Every once in a while you’ll take a chance and be pleasantly surprised. As many of you have read, my tastes tend to lean a little more to the heavier, brain burning euro type of games. So when I stumbled across ‘The Great Heartland Hauling Co’ and it was only $20, I figured even if we got a few games out of it, it’d be worth while. Turn your baseball hats around, grab a beer and get ready to do some truckin’.
Working for the Great Heartland Hauling Company is a tough job, you’re going to be an over the road driver picking up and delivering goods to earn the most money. Those roads can be tricky though, so watch out for those other money hungry truckers who are trying to grab the goods before you can. So ‘Drive fast, haul smart and stay ahead of the other truckers to be the king of the road.’
The game setup is going to change depending on how many players there are. In a two player game you’ll take 8 location cards and place them around the distribution center card. You’ll add more cards as the player count increases. You also get other options for card layouts on the back of the ‘Order of Play’ card.
The location cards have two sides, during your initial plays make sure the location card has the circle side up. Once your more comfortable with the game and want to add in more depth to it, play it with the triangle side up. I’ll cover that a little later.
Once you have your cards laid out, building your travel routes, you’ll place 5 Cargo Crates that correspond to the color of the native good on each of the Location Cards. Each card has a ‘Native good’ which is the larger symbol on the right side of the card. These vary and there are a few different cargo loads you can pick up.
Each player chooses a color and places their semi-meeple on the Distribution Center, then they’ll take the corresponding score/cardo cards and place their scoring pawn on the number 5.
You’ll take the other cards in the box, the freight bills and fuel cards and shuffle them all together. Deal 5 cards to each player and for a draw pile. You’ll place the deck face down and lay the top 3 cards, face up next to the deck.
And you’re ready to start truckin’
Game Play Overview:
This game comes with possibly the best start player qualification that I’ve ever read. The player with either the best mustache, or the longest hair goes first. If you can’t settle a debate about this, you arm wrestle to determine the first player!
Alright, lets get down to business.
On your turn you have 3 steps that you take.
Move: You’ll play fuel cards or pay cash to move your semi-meeple up to 3 location cards.
You can not typically combine the two. Either you play the cards to move or you pay the points.
Trucks can only move North, South, East and West to an adjacent loading dock, you may not move diagonally. You can not backtrack over any location cards that you passed through on this turn. You can’t move through a space with another semi-meeple. Trucks may also not stop at the distribution center.
To make it easier, you move up, down, left or right and can’t move through other trucks. Trucks must move every turn, if possible. (Sometimes your jerk friends will block you in with their semi-meeples.)
Take an Action, you have 3 possible actions to take on your turn.
Load: You’ll pick up cargo by playing cards that match the Native goods on the location that you end your movement on. You land on a card with a Corn native good, you have a corn card in your hand and discard it. You take one of the Corn cargo cubes and place it on your card.
If you want to load a cargo crate that is not the Native Good (a cargo crate that was dropped by another semi-meeple on a location) can be picked up by spending 2 matching cards.
Unload: You’ll drop off cargo crates by playing matching cards. On each location there is also Non-Native goods, which will be listed under the larger native goods symbol. These Non-Native goods will also have a number listed next to them. That shows how much you’ll make for each cargo cube that is dropped off in that location.
There may never be more than 8 cargo crates at a location at any one time during the game.
You’ll pay $1 cash to discard any number of cards from your hand.
Refuel: You’ll draw cards to refill your hand to 5 cards. You can take cards from the 3 face up next to the draw pile, or any of the face down cards. As you take one of the face up cards, you’ll refill the card, so you’ll know what your taking. Taking from the top of the deck is a blind draw.
How does the game end and how do you win? The game ends at a variable dollar amount, earned by the players. This changes with the number of players. When the game ends, any cargo left on your truck are going to cost you, so make sure you unload that cargo!
The player with the most cash at the end of the game is going to win!
The Great Heartland Hauling Co is a quick, fun easy family game. For those of you that enjoy games like Ticket to Ride, or general pick up and deliver games, this is an easy decision for you. The game comes with 4 variants and also includes an expansion in the box.
One of the advanced variants is flipping the cards so that they have the triangle side up, which adds closed roads, Weigh Stations and Toll Roads to your journey that you’ll have to deal with! This makes the game more difficult and there is more strategy that you’ll have to employ to win with these routes. I’ve played with most of the variants and enjoy what they add to the game. Though I haven’t used the expansion included in the base game.
As I said before, this is a game I picked up on a whim, having no clue how often that this would hit the table. We’ve played this numerous times, everyone that I’ve introduced this game to has enjoyed it. It’s not a deep game, it’s not a tough game to learn or play, but it’s a great filler that can definitely find a permanent spot on your game shelf, and for only $20 you can’t really go wrong.