Junk Orbit by Renegade Game Studios Review

Theme and What is it?

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is exactly how things work in Junk Orbit. You are the captain of a space freighter who deals in junk. You collect the junk from colonies found on Earth, Moon, and Mars and then transfer it to other colonies willing to pay for it. Along the way, you jettison your cargo (junk) to get your spacecraft moving. Travel between the orbits of Earth, Mars and their Moons and work to become the most profitable space junk dealer.

Junk Orbit is a space themed collection and distribution game.

Gameplay Mechanics

Junk Orbit is played over a number of rounds. Players collect junk from the cities or colonies they land on and redistribute that junk, which now becomes valuable to another city or colony. On a player’s turn, three actions are taken. 

  1. Launch Junk – Players launch junk that is located in their cargo hold. The cargo is jettisoned behind the ship a number of spaces found on the tile. Junk can be jettisoned either clockwise or counter clockwise. Based on strategy, it is up to the player to determine the direction. Once moved, that junk either becomes extra junk at the city it lands on or if it the city it lands on is the junk’s destination city, it is “delivered remotely” and scores points for the player. 
  2. Move Ship – Depending on which direction you launch the junk, you will then move your ship the same number of spaces in the opposite direction.  For example, if you launch your junk clockwise for 3 spaces, you will move your ship counterclockwise 3 spaces. Ships orbit around planets and moons, and they can also move between each by transferring at certain points. These transfers use a slingshot method for the transfer. If you move clockwise around the first planet, you move counterclockwise when you transfer onto a new planet or moon. A ship cannot change its forward momentum in the middle of a transfer. If your move ends on a destination city for junk in your cargo hold, you may do a “direct delivery” and score points. 
  3. Pick Up Junk – Collect all the junk tiles found at the city on which you have landed. Add this junk to your cargo hold. The city is refilled with a new junk tile card.

There are unique spaceships that each have their own special ability that allows players to break one of the rules listed above. 

The game ends when a city cannot be refilled during the Pick-Up Junk action on a player’s turn. Each player then gets one more turn. The game then ends and final scoring takes place. The player with the highest score is then dubbed “Space Junk Lord”. Not really, I just made that title up, but I think I will use it when I play. 

Initial Impressions

Right when I saw Junk Orbit, I knew there must be something special about it. It comes in a round container and has bright eye-catching art on the outside of it. Once it was open and we set up our first game, which took about 20 minutes, we had some issues with the first four or five rounds making sure we were playing correctly. Eventually everyone got the hang of it, and we were off. The game moves quickly. Even when players are not taking their turns, they are counting off spaces in their heads and trying to figure out what to do on their next turn. After a few minutes of initial uncertainty, everyone at the table really started to enjoy the game. Players have the chance to do some in depth analysis to figure out the best way to launch their junk and where to move to next. There are two ways to score, so it takes extra time to strategize how each player wants to score points on their turn. The best time to strategize is when other players are playing and before your turn. 

Game Build Quality

Like everything that Renegade Game Studios produces, Junk Orbit is made with high quality components. The tiles are nice and thick. The spaceships are all unique cuts which add great character to the game. I really have zero complaints with any of the components. They are what I would expect from Renegade.

Artistic Direction

The artwork is colorful and fits very well with the theme. I found that the artwork complemented the feel of the game and really drew players in. The individualized spaceships and graphic work for each player helps them feel like they are having a personalized experience. 

Fun Factor

Once players figured out what they were doing, everyone had a very enjoyable experience. I have played the Junk Orbit with kids and adults. All ages found the game entertaining. Personally, I have had a fantastic time with Junk Orbit. I was excited about it right when I laid eyes on it, and my enthusiasm has not diminished. It started with having lots of respect for the publisher and continued right through the gameplay. Since the first time playing Junk Orbit, I have included it in all of my game nights as an option. It is not always picked by other players, but I have packed it around with me and given people the option to try it. There are only a handful of games that I can say that about. So, is Junk Orbit my favorite game ever?  No, but I have had enough fun playing it and definitely want to spread the word.

Age Range & Weight

Junk Orbit’s suggested age range is 10+. I would say that is a very safe estimate. I played Junk Orbit with my nine year old daughter, who plays tons of games with me. She was like most players and struggled for a few rounds until it clicked for her. It didn’t take her any longer to feel comfortable with it than any adult. There are some semi-complex calculations that need to be made to score points in this game. I am sure a younger kid could just go out and jettison cargo and fly all over the place, but they wouldn’t have some of the deduction skills necessary to make sure the ship and cargo are landing where they need to. I would recommend staying close to the 10+ age range.

Conclusions

Junk Orbit was a great find. I am so glad I didn’t pass it up when I had the opportunity to check it out. It will be an option at game nights for the foreseeable future. Why? Because it can be explained relatively quick and players can get the hang of it within a half dozen turns. With so few turns to understand, there is still plenty of game to be played at a highly competitive level. The bright colors and fun spaceships engage the players and each ship having its own abilities lends to excellent replay value. Don’t overlook Junk Orbit. The box is different from what you expect in board gaming, and to be honest you have to find the right spot for it on your gaming shelf, yet this really doesn’t take anything away from the game itself and maybe even helps make it a bit more unique. It is a pleasure to play Junk Orbit, and it continues to be so even after a fair number of plays. So, go for it Space Junk Lord! The galaxy will soon be yours.

Originally posted 2018-08-25 06:00:07.