Junk Orbit – Always Be Delivering!

Junk Orbit: circular box

Space. The Final Junkyard.

Good thing one planet’s trash is another planet’s treasure! Captain your scavenger ship, collect space junk, and transport it to any city that will take it. Can you launch the most valuable junk in orbit?

In Junk Orbit, players take on the role of salvage ship captains scouring the galaxy for space junk and delivering it to any city that will take it. Eject unwanted junk from airlocks to propel yourself around the cosmos. Simple astrophysics for profit! Designed by Daniel Solis, Junk Orbit plays 2-5 players and is published by Renegade Games.

Setup

Phobos, Mars, Moon, Earth. Each has junk spinning around it.
Four player setup with starter junk tiles

Align the location boards in a rough line. In a four-player game, there will be connections between Earth and the Moon, the Moon and Mars, and between Mars and Phobos. Remove Phobos for fewer players, or add Deimos in a five-player game.

Return to the box any junk tiles that don’t match the indicated player count . Then shuffle the tiles into separate piles for Earth, Moon, and Mars, and place nearby. 

Seed the cities by placing one random Earth junk tile at each Earth city, one Moon junk tile at each Moon city, and one Mars junk tile at each spot on and Phobos. 

Each player receives a randomly selected ship car card and matching token. All ship tokens start on the Moon, at Kepler.

Each player loads their Cargo area with three starter tiles as well as randomly selected junk tiles from the Earth, Moon, and Mars piles.

Ship card: Space Cowboy - Famous ship welcome at every port. You may make a direct delivery from a city adjacent to the junk's destination.
I’ve always wanted to be a Space Cowboy.

Junk Tiles have value indicating relative mass and victory point worth. Each tile has a junk source that’s color coded by origin; Earth (blue), Moon (gray), Mars / Phobos (red) and Starter (black). The name along the top notes the destination city where the junk tile must be delivered. Player count is denoted on the lower right.

Ship cards (pictured at right) act as the player’s dashboard. These show the ship, its special power, and areas to store tiles for cargo and completed deliveries, as well as serving of a reminder for turn progression.

Gameplay

On a player’s turn, they perform three steps: Launch Junk, Move Ship and Pick Up Junk.

Launching junk to Istanbul, 3 spaces away.
A Remote Delivery to Istanbul from NYC

Launch Junk

Choose a junk tile in the cargo area and launch it away from your ship, either clockwise or counterclockwise. The junk must travel a number of cities equal to its value. When it stops, it will either come to rest or make a remote delivery. Resting happens when junk doesn’t end at its desired destination. If launched junk arrives at its destination a Remote Delivery is made and the junk goes into the player’s delivery area. Should  junk land at a city occupied by an opponent’s ship, it hits them and they must drop a junk tile.

Move Ship

Note the value of the junk expelled, then move your ship the exact number of cities in the opposite direction the junk was launched. A Direct Delivery is made if the destination city matches a junk tile in the ship’s current cargo. Multiple junk tiles can be delivered to the same city. Then move the delivered junk into the deliveries area to score.

Certain cities serve as Transfer Points between location boards, where junk or ships may switch orbit. When switching orbits, maintain the same direction of travel with a path that looks like a figure 8.

Blue ship on city Bradbury, delivering junk with value 4
Direct delivery to Bradbury

Pick Up Junk

After moving your ship, pick up all junk tiles at the current city and add them to your ship’s cargo.  Then refill the empty city with a new junk tile from the top of the corresponding stack.

Each player may also choose to activate their ship’s special ability during their turn. These are critical! Do not forget to use them.

Spaceship B sides from Junk Orbit
B side abilities

Advanced Variant

If you’re in the mood for crunchier gameplay, flip to the night side of the planet boards and B sides of the ship cards. In this mode, bonus points are increased with special scoring rules for different locations. For example, delivering to three moon locations awards three bonus points per set. On the other hand, when junk is picked up from Mars, Phobos or Deimos you an instead may take the top junk tile from the mars stack instead and put into the deliveries area.

New ship abilities make it easier and more lucrative to hit other players, increasing player interaction.

All Out of Junk?

Players continue taking turns until a city cannot be refilled. When this happens, each other player takes one final turn and final scoring commences. Delivered junk tile values are totaled and the player with the highest score wins.

Blue ship with 10 junk tiles "delivered"

Impressions

Junk Orbit offers an interesting take on traditional pickup and deliver games. Instead of spending fuel or resources to move, captains launch junk from cargo bays to propel their ships across the galaxy to make deliveries. Analyze the junk values in your cargo hold and figure out how to maximize their use each turn. Try to deliver every turn, especially in the advanced game! Burning a tile to land at a city with high value junk can pay off handsomely if you can get it delivered quickly. Doubling up with both a Remote and Direct delivery will propel your score to the moon quickly.

Captains of All Ages

Junk Orbit is family friendly and the age recommendation of 10+ is accurate for the base game. Kids will need a little help understanding how switching orbits work at first, but after a few turns it should click. We found the game increasingly fun at higher player counts because you can hit opponents’ ships more often and force them to lose cargo. In contrast, in two player games we spent a lot of time making deliveries on opposite sides of the galaxy.

The advanced game using the night sides offers increased strategy through more scoring opportunities. It also introduces some fun take-that interaction with junk hits. Embrace your inner ruthless pirate, who isn’t afraid to hit, steal cargo, or rub a little paint.

4 ships at Kepler (on the moon)

Out of This World

Junk Orbit’s table presence is awesome. The detail in the artwork is phenomenal. I often find myself exploring the artwork on junk tiles wondering what they might actually be used for. I loved the use of color coordinated location boards and junk tiles, along with the fact that there is no actual game board at all. The free-floating planets and moons felt right for the theme and will definitely spark conversations at game night. No two games will ever feel quite the same, due to the random tile placement at setup. All in all, Junk Orbit is a fast pickup/delivery game that offers fun for all levels of gamers.

“Always be delivering,” is the code any savvy salvage ship captain should live by! Find Junk Orbit on Amazon or ask for it at your local game store.

Highlights/Features

  • Pickup and delivery gameplay with a fun space theme
  • Family friendly light-weight base game that’s quick to teach
  • Advanced game introduces scoring variety, deeper strategy and a little piracy

The Family Gamers received a copy of Junk Orbit from Renegade Games for this review.

Junk Orbit
  • 9.5/10
    Art - 9.5/10
  • 7/10
    Mechanics - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Family Fun - 7/10
7.8/10

Summary

 

Number of Players: 2-5

Age Range: 10+

Playtime: 30-40 minutes

 

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