When I was young I was heavily into the world of Mad Max. I was that neighbor kid that bought 3 copies of Dark Future (from Games Workshop) so he could have tons of models and he would pester you to play future-cars-with-guns-that-blow-up as much as possible. I am immediately drawn to this theme, no matter how good the resulting game is. Wasteland Express Delivery Service showed up on my radar and it was an instant purchase.
I saw it at Gencon and without asking a thing about it, I walked up to the Pandasaurus booth and asked for a copy. As it was handed to me, I then realized that I had no way to get this home in my luggage cause it is HUGE. The box is a monster and it is absolutely packed to the edges with an awesome insert system created by Game Trayz. I barely got it back home but my game group is very glad I did.
The setup for this game is monstrous as the box is, but my game group rolls with it well. Getting your character, a couple of secret missions and your gear all ready really feels great as you strategize your first few turns. Now, keep in mind I bought the game without looking into it AT ALL, so I was surprised to find out that at its core, it is a “Pick up and Deliver” game. And besides Merchants and Marauders, I don’t really own that many games in this genre. While I wasn’t looking for it, this is definitely a game that I needed in my collection.
What works well
The actions that you get on your turn and how they convert into a sort of “limited action” are great and incredibly thematic. The game is built in a pretty tight way where you always feel like you are racing against the other players, trying to complete three contracts to win the game. You buy commodities from one area and sell them somewhere else, while always looking to the side for opportunities to grab extra gear, steal some loot from a passing convoy, or taking advantage of an event.
The thing I love most about the game is how you build up your vehicle with your own personal tableau. Each character is vastly different than the other art-wise, but their individual abilities are balanced enough that you are happy to randomly select your character each game. As you buy gear, you have to fit it onto your vehicle card, and you of course want much more than you can jam into that player mat. Making the decisions about what to bring with you into the wastelands is strategic and incredibly rewarding as your plans unfold.
There is also a lengthy campaign mode in the back of the rulebook that is a great way to punch that theme up even more and really get you into a post-apocalyptic delivery service mood.
One issue though….
I think WEDS is a good game and it definitely earned a spot in my collection, but I do have one issue with the game. The Enclave system seems…….tacked on? I’m not sure how to describe it but lemme try: The Enclaves are at the center edge of each table and represent the place where the factions of raiders have their main base. Sometimes they come up as an attack order through a mission, but it hasn’t happened that often in our games. There is a whole section about raiding them without a mission, resulting in random rewards and after you play a couple games you realize that noone ever considers doing that when they could raid a convoy much easier and get known rewards. It’s just a weird (nearly unnecessary) aspect of the game, not counting mission objectives of course.
Now, if you were in my game store and you pulled this off the shelf asking if it was a good game, I would ask you:
- Do you enjoy the post-apocalyptic theme?
- Do you like Pick up and Deliver games?
- Are games with no direct combat (PvP) in them good for your group?
- Are you ok with a large setup and takedown time?
- Do you have space for a monster box in your collection?
- Will you witness me and carry my body into Valhalla?
If you can answer yes to most of those questions (and especially the last one) then yes, you should definitely give this game a try. It has a hefty price tag but it is worth it easily when you see the quality and content you are getting. And Pandasaurus games knows what they are doing, you really can’t go wrong with any of their titles.