.

The only catch to this is making sure that players are doing things correctly. It may be helpful to take turns when first learning the game and getting used to the icons, powers, and actions. But once everyone is familiar with the game play, the game can clip along nicely.

And sometimes one player may have more dice in their pool to use than other players. So some players may need to wait a bit during the Race phase while others finish. But we’ve found that to be pretty minimal.

Tough choices

We also like games that present interesting choices to be made. And Steampunk Rally has just the right amount. They’re simple, yet interesting choices – typically between a few good options.

Sure it would be nice to add every cool machine part to my invention. But then I wouldn’t have any dice to roll or cogs to use for venting. So every round I have to be judicious in which I keep and which I discard to get more dice or cogs.

Steampunk Rally board game

This is a close race.

And I also need to watch out for which cards I may not want to pass to the next players down the line.

The Race

And let’s not forget the fun of the race itself.

In the end, the winner is determined by how well they do in the race itself. Getting your invention to move is only one factor. Watching out for what lies ahead on the racetrack terrain is quite another – since that factors into the damage you’ll face.

And of course, there’s all those other pesky racers to keep pace with – and knowing when to make a surge for the victory.

Boost cards

Steampunk Rally board game

The Boost cards add a fun twist to all the action.

If that weren’t enough, the Boost cards add another intriguing twist to the game.

Using Boost cards at the right moment can give you a big advantage.

But that also means when played by your opponents, Boost cards might hamper your best-laid plans that round.

It may sound awful to have your plans ruined by the play of a card, but we’ve actually found the swings to be a big part of the fun. They can add plenty of laughter as fortunes change.


How does Steampunk Rally score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Steampunk Rally board gameWith the chance to create a new invention every game, Steampunk Rally scores high on our “let’s play again” game meter.

While we haven’t yet played back-to-back games of Steampunk Rally, it’s definitely a game that will get multiple plays from family and friends alike.

And it’s claimed a premier spot on our board game shelves for quick and easy access.

Thanks Roxley Games for making such a fun family board game!


Comments: 2

Leave a reply »


I absolutely love Steampunk Rally, it has quickly become one of my groups favourite games and that is with different groups which are very light board gamers! How simple it is to teach and play vs the amount of depth you have to outsmart others is what makes this game so great!

I’ve got to say that roxley games quickly has become one of my favourite game publishers too, after falling in love with this game, I found out it had been on Kickstarter and quickly felt my heart sink a little, wondering what goodies I was missing. But I saw only superficial things being added for kickstarter backers, nothing gameplay related, which I have learnt is something that they believe strongly in, not limiting gameplay items to only a few. A good feeling for someone like me that likes to have it all (thanks CMoN, my kids need school one day).




Leave a Reply

(will not be published)