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Gravwell is a simple game that is very ugly. The game is very hard to look at and the components are about as cheap as it comes. This is not a game you will want to look at and then play.
The game is open to non-gamers, gamers, and even families. The mechanics are simple, but there are decisions to make. Most of the decisions revolve around card play, so it will be familiar to most players. You can get screwed by the cards/other players, but it is the sort of game that you won't care too much about it.
It plays quick and after a couple of minutes the game becomes very intuitive. Even though I like the game, it isn't something I would want to play all the time. It can be a little frustrating. Some will not like going backwards on the track.
The game benefits from the ease of play and the quicker the better. It is not a game that you want to overstay its welcome. It isn't a much buy or a purchase I can recommend too much.
The components are subpar. Laughable even. This is sort of what I would expect from a cheap mass market game. Ok, I'm being a little harsh. The ships are bland, but have decent detail for a kids toy. The cards are very thin and are devoid of art work. The icons, letters, and numbers on the cards are very easy to read so perhaps functional and not cheap.
The board is bland, uses odd colors, and cheap looking. This is an ugly game.
The rule book is full color and has useful pictures. It is a little wordy for how easy the game is to play. It does a fine job of explaining the rules. The font is pretty small and there are a lot of words for such a simple game. The game does include a lot of variants so there is a lot of different ways to play the game.
Flow of the Game:
The idea behind Gravwell is gravity. Gravity will make your ship move in direction you did not intend (which normally means backwards).
Gravwell is a race game to get to the warp first. The game revolves around these Fuel Cards that will make your ship move (forward and backwards).
The fuel cards have letters on them. When played, the players will activate in alphabetical order of the cards played. The number on the card is how many spaces on the board your ship will move. The trick with this game is you always move in the direction of the nearest ship (yep, even if that is backwards!).
There are a few action cards that change the rules a tad: some make you move in the opposite direction of the closet ship or another card that moves a ship closer to you (instead of you moving towards it).
This is the general idea behind the game. Let's shift towards a turn in the game.
The fuel cards are placed face down with a card face up on top. So when you choose a card, you get one you know and one you don't. Players will take turns choosing a stack of two cards (one face up and one face down).
Players will choose a card and reveal it at the same time. Keep in mind, you move towards the closest ship. Sometimes this means forward and sometimes this means backwards. Your ship will move erratically at times. If you want more control, you need to play a letter higher in the alphabet. Part of the fun comes from out guessing/thinking your opponents and using your hand of cards the best you can.
As an aside, there are some NPC ships that are on the board that do not move, but they do count towards the closest ship. Use these to your advantage.
Also, each player has an emergency stop card. This basically allows you to not play on e card after the cards are flipped. It can be very useful to get you out of a pinch. Use it wisely.
Overall, the game is a thinker. Drafting the cards and knowing when to use them is very important. Things can be a little erratic at times, but fun does appear.
Should I buy this Game?:
This is a fun little light game that you can play with your family or with a on gamer. The game is easy to pick up and play. There are some "gamer" mechanics involved, so it is not your usual mass market game, despite the game looking like one.
It can be a little frustrating and not something you will want to play all the time.
"You can spend all your time making money / Or you can spend all your love making time."
I love the frustrating aspect of it. Twice now, my friends and I have sat down and played it a handful of times in a row. I think of it as taking the best part of role-selection games - the actual role-selection - and getting rid of the rest. It's so quick and easy, which makes it even better.
But yes, the game is very ugly and cheap in appearance. However, I sort of expected it given the fairly low price despite what is not a small box.