As you all know, @KingChaos was super generous and sent me #Fantastic Factories as a birthday gift. I told you all I'd post a write up on it when I had a chance to try it out, so here it is! I wasn't planning on breaking it out so soon, but I realized it had a solo mode so I figured why not? It came highly recommended for me as a light worker placement/engine builder which I can definitely get behind.
The first thing of note is the game comes with an insert that, while not exactly the greatest in the world, certainly functions well. They give you more than enough baggies for all the cardboard pieces you have to punch out as well as some nice chunky dice which function as your workers. The player boards are thick and have recessed areas to place the dice which is a plus. The cards are nice and have some cool art. I usually don't care about things like this, but I did like the inclusion of both male and female representation of the characters on the contractor cards.
No complaints here. Everything was well written and succinct. I think it helps the game is very straight forward, but I only found myself going back into the rulebook once and that was only to double check that I couldn't use my card powers more than once in a round. No dice (pun intended).
To set up the multiplayer game, you give each player a set of 4 colored dice, a player board, 1 metal resource tokens, 2 energy resource tokens, and 4 cards randomly drawn from the "Blueprint" deck. Next you create the marketplace of Blueprints and Contractors by placing 4 from each deck out to the table. Above each contractor card, one of 4 tool tokens is placed randomly.
The game then has two phases, a "Market Phase" and a "Work Phase." During the Market phase, in turn order, you can either take a Blueprint card for free or take a Contractor card by discarding a card from your hand that has a tool symbol that matches the tool token above that Contractor card in the marketplace display. Some Contractor cards have additional resource requirements to purchase. Blueprints are buildings you can contruct and add to your "compound." Contractors will give you a bonus of some sort either in resources, Blueprint cards, or extra dice for the round. One contractor, the engineer, let's you build a randomly drawn building for free. The cards are refilled after each player takes one. Additionally, the active player can discard either a metal or energy resource once per turn to wipe either the Blueprint card row or the Contractor card row and draw 4 new cards.
Next you roll your dice and begin the "Work Phase." This phase is carried out simultaneously. Simply put, during this phase you can construct buildings to your compound, and/or assign workers to either your player board or constructed buildings in your compound. These can be done in any order. To contruct a building, you need to discard a card with a matching tool icon from your hand, as well as pay any additional costs it requires. You're only allowed to have one of each type of building card in your display unless a card states otherwise. When you place workers, you're generating resources or goods either based on the listed card effects or as part of basic actions on your player board. The iconography is pretty clear, but the game does provide a nice player aid for each player to help clear up any confusion. After the Work Phase, you have to discard down to 10 cards in hand, and 12 total resources (metal and energy combined).
The game end is trigger once a player has 10 buildings in their compound or 12 goods in their supply. You finish out the current round so all players receive equal turns then play an additonal round. For final scoring, you add up the total number of goods you have collected (each is worth 1 point) as well as any prestige points that may be listed on the buildings you have added to your compound.
For the solo game, there are a few main differences. First, you play using the white dice that are used for any extra dice you may get to roll during the multiplayer game. This is so that you can give the AI player ("The Machine") 1 die of each color (green, red, yellow, purple, blue). Depending on the difficulty level you choose, you deal out a certain number of Blueprint cards to the Machine's display. You can stack them as the content of the cards doesn't matter, just the color of the cards. If any gray "Monument" cards are drawn, you discard them and continue you deal cards to the Machine until you have the desired number of cards for your difficulty level. I'm a total baby so I went with the "Easy" difficulty and dealt 2 cards to the Machine to begin.
You take your turn as normal, completeing both the Market and Work Phases before the Machine takes it's turn. During the Machine's turn, you roll their dice. The green die will dictate which of the market cards it will take. A 1 corresponds to the left most blueprint card, a 2 is the second leftmost card, and so on up to 4. If the green die is a 5 or a 6, the top card from the Blueprint deck is added to the Machine's compound and either the Blueprint display will be discarded or the Contractor display is discarded, respectively. As for the other dice, you compare the value on the pip to the number of cards of that color in the Machine's display. If the pip value of the die is the same or lower as the number of cards in their display, they receive a good token. If not, nothing happens. The game will end in the same way as the multiplayer game with the exception that the game can only be ended by the Machine if he has 12 or more goods. More on that in my final thoughts..
You all know I'm not a big thematic person so I feel like take anything I say on any games theme with a grain of salt. With this game,there is none lol. Sure some of the card effects make sense thematically. For example, there's an incinerator card that requires you to give up a Blueprint and a metal to produce 6 energy and I GUESS that makes sense. But then there's the Fitness Center where you can spend energy to lower a die result by one and the Gymnasium to do the same to increase a result by 1. I would think thematically spending energy at the gym or fitness center would increase your die result...maybe I just don't work out enough I don't know lol.
This game plays really quick. I totally forgot about the end game trigger condition until a little over halfway through and I was like "wow I only have 4 more turns left!" Turns out I didn't realize (until literally just as I'm writing this) that the Machine having 10 compound cards does not trigger the end of the game. Whoops. It ended with 12 goods so I would have only had one more turn anyway but it could have changed the outcome! Darn it lol. Guess I'll have to play again :P
I think the randomness of the deck draws can really make or break your game. I'm sure there are good combinations of cards, but I never found them. I either had no resources to build cards, or, more often than not, a ton of resources and no cards lol. The goods generation for the Machine is also pretty random. I had one turn late where I rolled all 1's so they got 4 goods from that turn alone. I ended up losing on "easy" with a final score of 23 to 17. The highest level the solo game goes is "insane" where the Machine starts with 5 cards in their display. As you would imagine, the more cards they have the better the chances you will roll a value lower or the same as the corresponding color.
I had fun and I can definitely see Sarah liking this one so overall good job @KingChaos! Thanks so much for your generosity :)