You are a stranded pilot. Your ship is damaged and you’re hungry. Standing there on a strange planet you need to find a way to fix your ship and gather some sort of food to satisfy you hunger.
Planet Run, by Jason Sondoh and Robertson Sonoh jr., is a straightforward, solo, worker placement game with dice. You have to manage four resources and your food supply. You need a certain resource type and amount to repair your ship. To get these resources, you need to explore the planet and later gather the resources you find in specific (discovered) planet sectors. Exploring and gathering resources makes you hungry and therefore you must hunt down and kill all kinds of weird animals that live on the planet. How about some Rhinocow or Double Dogs? During a hunt you might get injured and because your main goal is to get out of there alive, resting and healing is also important.
Food will give you energy, Energy Dice to be exact, you can use on your next turn. These dice are your workers, you have to place one or more dice on the different action spots. Actions require a certain amount of pips to succeed, you therefore have to roll the dice to see if you attempt was successful or not. During the game you can construct some tools and these can make some actions easier.
The game takes 15 turns. When you die, you lose. When you stay alive and manage to fix the different parts of your ship before the end of the game, you win the game. You only have to check whether you were any good.
Planet Run is, as already stated above, a very straightforward and basic worker placement game. Explore, gather resources, make tools, hunt for food, eat food for workers; all well-known worker placement elements. Normally I like worker placement games with dice. You basically have two kinds, the ones where you roll before you place (Alien Frontiers) and the ones where you roll after you assign workers to certain action spots (Stone Age) . I prefer the former, because you have more control over the success of your actions, but I don’t dislike the latter. You have to have a bit of luck, but if you don’t success entirely, you can try again next time. In this game I do dislike this roll after you place mechanism. Why? Well, mainly because the game is timed. You have only 15 turns to fix the ship and you simply have no time to try again. For my taste, this game feels to luck dependent. Timed games, like Planet Run, are fairly tight. Most of the times you complete your goal a couple turns before (or after) the end of the game. When you combine this with worker placement, I want to have control, I want to plan, I don’t want to waste a turn because I rolled a couple of ones.
It’s not a bad mechanism, but I just don’t like it in this game. Planet Run does look good. The illustration are cartoony and quite funny. So, in conclusion, Planet Run is a decent game with a mechanism that, for me, doesn’t fit the game.