We live in a world of gaming where everything seems to be getting more and more complex. Rules get bloated, extra mechanisms get added in, and it takes a clean design and makes it unnecessarily complicated. This bloat in gaming has made it tough to find games that are great for introducing new gamers to the hobby. It’s also made it tough for families to find something that can work for players of varying ages and abilities. Load up your big rig because Loaded Up & Truckin’ has your answer.
Loaded Up & Truckin’ gives players a very simple guideline of their turn. Move your trucks. That’s it. You’ve got different ways to spend the movement points each truck gets so you need to decide how to move and when to pickup new loads. You also have the opportunity to build new depots which helps you get a majority in each region. Lastly, you can purchase additional trucks which will be the biggest key to your success. Having more trucks lets your haul more freight which lets you earn more money.
Loaded up & Truckin’ has a really solid presentation. One of the best things about it is the giant map. I love how nice the board looks when you start moving freight. The load tokens are very cleanly designed making it easy to see where everything should be placed and where it’s trying to get to. While the board has a lot of spaces and can get busy, it’s designed well enough that it’s not overwhelming or cluttered.
Where LU&T really shines is as a gateway game for new gamers or as a family game. It’s ability to play up to 6 players gives it a lot of flexibility for different sized groups. I think it’s most amazing asset is that it teaches several different game types at one time and does so without people even realizing what’s happening. The most obvious game here is the pick-up-and-deliver mechanism. Players have to evaluate the board and plan long-term goals and balance them with short term goals. Underneath that layer are several others. The game’s scoring works around a sort of area majority in which players win regions by delivering the most goods there. There’s also bit of resource management in that you need to spend money carefully to get more trucks and depots while also trying to accumulate it for victory points at the end.
I also like how there’s player interaction. It’s not direct or violent, yet it forces players to try to evaluate what the other players are doing on the board. Teaching new gamers how to have that kind of awareness is key to getting them into other games down the road. While I love games with a ton of confrontation, it can be intimidating to new gamers. LU&T approaches interaction in a way that’s comfortable for new gamers and makes it accessible to them.
In my gaming experience, I’ve played a lot of gateway games with varying degrees of success. One of the hallmarks of all the successes was how easy it was to get people doing a lot more than they thought they could. Loaded Up & Truckin’ does exactly that. It wraps a lot of different ideas in very simple gameplay, yet gives players meaningful decisions that affect both the short and long game.
Loaded Up & Truckin’ is a shining example of what a great gateway game can be. This is the kind of game that will reel in new players and have them coming back for more. Before they know it, they’ll be full-fledged gamers and Loaded Up & Truckin’ will be the reason why. Move over Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Settlers….there’s a new standard in gateway games.