What do you get if you combine slap, computer programming, logic puzzles and bingo? No, not Saturday night, you get Factory Fun, my second favorite new puzzle game (since I finally found a copy of Code 777). The short version of this review, in twelve words: "Like directed graphs and puzzles? Don't mind waiting occasionally? Buy Factory Fun!" Or, for me, one word: "Yay!"
A quick description of the game: for each of ten rounds, the players reveal one machine per player from a pool of 48. In real time, each player can grab one machine. Each machine has one or more inputs and one output. The inputs are always one of four colors, the output can be one of the colors or possibly an end product (black) which can never be looped back into another machine. You have to spend money to pay for connections and reservoirs, and you gain money every time you build a machine as well as a bonus at the end of the game for chained machines. You can do some shuffling around of your machines (at a cost, of course) during the game, and you take a penalty if you decide not to use the machine you take. The last player to take a machine (if any) can discard their machine for free (since they could have just not taken it).
So, the slap comparison should be obvious. You have to make a quick computation about the machines that are available, and decide if one is really well suited to your factory. If it is, move fast, other players might be going for it. That real-time speed computation does lend some real tension to the machine selection, although a poor or hasty selection can really hurt you. It's often the case that the last couple players will stare at the machines, neither wanting to commit to taking one, as they try and mentally sort out their factories.
Computer programming? Sure - the process of fitting new machines is not unlike refactoring a complex program. You've got to really take things apart (mentally, of course) and straighten things out, simplify here, tweak there and really examine what it is you are trying to accomplish and how you can get there. There's a real art to being able to see a hidden, underlying structure to you factory (or a really complex piece of code) and tease out a better approach. As a warning, if you're an impatient sort, this isn't the game for you. A really thorny placement might take a while for a player, and it's not nice to rush them. Use the time to see if there's something you missed in your factory, or make a mental list of the attributes you're looking for in machines. Not only do you refactor, but you're engaging in a healthy bit of optimization.
Logic puzzles? While it's not the classic deduction of a game like Sleuth or Code 777, it uses those same parts of your brain. You'll find yourself doing a lot of "if I do this, that happens" and forming these long chains of potential moves in your mind, looking for them to work out or bedisproved. Those chains of deduction can really tax your brain.
Finally, bingo. Well, I'm cheating here. It's not actually like bingo, it's actually like Take It Easy (which in turn always reminded me of bingo). There is that same feeling of competing in a very public fashion against the other players. You're also waiting for that perfect machine to come up to really tie things together - a bingo, as it were.
All tortured comparisons aside, Factory Fun is fantastic. If you enjoy tricky puzzles, don't mind a little bit of downtime that you can use to really burn your brain to search for an optimization, this is the game for you. If you like Take It Easy but wished it was more complex, this is a good choice. Ricochet Robot is the other obvious touchstone here. If you combine those, along with maybe the Very Clever Pipe Game, you're getting close. But that doesn't really capture the uniqueness of the game, it's a game I'm thrilled to own.
Nice summary of the game, I can say without doubt my dad and I have the biggest laugh when playing factory fun he constantly ties him self in knots re piping machines getting mixed up with inputs and out puts its hilarious, tears rolling and everything. This game could be easily overlooked as the box art work in my view does it no favours.
There is down time but while waiting for players to incorporate there latest machine it's always worth studying your own as the easiest replacement can make all the difference to your options and scoring potential. As my dad would say "get pipes out" A great game.
- Last edited Fri Jun 8, 2007 4:55 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Jun 8, 2007 4:52 pm