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Subject: You put goblins in a factory, seriously? A fun experience! rss

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Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
It's not often that I get to play a game that has almost nothing written about it on the geek, but there you go. One of the recent game deliveries to Good Games Ballarat included both Martian Rails (which I bought) and Scrappers (which Mick bought). Yesterday, I got the chance to play Scrappers.

This is a small card and board game for 2-4 players. We played it with four, and my initial impression was that it was similar to RoboRally. Being in a factory with cards showing actions does give that impression. However, the game - although it does have your plans being interfered with by the other players - is a lot less random and, as a result, more fun. I'd happily play a game again; RoboRally, great game though it is, has paled for me in recent years.

The object of the game is to obtain five components that slot together to make a contraption: a core and four matching parts. (You match on colour: a core has four colours, so the parts must match those four colours). The parts you want are sliding across a conveyor belt towards a bin, so you need to snatch the parts you want from the belt. Basically, at the end of each round you snatch the part you're next to. So, the main bit of the game is trying to organise yourself next to a good part each round.

The trouble is, other players also want to do this - and probably steal your part! Each player has a handful of three cards which show a number of actions. On your turn, you can either pass or play one of the cards. If you play a card, you can do as many or as few of the actions as you like, just as long as you do them in order and don't skip any. Actions include move 1 space, jump 2 spaces, move until you can't move any more, switch - two parts or with another player - and move the conveyor belt forward or back. Then you can use the part on the conveyor belt in front of you, which displays one of the actions you can do as well. (If it moves you, you can actually chain actions together).

A few actions affect other players: either one next to you on the board, or any one.

When the dust settles, if you and another player are adjacent to the same piece (normally because you're opposite each other around the belt), you 'tussle' for the piece - each card has a number of tussle icons, and you need to discard more icons than your opponent, with each player getting a 'blind' card added to their score. So, conserving cards is useful. Of course, those good tussle cards tend to be the good action ones!

The game lends itself to analysis paralysis from new players, as they try to see the best use of their cards. There aren't an overwhelming number of options, but there are enough - and the implications are confusing enough - so that some players will have difficulty. I'm used to these sorts of games, so it rarely paralysed me, and soon I'd hit on an important factor of the game:

Conserve your cards!

If you pass, if anyone else takes an action, you can take an action on your next turn. The round only ends if everyone passes in a row. So, if you're happy with the piece in front of you (even if it's not entirely what you want), it's probably a good idea to pass. Watching Liam, Tim and Mick spending their cards like madmen allowed me on the final turn to make sure I was exactly where I wanted to be and could win the game. Liam and Tim were out of cards, Mick had one card left, and I had two, including an action card that made him discard one!

Yes, that was nice.

It's not a terribly deep game, but it's very much about resource management and seeing the consequences of your actions. Getting a part is always better than not; perhaps you'll get a core that fits what you've taken already!

There are two optional rules - a couple of extra "NPC" goblins which any player can control with the right cards. One gets in the way and makes herself annoying (other players can add tussle cards to help her stop you getting a piece), whilst the other runs about and discards pieces from the belt. Both add variety to the game, which is good, but I wouldn't recommend using them in your first game (as Mick did here): they're too confusing and add to the AP for new players.

However, it's a fun little game, and one I'd happily play again!
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James Cartwright
United Kingdom
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Nice Report.

I'm thinking of getting this game but already have Infernal Contraptions. I don't really know if this game will just be more of the same but with a board instead.
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