Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 4 October 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gearworks

Game: Gearworks

Publisher: PieceKeeper Games

Designer: Kirk Dennison

Year: 2018

Gearworks is a steampunk themed abstract game from PieceKeeper Games which funded on Kickstarter in December 2017. During the game you'll build intricate clockwork contraptions, by working your way through the similarly intricate mechanisms of the game. This 30-45 minute game for 1-4 players includes a lot of puzzly mechanism and relies on hand management, tile placement and some arithmetic.

A game of Gearworks lasts three rounds and in each round you will be collecting parts for your contraptions. Each contraption requires two specific  parts and you generally try to make one each round. Any spare contraption parts are also worth collecting. You collect parts by competing for positions of a 4x4 and 5x5 grid, depending on player count.

Each turn you can place one number card into the grid - the card must follow ascending or descending order in the row and cannot be the same colour as another card in the column. When you place a card you gain control of the corresponding row and column. The parts you gain at the end of the round correspond to the columns you control. With a limited hand of cards, each car placement starts to make the board tighter and tighter, so the order you play cards is really important. There is also a bonus for playing a card equal to the sum or difference in its perpendicular neighboring cards, so this is another factor in playing your cards.

The most points per part are available for completing your contraption. You can even try to complete more than one contraption if you spend your spark tokens (gained through placing based on sound arithmetic!). There is certainly a game in trying to predict which columns and rows your opponent seems to care the most about. However, due to luck of the draw and the way the round plays out, you ca find that there's simply nothing you can do to secure the parts you need - there are times that your opponent will seemingly be able to counteract everything you do!

The four variable characters and the Leviathan for solo play. Each character has a different power that can be used once per round.
The puzzle elements of Gearworks are really appealing to me, but the elements of trying to bluff or read other players are not something that I enjoy in this game. I think that two-players might be the worst player count for this, as every time you flip a gear to indicate your control it causes a swing of two in terms of how many parts you collect - everything good you do is something bad that affects the other player directly. This is ultimately too much direct conflict for me which is at odds with the Sudoku-like nature of the puzzle.

Overall, I'd recommend Gearworks for three or four players or two players who like the conflict. it's quite a unique and interesting puzzle that is fun to explore. However, due to the challenges for us when playing with two players, it's a 6/10 for the Yellow Meeple.

Gearworks was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £23.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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